Roger Thayer Stone Center For Latin American Studies

Tulane University

Central America

In political terms, Central America consists of seven independent nations: Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama. With the exception of Costa Rica and Panama, where national borders coincide with geographical and human frontiers, political boundaries are artificial and were marked out in defiance of both the lay of the land and the cultural groupings of the region’s peoples.

Geographically, Central America can be divided into four broad zones: Petén-Belize; the Caribbean coasts of Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua; the Pacific volcanic region; and Costa Rica-Panama. The geographic and biological diversity of Central America- with its cool highlands and steaming lowlands, its incredible variety of microclimates and environments, its seemingly infinite types of flora and fauna, and its mineral wealth- has been a major factor in setting the course of the cultural history of Central America.

For many years, Central Americans have been peoples in motion. Migrants who have moved from rural areas into the cities have often been driven from lands they once owned. Recent turmoil in Central America created another group of people on the move-refugees from the fighting in their own countries or from the persecution by extremists of the political left and right. Central America still feels the effects of civil war and violence. Armies, guerrillas, and terrorists of the political left and right have exacted a high toll on human lives and property.

Central American economics, always fragile, have in recent years been plagued by a combination of vexing problems. Foreign debt, inflation, currency devaluations, recession, and, in some instances, outside interference have had deleterious effects on the standard of living in all the countries. Civil war, insurgency, corruption and mismanagement, and population growth have added fuel to the crisis-not only in the region’s economies but also in their societies. Nature, too, has played an important contributory role in the region’s economic and social malaise. Hurricane Mitch, which struck Central America in 1998, killed thousands, destroyed crops and property, and disrupted the infrastructure of roads and bridges in Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and El Salvador.

Excerpt from Paul B. Goodwin’s Global Studies: Latin America, 13th Ed. (17-22)

Central America + People View All
Justin Wolfe
Associate Professor - History, Arceneaux Professorship in Latin American History
Antonio Barrios
Clinical Assistant Professor - Urology Department, Director - International Liaison for Advanced Urologic Care
Suyapa Inglés
SCLAS Assistant Director of Administration

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Online Summer Book Group for K-12 Educators

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For pre-service, early career and veteran teachers who love reading and learning through literature who want to explore award-winning books for the middle and early high school classrooms. Join us as we read four books that explore stories of coming-of-age from multiple perspectives. Participants will receive a copy of each book and participate in an open discussion with other K-12 educators. We will launch the book group with The Other Half of Happy. The group will meet online and explore the real story behind this award-winning book with the author Rebecca Balrcárcel. Join us this summer as we discover new stories and books for your classroom.

Register here for $15 (includes all 4 books).

All online Zoom meetings are at 7:00 PM CST.

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Sponsored by the Stone Center for Latin American Studies and AfterCLASS at Tulane University. For more information, please email crcrts@tulane.edu.

Central America, People and the Environment Educator Institute 2021

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This summer educator institute is the third institute in a series being offered by Tulane University, The University of Georgia and Vanderbilt University. This series of institutes is designed to enhance the presence of Central America in the K-12 classroom. Each year, participants engage with presenters, resources and other K-12 colleagues to explore diverse topics in Central America with a focus on people and the environment.

While at Tulane, the institute will explore the historic connections between the United States and Central America focusing on indigenous communities and environment while highlighting topics of social justice and environmental conservation. Join us to explore Central America and teaching strategies to implement into the classroom.

Additional details and registration will be available in the late fall 2020. For more information, please email dwolteri@tulane.edu or call 504.865.5164.