Mexico, Central America & Caribbean

Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean represent the lower part of the North American continent. While they vary greatly both culturally and geographically from the northern part of the continent (the US and Canada), the countries in this region share many affinities with each other, forming the northern portion of what is often called Latin America.

Mexico and Central America share a pre-Colombian history as part of several Mesoamerican civilizations, including the Mayans and Aztecs. It is one of only five regions of the world where complex civilizations and writing systems were independently developed.

The distinct Mesoamerican cultural tradition ended with the Spanish conquest in the 16th century. Over the next centuries, Mesoamerican indigenous cultures were gradually subjected to Spanish colonial rule. Aspects of the Mesoamerican cultural heritage still survive among the indigenous peoples who inhabit both Mexico and Central America, many of whom continue to speak their ancestral languages, and maintain many practices harking back to their Mesoamerican roots.

The Caribbean Sea (aka West Indies) are an extensive archipelago located to the east of Mexico and Central America, between the US and South America. While the region comprises more than 700 islands, islets, reefs, and cays, these are organized within 30 political territories including sovereign states, overseas departments, and dependencies. The larger islands that make up the northwestern Upper Antilles get the major of travelers, in part of their relative accessibility and lower costs. The smaller islands of the southeastern Lower Antilles are more remote and higher cost, but also come closer to the tropical island ideal many travelers seek.

Mexico, Central America & Caribbean (photo by Wikimedia Commons)

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