Central America

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

Central America consists in the string of states extending down the land bridge connecting N. to S. America, from the southern provinces of mexico to Panama itself. From north to south, after Mexico, these are: Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama. Except for Belize (which has only a Caribbean coastline) and El Salvador (facing only the Pacific), all these republics have ocean views on both sides.

Although this looks like a ‘region’ on the map, the term is not entirely appropriate, since the area includes a bewildering variety of habitats and climates. There are high mountains and tropical coastal plains, temperate pine forests and deep jungle, pasture land and orchard zones—providing homes for a rich palette of foods and fruits, and foster homes for many imports by colonists, not least the cash crops sugar cane, bananas, and coffee.