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The Natural Environment

Vegetation

Central America is essentially a land bridge uniting two previously isolated ecosystems. As a result, a mixture of both North and South American plant and animal species is found here. The lowland rain forest of the Caribbean and Pacific coasts resembles the selva, or tropical rain forest, of South America. This is especially true below an elevation of about 1,000 m (about 3,280 ft), with large numbers of palms, tree ferns, lianas, and epiphytes (air plants) reflecting the high rainfall and humidity of the region. Vegetation at altitudes of about 1,000 to 1,600 m (about 3,280 to 5,250 ft) shows ties with North America. The pine and oak forests of these highlands are like those of the Mexican highlands. High-altitude regions of Guatemala contain grasses like those of Mexico and the United States, and at about 3,100 m (about 10,170 ft) in Costa Rica are tall grasses similar to those growing above the tree line in the Andes Mountains of South America.

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