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Central America

Central America Collection

History Archive - Central America Collection

Central America is geographically at the southern end of North America, lying between Mexico, Colombia, the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific. The coast of Central America was visited by Rodrigo de Bastidas in 1500, and by Columbus in 1502. It was invaded by Cortez in 1524. Guatemala and Salvador were held by Alvarado, second in command to Cortez. For three centuries the country was under Spanish rule and subject to frequent disturbances and harsh conditions.

Central America was the home of the Aztecs, and is rich in remains of this ancient civilization. The present inhabitants are Creoles or Spanish-speaking whites, Indians, Negroes and mixed races. Nation states in the region in the early 1900's include Belize (British Honduras), Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama and Salvador. Belize is a British possession, the remaining states independent republics.

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Independence was achieved in 1821, and in 1823 a republic was formed by the union of the five provinces. Slavery was abolished in 1824, but after dissensions and civil war the republic was dissolved in 1838. The progress of the country has since been retarded by frequent wars and revolutions. In 1907 a meeting of delegates from all the states was held in Washington, U. S. A., and an agreement was made that all differences which may occur shall be submitted to a peace-court at Costa Rica.

At Tehuantepec, Mex., is a broad plain. In northern Guatemala the mountains begin, close to the Pacific, extending through Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua. Not of great height, they consist of detached ranges with volcanic peaks, some of which are active. Then comes the depression nearly filled by Lake Nicaragua, the largest inland body of water south of the great lakes. In Costa Rica highlands follow. Panama is a low plateau. The rivers flow mostly into the Gulf and the Caribbean. The climate is tropic and pestilential on the shores and along the streams, but moderate and healthful on the uplands. The rainfall is enormous, 200 inches at Panama, and creates heavy vegetation.

In geological formation, it differs from North and South America, and appears to belong to a different system, related to the West Indies, the mountain folds having an east and west trend, and apparently having no connection or relation to the Rocky Mountain and Andean systems of North and South America. Its length is 1,280 miles and maximum breadth 315 miles, dwindling to 28 miles at the Isthmus of Panama. The area is 207,474 square miles, and the population about 4,803,487, Panama included.

The animals of Central America are those of South America. There are heavy forests which are rich in mahogany and other valuable woods. The chief products are fruits, coffee, rubber, sugar, indigo and tobacco; corn, wheat and rice are grown to some extent. Mineral resources are great, including gold, silver, platinum, copper, lead, iron and zinc.


The New Student's Reference Work (1914)

Regional Sub-Divisions

Available Books


Image Name
Group of Indians
Jardin de la Plaza de Armas
La Villa de Guadalupe Tomada en Globo el Dia 13 de Diciembre
Molino de Belen Lomas de Santa Fe Tacubaya
Trajes Mexicanos (II)
Plaza de Santo Domingo
Atrio del Convento de San Francisco 1860 (II)
Casa Municipal o Disputacion
Interior de la Catedral de Mexico
Central America - Port Realejo
Back Cover
Birds-Eye View of the Panama Canal
Restored Toscanelli chart of 1474
Day-ak, a San Bias chief, from Rio Diablo
Trajes Mexicanos (III)
Atrio del Convento de San Francisco 1860 (I)
La Fuente del Salto del Agua
Ruined Church of Santo Domingo, Panama
Cascada de Tizapan Sn. Angel
Title Page
Nombre de Dios, in 1909
Surveying for the Panama Railroad
Trajes Mexicanos (IV)
Plaza de Armas de Mexico
Culebra Cut, in 1910
El Paseo de la Viga
Title Page
Sir Henry Morgan
El Mercado de Iturbide Antigua, Plaza de San Juan
Ruins of the Castle of San Lorenzo
Front Cover
Plano General de la Ciudad de Mexico 1875
Bronze statue of Columbus on Cristobal Point
Plaza de Morelos
Plan of Portobelo, in 1602
Battle of Old Panama
Interior de la Alameda de Mexico (I)
Tree-dwelling Indians in the lowlands of Panama
Interior de la Alameda de Mexico (II)
Back Cover
Interior of ruined Church, Old Panama
Plaza de San Agustin de las Cuevas Ciudad de Tlalpam (II)
Front Cover
Bosque de Chapultepec
Vasco Nunez de Balboa takes possession of the South Sea
El Pueblo de Ixtacalco 1869
Port of Realejo 1859
Sir Francis Drake
Triangular monument and Washington House, Colon
Cruces, formerly called Yenta de Cruces
Cathedral tower of Old Panama
Gorgon Villa with a View of Grey Town, March 1860
Sea-wall of Panama at low tide
Piedra Pintada
Back Cover
Panciaco tells Balboa of the South Sea
Back Cover
Columbus encounters great storms off Veragua
Paseo de Bucareli
Trajes Mexicanos (V)
Colegio de Mineria
Catedral de Mexico
View of Plantation just below Machuca Rapids, River San Juan
Basalt tool
San Antonio Chimalistaca Entrance de Sn. Angel (II)
La Fuente de la Tlaxpana
Decorated vase from Indian graves
Eastern Suburb of Panama Railway - Terminus on the Right
Estacion de Puebla Inauguracion del Camino de Fierro
Carta General de la Republica Mexicana 1872
Golden figures from the guacas of Chiriqui
Trajes Mexicanos Soldados del sur 1855
Book Display
La Alameda de Mexico tomada en Globe
Lacenta, chief of the Dariens, and retinue
Columbus makes the egg stand on end
Plaza de San Agustin de las Cuevas Ciudad de Tlalpam (I)
Delta of the River San Juan
Isthmian jungle
Gatun on the Chagres, in 1907
Method of transporting horses
Trajes Mexicanos (I)
Map of Central America and the West Indies
Chagres River near Gorgona
Bellin's map of the Isthmus, 1754
Title Page
San Antonio Chimalistaca Entrance de Sn. Angel (I)
Plan of Port Fitzroy
Street in village of Taboga
Front Cover
Indios Kikapoos presentados a Sm. Maximiliano 1865
El Valle de Mexico tomado desde las alturas de Chapultepec
La Ciudad de Mexico 1869


Map Name
The Panama Canal - Birds-Eye View of the Panama Canal (1913)
The Gate of the Pacific - Map Shewing Lines of Communication via New Transmit Route Through Central America (1863)
The Gate of the Pacific - Map of Central America (1863)


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