Western Caribbean Zone

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The Western Caribbean Zone is a region consisting of the Caribbean coasts of Central America, from Yucatán in Mexico to northern Colombia, and also the islands west of Jamaica. The zone emerged in the late sixteenth century as the Spanish failed to completely conquer many sections of the coast, and northern European powers supported opposition to Spain, sometimes through alliances with local powers.

Caribbean region to the center-east of America composed of many islands and of coastal regions of continental countries surrounding the Caribbean Sea

The Caribbean is a region of The Americas that consists of the Caribbean Sea, its islands and the surrounding coasts. The region is southeast of the Gulf of Mexico and the North American mainland, east of Central America, and north of South America.

Central America central geographic region of the Americas

Central America is located on the southern tip of North America, or is sometimes defined as a subcontinent of the Americas, bordered by Mexico to the north, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the east, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south. Central America consists of seven countries: Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama. The combined population of Central America has been estimated to be 41,739,000 and 42,688,190.

Mexico Country in the southern portion of North America

Mexico, officially the United Mexican States, is a country in the southern portion of North America. It is bordered to the north by the United States; to the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; to the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and to the east by the Gulf of Mexico. Covering almost 2,000,000 square kilometres (770,000 sq mi), the nation is the fifth largest country in the Americas by total area and the 13th largest independent state in the world. With an estimated population of over 120 million people, the country is the eleventh most populous state and the most populous Spanish-speaking state in the world, while being the second most populous nation in Latin America after Brazil. Mexico is a federation comprising 31 states and Mexico City, a special federal entity that is also the capital city and its most populous city. Other metropolises in the state include Guadalajara, Monterrey, Puebla, Toluca, Tijuana and León.


Unsubdued indigenous inhabitants of the region included some Maya polities, and other chiefdoms and egalitarian societies, especially in Belize, eastern Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. In addition, the region was the refuge of several groups of runaway slaves, who formed independent settlements or intermixed with the indigenous societies. The combination of unsubdued indigenous people, outlaws (pirates in this case), and an absence of outside control made it similar in some aspects to the American West or the Wild West, as the western half of North America is often called.

Maya civilization Mesoamerican former civilization

The Maya civilization was a Mesoamerican civilization developed by the Maya peoples, and noted for its logosyllabic script—the most sophisticated and highly developed writing system in pre-Columbian Americas—as well as for its art, architecture, mathematics, calendar, and astronomical system. The Maya civilization developed in an area that encompasses southeastern Mexico, all of Guatemala and Belize, and the western portions of Honduras and El Salvador. This region consists of the northern lowlands encompassing the Yucatán Peninsula, and the highlands of the Sierra Madre, running from the Mexican state of Chiapas, across southern Guatemala and onwards into El Salvador, and the southern lowlands of the Pacific littoral plain.

A chiefdom is a form of hierarchical political organization in non-industrial societies usually based on kinship, and in which formal leadership is monopolized by the legitimate senior members of select families or 'houses'. These elites form a political-ideological aristocracy relative to the general group.

Belize country in Central America

Belize is an independent and sovereign country located on the north eastern coast of Central America. Belize is bordered on the northwest by Mexico, on the east by the Caribbean Sea, and on the south and west by Guatemala. It has an area of 22,970 square kilometres (8,867 sq mi) and a population of 387,879 (2017). Its mainland is about 180 mi (290 km) long and 68 mi (110 km) wide. It has the lowest population and population density in Central America. The country's population growth rate of 1.87% per year (2015) is the second highest in the region and one of the highest in the Western Hemisphere.

Its long engagement with the English-speaking Caribbean made it an ideal conduit for trade from both the English colonies of the Caribbean, especially Jamaica, but also North America, which had been trading in the zone since the eighteenth century at least. The relatively low population and strategic location attracted United States-based transportation companies to promote infrastructure projects from railroads to the Panama Canal in the zone, and conjointly with that to introduce large-scale fruit production toward the end of the nineteenth century, often bringing in labor from the English-speaking Caribbean to assist.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

Unique elements of the region, relative to the population of Central America in general, is the high percentage of people of whole or partial African descent, and its cultural connections to English and the English-speaking Caribbean through language and religion.

Early Spanish settlement and conquest

The first Spanish settlements on the mainland of South America were at Darien, where Spanish military activities were prominent in the first years of the sixteenth century. [1] But, the Spanish abandoned their positions at Darien by 1520, leaving it, as well as the province of Veragua on the Caribbean coast of Panama, in the hands of the indigenous peoples. This situation continued well into the eighteenth century. The government's occasional licenses given to ambitious Spaniards to conquer or settle these regions never resulted in any significant or long-lasting occupation, nor did attempts of missionaries to convert the indigenous inhabitants result in change.

Santa María la Antigua del Darién Former Spanish settlement in Colombia

Santa María la Antigua del Darién, formerly also known as Dariena, was a Spanish colonial town founded in 1510 by Vasco Núñez de Balboa, located in present-day Colombia approximately 40 miles south of Acandí, within the municipality of Unguía in the Chocó Department. It was the first city founded by conquistadors in mainland America. After Pascual de Andagoya, a Spanish-Basque conquistador under the direction of Panama governor Pedrarias Dávila, founded Panama City in 1519, Santa María la Antigua del Darién was abandoned and in 1524 was attacked and burned by the indigenous people.

Veraguas Province Province in Panama

Veraguas is a province of Panama, located in the centre-west of the country. The capital is the city of Santiago de Veraguas. It is the only Panamanian province to border both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. It covers 11,239.3 km² and is divided into twelve districts.

The Spanish founded towns along the coast of modern-day Venezuela and Colombia, notably, Santa Marta in 1525 and Cartagena. From these towns they expanded inland to the lands of the Muisca in the highlands. They were less successful on several parts of the coast, where unconquered pockets remained, notably at the Rio de la Hacha and the Gulf of Urabá.

Venezuela Republic in northern South America

Venezuela, officially the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, is a country on the northern coast of South America, consisting of a continental landmass and a large number of small islands and islets in the Caribbean Sea. The capital and largest urban agglomeration is the city of Caracas. It has a territorial extension of 916,445 km2. The continental territory is bordered on the north by the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Colombia, Brazil on the south, Trinidad and Tobago to the north-east and on the east by Guyana. With this last country, the Venezuelan government maintains a claim for Guayana Esequiba over an area of 159,542 km2. For its maritime areas, it exercises sovereignty over 71,295 km2 of territorial waters, 22,224 km2 in its contiguous zone, 471,507 km2 of the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean under the concept of exclusive economic zone, and 99,889 km2 of continental shelf. This marine area borders those of 13 states. The country has extremely high biodiversity and is ranked seventh in the world's list of nations with the most number of species. There are habitats ranging from the Andes Mountains in the west to the Amazon basin rain-forest in the south via extensive llanos plains, the Caribbean coast and the Orinoco River Delta in the east.

Colombia Country in South America

Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia, is a sovereign state largely situated in the northwest of South America, with territories in Central America. Colombia shares a border to the northwest with Panama, to the east with Venezuela and Brazil and to the south with Ecuador and Peru. It shares its maritime limits with Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Jamaica, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic. Colombia is a unitary, constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments, with the capital in Bogotá.

Santa Marta City in Caribbean Region, Colombia

Santa Marta, officially Distrito Turístico, Cultural e Histórico de Santa Marta, is a city in Colombia. It is the capital of Departamento del Magdalena and the fourth-largest urban city of the Caribbean Region of Colombia, after Barranquilla, Cartagena, and Soledad. Founded on July 29, 1525, by the Spanish conqueror Rodrigo de Bastidas, it was the first Spanish settlement in Colombia, its oldest surviving city, and second oldest in South America. This city is situated on a bay by the same name and as such, it is a prime tourist destination in the Caribbean region.

Spanish successes in Central America took place mostly on the Pacific side of the isthmus, especially as the victorious Spanish and their Mexica and Tlaxcalan allies entered Guatemala in 1524 from the north. While the primary goal of the conquest was the Maya kingdoms of the Guatemala highlands, and the Pipil, Lenca, and other kingdoms of Honduras and Nicaragua, most of their success occurred on the Pacific side of the Isthmus. A moderately wealthy Spanish colony, called the "Kingdom of Guatemala", was founded on the mining economy of that region, while not as prosperous as those of Peru or Mexico in gold exports supported Spanish towns and settlements, often at former Maya, Lenca or Pipil towns. [2]

Farther south, attempts to subjugate the territory of modern-day Costa Rica were failures, although they did manage to capture slaves for labor elsewhere in the isthmus and outside it. There were numerous entradas (invasions) authorized but all had to withdraw under stiff resistance. Towns that were founded in the 1560s were all destroyed by early seventeenth century attacks, especially led by the Talamacas, and as a result the Spanish only occupied the region around the town of Cartago and the Nicoya Peninsula. [3] Attempts to reduce the area through missionary activity, mostly under the guidance of the Franciscans, also failed to produce much fruit, and further hostilities in the 1760s and 1780s ended that period. [4]

The Spanish founded some towns on the Caribbean side of Central America, most notably Puerto de Caballos, Trujillo, Gracias a Dios and Portobelo, as well as a significant inland town at San Pedro Sula. But they failed to conquer the provinces of Taguzgalpa and Tologalpa in today’s northeast Honduras and western Nicaragua as well as much of the coast of Panamá and Costa Rica which also lay beyond their control, save a few key towns. They established reasonable control of the coastal lowlands of northern Yucatán after 1540, but the interior of Yucatán remained independent under the Itza kingdom. The coastal regions on the south and southeast side of Yucatán, while nominally under Spanish control in the province of Verapaz, were ruled by missionaries and exercised considerable freedom of action under the Spanish administration. [5]

For much of the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, the Spanish were content to allow the Caribbean side of Central America remain under loose control (as around the towns of Puerto Caballo, Trujillo or Portobello). They used the towns and the routes to them for transporting products of the Pacific side, including Peru to be shipped and exported to Spain.

The African Runaways

By the mid-sixteenth century, slaves working the transportation routes which carried silver from Peru to Panama and then across the isthmus to Nombre de Dios, and later Portobello, ran away and formed independent communities in the mountains north of the city. The Spanish called such runaway slave communities cimarrons. A large community with multiple settlements had developed there by 1550, initially headed by a king named Bayano whose headquarters was in Darien. After he was captured in 1558, other men succeeded him as leader.

Somewhat later, other groups formed especially drawing on the many slaves in Panama who were called up to carry silver across the isthmus of Panama from Panama to Nombre de Dios, the Atlantic port. By the 1560s there were two large communities, each with its own king, on both sides of the route. [6] In 1572 the Panama Cimarrons allied with the English privateer Sir Francis Drake to try to take Nombre de Dios. In 1582, the cimarrons agreed to accept Spanish authority in exchange for their permanent freedom. [7]

Other cimmaron communities formed in Nicaragua and Honduras, especially slaves fleeing the mines and transportation corridors. Thomas Gage, the English bishop of Guatemala, noted several hundred escaped slaves in the early 1630s. [8]

English and Dutch challenges

In the late sixteenth century, privateers, especially English ones, began to raid Spanish shipping in the Caribbean. Francis Drake, one of the more successful, allied with the Cimarrons of Panama in 1572 and, with their assistance, stormed the city of Panama. In the subsequent years, both Dutch and English privateers linked with cimarrons to attack the trading towns of the Caribbean coast. In 1630, the English Providence Island Company founded the Providence Island colony. They used it until the Spanish successfully counterattacked in 1641 to capture shipping and raid the coast of Honduras and Nicaragua. [9] Following the fall of Providence Island, the English transferred operations on the coast to Jamaica; many privateers began using the Cayman Islands as a forward base for attacks on the isthmus.

Pirate havens and illicit commerce

Pirates or buccaneers, some of whom were formerly privateers, took over much of activity of the earlier privateers, especially during the Golden Age of Piracy (1660–1720). [10] Operating from bases within the Caribbean, such as Tortuga and later Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, pirates regularly raided Spanish possessions and shipping along the whole of the Western Caribbean. They frequently stopped to re-supply at such places as Rio de la Hacha, Darien (which they also used as a base for raids on Panama or to cross to the Pacific) or the Miskito areas.

When the European colonial powers began to suppress piracy in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, colonial merchants often used the same havens to deliver goods from northern Europe to Spanish markets. The Spanish Crown's restrictive trade policies, granting of monopolies to favored domestic suppliers, and inability to produce consumer goods cheaply, made smuggling a major activity for English, Dutch and French merchants. The lucrative trade also enriched the indigenous groups of the area, but attracted frequent Spanish expeditions against them.

In the eighteenth century, ships from English colonies, but particularly Jamaica and also North America, regularly visited the Miskito Kingdom and Belize. Many of the commercial vessels were from Jamaica and New York City, but ships also came from New England. In 1718 General Shute the governor of Massachusetts dispatched a warship to protect their interests during the Anglo-Spanish War. [11]

The Miskito Kingdom and English settlements

The Miskito people, who had formed a "Kingdom of the Mosquitos" made an alliance with Great Britain in the late 1630s. They were joined around 1640 by the survivors of a rebellion on board a slave ship who wrecked the craft at Cape Gracias a Dios. [12] The Miskito took the rebels in and intermarried with them, creating a mixed-race group called Miskitos-Zambos. By the early eighteenth century this group had taken over the Mosquito Kingdom and were raiding far and wide throughout Central America. [13] [14] Capitalizing on a long term alliance with the English of Jamaica, they placed themselves under the protection of England and both prevented Spanish occupation of the area while allowing the English the security to found their colony in British Honduras (Belize). [15] In the late seventeenth century, Englishmen began to settle on the coast, especially on the stretch from Nicaragua to the Yucatán. The settlements, while often scattered in small groups, were concentrated in the area of modern-day Belize. To provide labor for the logging industry, the British imported African slaves and created fairly dense settlement. A second concentration was in the Mosquito Kingdom, as the British often called the eastern lowlands of Honduras and Nicaragua. Britain, through its positions in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, which were more formally taken over and colonized in the second half of the eighteenth century, formed a military alliance with the Miskito. The Miskitos raided widely, reaching as far north as the Yucatán, and as far south as Panama. In 1746 Britain declared much of the area an informal protectorate, and in 1766 sent a governor who resided in Bluefields (Nicaragua) and answered to the governor of Jamaica. [16]

The Garifuna

In the later eighteenth century, Caribbean Central America was often used as a place of exile. During the revolutionary wars of the later eighteenth century, the French deported African-descended militia units to Honduras, and in 1797 the British dispatched the so-called “Black Caribs” of St Vincent to Roatán in the Bay of Honduras. Many of these groups eventually found their way to the mainland as well, some retaining a distinct identity while others gradually blended into the existing population. Today the people of mixed African-indigenous descent are usually known by the name of Garifuna. [17]


Spain had maintained a formal claim to the whole Caribbean coast of Central America since the sixteenth century, though it was not always able to enforce it. When the Central American countries attained their independence in the aftermath of the Mexican War of Independence, they claimed the region as part of their respective national territories.

Great Britain claimed a protectorate status over the Miskitu, aided by their relatively dense settlement in Belize. Because of the insecure nature of the borders, Costa Rica, Panama, Nicaragua and Honduras all had to seek international adjudication to determine their Atlantic boundaries. In the aftermath, Britain lost its claim to coastal Nicaragua, but retained British Honduras.

Although the British legacy was largely lost politically, the coastal regions kept some unique cultural characteristics. The population retained close cultural ties to the British West Indies, especially Jamaica, from which many of the people originally derived. The English language and Anglican Church were prominent along with Spanish and Catholic identities. Protestant missionaries, such as the Moravians in Nicaragua, were also active in the area. This identity as English speakers would be reinforced with the North American transportation and fruit producing concerns entered the region in the later nineteenth century.


The Atlantic coast of Central America was also an ideal base for filibusters, U. S. based adventurers who tried to intervene in the affairs of Central American republics. William Walker's short lived take over of Nicaragua in 1856 was the most famous and important of these private military adventurers.

The Yucatán Caste War

In the mid-nineteenth century the Caste War, a major civil war broke out in Yucatán, pitting Mexican and Spanish settlers and the Mexican government against insurgent Mayas. The war was long and protracted, lasting until 1902, and created many refugees. These refugees, who were of a wide variety of origins, pushed into British Honduras and Honduras. In the case of British Honduras they came to form a significant portion of the population, and many were employed in the logging and other industries.

Panama Canal

Several attempts to build a Panama Canal from the Atlantic to the Pacific side of Central America failed before US interests acquired the French project and lands in 1902. In constructing the canal, the US builders employed thousands of workers from the British Caribbean, especially Jamaica and Barbados. [18] As a result of this immigration, an English-speaking community grew up in the Canal Zone and adjacent areas. It continues to this day.

Railroad Construction and the U. S. Fruit Companies

In the late nineteenth century, the Caribbean coast of Central America was a backwater, poorly developed and in many cases only partially controlled by its legal governments. Most of the Caribbean side of Costa Rica was under the control of Talamanca and other indigenous groups. Nicaragua and others had to consider the independent Miskito Kingdom until 1894. Mexico gained control of its portion of the Yucatán only following the end of the Caste War in 1902.

The California Gold Rush after 1849 created a very large demand for rapid, sea borne travel from the East Coast of the United States (as well as other parts of the world) and the Pacific, and Central America was a potentially usable route. As a result, there were various attempts to build railroads across the isthmus. In 1850, Honduras began work, financed and overseen by largely United States capital, on the Inter-Ocean Railroad (Ferrocaril Interoceanico), though the work did not extend very far for many years.

In the 1870s, Jamaica and the Bay Islands of Honduras began to export fruit, especially bananas, to the U. S. market, and entrepreneurs like the Vaccaro Brothers of New Orleans and Lorenzo Dow Baker of Boston hoped to capitalize on controlling shipping of bananas to US markets to make big profits. At the same time, Minor C. Keith, who had taken over his uncle Henry Meiggs' railroad project (founded in 1871) to build a railroad from the coast of Costa Rica to San Jose, its capital, decided to plant bananas along his rail lines, and in fact the banana export business saved his investment. As banana growing spread into Honduras from the Bay Islands, too, the question of building railroads to increase areas able to participate in the international economy grew and a number of firms merged fruit production, railroad building and shipping into vertically integrated large-scale concerns. By 1920 they were dominated by the United Fruit (now Chiquita) and Standard Fruit (now Dole).

The opening up of land, and the fact that the fruit companies paid higher than average wages soon drew thousands of immigrants to the banana producing regions, from the densely settled highland settlements of the Pacific side, and from other parts of the Americas. Among the immigrant workers, the companies often preferred workers from the English-speaking Caribbean primarily from Jamaica and Belize since they could speak English. Local workers often resented this new, African-descended English speaking and largely Protestant element, and protested and struck against them. [19]

The U. S. Companies relied heavily on connections with elites in the various countries of the region, as well as the willingness of the U. S. to intervene if the company's interests were threatened. This combination of local cooperation and imperialist intervention led the visiting American novelist O. Henry, to declare "Anchuria" his name for Honduras, a "banana republic" in 1904. [20] This term has been widely applied to such combinations elsewhere in Central American and in the world

International Commerce

In the nineteenth century, North American concerns began the construction of railroads in much of Central America, which necessarily started on the contested zone of the Western Caribbean. In the process of this and the development of the fruit companies, North American and particularly New English contacts and influence continued. While the international engagement began with the fruit companies which dominated the economy of the Atlantic side of most Central American countries, in the 1970s they were joined by multi-national textile companies which established large-scale workshops (maquiladoras) to produce clothing for the international market. Many of the shops are owned by Asian (especially Korean) concerns, though their target markets remain in North American.

Cultural Characteristics

The Western Caribbean zone is a multicultural region, including populations of Spanish mestizo origin, indigenous groups, African-indigenous mixed race populations, Europeans and European Americans, and creole populations of African and mixed African-European origin. However, one of the characteristics of much of the region is the speaking of English, not only in Belize, a former English colony, but also as enclaved populations along the coast from Panama to Belize. In the case of the Belize and the Cayman Islands English is the official language, but there are significant English speaking majorities in the Bay Islands of Honduras.

In the countries of official Spanish language, the English speaking minorities have often been disparaged, particularly in Honduras, where the English speaking population is perceived as having been brought in by the fruit companies as a means of undercutting indigenous and mestizo landholding and labor. Their more ancient connections to English colonialism or attempted colonialism, as along the Miskito coast of Nicaragua and Honduras, has been combined with the perceptions that they are agents of North American/United States imperialism. This perception has led to occasionally racist depictions of the population the popular press and among politicians. [21] These sentiments were often manifested by the deportation of workers who could be established as having originated in Belize or Jamaica (as well as other English speaking Caribbean colonies. [22]

Beyond linguistic identities, the Western Caribbean often exhibited culinary habits associated with the English speaking Caribbean, or family structure characteristic of that region, such as a reluctance to enter into legal marriages, but instead, what is frequently called "common law" marriages. [23] The family structure that results from the marriage strategies of the English speaking Caribbean, often called the matrifocal family, was first described and identified by Nancie Gonzalez in her work on the Garifuna of Nicaragua and Belize. [24]

See also

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Mískito Coast Creole or Nicaragua Creole English is an English-based creole language spoken in coastal Nicaraguan region of Mosquito Coast on the Caribbean Sea; its approximately 30,000 speakers are spread over a number of small villages. The region is today administratively separated into two autonomous regions: North Caribbean Coast and South Caribbean Coast. Mosquito is the nickname that is given to the region and earlier residents by early Europeans who visited and settled in the area. The term "Miskito" is now more commonly used to refer to both the people and the language.

Ethnic groups in Central America

Central America is a region of North America formed by six Latin American countries and one (officially) Anglo-American country, Belize. As an isthmus it connects South America with the remainder of mainland North America, and comprises the following countries : Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama.

The official language of Nicaragua is Spanish; however, Nicaraguans on the Caribbean coast speak indigenous languages and also English. The communities located on the Caribbean coast also have access to education in their native languages. Additionally, Nicaragua has four extinct indigenous languages.

The Central America bioregion is a biogeographic region comprising southern Mexico and Central America.

Belize, on the east coast of Central America, southeast of Mexico, was inhabited by the indigenous peoples who fought off the Spaniards in an attempt to preserve their heritage and to avoid the fate of their neighbors who were conquered and under Spanish rule. While this was going on, British Pirates would rob Spanish merchant ships and navigate through the shallow waters and small islands even going up river later to hide their bounty. The indigenous people of Belize did not resist the British like they did the Spanish. In the 17th century, however, the British settlement became a formal British crown colony from 1862 through 1964, where they first achieved self government and later in 1981 became an independent country recognized globally with all its territory intact. The British brought along with them slaves taken from Congo and Angola during the eighteenth century.


Belizeans are people associated with the country of Belize through citizenship or descent. Belize is a multiethnic country with residents of African, Amerindian, European and Asian descent or any combination of those groups.

Index of Central America-related articles

This is an Index of Central America-related articles. This index defines Central America as the seven nations of Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama.

The Miskitu are an ethnic group of mixed cultural ancestry occupying a portion of the Caribbean coast of Central America known as the Mosquito Coast region. Although older records, beginning with Spanish documents of the early 18th century, refer to the group as "Mosquitos Zambos", modern ethnographic terminology uses the term “Miskito”.

Afro-Nicaraguan Nicaraguans of African descent

Afro-Nicaraguans are Nicaraguans of African descent in Nicaragua. They make up 9% of the population and they're the largest group of African descent in in Central America. Numbering almost 600,000, according to the CIA factbook (2011), they primarily live on the southeastern coast, the Mosquito Coast, Bluefields and Managua. The 1990 Nicaraguan national census recorded 25,000 or 1% of the population. Creoles are from the Anglo-Caribbean and speak a dialect of Jamaican patois known as Miskito Coast Creole. Nicaragua also has a Garifuna population.

Afro-Hondurans or Black Hondurans, are Hondurans of African descent. They descended from Africans, who were enslaved and identified as Garifunas and Creole peoples. The Creole people were originally from Jamaica and other Caribbean islands and arrived in Honduras between the nineteenth and early twentieth century to work on the export of bananas and in construction.

The Spanish conquest of Nicaragua was the campaign undertaken by the Spanish conquistadores against the natives of the territory now incorporated into the modern Central American republic of Nicaragua during the colonisation of the Americas. Before European contact in the early 16th century, Nicargua was inhabited by a number of indigenous peoples. In the west, these included Mesoamerican groups such as the Chorotega, the Nicarao, and the Subtiaba. Other groups included the Matagalpa and the Tacacho.


  1. Carl Sauer, The Early Spanish Main (Berkeley, 1992), pp. 218-38
  2. Linda Newson, "Labour in the Colonial Mining Industry of Honduras," The Americas 39/2 (1982): 185-203
  3. Juan Carlos Solórzano Fonseca, "Rebeliones y sublevaciónes de los indígneas contra la dominación española en las areas períferica de Costa Rica (de 1502 a 1710), Anuario de estudios centroamericanos 22/1 (1996): 125-147.
  4. Juan Carlos Solórzano Fonseca, "Indigenas insumisos, frailes y soldados: Talamanca y Guatuso, 1660-1821," Anuario de estudios centroamericanos 23/1-2 (1997): 143-97.
  5. Lawrence Feldman, ed. and trans., Lost Shores, Forgotten Peoples: Spanish Explorations of the South East Maya Lowlands (Durham and London, 2000
  6. Criado de Castilla, “Summary Description,” in Pérez de Zéleson, et al, eds, Costa Rica-Panama Arbitration: Documents 1: 183
  7. Ruth Pike, “Black Rebels: The Cimarrons of Sixteenth Century Panama,” The Americas 64 (2007): 243-66
  8. Thomas Gage, The English-American, his Travail by Sea and Land; or a New Survey of the West-Indies (London: R. Cortes, 1648), pp. 128-9, 132-33.
  9. Karen O. Kupperman, Providence Island, 1630-1641: The Other Puritan Colony (Cambridge, 1993)
  10. Marcus Rediker, Villains of all Nations: Atlantic Pirates in the Golden Age (Boston: Beacon Press, 2004)
  11. Archibald Gibbs, British Honduras: An Historical and Descriptive Account of the Colony from its Settlement, 1670 (London: Samson Low, Marston, Searle and Rivington, 1883) p. 31.
  12. Karl Offen, "The Sambu and Tawira Miskitu: The Colonial Origins of Intra-Miskitu Differentiation in Eastern Nicaragua and Honduras," Ethnohistory 49/2 (2002) 328-33
  13. Mary Helms, "Miskito Slaving and Culture Contact: Ethnicity and Opportunity in an Expanding Population," Journal of Anthropological Research 39/2 (1983): 179-97
  14. German Romero Vargas, Las sociedades del Atlántico de Nicaragua en los siglos XVII y XVIII (Managua, 1995), p.165.
  15. Troy Floyd, The Anglo-Spanish Struggle for Mosquitia (Albuquerque, NM, 1967).
  16. Troy Floyd, The Anglo-Spanish Struggle for Mosquitia (Albuquerque, 1967),
  17. Nancie Gonzales, Sojourners of the Caribbean: Ethnogenesis and Ethnohistory of the Garifuna (Champaign-Urbana, 1988)
  18. Velma Newton, The Silver Men: West Indian Migration to Panama, 1850-1914 (Kingston, 1984)
  19. Glen Chambers, Race Nation and West Indian Immigration to Honduras, 1890-1940 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2010)
  20. O. Henry, Cabbages and Kings (1904). O. Henry lived in Honduras in 1896-7.
  21. Dario Euraque, Reinterpreting the Banana Republic, 1870-1972 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996)
  22. Glen Chambers, Race Nation and West Indian Immigration to Honduras, 1890-1940 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2010)
  23. Chambers, Race, Nation, pp. 83-87.
  24. Nancie Gonzalez, Sojourners