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
John Edwards
Associate Professor - Economics
E. Wyllys Andrews, V
Professor Emeritus - Anthropology
Justin Wolfe
Associate Professor - History, Arceneaux Professorship in Latin American History

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Central America: People and the Environment Asynchronous Institute

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Register now for the ASYNCHRONOUS COURSE which opens up in July
Please note, the synchronous blended institute taking place June 14 – 25 is no longer accepting registrants.

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. It is not required to have participated in past institutes to join us.

The Stone Center for Latin American Studies at Tulane University is excited to host and coordinate this year’s institute. Tulane University and New Orleans are both unique and important places to explore the deep connections to Central America with a focus on people and environment. With presentations by leading historians and sociologists on Central America, environment and race we are excited to share the work and resources from presenters as well as the unique resources at Tulane.

YOU MAY REGISTER FOR THE ASYNCHRONOUS COURSE WHICH OPENS UP IN JULY

NOW REGISTERING FOR THE ASYNCHRONOUS INSTITUTE For more information, please email dwolteri@tulane.edu or call 504.865.5164. Space is limited.