Is Mexico Part of Central America?

After checking my stats using Google Analytics a few weeks ago, I noticed that Google included Mexico as part of Central America. I thought it odd, because I was taught Mexico was part of North America (as a Google Images search seems to confirm). After all, the NAFTA does include Mexico.

So, I wrote Google Analytics support team with the question. They responded, citing the use of United Nations data:

From: “Analytics Support” <analytics-support@google.com>
Date: June 11, 2007 4:19:59 PM PDT
Subject: Re: [#159418445] Continental Error

Hello Nathan,

Thanks for your inquiry about the maps feature in Google Analytics. We
use Standard Country and Area Codes Classifications (M49) adopted by the
United Nations Statistics Division to determine borders and continental
classifications. To see how the United Nations classifies geographic
regions, visit http://unstats.un.org/unsd/methods/m49/m49regin.htm. We
understand that borders change over time and we make every effort to
reflect the changes periodically within the product. Political borders
within the Google Analytics maps are meant to help our users understand
where their visitors are coming from and should be considered guidelines.
They in no way represent a political opinion or position . . .

The U.N.’s posted methodology also claims these regional definitions are apolitical:

The assignment of countries or areas to specific groupings is for statistical convenience and does not imply any assumption regarding political or other affiliation of countries or territories by the United Nations.

Wikipedia Map

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, some geologists and physical geographers include parts of Mexico in Central America. Wikipedia’s Central America entry quantifies this area at about 12% of Mexico’s landmass. The same entry says the European Union excludes Mexico and Belize from Central America.

The issue brings home the basic premise that borders and labels can be completely arbitrary. That is, if we removed the labels and borders, we would have land and people living on that land. The borders we have in our world today are 100% political. They establish boundaries where each country considers itself sovereign. When borders move, it’s often a matter of life and death for the locals.

Is it wrong for the U.N. to label Mexico as part of Central America? I don’t know and it doesn’t affect my daily life one way or the other. It does, however, affect the way people and cultures respond to each other. In the U.S., if Mexico is part of “our” North American continent, we might have reason to consider ourselves neighbors. When the U.S. Americans refers to Mexico as “Latin America” it’s an added step of distance, a clarification that those people are something “other” than us. Whether we like it or not, the U.S.A. is the minority in the Americas, and the largest minority group within the country is made up of Latinos. The U.S. is part of Latin America.

I can understand a geological explaination that deals with physical land formations. But in any other circumstance, you usually round down. Twelve percent would still exclude Mexico from Central America. It seems like an easy excuse to distance a “third world” country like Mexico from “first world” countries like the U.S. The disclaimer that their maps don’t express a political opinion seems more like a cop-out, not unlike television news programs’ use of the question mark.

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64 Comments »

  Gravatar chaly wrote @ November 27th, 2012 at 10:32 am

Romanian, sorry.

  Gravatar GeneP wrote @ February 24th, 2013 at 4:51 pm

For the sake of geographics, Mexico is in Central America. Central America being defined as the land mass (“small strip of land”) that connects the geographical areas of North America and South America, this would include Mexico.
By definition, it is considered part of North America (culture and heritage), so both are correct.
In trade commerce, the UN considers Mexico to be part of Central America. By historical documentation, including the Mexican-American War, it is part of North America.
So the argument wages on!

  Gravatar Roland wrote @ March 11th, 2013 at 12:01 pm

Here is a simple solution. Ask Mexicans if they are in North America. If the answer is yes, then perhaps the UN should listen to them?

  Gravatar Obsrvst wrote @ June 17th, 2013 at 12:55 am

I have a HUGE problem with “The Creator is Watching” above, do a search.

But he’s obviously a Mexican which is why he goes into an insecure self-grandizing diatribe about how Mexico will become like the USA a place everyone will migrate too… yeah. And how Mexico will destroy the US and how the USA is crumbling etc. etc. lots of anti-American sentiment and some heavy racism to boot.

That in of itself, shows the real sentiment Mexican have. That they are the superior Latino country. Nationalism is indoctrinated in children there at a very early age.

Another commenter, a Central American, “Rosa” wrote above that she asks her Mexicans which part they belong with – OF COURSE(!) they’d say North America! Because they would never want to be associated with a set of what they culturally perceive to be THIRD WORLD countries – Central America.

Inter Latino racism is very prevalent problem in Mexican culture.

And Dr. Derrick hit a good point – “It appears that todays Mexicans are too interested in having the good life given versus earning it.”. So true. So very, very true.

  Gravatar Jackieg wrote @ June 25th, 2013 at 12:06 pm

I read the post of where someone said they were educated in the 60s and they learned Mexico was part of the Central American Continent…this is sad. There is not such continent. Mexico and Central American are considered part of the North American Continent.

Personally I had always thought and was taught that Mexico was not considered part of the region they call Central America. Perhaps a better term is Meso America.

It’s just a region anyway, like for example what we call the “Southern States / The South” or the “Midwest”, they are still part of the US.

  Gravatar gerri wrote @ January 5th, 2014 at 10:21 am

It is sad to see how a simple question brought up so many nasty and racial comments, it’s funny, when I learn the continents in school in Mexico I was taught there were 5 continents, later on when I came to the USA I learned that it had changed and now there are 7 continents so now doing some reserch I and several web sites all I see is Mexico as part of North America, not that it makes any difference, it doesn’t change who I am or makes me a better or worst person so really just do some research and stop been so hateful, it change any facts

  Gravatar Alabie wrote @ September 22nd, 2014 at 9:16 am

Thanks for this. I’m taking a college geography course and was really confused why Mexico wasn’t in the North American section. (As I was always told it was a part of N.A.)

  Gravatar Serch wrote @ May 2nd, 2015 at 7:13 pm

Mexico is part of North America Plate not from central america.

  Gravatar Mikey wrote @ June 2nd, 2015 at 5:13 am

Mexico is in North America. Also, Central America is also in North America. Done.

  Gravatar eme wrote @ June 21st, 2015 at 8:21 pm

Yep, I agree Mikey. Generally, it is. But if people feel like getting politics, geography, culture, history mixed in. It changes. But for the sake of simplicity. I keep my original thought. Mexico is in North America.

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  Gravatar jessie lo wrote @ July 6th, 2015 at 7:42 pm

Number one:
1) there is no such thing of white people in the whole american continant.
2).the united “white” states of america always have dream that the south neigbors who be the united kingdom.
3).the white people in the so call united states they are all refugees from europe they came to america continant because they were starving to death in europe.
4) THE IS NO SUCH THING OF WHITE PEOPLE IN THE AMERICAN CONTINANT PERIOD……

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