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Tom Long

Central America is a microcosm of the opportunities and challenges of small states. Though the region’s states have face similar pressures – smallness, proximity to an oft-interventionist superpower and myriad transnational challenges – their political and economic developments have followed remarkably different paths. The seven small states in the region – Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama – exhibit tremendous differences in state capacity, internal security, human development and international influence. To understand Central American variation, one must recognize both agency and asymmetry. This chapter discusses the historical context of Central American state formation, political development and international relations. It then turns to the domestic and international characteristics and challenges of these states before assessing their abilities to affect domestic developments and international contexts.