Central America; Describing Each of the States of Guatemala, Honduras, Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica


John Baily was an Englishman who lived for many years in Central America. He was employed in 1837–38 by the government of Nicaragua to survey a potential canal route from the Caribbean Sea to the Pacific Ocean. In 1850 Baily published this book and a separate map of Central America that showed four proposed routes for an isthmian canal. Central America begins with an introductory chapter on the geography, history, and economy of the region as a whole, followed by individual chapters devoted to Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Mosquito Territory (in present-day Nicaragua and Honduras), Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. Each chapter describes physical features and boundaries and provides information about inhabitants, products, and other features. The chapter devoted to Nicaragua is by far the longest and contains a detailed discussion of the proposed route for an inter-oceanic canal through the country. As indicated in the subtitle, Baily was convinced of the “remarkable capacity for colonization” of the Central American countries. The book concludes with a section on immigration. Baily compared agricultural conditions in Central America to those in southern Texas and argued that European farmers who settled in the region and worked hard would prosper and “prepare a handsome inheritance for their posterity.”

Last updated: August 17, 2016