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Is América Central the same as Centroamérica?

As it is known in English, “Central America” is not an autonomous geographical entity, it is an isthmian region in the middle of the America's. Although there are seven countries that are part of the

Is América Central the same as Centroamérica?

As it is known in English, “Central America” is not an autonomous geographical entity, it is an isthmian region in the middle of the America’s. Although there are seven countries that are part of the geographic region known as América Central, not all of them are included within the politically-defined as Centroamérica.

This fact is about the people cultural elements and has been discussed in many articles such as “Framing the Center: Belize and Panamá within the Central American Imagined Community“. This is due to a mixture of historical, cultural and even racial reasons. At the center of this debate are Belize and Panamá, two republics that are outsiders in the region’s history. On the other hand, we have El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Costa Rica, who have a profound historical link that has unified them since the Colonial era.

However, how is this possible? Well, Panama and Belize have their own historical explanations for this phenomenon, so let’s talk about each case separately.

Is América Central the same as Centroamérica?

Panamá

After it’s independence from the Spain empire, and unlike the other Central American countries that decided to join The Captaincy General of Guatemala, an administrative division of New Spain; Panamá opted to become part of the Greater Colombia known in Spanish as la Gran Colombia (formerly Viceroyalty of New Granada) along with modern-day territories of Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador.

The Greater Colombia dissolved in 1830 and Panamá was absorbed by Colombia, where it would remain until it became a Republic in 1903. These historical milestones set a trend for how the region would function as a whole in the future.

In the simplest terms, Centroamérica is home of the five countries how were once part of the The Captaincy General of Guatemala: El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Costa Rica.

Belize

This country it’s particularly easy to unlink from Centroamérica based on its divergent colonial roots. This is because this country was colonized by the British empire.

Another relevant factor is the racial prejudice, since the Black community is much smaller in Centroamérica, due to their different history with immigration and slavery. Unfortunately, racism is present here just like any other part of the world. Belize has the highest Black/Afro-descendant population in América Central, therefore this could be consider another reason that explains why this country is not included within the social imaginary that is called Centroamérica.

However, it’s important to mention that there are other factors related to the self-exclusion both countries have experienced over the years. What does this mean?

Panama has been historically excluded due to the U.S. intervention and how it impacted it’s economy and the political relations with the other countries of the region. Panama is the wealthiest republic in the isthmus and has perhaps, the most positive international perception associated with its economic prosperity.

Belize’s self-exclusion was generated by the fact that their official language is English, not Spanish. Understandably, this nation stands apart from the rest of the Central American countries for linguistic reasons and the cultural differences that this entails.

Feel free to reach out, if you have any questions or comments about immigration processes to Costa Rica or Panamá, including Real Estate and Business opportunities.

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mchavarria@outlierlegal.com

She serves as an Senior Immigration Client Services Coordinator at Outlier Legal and has a degree in Political Science and is currently a Law student. María José Chavarría worked in the Visa Unit and the Immigration Management at DGME, as a consultant at the International Organization for Migration and as an observer for the TSE in the municipal elections. Dedicated and helpful are some adjectives that fit her perfectly.

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