The region of Central America is a tropical isthmus squeezed between the Pacific Ocean on the west coast, and the Caribbean Sea to the east. It joins North and South America together, encompassing seven countries.Volcanic activity has patterned most of the land with hills, rugged mountains and active volcanoes, but the coasts contain contrasting lowlands and swampy areas. The fertile soil from volcanic eruptions has resulted in large, thriving agricultural communities. Because of the contrasting high and low areas, temperatures can vary greatly over small distances.Both tropical rainforests and evergreen forests form part of the natural vegetation, but significant damage has occurred due to careless deforestation. Reptiles, insects and birds flourish in their natural habitats, but there are comparatively few mammals.Due to colonization, Spanish is the prevalent language in the region. English is used widely on the Caribbean coast, and it is the official language of Belize. Indigenous Indian languages are also spoken in various places.