Online Extra: CAFTA-DR: A Who's Who
Costa Rica: Central America's most prosperous country. Its main economic drivers are tourism, agriculture, and electronics exports from an Intel chip-testing plant located in the capital. Costa Rica is the only country in Latin America with no armed forces, having abolished them in 1949.
Dominican Republic: This Caribbean nation occupies the eastern end of the island shared with Haiti. After charting 7% average growth from 1998-2000, its economy has slowed sharply in recent years. A traditional exporter of sugar, coffee, and tobacco recently saw rise in tourism and export manufacturing in free-trade zones.
El Salvador: Most densely population country in Central America. Its 12-year civil war cost 70,000 lives. It adopted the U.S. dollar as its official currency in 2001 and has privatized many government services, from pensions to telecommunications and banking. More than 2.5 million Salvadorans live in the U.S., most as illegal aliens.
Guatemala: Boasts largest economy in Central America and is one of the most important apparel exporters in the region. It also exports coffee, sugar, and bananas. A 1996 peace accord ended 36 years of civil war. It has the largest population of any country in the subregion.
Honduras: One of poorest countries in the region, its people have a life expectancy of just 66 years. It exports coffee, shrimp, and bananas, and has become an important exporter of apparel.
Nicaragua: Poorest country among the CAFTA-DR trade-pact members, with a per-capita income of just $785 and a large foreign debt. Ruled by the Marxist Sandinistas from 1979-90, during which time they battled U.S.-sponsored anti-Sandinista contra guerrillas. Apparel manufacturing has become important in recent years.
Data: BW, CIA Factbook