I had always been taught that North America proper was comprised of three countries-Canada, Mexico and the United States. I was unaware that for a short period of time in the 1820’s there was actually a fourth country that existed in the expanse of land we refer to today as Central America.
On September 15, 1821, the regions that are now the countries of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua declared their independence from Spain. In 1823, they came together to form a nation called the United Provinces of Central America. With the Constitution approved in 1824, the name was changed to the Federal Republic of Central America. The provinces had been colonies of Spain since the 1520’s, along with the Mexican state of Chiapas, which later joined the republic. The delegates who met in 1823 represented mainly upper-class Creoles, well-educated men who wished to model their country after an admired Federal republic to the north: the United States. The capital of the new nation was located in Guatemala City, and a president was named for each of the five states, which enjoyed local autonomy. Slavery was abolished but suffrage was limited to the upper classes.
Though the union was dissolved in 1840, the region continues to emphasize the free flow of goods and capital, which signifies the region’s continued commitment to breaking away from the old ways of colonialism and realizing true economic and social independence.