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Central America,

A large expanse of territory connecting North and South America, and comprising in 1901 the republics of Guatemala, Honduras, Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. The region was discovered by Columbus, in his fourth voyage, in 1502. He found the bay of Honduras, where he landed; then proceeded along the main shore to Cape Gracias a Dios; and thence to the Isthmus of Darien, hoping, but in vain, to obtain a passage to the Pacific Ocean. At the [82] isthmus he found a harbor, and, on account of its beauty and security, he called it Porto Bello. At another place in that country, on the Dureka River, he began a settlement with sixty-eight men; but they were driven off by a warlike tribe of Indians—the first repulse the Spaniards had ever met with. But for this occurrence, caused by the rapacity and cruelty of the Spaniards, Columbus might have had the honor of planting the first European colony on the continent of America. In 1509 Alonzo de Ojeda, with 300 soldiers, began a settlement on the east side of the Gulf of Darien. At the same time Diego Nicuessa, with six vessels and 780 men, began another settlement on the west side. Both were broken up by the fierce natives; and thus the Spaniards, for the first time, were taught to dread the dusky people of the New World. This was the first attempt of Europeans to make a permanent lodgment on the continent of America. Many attempts have been made in recent years to bring about a federation of the five republics, the latest in 1895, when the Greater Republic of Central America was formed, and in 1898, when, by treaty, Honduras. Salvador, and Nicaragua formed the United States of Central America, Guatemala and Costa Rica declining to enter the compact. Local revolutions and mutual jealousies have so far prevented a permanent union.

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