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Because of its location, Central America has played a key role in determining the political, economic, and military security of the Western Hemisphere. Throughout the 20th century, Central America held tactical and economic interests for many nations, including the United States, because of its strategic setting near the Caribbean Sea, the southern coast of the United States, and the Panama Canal. Historically, the extreme poverty of Central America was one of the key factors that supplanted economic stability and political freedom in the region. During the Cold War, left-wing insurgency guerrilla groups and right-wing military dictatorships both vied for control of countries in Central America, which in turn increased the importance of the region for the United States, Britain, and other countries. Near the end ...

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