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Middle School Lesson on Landforms of Mexico and Central America

written by: Afua Saafir • edited by: Wendy Finn • updated: 8/2/2012

The physical features of Mexico and Central America offer diversity and beauty, from mountains and volcanoes, to forests, rivers and valleys. It pays to become acquainted with the landforms in this area of the world.

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    Where Is Middle America?

    Together, Mexico and Central America form Middle America. Mexico and Central America are home to many diverse landforms. Mexico is located in North America, just south of the United States. Central America connects North America and South America to each other. This region of the Earth is home to a wide array of landforms including mountains, volcanoes, valleys, rivers and much more.

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    Mexico's Major Landforms

    Plains and Plateaus:

    The Mexican Plateau covers much of the northern and central portions of Mexico. It has an arid to somewhat arid climate with its most densely populated area in the central part of the country. This landform begins at the border with the United States.

    Mexico's Coastal Plains run along the coastlines of the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean.

    Mountains:

    Mexico is home to several mountain ranges. The Sierra Madres extend southward along both edges of the country. The Sierra Madre Oriental is more than 13,000 ft. high and lies to the east. The western Sierra Madre Occidental rises to more than 10,000 ft.

    Volcanoes:

    Volcano Orizaba is Mexico's highest mountain, rising to 18,855 ft. It extends from east to west and is just east of Mexico City, the country's capital. Other notable volcanic landforms in Mexico include Popocatepetl, Ixtacihuatl and Paricutin.

    Peninsula:

    The Baja California Peninsula extends into the Pacific Ocean and is separated from Mexico's mainland by the Gulf of California.

    Isthmus:

    The Isthmus of Tehuantepec is the narrowest section of Mexico, joining the country with neighboring Central America.

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    Central America's Major Landforms

    Central America is a land bridge, connecting North America and South America. This isthmus also separates the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. The seven countries found in this part of the world are home to many beautiful landforms.

    Guatemala:

    Guatemala is covered by many mountains including the Cuchumatanes mountain range that extends eastward and then splits into two separate ranges. The Sierra Madre mountains continue south through Guatemala. There are also 19 volcanoes in this country; the most prominent of them being Tajamulco.

    Belize:

    Fifty percent of Belize's surface is tropical rainforest. The Belize River runs across the country from the Guatemalan border to the edge of the Caribbean Sea. The Maya Mountains are one of the country's most prominent landforms. The highest point in Belize is Victoria Peak, with a height of 3, 805 ft.

    El Salvador:

    Mountainous El Salvador is home to parallel mountain ranges that sit on either side of a plateau region. The Sierra Madre Mountains stretch along the Honduran border. El Salvador has 20 volcanoes to the south along with many volcanic lakes. Hundreds of small rivers course through the country.

    Honduras:

    Honduras contains many hills and mountains that sit atop a large plateau. The Sierra Madre Mountains are adjacent fertile rivers and valleys. Several cays and islands sit off the coast in the Caribbean Sea. Mosquito Coast contains a dense jungle, lagoons and swamps.

    Nicaragua:

    Nicaragua's two major volcanoes are named Madras and Conception. The country's two freshwater lakes are called Managa and Nicaragua, and they are surrounded by plains. These landforms contain nutrient packed, volcanic soil.

    Costa Rica:

    The Sierra Madres occupy much of Costa Rica, although they appear as a multitude of smaller ranges and valleys. The Talamanca Mountains form the border with neighboring Panama. Costa Rica's northern plains are filled with thick forests.

    Panama:

    Panama's forested mountains run from its border with Costa Rica to Columbia, South America. The Central Mountains, San Blas and Talamanca are among the country's most notable mountains. From beach coastlines to rainforests, rivers and swampy lowlands, Panama's landforms offer much diversity.

    The landforms of Mexico and Central America offer the world much beauty, diversity and intrigue.

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    References

    indigenouspeople.net

    WorldAtlas.com

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    Image Credit

    Photo courtesy of Wiki Commons