Humanities › History & Culture The Countries of Central America Seven Nations, One Land Share Flipboard Email Print History & Culture Latin American History Central American History History Before Columbus Colonialism and Imperialism Caribbean History South American History Mexican History American History African American History African History Ancient History and Culture Asian History European History Genealogy Inventions Medieval & Renaissance History Military History The 20th Century Women's History View More By Christopher Minster Professor of History and Literature Ph.D., Spanish, Ohio State University M.A., Spanish, University of Montana B.A., Spanish, Penn State University Christopher Minster, Ph.D., is a professor at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito in Ecuador. He is a former head writer at VIVA Travel Guides. our editorial process Christopher Minster Updated April 07, 2018 Central America, the stretch of land between Mexico and South America, has a long and troubled history of war, crime, corruption, and dictatorship. These are the nations of Central America. 01 of 07 Guatemala, Land of Eternal Spring Kryssia Campos / Getty Images The largest Central American nation in terms of population, Guatemala is a place of great beauty...and great corruption and crime. The stunningly beautiful lakes and volcanoes of Guatemala have been the scene of massacres and repression for centuries. Dictators like Rafael Carrera and Jose Efrain Rios Montt ruled the land with an iron fist. Guatemala also has the most significant native population of all of Central America. Its biggest problems today are poverty and drug trafficking. 02 of 07 Belize, Island of Diversity Karen Brodie/Moment/Getty Images Once part of Guatemala, Belize was occupied for a while by the British and was known as British Honduras. Belize is a small, laid-back nation where the vibe is more Caribbean than Central American. It is a popular tourist destination, featuring Mayan ruins, nice beaches, and world-class SCUBA diving. 03 of 07 El Salvador, Central America in Miniature John Coletti/Photolibrary/Getty Images The smallest of the Central American nations, El Salvador's many problems make it seem larger. Wracked by a civil war in the 1980's, the nation has yet to recover. The rampant corruption in the nation means that a high percentage of the young labor force tries to emigrate to the United States or other nations. El Salvador has much going for it, including friendly people, nice beaches, and stable government since the early 1990's. 04 of 07 Honduras, Ruins and Diving Jane Sweeney/AWL Images/Getty Images Honduras is an unlucky nation. It is a center of dangerous gang and drug activity, the political situation is occasionally unstable and to top it off it regularly gets socked by monster hurricanes and natural disasters. Cursed with arguably the worst crime rate in Central America, Honduras is a nation that constantly seems to be looking for answers. It is home to the best Mayan ruins in Central America outside of Guatemala and the diving is superb, so perhaps the tourism industry will help this nation pull itself up. 05 of 07 Costa Rica, Oasis of Tranquility DreamPictures/The Image Bank/Getty Images Costa Rica has had by far the most peaceful history of the nations of Central America. In a region known for wars, Costa Rica has no army. In a region known for corruption, the president of Costa Rica is a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. Costa Rica encourages foreign investment and it is an island of relative prosperity in Central America. 06 of 07 Nicaragua, Natural Beauty daviddennisphotos.com/Moment/Getty Images Nicaragua, with its lakes, rainforests, and beaches, is packed with natural beauty and wonder. Like many of its neighbors, Nicaragua has been traditionally plagued by strife and corruption, but you'd never know it from the friendly, laid-back people. 07 of 07 Panama, Land of the Canal Dede Vargas/Moment/Getty Images Once part of Colombia, Panama always has been and always will be defined by the famous canal that links the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Panama itself is a land of great natural beauty and is a growing visitor destination.