Central America is the tapering, region that connects North America and South America. Separating the Caribbean Sea from the Pacific Ocean, Central America consists of the seven republics: Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama. Northern Central America has a mountain system linked to that of the west coast of North America; the middle of Central America is a geologically active region that is prone to volcanoes and earthquakes; and the south of the region contains the beginnings of the Andes mountain system. Heavy rain falls on the eastern side of Central America, and temperature and humidity vary with altitude, creating fertile valleys and highland areas that can sustain dense areas of population. Bananas, coffee and other crops are prevalent, as well as mining of gold and silver, though all countries in this region are attempting to diversify and expand their economies.