With its snake-like twisted shape (somewhat reminiscent of a long-necked brontosaurus or the Ness Lake monster emerging out of the water!) Central America is indeed a place to let your imagination run wild. Marking the dividing land between North America and South America and connecting the Pacific and the Atlantic Ocean, this bridge-like subcontinent certainly has a lot to say about itself and the many cultures it encompasses!
It's easy to overlook Central America when you consider its tiny size and unfussed attitude towards the relentlessly fast-paced development in the rest of the world. With virtually intact traditions and ways of life that have little changed over the years, this is one part of the world that still feels rewardingly remote and ideal for losing yourself in the landscape among the charming, easy-going people.
Central America may only span 50 kilometres at its widest point, a mere total land mass of 523 square kilometres and a population just a little over the size of Spain's...yet you'd be seriously missing out if you skipped this somewhat less-explored part of the Americas. With much less tourist crowds in most places, it means in many respects Central America has remained unaltered with ...all the more to your benefit as an avid explorer!
Different geography experts around the world are divided over what they consider to be part of Central America. Depending on who you ask, Mexico may or may not be considered a part of it. Yet, the most widely accepted version is that Mexico belongs to North America and therefore Central America comprises seven countries only: Guatemala, Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama, in roughly that order from north to south.
Which cherry to pick among so many juicy ones? Well, it largely depends on what you're after but surely none will disappoint. While Costa Rica is perhaps the most known and visited of them all, with its paradisiacal and zealously protected natural habitats, sustainable hotels and sanctuary resorts plus treetop adventures, active volcanoes and misty cloud rainforests, there's much beyond in the rest of Central America to be discovered, much of which hasn't been shouted about loud enough.
Take for example Nicaragua, the largest of all Central American countries, with far more off-the-beaten appeal and a wider variety of sceneries, from aesthetically appealing colonial architecture, to rough and rugged terrains, dramatic lakes (home to floating volcanic islands and sharks!), fierce volcanoes bubbling with sparks of lava to utterly tranquil sun-kissed beaches. All that and more in one single country, and we haven't even begun to touch on Guatemala's fascinating Tikal Mayan ruins or Panama's rustically charming Bocas del Toro or the awesome diving opportunities on Hondura's virginal Bay Islands.
That's Central America, a land where the remnants of great ancient Mesoamerican civilisations still live on, and where you can find unadulterated rural towns, villages and tribes speaking a variety of languages and dialects deriving from Mayan origin. All of that peacefully coexisting against the stark contrasts of modern, trendy and pulsating urban settings like Panama City, which by the way, is just a few hours away from pure and blissful rural seclusion or verdant rainforest action ...Could it get more enticing? Only if you discover it for yourself.