From golden frogs to big cats to colorful birds, the national animals of Central America represent the geography and cultures of the region. For a quick sampling of creatures plain and beautiful, common and rare, read on.
31 Countries Biosphere
The Trifinio Fraternidad Biosphere Reserve is located at a spot where El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras converge. A biosphere is the layer of planet Earth where life exists.
THE LEGEND OF THE QUETZAL BIRD
A Mayan Tale retold by Pat Betteley illustrated by Amanda Shepherd
Semana Santa GUATEMALA'S HOLY WEEK
What if Easter preparations meant dyeing sand, collecting pine needles, and staying up all night to work on an art project that you knew would be ruined the very next day? Well, welcome to Guatemala’s Semana Santa, or Holy Week.
The Maya are groups of people who live in parts of Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala. Their ancestors created a great society. At its peak, from 600-900 C.E., the Maya civilization was more advanced than its neighbors in the Americas.
Playing Games Honduras-style
Would you play the same games in Honduras that you do in the United States? You might. Children in Honduras enjoy many of the same games North Americans do. They go fishing and shoot baskets. They play sandlot baseball—called bate (BAH tay). They fly kites and ride bikes. Their parents may go horseback riding or play golf or tennis.
LIVING A LONG LIFE IN THE Blue Zone
Most people would like to live as long a life as possible. No one really knows why some people live longer than others, but did you know that where you live can play a big part in how many years you’ll be alive? If you live in a Blue Zone, chances are that you will live much longer than people in other parts of the world.
ATTENTION WORLD: Belize Saves Their Coral Reef
Sea turtles float in clear waters, colorful corals hug the ocean floor, and aquatic animals glide among the mangrove roots. Welcome to the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System, the second-largest coral reef in the world (Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is number one). Several years ago, this reef was in crisis, heading toward destruction. But the people of Belize fought back to save their reef’s health.
The Panama Canal
The Panama Canal is a 51-mile long canal that connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
This is Central America!
It’s time to visit Central America. But first, it helps to know exactly where Central America is. Despite its name, it is the southernmost part of North America, which can seem a little confusing. It makes up most of the isthmus dividing the Pacific Ocean from the Caribbean Sea. An isthmus is a narrow strip of land that connects two larger landmasses and has water on both sides.
Living Above The Boiling Earth
You know immediately that something strange is going on in the city of Rotorua.
If you travel to Te Puke (teh POOK-ee), a town on the northern coast of New Zealand, you will see strange orchards. Instead of rows of trees, these orchards have rows of short wooden frames called pergolas, on which twining vines grow. The fuzzy, brown fruit that grows on these vines is the reason Te Puke calls itself the Kiwifruit Capital of the World.
New Zealand – High Five
Located in the southwestern Pacific Ocean, New Zealand is known for its stunning landscapes. New Zealanders are passionate about protecting their land and their culture. Here are five fascinating facts to get you started.
Three Birds OF NEW ZEALAND
Before humans settled in New Zealand, the lush native plants fed an incredible variety of birds. As bird species developed through time, some did not need wings because they had no natural predators. Here are three bird stars that you won’t find in the sky—the kiwi, the weka, and the little blue penguin.
The First Trip to New Zealand
A group of people in long wooden canoes set sail from East Polynesia in the Pacific Ocean about 800 years ago. For days, they voyaged southwest. Strong currents and gusts of winds pounded them. Still, they pushed on.
THE ALL BLACKS
UNLOCKING THE SECRETS TO SUCCESS
SEARCHING for HEROES
These are three stories of discovery from New Zealand.
The Island of Birds
Imagine an island untouched by humans and without any large mammals. Colorful and strange birds of all shapes and sizes swoop over lush forests and seaside hills.
RUNNING OF THE SHEEP
Lots of people have heard of the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, but did you know that in New Zealand, there is an annual running of the sheep? The Te Kuiti Shearing Championships Running of the Sheep is held in late March or early April. The Saturday afternoon event is part of the Great New Zealand Muster.
NEW ZEALAND: Land of the Hobbits… and So Much More
You might think that you don’t know very much about New Zealand, but chances are that you have seen it.
Nelson Mandela – A Dream Come True
People came out in the millions simply to vote
THE TOP SEVEN ANIMALS THAT VOTE
Would it surprise you to find out that animals hold elections? That’s right—there are democracies in the animal kingdom, too. Read on to find out about seven species that “vote” to make group decisions.
VOTING DAY around the World
When it comes to elections in the United States, it’s pretty certain that most people will be voting on a Tuesday. The custom of voting on a Tuesday in November was established when many Americans were farmers. By November, the growing and harvesting seasons were over making it easier for farmers to leave their work and go vote.
Old Enough to Vote?
Nelson Mandela, the man who brought democracy to South Africa in 1994, thought everyone over the age of 14 should be allowed to vote. He said young people who had fought for freedom were old enough to help choose the country’s leaders. His bill was defeated, and the voting age was set at 18. That is the same age set in the United States and most other countries. Is this the right age? How do people decide when someone is old enough to vote?
THE Final King OF Angkor Wat
VOTE! From Marbles to Machines
People have dropped marbles into baskets, drawn Xs by names, colored in dots, and pulled levers to elect their leaders during the past 2,000 years. Early voters used simple, inexpensive objects to cast their votes. The ancient Greeks, the first known voters, placed black-and-white pebbles into pots. Roman soldiers tossed small clay balls into their helmets. Early colonists in the Americas used colored beans and kernels of corn. Today’s election traditions and terms have ancient roots. Voters now often mark ballots, or pieces of paper, to cast their votes. The term comes from the Italian word ballotta meaning “little ball.”
Understand Your Rights
Talk with your parents and other adults about what these rights mean.
The Carter Center: TRAVELING THE WORLD ONE ELECTION AT A TIME
When President Jimmy Carter left the White House in 1981, his career as a public servant was far from over.
ELECTIONS IN INDIA
The United States had 200 million registered voters in 2016. That’s a lot of voters, and it takes a lot of organization to set up the election process. Now imagine a country that needs to organize about 900 million voters every time it holds an election. Welcome to India.
DEMONSTRATIONS & DEMOCRACY
After six months of demonstrations, blocked streets, and tear gas, Hongkongers peacefully voted in District Council elections on November 24, 2019. Voters—especially young people—wanted to show the leader of Hong Kong’s government, Chief Executive Carrie Lam, how they felt about her handling of the demonstrations.