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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.
..... Click the link for more information. , who were never conquered by the Spanish. 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.
..... Click the link for more information. 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.
..... Click the link for more information. 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.
..... Click the link for more information. 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 Miskitos clashed with Nicaragua's Sandinista government in the 1980s, and in 1987 they were officially given partial autonomy, including control over local natural resources. Little real change, however, has resulted, and the area remains impoverished. Land rights remain a source of conflict, and in more recent years there has been violent conflict between Miskitos and settlers seeking access to land and resources.