Handbook on the Politics of Small States
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Handbook on the Politics of Small States

Edited by Godfrey Baldacchino and Anders Wivel

Comprehensive and timely, this Handbook identifies the key characteristics, challenges and opportunities involved in the politics of small states across the globe today. Acknowledging the historical legacies behind these states, the chapters unpack the costs and benefits of different political models for small states.
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Chapter 15: Small states in Central America

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.

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