Central America Tours

Most Australians travelling to Central America visit more than one country on their holiday, crossing borders to get a true taste for the diversity this destination has to offer. 
Where to start: There are numerous gateways in Central America, the most common for Australians being Panama City, San Jose and Mexico City. From there, it will depend on what your style of travel is as to where you want to go. 
Central America is one of the world’s most extraordinary destinations and a tour can offer the perfect blend of culture, history, nature and tradition.
What’s it like? While Mexico is often described as Central America’s hub of history and culture, some of its neighbours also offer an impressive array of archaeological sites. Guatemala, for instance, impresses with its colour, vibrancy, volcanoes and a multitude of historic sites.  
Cuba is one of Central America’s most iconic destinations with its vintage cars, colonial settlements, traditional haciendas and postcard perfect stretches of white sand and turquoise waters.
To see some of the world’s most renowned beaches, we recommend a Belize tour where you can snorkel the UNESCO Natural World Heritage Barrier reef. Mexico’s Cancun and Tulum as well as Cuba and its surrounding islands, are perfect places for beach hopping.
For the nature and wildlife enthusiast, Costa Rica & Panama as well as Honduras & Nicaragua are popular choices and can show you the road less travelled and introduce you to forested mountains, giant lakes, picturesque Caribbean islands and some of Central America’s unique wildlife species.
For food lovers, a gastronomic experience awaits with Central America boasting some of the world’s most delicious cuisines.
Travelling to Central America from Australia can be achieved in different ways and depends on what part of Central America you would like to explore.  
Getting there:  Generally, the easiest and quickest way for Australians to get to Central America is via LA on QANTAS, Virgin Australia, United Airlines or Delta. QANTAS also fly direct to Dallas, from where there are a multitude of flight options into regional Central American cities. One of Central America’s largest airport hubs is Panama City, which can be reached from either LA or Dallas. From Panama City it’s possible to travel to almost any destination across Central America.
More information: Below we have shown you just a fraction of the options available for Central America travel. Browse to get an idea of where you want to travel.
Still wondering? Contact us:  You are definitely better off giving us a call or dropping us a line and letting us do the hard work for you. 
#Livefortoday and book your Central America tour with us today. Chimu Adventures is Australia’s Latin America and Polar specialist and can put together an itinerary to suit you.

The entire trip was very well planned - all the drivers and guides were amazing. All airport transfers and pick up for tours went smoothly. I was very impressed with the level of service. When planning the trip all our requests were adhered to - Sharon

Read Reviews (Avg 4.8 ★)

Featured Central America Trips & Deals

POPULAR  From 4,560

This amazing journey provides an insight into both Mexico & Guatemala's Mayan heritage and their differences - from food, to culture and identity.

POPULAR  From 5,929

Embark on a 7 day cruise along the famous Panama Canal on board the impressive Discovery ship.


A world leader in luxury expeditions, Ponant offer authentic and sophisticated voyages immersing you in environments hidden-away and accessible only to small ships. 

Central America Multi Country Tours

14 NIGHTS From 5,870

Discover the sites and sounds of colourful Mexico & Peru on this extensive 15-day trip. Explore Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, Mexico city & Chichen Itza.

14 NIGHTS From 9,580

Explore Mayan empire, dive into the fascinating Maya civilization & learn more about their way of life, traditions & culture.

22 NIGHTS From 9,090

Explore the best of Central America visiting Panama, Cuba, Guatemala, Belize and Mexico on this 22-day journey,

Places to Visit

Belize & Guatamala

Guatemala is rich in culture, history and natural beauty and like Belize offers Caribbean beaches and tropical rainforest as well as colourful market towns and volcanic peaks.

Costa Rica & Panama

A trip to Panama and Costa Rica would not be complete without visiting the Panama Canal and the Arenal Volcano. 

Cuba & the Caribbean Islands

Cuba may be poor economically but it is rich in culture and history, a fascinating place waiting to be explored. 

Honduras & Nicaragua

With the beautiful beaches and coral reefs in Honduras and the natural beauty and turbulent history in Nicaragua is it beautiful to combine this trip in your itinerary.


Mexico caters for all tastes with its ancient ruins, historic colonial cities, white-sand beaches, friendly indigenous towns, snow-capped mountains, vast deserts, giant cacti, rivers and rainforests, caves and cenotes.

Articles On Central America Multi Country

Press release: Affordable Antarctica

Posted on Thu, 07 Feb 2019

Antarctica for just over $7000. Chimu make cruises to Antarctica affordable without compromising on quality and sustainability. Sydney, Thursday 7th February 2019 Latin America and Polar specialists, Chimu Adventures, have made cruises to Antarctica more affordable at a price of just over AU$7000 so that the continent can be accessed by a wider demographic of travellers. This comes at a …


How to Dodge the Crowds in Patagonia

Posted on Wed, 06 Feb 2019

Want Patagonia to Yourself? Do THIS! Revered for being wild, remote, unpredictable and utterly astounding, Patagonia appears – at least on paper – to be an unlikely candidate for tourist overcrowding. Yet the fact remains: when roads are few, highlights world-famous, tourist season short and nature resplendent, you’ll be amazed at just how crowded some of its biggest highlights – …


Affordable Antarctica? You bet!

Posted on Tue, 05 Feb 2019

An affordable expedition to Antarctica is usually considered an oxymoron in many ways. Is this not the most expensive place in the world to visit, after all? Well, not if we get our way! Travel to Antarctica on our chartered MS Ocean Endeavour expeditions 2020, 2021, 2022 Cruising Seasons Prices starting from AU$7,090 The way we see it, whilst travelling …


10 Super Cool Facts About Greenland You Need to Know

Posted on Mon, 04 Feb 2019

Enigmatic, hard-to-reach and impossible to explore by road – discover why Greenland is the most fascinating Arctic destination of all. Greenland is one of the most captivating places you could ever visit – the least touristy in the Arctic in summer and certainly the one people know the least about. If you’ve ever glanced at a world map, you’d certainly …


Long Service Leave Coming Up? Why South America Beckons

Posted on Mon, 04 Feb 2019

Deciding where to take your long-service leave is inarguably one of the toughest choices you’ll ever have to make, travel-wise of course. One works long and hard to accumulate a substantial amount of paid leave and the pressure to do something meaningful and rewarding with the free time is not without its merits. You could stay home, of course, and …


Iceland VS Greenland – Which is Better on Arctic Expeditions?

Posted on Mon, 04 Feb 2019

An icy Arctic conundrum to be solved – Iceland VS Greenland – which one should you visit? It’s certainly a question we get often enough – which destination is better for Arctic expeditions: Iceland or Greenland? Although differences between the two abound, there is a lot they have in common: both are exceptionally picturesque (for different reasons) and both offer …


Why Australian Travellers Should Travel to Antarctica in 2019

Posted on Thu, 31 Jan 2019

Expedition cruises to Antarctica are tipped to be the hottest travel trend for 2019 and it’s really not very surprising. ‘Hottest’ being a more poignant term than we’d ever wish to use in this context. It’s no secret that ice melt in the southernmost region of our planet is increasing at an alarming rate and this means there’s never been …


When is the Best Time to See the Northern Lights?

Posted on Thu, 31 Jan 2019

Want to chase the dancing Aurora Borealis of the Arctic? Read on to find out when you should be planning your voyage to the northernmost region of our planet. The Northern Lights are one of our planet’s most astonishing natural phenomena and, as such, are about as predictable as the weather. Which is to say, not very predictable at all. …


Patagonia Highlights – The Best Things to See and Do

Posted on Thu, 24 Jan 2019

The southernmost region of South America, shared by Argentina and Chile, is the prime destination for nature-lovers and active travellers who head to the continent at the end of the year. They know that during the Austral summer, between November and March, Patagonia is at her most resplendent. Her lakes shimmer in an abundance of sunlight, her mountain peaks appear …


Meet The Wildlife of Svalbard

Posted on Wed, 23 Jan 2019

Known As the ‘Wildlife Capital of the Arctic’, the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard is a magnificent place to visit if spotting polar bears, whales, walruses and other unique wildlife is on your bucket-list A magical world of ice, snow and unique wildlife – this is Svalbard in a nutshell. One of the northernmost inhabited places on earth, about halfway between …


Central America Reviews

All Chimu Adventures' clients are given the opportunity to review their trip once they return home. These reviews are administered by a third party and as such are unfiltered by Chimu Adventures.

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Mexico and Guatemala - fabulous!!! We travelled through Mexico - from Mexico City, to Palenque, San Cristobel del la Casas, then into Guatemala. Was a wonderful trip with some fantastic accommodation, and awesome food. Particularly loved Antigua which was beautiful town, fabulous scenery, great food, getting to see an active volcano and stayed at one of the best boutique hotels we have ever stayed at. Tikal - truly something everyone should see in their lifetime! Only one issue - the drive from Mexico to Guatemala was a very long day of 10 hours with no lunch break. Our driver said there were no appropriate restaurants along the way, which was the tour companies view. I think there needs to be a lunch break on such a long driving day to break up the journey. Our travel time was lengthened by road problems and traffic, but this should always be accounted for in travel plans. Other than that, was wonderful!
Date published: 2015-01-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic Trip!!! The entire trip was very well planned - all the drivers and guides were amazing. All airport transfers and pick up for tours went smoothly. I was very impressed with the level of service. When planning the trip all our requests were adhered to.
Date published: 2015-01-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Please Belize! You organised my own Belize itinerary to perfection. Viaventure (the Guatamalen agent) were first class! Five stars to both of you.
Date published: 2018-02-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Fascinating Cuba We loved Havana, learned a lot from the guides. Ancon peninsula stay was spoilt by a very mediocre hotel called Brisas Del mar
Date published: 2015-07-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from All tourist sites were magnificent and the tour guides were knowledgeable and most helpful.
Date published: 2018-04-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely incredible. Our trip started in Buenos Aires where our Hotel room had a view of the Recoleta cemetery which was a bit of a novelty-trying to spot spirits in the night LOL!!! Then we went to Iguazu Falls which are absolutely incredible and if you want to see a waterfall then this is the best you will see as they were in full flow when we were there and we did the boat ride under them which topped our stay off-just dont wear your whites when you go due to the river water being brown. Also lucky enough to spot Toucans(5) in the trees there as well as a couple of Caimans lurking about. Rio was great especially the food, it was the only day on our trip that it rained but it didnt bother us and for lunch we went to a Brazilian BBQ Grill where the meat just kept on coming and the Argentinian beef has a reputation for being the best in the world and you will find out why it is superb. Peru is a very poor but beautiful Country, the Andes are stunning, the Inca ruins amazing and are very well preserved, take spending money with you for a few pics with the locals as well as snapping up baby Alpaca jumpers for bargain prices compared to Australia.The shopping is cheap and great quality. The food again is excellent, i recommend Ciccolinas in Cusco and Insolinas in the Barranco district in Lima-lovely Lima, we loved it especially the pop up food market and entertainment on a weekend in the main square in Barranco. Our Hotel was exceptional, Raphael and his Team treat you like their own Family and the Hotel is just gorgeous with a huge bathtub, spacious shower and very comfortable beds. All in all, Chimu Adventures made sure we had the trip of our lives as we didnt want for a thing-the transfers all turned up on or before time, the Guides were fantastic, the food excellent and i could go on & on. Even though it is almost a third world Country it was an absolute treat to travle to.Would i travel with Chimu again?? You betchya and i hope to return one day.
Date published: 2018-04-08
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Country Information

Belize & Guatamala

HistoryThe Mayan civilisation spread across Belize and flourished until 900 AD. During the 17th and 18th centuries the Spanish and British disputed the region, and in 1854 Belize became the colony of British Honduras, but it was not until 1981 that Belize gained its independence. Guatemala did not recognize the new nation until 1992.Humans first settled Guatemala as far back as 12,000 BC. The Maya are probably the best known of the classical civilisations of Mesoamerica where they flourished in the tropical lowlands of Guatemala and surrounding regions. The Mayan civilisation reached its peak around the 6th century AD and they excelled at agriculture, pottery, hieroglyphics and mathematics. The Spanish arrived in 1519 and Guatemala was a Spanish colony for nearly three centuries. It won its independence in 1821. In the second half of the 20th century there were a variety of civilian and military governments and a guerrilla war that lasted for 36 years. A peace agreement was signed by the government in 1996, but by then over 200,000 people had been killed.GeographyBelize on the eastern coast of Central America is bordered by the Caribbean Sea, Mexico and Guatemala. The north of Belize is comprised of flat, swampy coastal plains, parts of which are heavily forested, and the south contains the Maya mountain range. The country has a tropical climate - very hot and humid, with a rainy season from May to November. Belize is prone to severe hurricanes from June to November. Natural resources include arable land potential, timber, fish and hydropower.Guatemala is bordered by Mexico, the Pacific Ocean, Belize, the Caribbean, Honduras and El Salvador. It is a mainly mountainous country with narrow coastal plains and rolling limestone plateau. Two mountain chains divide the country into three main regions – the mountainous highlands, the Pacific coast and the northern lowland area. These three regions vary in climate, elevation and landscape. The country is tropical, hot and humid in the lowlands but cooler in the highlands. The highest point of Guatemala is Volcan Tajumulco at 4,220m, the highest point in all of Central America. Guatemala’s natural resources include petroleum, nickel, rare woods, fish, chicle and hydropower.CultureIn Belize the Mestizo (mixed Amerindian-Spanish) make up nearly 50% of the population, 25% being Creole and 11% Maya. English is the official language but 46% of the population speaks Spanish, 33% Creole, 9% Mayan dialects and only 4% English. This is because the Mestizos are the largest ethnic group. Belize has a wide array of religions being practiced, but 40% of the population is Roman Catholic with 15% having no religion. Belizean cuisine is influenced by all the various ethnic groups and is similar in many ways to Mexican and Caribbean cuisine. Beans, rice and chicken feature heavily and in rural areas the dishes tend to be simpler than in the cities.Nearly 60% of Guatemala’s population is made up of Mestizo and European with the balance being nearly entirely Mayan cultures. Spanish is the official language of Guatemala spoken by 60% of the people, the indigenous population using 21 Mayan languages. Guatemala’s predominant religions are Roman Catholic and Protestant but there are also indigenous Mayan beliefs. The traditional foods of Guatemala are based on Mayan cuisine with corn, chillies and beans as the main ingredients. Guatemalan food tends to be less spicy than Mexican food, with the chillies being served separately. EconomyBelize’s economy is based primarily on the export of crude oil and petroleum, agriculture, agro-based industry and merchandising. Sugar is the main crop and the banana industry is the population’s largest employer. Tourism has become more important over recent years and is the main foreign exchange earner. Guatemala is the largest economy in Central America but even so more than half of the population is below the national poverty line, and 13% of the population lives in extreme poverty. The main agricultural exports include coffee, sugar, bananas and vegetables. Foreign investment is hampered by concerns over poor infrastructure, the lack of skilled workers and security issues.PoliticsBelize is a parliamentary democracy and a Commonwealth realm. Queen Elizabeth II is the chief of state and is represented by the Governor General. The monarchy is hereditary with the Governor General being appointed by the monarch. Guatemala is a constitutional democratic republic. The President of Guatemala is the head of state and head of government, and of a multi-party system. 

Costa Rica & Panama

HistoryIt is believed that Costa Rica was first occupied between 7,000 and 10,000 years BC. Christopher Columbus reached Costa Rica in 1502 and the conquistador Gil Gonzalez Davila landed in 1522 but the permanent settlement of Cartago was not established until 1563. The Spanish were defeated in 1821 and Central America was declared independent. Costa Rica joined the short-lived First Mexican Empire and after its collapse in 1823 it became a province of the new Federal Republic of Central America. The Costa Rican capital was moved from Cartago to San Jose in 1824, and Costa Rica proclaimed its sovereignty and independence in 1838. Since then, Costa Rica has remained one of the most stable, prosperous and progressive nations in Latin America.Several indigenous tribes inhabited Panama prior to permanent settlement by the Spanish in 1517. Christopher Columbus had established a short-lived settlement in the Darien in 1502. The torturous trek from the Atlantic to the Pacific in 1513 by Balboa showed that the isthmus was the path between the seas, and resulted in Panama becoming the crossroads of the Spanish empire in the New World. In 1821, Panama broke away from Spain and joined the Republic of Gran Colombia. This union was dissolved in 1831 but Panama and Nueva Granada remained joined and became the Republic of Colombia. In 1903, Panama split from Colombia with the support of the United States and finally gained its independence. GeographyCosta Rica is a small country in Central America bordered by Nicaragua, Panama, the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. It also comprises several islands including Cocos and Calero Islands. The climate is tropical and subtropical with a dry season and a rainy season. The Central Valley region has the highest population density. The Northern Plains is a mountainous region, home to volcanoes, hot springs and volcanic lakes. The Central Pacific region is the coastal zone that encompasses Manuel Antonio National Park. South Pacific Costa Rica is one of the most bio-diverse environments in the world. Guanacaste in the north is the “dry” region of Costa Rica. There are 14 known volcanoes in Costa Rica, 6 having been active in the last 75 years. Panama borders Colombia, Costa Rica and both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Being close to the equator, Panama generally has fairly consistent temperatures year round. There is a prolonged rainy season from May to November and a short dry season from December to April. The interior of Panama is comprised of upland plains and steep mountains, whereas the coastal areas are plains and rolling hills. The country is divided into regions, namely Central Panama, Caribbean West, Pacific West and Eastern Panama. CultureOver 80% of Costa Rica’s population is white or mestizo with mulattoes (mix of white and black) making up over 6%. Costa Rica also hosts many refugees, in particular from Nicaragua and Colombia. Costa Rican Spanish is the official and first language of Costa Rica although some native languages are still spoken in indigenous reservations. Along the Caribbean coast a Creole-English language (Jamaican patois) may be heard. The country’s predominant and official state religion is Roman Catholic. Costa Rican cuisine is a blend of various cuisines including Spanish, Native American, African and Caribbean. Tamale is a traditional dish made from corn and representative of the indigenous population. The culture, customs, and language of Panama are predominantly Caribbean and Spanish. 70% of the population is mestizo (mixed Amerindian and white), 14% is black/mulatto, 10% white and 6% Amerindian with 7 indigenous tribes. Spanish is the official language but many people speak English as well as Spanish and some speak native languages such as Guaymi and Kuna. Panama’s predominant religion is Roman Catholic. Cuisine is varied and in the larger cities you can find many styles of restaurant serving various international foods. In more rural areas the cuisine is Panamanian featuring seafood and beef and taking on the influences of Afro-Caribbean, French and Spanish. Most dishes are served with coconut rice and native vegetables.EconomyOver the years Costa Rica has enjoyed a fairly stable economic growth. The main agricultural exports include bananas, coffee, sugar and beef and tourism continues to bring in foreign exchange with the country being a key destination for ecotourism. Panama has the 2nd largest and the fastest growing economy in Central America. Revenue from the Panama Canal represents a significant portion of the country’s GDP. The canal was built by the US Army Corps of Engineers between 1904 and 1914, but was transferred to Panama at the end of 1999. It is of major economic importance as revenue from tolls pumps millions of dollars to the national economy and provides huge employment opportunities. PoliticsCosta Rica is a democratic republic, divided into 7 provinces that are further divided into 81 cantons. The cantons are each directed by a mayor, the mayors being chosen democratically by each canton every 4 years. Panama is a constitutional democracy. The President of Panama is the head of state and head of government, with the cabinet being appointed by the president. The US invaded Panama in 1989 to depose dictator Manuel Noriega and bring an end to the 21-year military dictatorship. 


HistoryCuba was originally inhabited by various American Indian tribes. Christopher Columbus landed on the island in 1492 and Cuba remained a colony of Spain until the Spanish-American War of 1898 despite a short lived British occupation of Havana in 1762. From 1898 Cuba was under the administration of the United States until it gained nominal independence in 1902 becoming the Republic of Cuba. The US still retained the right to intervene in Cuban affairs including finances and foreign relations. Over the years there were disputed elections, uprisings and revolts. Cuba came under the dictatorship of Batista in 1952 until he was ousted in 1959 by the July 26 Movement of which Ernesto "Che" Guevara was a part. A government was then established under the leadership of Fidel Castro and his legalization of the Communist Party and the many resulting executions led to the relationship between Cuba and the United States deteriorating. Sanctions were imposed in 1962.GeographyCuba is an archipelago of islands located between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean. Cuba is the principal island in the archipelago and largest Caribbean island. It lies between the Cayman Islands and the Bahamas, to the west of Haiti, east of Mexico and northwest of Jamaica. Most of Cuba is flat with rolling plains, but there are rugged hills and mountains in the southeast of the country. The climate is mainly tropical, most of the island lying south of the Tropic of Cancer. November to April tends to be drier with the rainy season running from May to October. Cuba’s natural resources include cobalt, nickel, iron ore, chromium, copper, salt, timber, silica, petroleum and arable land.CultureCuban culture is a melting pot of African, American, European, Caribbean and indigenous Taino influences. Over 64% of the population is white, nearly 27% mestizo and around 9% black. Spanish is the official language although the Spanish spoken in Cuba is known as Cuban Spanish, a form of Caribbean Spanish. Haitian Creole is the second largest language in Cuba and Lucumi, a dialect of the West African language can also be heard. Cuba’s predominant religion is Roman Catholic. Caribbean folk religions such as santería are also practiced. Cuban cuisine is a fusion of Spanish and Caribbean cuisines. Rice, black beans and plantains are staple foods of the Cuban diet. Pork and chicken may also be included but on the whole the food is fairly bland. EconomyPrior to Fidel Castro’s revolution of 1959, Cuba was one of the most successful countries of Latin America supplying 35% of the world’s export market in sugar. The Cuban revolution and the removal of Russian subsidies resulted in a collapse of the Cuban economy. In recent years there have been limited economic reforms and the dual currency system has been ended. Venezuela continues to provide Cuba with oil on preferential terms, paid for in part with the services of Cuban personnel in Venezuela, including 30,000 medical professionals. International relations are now in the process of being restored between Cuba and the United States. Cuba’s natural resources include sugar, tobacco, fish, citrus fruits, and coffee.PoliticsThe Republic of Cuba is one of the world’s last remaining communist states and the Cuban Communist Party is the only legal political party. Cuba is famous for its political instability and rebellions. After Fidel Castro seized power in 1959, Cuban insurgents fought a 6-year rebellion against the Castro government. Relations with the United States deteriorated with the legalization of communism. In 1960 Cuba signed a commercial trade agreement with the Soviet Union and in 1962 Cuba was suspended from the Organisation of American States and sanctions against Cuba imposed. Following the Soviet collapse of 1991 and subsequent withdrawal of Soviet subsidies, Castro’s government refused to accept aid from the US until 1993. Cuba now receives support from China and is close allies with Venezuela and Bolivia. The embargo between Cuba and the US has not yet been lifted but it is being relaxed to allow limited import, export and commerce between the two.

Honduras & Nicaragua

HistoryHonduras was inhabited by the Maya civilisation before being conquered by Spain in the 1524 with the help of armed forces from Mexico. Christopher Columbus had visited the Bay of Islands on the coast of Honduras in 1502 on his fourth and final voyage to the New World. The Spanish ruled for around 300 years, silver mining being the key factor in their conquest and settlement of the region. Honduras finally gained independence in 1821, becoming part of the First Mexican Empire, then the United Provinces of Central America, before becoming an independent republic in 1838.Western Nicaragua was originally inhabited by indigenous people related to the civilisations of the Aztec and Maya. The Spanish Empire conquered Nicaragua in the early 16th Century, the first Spanish settlements being founded in 1524 in Granada and then Leon. Like Honduras, Nicaragua gained independence in 1821, joined the First Mexican Empire and then the United Provinces of Central America before gaining full independence in 1838.GeographyHonduras is bordered by Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Honduras. It is the second largest country in Central America. The Caribbean coastline is long and includes the mainly uninhabited Mosquito Coast. The Honduran Highlands cover the centre of the country and Pacific Honduras to the south is the small region bordering the Pacific coast. Honduras is hot and humid year round, ranging from tropical in the lowlands to temperate in the mountains. Its natural resources include timber, gold, silver, copper, lead, zinc, iron ore, coal, fish and hydropower.Nicaragua, the largest country in Central America, borders Honduras and Costa Rica, with coastlines on the Caribbean Sea and North Pacific Ocean. It is known as the “land of lakes and volcanoes”. It is split into three distinct geographical areas - the Pacific lowlands, the wet, cooler central highlands and the Caribbean lowlands. The two largest freshwater lakes in Central America are found in Nicaragua - Lake Managua and Lake Nicaragua. Nicaragua’s natural resources include gold, silver, copper, tungsten, lead, zinc, timber and fish. CultureHonduran culture is a blend of mainly Spanish and indigenous culture. 90% of the population are mestizo (mixed Amerindian and European). There are several minority ethnic groups including the Lencas, Tawahkas, Miskitos and the Garífunas who were descended from African slaves from the Caribbean Islands. The Bay Islands are home to many Afro-Caribbean people and the culture of the islands is very different to the rest of Honduras. Spanish is the official language of Honduras although English is the native tongue of the Bay Islands. In Utila a hybrid of Spanish and English has developed. Native languages such as Miskito and Garifuna are spoken in various parts of the country. Honduras’s predominant religion is Roman Catholic although the Bay Islands are predominantly Protestant. The cuisine of Honduras also takes its influences from the various cultures of the country. A typical lunch consists of rice, beef, fried beans and fried plantain and may be served with chismol, a fresh, mild salsa made from tomatoes, green peppers, onions, cilantro and lime juice. The multi-ethnic population of Nicaragua has given rise to a mixture of cultural traditions. The majority of Nicaraguans are mestizo with many being descendants of the African slaves who were brought to Nicaragua in the 17th century to work on the banana plantations. Spanish is the first language of Nicaragua, but Indigenous tribes on the east coast speak native languages such as Miskito, Sumo and Rama as well as English Creole. Religion is a significant part of Nicaragua’s culture. Although the country has no official religion the majority of people are Roman Catholic. The cuisine of Nicaragua is a blend of criollo food and dishes of pre-Columbian origin. Corn is a main staple along with beans, cassava and rice. Gallo pinto is Nicaragua’s national dish and is made from white rice and red beans cooked together and then fried. EconomyHonduras is the second poorest country in Central America. Historically it was dependent on the export of coffee and bananas but has diversified and now also exports other fruit, woven goods, cigars, palm oil and gold. Honduras relies heavily on export trade with the US and signed a free trade agreement with the US in 2005. Nicaragua is the poorest country in Central America with about half of the population living below the poverty line. It is primarily an agricultural country with agricultural accounting for 60% of total exports. Nearly two thirds of the coffee crop comes from the northern part of the central highlands. Most of the bananas and sugar cane is grown in the northwest of Nicaragua. Mining is also becoming an important industry. PoliticsHonduras is a democratic constitutional republic. Since independence there have been hundreds of small internal rebellions and civil wars in Honduras and in the early 1900’s severe political unrest resulted in occupation by US Marines. In 1963 a military coup resulted in more than 20 years of military rule. A freely elected civilian government finally came to power in 1982. During the 1980’s Honduras was a haven for the anti-Communist contras fighting against Nicaragua’s Sandinista government. Nicaragua is a representative democratic republic. Since its independence, Nicaragua has undergone political unrest, dictatorship and economic crisis. The Contra War of the 1980’s cost the lives of tens of thousands of Nicaraguans. Both the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) and the Contras (counter revolutionary groups) received large amounts of aid from the Cold War super-powers - the Soviet Union and the US. The Contra War ended in 1989. Since 1990 the government has undertaken a number of reforms to restructure the country’s economy and liberalise the nation’s political system.

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