Mosquito Coast

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Related to Costa Mosquitia: Miskito Kingdom, Mosquito Shore, Mosquito Indian

Mosquito Coast

or

Mosquitia

(məskē`tēə, mōskētē`ä), region, east coast of Nicaragua and Honduras. The name is derived from the Miskito, the indigenous inhabitants and remnants of the ChorotegaChorotega
, aboriginal people and language group of Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. Little is known of the Chorotega, primarily beause of the absence of extensive ruins.
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. Never exactly delimited, the region is a belt c.40 mi (60 km) wide extending from the San Juan River north into NE Honduras. It is sultry and swampy, rising to low hills in the west. Lobstering has replaced banana cultivation as the major economic activity, but most inhabitants depend on subsistence farming.

In the early colonial period, English and Dutch buccaneers preyed on Spanish shipping from there, and English loggers exploited the forest. England established a protective kingdom at BluefieldsBluefields,
town (1995 pop. 30,208), capital of the South Atlantic Coast Autonomous Region and Zelaya dept., SE Nicaragua, on Bluefields Bay at the mouth of the Escondido River. It is Nicaragua's chief Caribbean port. Hardwoods and fish are exported.
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 in 1678. Slaves from Jamaica were brought in to increase the labor supply. In 1848, the British took San Juan del NorteSan Juan del Norte
, small town, SE Nicaragua, on the Caribbean Sea. Small quantities of bananas and hardwoods are exported. Also called Greytown, it was occupied (1848) by the British to secure control of the Mosquito Coast and to check the U.S.
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 to offset U.S. interest in a transisthmian route to California. Nicaragua protested the seizure. The Clayton-Bulwer Treaty (1850) between the United States and Great Britain checked British expansion, but relinquishment of the coast was delayed until a separate treaty was concluded with Nicaragua (1860), which established the autonomy of the so-called Mosquito Kingdom.

In 1894, José Santos ZelayaZelaya, José Santos
, 1853–1919, president of Nicaragua (1894–1909). Although a leader of the Liberal party, he kept power by playing the Liberal and Conservative parties against each other and established an unswerving dictatorship.
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 ended the territory's anomalous position by forcibly incorporating it into Nicaragua. The northern part was awarded to Honduras in 1960 by the International Court of Justice, thus ending a long-standing dispute. The Nicaraguan portion was officially given partial autonomy in 1987, including control over local natural resources, but little real change has resulted and the area remains impoverished.