Highlights from the State of the Tropics Report relating to Central America:
- The number of people living in extreme poverty fell from 15% to 4% of the area’s population between 1981 and 2008 – the lowest of the eight Tropical regions as is the percentage of people undernourished.
- It is the second most urbanised region in the Tropics but only 2% of the urban population are considered to be living in slums.
- It has the highest life expectancy at 75 for the Tropics and betters that of the rest of the world, as does the adult mortality rate and the maternal mortality rate.
- The under-five mortality rate has dropped more than 80% between 1950-55 and 2005-2010.
- TB control efforts in Mexico since 1990 have contributed to a 36% decline in the number of new cases in the region and the mortality rate has dropped by 75%.
- The region had both the lowest number and rate of malaria cases in the Tropics and the lowest number and rate of deaths from malaria in 2010.
- The obesity rate has increased from 23% to 31.6% in the eight years to 2010 but varies considerably across the region, ranging from 12% in Honduras to 36% in Mexico.
- The region had the largest increase at 4.1 years in mean years of schooling in the 30 years to 2010.
- Youth literacy rates are above the global rate and the region experienced a greater increase in the number of literate adults relative to the adult population.
- Tertiary enrolments per 100,000 people have increased from 2361 in 2000 to 3025 in 2010.
- With tropical Mexico accounting for around 70% of the regional labour force, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and remittances means that economic conditions are heavily influenced by events in the US with the unemployment rate falling steadily to 2007, before increasing rapidly.
- Exports as a percentage of GDP increased significantly, with rapid growth in mid-1990s due to NAFTA but have remained around 30% of GDP for the past 15 years. Imports increased from 17% of GDP to 35% in the 30 years to 2010 again largely driven since 1994 by NAFTA.
- Central America is the third highest per capita emitter of greenhouse gases in the Tropics.
- Since 1981 an additional 39% of land has been degraded.
- More than 20% of the region’s mangrove forests were lost between 1980 and 2000 but the rate has slowed since then. Four of its 10 mangrove species are now threatened with extinction.
- Mexico has the fifth highest amphibian and fourth greatest mammal diversity in the world.
- Central America more than doubled its protected areas from 6.5% to 16% since 1990 with marine protected areas increasing by 17% and terrestrial areas doubling. 24% of forests are reserved for he conservation of biodiversity.
Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico* (77.7% of its population is in the tropics), Nicaragua and Panama make up the Central America tropical region.