Mesoamerica Definition

1. Mesoamerica is a historical area populated by pre-Columbian peoples that extends from central-southern Mexico to the countries of Central America and northern Costa Rica. It is characterized by sharing cultural particularities such as architecture, food, clothing, among others.

Etymology: Coined in 1943 by Paul Kirchhoff, Ph.D. in Ethnology (1900-1972), referring to the region’s geographic organization and sociocultural aspects in his work Acta Americana, originally documenting much of Mexico in the direction of Central America to the Gulf of Nicoya, later expanding from subsequent research by other authors. Built on the prefix meso-, rooted in the Greek μεσο- (meso-), from ‘middle’, ‘between’, and America, in association with the conqueror Américo Vespúcio (1451-1512) due to his discoveries in 1501.

Grammatical category: noun fem.
in syllables: me-so-a-me-ri-ca.


Mesoamerica is the name by which the region that covers from approximately half of Mexico to some Central American countries such as El Salvador, Belize, Guatemala and part of Honduras, Costa Rica and Nicaragua is designated. This region receives this designation because it is considered the half (meso in Greek means ‘middle’) between North and South America from a technical point of view.

However, the term or denomination of Mesoamerica is used especially to refer to an area not defined by the political limits of the countries in this area, but rather because it is the area of ​​America in which several important pre-Columbian cultures and civilizations had a seat. before the arrival of the white man (for example the Aztecs, the Mayans, the Olmecs, the Zapotecs and the Mexicas among many others). These pre-Columbian societies kept some features in common among all of them, regardless of whether some were stronger and more centralized than others.

The surface of the area known as Mesoamerica has always been rich in mining resources, but also in agriculture, since the territory is extremely fertile and profitable for planting. Also, being surrounded by sea or ocean water, Mesoamerica has important fishing resources. Nowadays, this region is especially visited by tourism that seeks the beautiful beaches and the relaxing waters of the Caribbean.

The cultures of the different pre-Columbian societies were the ones that gave common characteristics to the different societies that settled there. For the most part, these ethnic groups had an advanced mathematical and astronomical development, with similar ritual practices (many of which approved human sacrifice), the warmongering of their spirits, the social organization, and the daily customs that had to do with the performing different types of activities and tasks. In many ways, and despite the fact that these societies were conquered by the Spanish, the roots of these cultures were so strong that many of their elements can still be seen today.