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The Natural Environment

Rivers and Lakes

The longest rivers of Central America flow to the Caribbean, and many small streams drain into the Pacific. Longer rivers include the Motagua of Guatemala; the Ulua, Aguan, and Patuca of Honduras; the Coco, which forms part of the Honduras-Nicaragua boundary; the Rio Grande and Escondido of Nicaragua; and the San Juan, which forms a section of the Nicaragua-Costa Rica border. Some of the rivers flowing to the Caribbean are navigable by small craft, but the streams flowing to the Pacific are too steep or too shallow for navigation.

Central America has three large lakesóLake Nicaragua and Lake Managua in Nicaragua and Gatun Lake in Panama. Part of the Panama Canal, a great commercial waterway between the Atlantic and the Pacific, is in Gatun Lake.

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