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Central America: migration 1960s to present

Migration A–Z


  1. Nora Hamilton

Published Online: 4 FEB 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781444351071.wbeghm109

The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration

The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration

How to Cite

Hamilton, N. 2013. Central America: migration 1960s to present. The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 4 FEB 2013


The Central American population in the United States can be distinguished from other ethnic and migrant populations in the United States on the basis of the diversity of its origins, its relatively recent arrival, its rapid growth, and its changing character. Central Americans have come from seven different countries: Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, and Belize. While the majority are of mixed European and indigenous descent (ladino), a significant number are indigenous, for most part from different Mayan ethnic groups including Q'anjob'al, K'iche, Mam, Kaqchiquel, and Q'eqchi. Most indigenous groups in Central America speak their own languages and are often geographically and culturally isolated from ladino society. The Central American foreign-born population also includes Afro-Caribbean groups from Belize and the Caribbean coast of Central America, among them the Garifuna, a mixed population descended from Africans who allegedly escaped from slave ships and Amerindians who migrated north from South America, meeting in the Caribbean islands of St. Vincent and Dominica, from which they were subsequently expelled, resulting in their migration to Central America.


  • American borderlands;
  • development;
  • borders;
  • employment and unemployment;
  • farming;
  • labor supply