The most densely populated of the 7 Central American countries, El Salvador has made a name for itself by being some of the most notable coffee exporters in the world. However, as its economy progressed, it had shifted its focus from being an agricultural based economy to being a service-sector based economy. Despite civil unrest in the early 1990s, El Salvador has since been able to focus on the production of various key products, such as electronics as well as pharmaceutical products.
Toncontin International Airport is known as one of the most difficult airports to land at in the world. With high terrain surrounding the airport on all sides, as well as inclement weather frequenting the vicinity of the airport due to its placement in a valley, visibility can quite easily become a challenge. Not to mention, its short runway adds to the already hazardous challenge that is given to anyone who dares to fly in.
Augusto C. Sandino International Airport (MNMG/MGA)
Heading over to the largest countries in the Central American region, Nicaragua is home to the largest freshwater lake in Lake Nicaragua. Also being the 19th largest lake in the world, it allows for volcanic activity to form islands in the lake over millions of years. However, being home to so many volcanoes means that the country is heavily prone to natural disasters, with volcanic eruptions being somewhat common in the country.
Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport (TKPK/SKB)
Saint Kitts and Nevis, like many islands in the region, are popular tourist destinations for those looking to flee the cold weathers of the winter. Particularly favoured by those in North America and Europe, the island was the first colony of the British Empire, and was once known as Gibraltar of the West Indies. Volcanic activity is to be credited for the formation of the island, with the last eruption over 200 years ago. However, it’s lack of volcanic activity has since transformed the volcano into a prime tourist attraction on the island.
Costa Rica is a biologist’s utopia. Accounting for over 5% of the world’s known flora and fauna species, this nation has over 500,000 species that are native to the country. Furthermore, with four UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and three of them being nature related, it’s obvious to see that the country has had a rich history in both culture and nature. Not to mention, Costa Rica has dedicated over 25% of its land to conservation efforts.
Panama, most well known for its Panama Canal which is thought to be the most important waterway in the world, linking the Pacific Ocean with the Atlantic Ocean. Being a prominent shipping country, it’s no surprise that it has over a thousand islands off both coast, as well as a diverse flora and fauna population throughout the country. Well known within the country too is the Darien Gap on the southeastern side of Panama. With thick jungles and land that’s rich in biodiverse life, the gap has been thought to be impossible to cross. Not to mention, even though it may be just over a hundred kilometers, efforts to cross this gap by with a land vehicle takes over 2 years due to its unforgiving characteristics.
New Zealand, without any argument, is one of the most beautiful countries I’ve been to. Cultural icons includes the filming site of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. New Zealand was also one of the last places on earth to be inhabited. Not to mention, New Zealand has had many notable people, such as Sir Edmund Hillary who first summited Mount Everest, as well as Sir Ernest Rutherford, who is widely regarded as the father of nuclear physics
As we move down through South America, we’ll quickly come across many of my personal favourite airports. Among other challenges, El Dorado presents us with a more unorthodox challenge. Perhaps well noted among radar controllers, El Dorado employs a point merge STAR arrival. While it has advantages such as increasing the overall efficiency of arriving traffic, it can be a challenge to control, as often, not many people are familiar with the system. However, despite this, the high elevation of El Dorardo too presents a challenge for pilots, requiring a higher speed to perform take off and landings.
Moving onto another personal favourite airport of mine, Quito provides a terrain filled challenge for anyone who dares fly into the country. With high altitudes and high temperatures, high speed is likely to follow, and with it, just more being added to the challenge that is the terrain in the area. Not to mention, Ecuador is the country with the mountain that is closest to space. Lying on the equator, the equatorial bulge puts Ecuador closer to space, and along with it, the highest peak is the closest you can get to space while remaining on the ground.
Not like many other countries in the region, Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world. Holding a frankly ridiculous 18.22% of the world’s reserves in 2016, Venezuela is second to none, with Saudi Arabia not being too far behind. However, Venezuela has had plenty of domestic turmoil, with protests frequently being held in the last 8-10 years, with a history of protests against the government. Not to mention, inflation in the country has led to a rapid devaluation of their currency, reported to be at about 28.5% in the month of May in 2021, whereas inflation in the European Union is expected to be at 1.68% throughout the year of 2021.
Anguilla is a British Overseas Territory that got its name from the description of the island. Being long and narrow, it was described as an eel in French, which is ‘anguille’. Although small, it is undulating, with a highest point of about 64 meters above sea level. Given its location out in the Atlantic Ocean, natural disaster has been a large part of the history of the island, with hurricanes often sweeping past the island, causing significant damage. However, like many other islands in the region, tourism has been a significant driving force in recent times, with beaches that look at the Atlantic Ocean.
Eugene F. Correira International Airport (SYEC/OGL)
Guyana is the only English speaking country in South America, with colonial history with Dutch and British settlers. Given the country’s main assets is in it’s forest and mineral reserves, it has continued to be one of the poorest countries in the region. As such, many of its exports comes from minerals or farm produce. Such examples of exports includes bauxite, gold and diamond, as well as crops such as sugar and rice.
Eugene F. Correira International Airport (SYEC/OGL)
Suriname is South America’s most ethnically diverse country. With people of ethnic groups from India, Pakistan and Indonesia, as well as Creole Surinamese, many of these people trace their origins to being brought to Suriname by colonists as contract labourers in the 19th century. In more recent times, there have been plenty of Portuguese, Dutch, Chinese and Brazilian who have immigrated to Suriname. Given the large workforce brought in, it is only obvious that there was a large natural resource to exploit, with bauxite being the case for Suriname. Being one of the top producers in the world. In more recent times, oil and gas has been something that Suriname has been exploring.
Iceland has been a popular tourist destination in recent years, with waterfalls, glaciers and volcanoes being a tourist attraction, and doing so while being eco-friendly. Almost all of its electricity is generated through renewable means, only boosting its target of being a carbon neutral country by 2040. Iceland has also produced numerous songwriters and bands, of which Of Monsters and Men have been a personal favourite of mine for many years.
French Guiana is sometimes seen as the gateway to space for many European countries. With its location being far from many storm paths, as well as a low population and plenty of undeveloped land, the French government turned a portion of the land into a space center. Now, with the presence of the European Space Agency, the French Space Agency as well as Arianespace, a private company developing the Ariane rocket line, this country has been a destination for those looking to send their cargo to outer space. Not to mention, later this year, there will be a very high profile launch of the James Webb Space Telescope on the Ariane 5 rocket which aims to search for the first light and stars after the Big Bang, study the formation and evolution of galaxies, study the formation and evolution of stars and planetary systems, as well as the further study of planetary systems and the origins of life.
Jorge Wilstermann International Airport (SLCB/CBB)
Bolivia is one of two landlocked countries in South America. Having lost it’s access to the Pacific Ocean after the War of the Pacific in 1884. However, in more recent times, agreements with neighbouring countries has since allowed an indirect access to both the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean, aiding in the facilitation of trade with other countries. Moreover, trade with neighbouring countries has continued to be a significant trading partner, with Argentina and Brazil being the largest partners of Bolivia.
Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport (SCEL/SCL)
Chile occupies a long, narrow strip of land along the Andes mountain range to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. The country also occupies the southernmost point of the continent and is the closest to Antarctica among all countries that lay claim on the uninhabited continent. Chile also annexed Easter Island in the 1800s, and all citizens of the island later received Chilean citizenship. It is home to some of the most intricate cave systems in the world, as well as Moai monoliths up to about 165 tons in weight.
Antigua and Barbuda attract thousands of sailers every year at the Antigua Sailing Week. In it, there are often parties, races and exhibitions which are known to be one of the most famous in the world. Along with sailing, Antigua and Barbuda are perhaps most famous for their white beaches, sunny weather and top-quality resorts. Cricket is also an incredibly popular sport on the island, with one of the most famous cricket batsmen of all time in Sir Viv Richards being native to the island of Antigua and Barbuda.
Controlling in my 132nd country, and therefore, past the half way mark, Pointe-à-Pitre International Airport was the perfect place to be. Boasting rich natural and cultural history, the Creole and French inhabited island is actually a part of France, where even travellers from France and the Schengen Zone are free to travel to the island just as they are within the Schengen Zone in Europe. Thus, airlines operating from France to overseas territories could well be considered to be one of the longest domestic flights in the world.
Silvio Pettirossi International Airport (SGAS/ASU)
Paraguay is the second of two landlocked countries in South America that I’ve controlled in. Not to mention, while it is a landlocked country, has the largest navy of all landlocked country. However, there is still access to the ocean through the Rio Panara or Parana River which flows through Argentina and Brazil. In addition, the river access allows Paraguay to take advantage of hydroelectric power, with 99.9% of the country’s power being produced by hydroelectric means.