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Largest and Smallest Country in Central America

Central America is a narrow, southernmost region of the continent of North America, linked to South America at Colombia. It separates the Caribbean from the Pacific. It is bordered by Mexico to the north, Colombia to the south, the Caribbean Sea to the east, and the Pacific Ocean to the west.

Central America consists of seven countries: Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama. The estimated population of Central America in 2024 is  52,847,986  (52 million)

Source: UN World Population Prospects Report

Countries in Central America

The United Nations recognizes “North America” as comprising three areas: Northern America, Central America, and the Caribbean. Central America’s population is estimated at nearly 52 million people in 7 independent nations. 

Guatemala with an estimated population of 18 million is the most populated country in Central America by population. It is followed by Honduras (10.7 million) and Nicaragua (7 million). Belize is the smallest country in terms of population.

Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America by Area, It is spread over an area of 130,370 sq. km. It is followed by Honduras (112,090 sq. km.) and Guatemala (108,889 sq. km). El- Salvador with an area of 21,041 sq. km. is the smallest nation in Central America.

Let’s look at the Countries in Central America by Area & Population

#Central American CountriesArea (sq. km)2024 Estimated Population
4El Salvador21,0416,396,289
5Costa Rica51,1005,246,714

Source: UN World Population Prospects Report

Religion in Central America

Christianity is the largest Religion in Central America followed by more than 90% of the population. By Adherents Roman Catholicism is the largest followed by various branches of Protestants. Other Christian include Other Traditional Churches (Orthodox, Episcopalian, etc.) and contemporary churches (Mormons, Adventists, Scientology, etc.), also include Non-denominational Christian.

In the last few decades, there has been an increase in other Christian groups, particularly Protestantism, as well as other religious organizations, and individuals identifying themselves as having no religion. 

Other Non-Christian-based faiths population is at around 1-2 %. Non-Christian Faith includes Jewish, Islam, Baháʼí Faith, and Buddism are the main minority religions.

According to a 2020 report by the Latino barometer religion percentage in Central America is as follows

CountryCatholicsProtestantsOther Christian Non-Affiliated Other Religion
Costa Rica54.8%28.3%1.5%15.9%1.2%
El Salvador39.1%38.3%1.8%20.4%0.4%

Source: https://www.latinobarometro.org/

Race and Ethnicity in Central America

Central America is ethnic, cultural, racial, and linguistic diverse.  According the estimates more than 50% of the population is Mestizo, reflecting mixed indigenous and European heritage. Europeans’ ancestry is mostly from German and Spanish settlers, and others derive from Italians, British, French, Swiss, Belgians, Dutch, Russians, and Danes.  

About 17% of the population of Central America is White and is mostly of  Spanish descents and other European nations.

Indigenous people account for 10% of the population. Indigenous are mainly Maya people, namely K’iche’, Q’eqchi, Kaqchikel, Mam, Xinka, and “other indigenous Armenians. 

0.19% of the population is Garifuna (African/Carib mix). The Garífuna descended primarily from Black Africans who lived and intermarried with indigenous peoples. Afro-Guatemalans and mulattos are descended primarily from banana plantation workers.

There are also Asians, mostly of Chinese descent, and  also Arabs of Lebanese and Syrian descent

Race & EthnicityPercentage
Mestizo (Mixed)50-60%
Indigenous/ Amerindian10-15%%
Afro-descendant/ Creole/Afro mestizo10-12%
Asians and others3.00%

Source: census estimates

Central America Countries by Population | Area | Religion | Race