Central America is usually considered as comprising those countries south of Mexico and north of South America: Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Belize (formerly British Honduras), Costa Rica, and Panama. The population there continues to explode, having doubled between 1960 and 1984. About half of the people are age fifteen or younger. The mountainous sections have a pleasant, springlike climate; the lower sections are tropical in character. Parts of the area are scenic and some places are historically interesting.
The violence going on in Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala has cast a pall over the entire Central American region. Even though Costa Rica and Panama are not directly involved, the number of North Americans going there has dropped since 1980. In 1981 U.S. citizens’ air departures for Panama were about thirty thousand. In that year Costa Rica received about forty-eight thousand arrivals by air from the United States. Guatemala had 41,233 arriving by air from the United States; Honduras had 31,275.
Costa Rica, Honduras, and Guatemala have the best tourist potential. Access by air to the region from the United States is easy, with frequent flights by the national airlines. Mexico City and Panama City are connecting points for the region. The Pan American Highway runs from the U.S. border through Mexico on into Panama. Parts of the highway are still incomplete or in poor condition.