Central America Population 2023


Central America is a region located at the southernmost point of North America. To the north, it is bordered by Mexico, and to the south, it connects to South America through Colombia. Seven countries make up the area of Central America, which has an estimated 2016 population of over 44.5 million.

Central America is a region that is comprised of the southernmost countries in North America. These countries are bordered by Mexico, connect North America to South America. A total of seven countries make up Central America: Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama. The total area of Central America is 202,230 square miles, or 523,780 square kilometers, and the average population density is 210 people per square mile, or 81 per square kilometer. The total population, based on 2015 estimates, is 44.53 million.

Central America is a very ethnically diverse area, with the majority of the population made up of mestizo people. There are also high populations of White and Mayan residents spread throughout the seven countries. The official language spoken through the majority of Central America is Spanish, although English is the official language in Belize. Mayan languages are also spoken in some regions. Over 95% of Central American's residents are Christian, with the majority practicing Roman Catholicism. Central America has very unique geographic features spread across its land mass, such as high mountains and fertile valleys, which is where coffee, tobacco, beans and other crops are grown.

Populations of Central American Countries

The population of Central America exceeds 43 million, and this number is spread across just seven countries. Guatemala is by far the most populous, almost doubling the population of 2nd-ranked Honduras. The populations of each Central American country based on 2015 estimates are:

  • Guatemala: 14,918,999
  • Honduras: 8,746,673
  • El Salvador: 6,141,350
  • Nicaragua: 5,907,881
  • Costa Rica: 4,814,144
  • Panama: 3,657,024
  • Belize: 347,369

Despite being the most populous country, Guatemala is only the 3rd largest country by area, at just 108,890 square kilometers. The largest Central American country by area is Nicaragua, which spans across 130,373 square kilometers.

Largest Central American Cities

With a total population of over 44 million across seven countries, it only makes sense that Central America has multiple cities that exceed the one million population milestone, at least in the most populous countries. The five largest cities by population located in Central America are: (according to the last census data from each country)

  • Guatemala City, Guatemala: 3,700,000
  • San Salvador, El Salvador: 2,415,217
  • Managua, Nicaragua: 1,918,000
  • Tegucigalpa, Honduras: 1,819,000
  • San Pedro Sula, Honduras: 1,600,000

Population Growth in Central America

Central America has faced problems with its population in past decades with soaring population growth and an economy and infrastructure that was struggling to keep up with the rising population. However, in recent years, the economy has stabilized as the region has integrated with the US market, regional GDP has risen and Central America has outperformed Latin America. There are multiple opportunities for economic growth, particularly seen in Nicaragua and Panama. The region does still face some challenges, however, including the lack of transportation networks, high rates of drug crimes and violence and even difficulty meeting electricity demands for industrial expansion. However, the region has made significant progress in bouncing back from economic downturns and overcoming challenges in the past, so it will be interesting to see just how much the area grows over the next few decades.

Is Central America a Continent?

The question “is Central America a continent” is a common question, as it does appear to many as its own region. This tropical hot spot of the world is called Central America because it lies in between North and South America as a Central region. Central America is composed of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Belize, Nicaragua, Panama, Honduras, and Guatemala.

Central America is a region not a continent. It is approximately 1,140 miles or 1,835 kilometers long from the north to the south. Its narrowest point, however, is only 30 miles wide, a marker of the entire region. Every spot in Central America is less than 125 miles or 200 kilometers from water, or, approximately 1.5 hours driving time.

The Land of Central America

The land of Central America is as unique as the region itself, with tropics in the lowlands and evergreens sweeping the Pacific Coast. The timber from the evergreens has been used to fuel the economy of Central America, so the forests of evergreens of yesterday are not quite what they are today. Still, they contribute to a large mammal population.

Population of Central America

Eight countries comprise Central America, which is why so many people ask, “is Central America a continent”? The answer is no, but it is a densely populated region. Central America is comprised of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Panama, and Belize.

The United Nations estimates that approximately 182,427,775 people live in Central America. This region comprises approximately 2.31 percent of the entire population of the world with a population density of 73 people per square kilometer. It is a largely urban region with 77.2 percent of the people living in urban centers.

Mexico is the largest country in Central America, with the most people, home to over 128 million people. Guatemala comes in second, with almost 18 million in population. Honduras has a population of almost 10 million people. Nicaragua has 6.6 million, El Salvador 6.4 million, Costa Rica 5 million, Panama 4.3 million, and Belize is home to almost 400,000 people.

The ethnicity in the entire region is mixed. Three-fifths are a mixture of European and Indian descent, and one-fifth of the population is Indian. The Indian population can largely be found in Guatemala. There are also many communities referred to as mixed African and European descent, as the region is home to many immigrants.

When you are asking, “is Central America a continent”, the question is common. With so many ethnicities and different climates, it is no wonder that people ask this question. This region of many countries and many languages offers an eclectic taste of the world, but is not a continent.

Central America Population 2023


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Countries in Central America


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Central America Population History and Projections

  1. World Population Prospects (2022 Revision) - United Nations population estimates and projections.