||The neutrality of this article is disputed. (October 2012)|
|Protectorate of the United Kingdom|
|Languages||English (official), Miskito (vernacular)|
|-||Incorporated to Nicaragua||1894|
The Caribbean Mosquito Coast (or Miskito Coast) historically comprised an area along the eastern coast of present-day Nicaragua and Honduras, and part of the Western Caribbean Zone. It was named after the local Miskito Indians and long dominated by British interests. The Mosquito Coast was incorporated into Nicaragua in 1894; however, in 1960 the northern part was granted to Honduras by the International Court of Justice.
The Mosquito Coast was generally defined as the domain of the Miskito Kingdom (Mosquito Kingdom), and expanded or contracted as that domain expanded or contracted. During the nineteenth century the question of the kingdom's borders was a serious issue of international diplomacy between Britain, the United States, Nicaragua and Honduras, and conflicting claims both of the kingdom's reality and its extent were argued in diplomatic exchanges. The British and Miskito definition applied to the whole eastern seaboard of Nicaragua and even to La Mosquitia in Honduras, i.e., the coast region as far west as the Río Negro or Tinto. The Mosquito Coast in the later part of the century came to be considered as the narrow strip of territory, fronting the Caribbean Sea, and extending from about 11°45’ to 14°10’ N. It stretched inland for an average distance of 40 miles (64 km), and measured about 225 miles (362 km) from north to south. In the north, its boundary skirted the Wawa River; in the west, it corresponded with the eastern limit of the Nicaraguan highlands; in the south, it followed the Río Rama. The chief modern towns are Bluefields or Blewfields, the largest town and capital of Nicaragua's Región Autónoma del Atlántico Sur, Magdala on Pearl Cay, Prinzapolka on the river of that name, Wounta near the mouth of the Kukalaya, and Carata near the mouth of the Coco River.
Before the arrival of Europeans in the region, the area was divided into a large number of small, egalitarian groups, possibly speaking languages related to Sumu and Paya. Columbus visited the coast briefly in his fourth voyage. Detailed Spanish accounts of the region, however, only relate to the late 16th and early 17th centuries. According to their understanding of the geography, the region was divided between two "Provinces" Taguzgalpa and Tologalpa. Lists of "nations" left by Spanish missionaries include as many as 30 names, though careful analysis of them by Karl Offen suggests that many were duplicated and the regional geography included about a half dozen entities, speaking related by distinct dialects occupied the various river basins of the region.
Attempted Spanish settlement
During the 16th century, Spanish authorities issued various licenses to conquer Taguzgalpa and Tologalpa in 1545, 1562, 1577 and 1594, but there is no evidence that any of these licenses resulted in even brief settlements or conquests. The Spanish were unable to conquer this region during the 16th century and in the 17th century sought to "reduce" the region through missionary efforts. These included several attempts by Franciscans between 1604 and 1612; another one led by Fray Cristóbal Martinez in 1622, and a third one between 1667 and 1675. None of these efforts resulted in any lasting success.
Because the Spanish failed to have significant influence in the region, it was more or less independent of outside control. This allowed the indigenous people to continue as they were, and to receive visitors from other regions. As northern Europeans, particularly English and Dutch privateers entered the region, they found the Caribbean coast of Central America, particularly the Mosquito Coast, a good place to refit and rest, as well as serving for a base.
Spain rejoined the Mosquito Coast to the Captaincy General of Guatemala, but by Royal Decree of 30 November 1803 these territories became dependents of the Viceroyalty of New Granada. After gaining independence, Colombia considered the area as part of the departments of Cundinamarca and the Isthmus-Gran Colombia, between 1819 and 1830. Later becoming part of the Republic of New Granada (now Colombia). However, there was no effective control of the territory by Colombia.
Between 1834 and 1860 the area was under British influence as Flag Protectorate Mosquito Coast.
However, Nicaragua considered the coast as part of its territory as indicated in the Royal Order of November 13, 1806, sent to the Captain General of Guatemala, Colonel Ramon Anguiano said:
- Solved His Majesty [King of Spain] Your Lordship [Colonel Ramon Anguiano] is who should understand the absolute knowledge of all businesses, they occur in the colony of Trujillo and other military posts of the Coast mosquitos concerning the four cases referred [justice, police, finance and war].
The Miskito Kingdom
Although the earliest accounts do not mention it, a political entity of uncertain organization, but probably not very stratified, which the English called the "Mosquito Kingdom" was present on the coast in the early seventeenth century. One of the kings of this polity visited England around 1638 at the behest of the Providence Island Company, and sealed an alliance with Great Britain.
In subsequent years, the kingdom stood strongly against any Spanish incursions in their region, and were prepared to offer rest and asylum to any anti-Spanish groups that might come to their shores. At the very least English and French privateers and pirates did visit there, taking in water and food. A detailed account of the kingdom written by a buccaneer known only as M. W. describes its organization as being fundamentally egalitarian, with the king, and some officials (usually called "Captains" in that period but later being more elaborate) were primarily military leaders, but only in time of war.
Early English alliance
The first European contacts with the Mosquito region started around 1630, when the agents of the English chartered Providence Island Company — of which the Earl of Warwick was chairman and John Pym treasurer — occupied two small cays and established friendly relations with the local inhabitants. Providence Island, the company's main base and settlement, entered into regular correspondence with the coast during the decade of company occupation, 1631-41.
The Providence Island Company sponsored the Miskito's "King's Son" to visit England, during the reign of Charles I (1625–49). When his father died, this son returned home and placed his country under English protection. Following the capture of Providence Island by Spain in 1641, England did not possess a base close to the coast. However, shortly after the English captured Jamaica in 1655, they recommenced relations with the coast, and Oldman went to visit England. According to the testimony of his son Jeremy, taken around 1699 was received in audience by "his brother king," Charles II and was given a "lac'd hat" and a commission "to kindly use and relieve such straggling Englishment as should chance to come that way." 
The Emergence of the Mosquitos Zambos (Miskito Sambu)
While accounts vary, the Miskito Sambu originated from the survivors of a shipwrecked slave ship who arrived in the mid-seventeenth century. These survivors intermarried with the local Miskito people and produced mixed-race offspring. They also adopted the language and much of the culture of their hosts. The Miskito Sambu settled in the valley of the Wanks River, and by the late seventeenth century held the office of General with jurisdiction over the northern portions of the Miskito Kingdom. In the early eighteenth century, they managed to take over the office of King, which they held for at least the rest of the century.
In the late 17th and early 18th centuries, Miskitos Zambos began a series of raids that attacked Spanish held territories and still independent indigenous groups in the area. Miskito raiders reached as far north as the Yucatán, and as far south as Costa Rica. Many of the people they captured were sold as slaves to English or other British merchants and carried to Jamaica. This raiding gradually put the Zambos in the more dominant position and the king's domain was inhabited primarily by Zambos. They also assisted government of Jamaica in hunting down Maroons in the 1720s.
Although English accounts call the area a "kingdom'" it was loosely organized. A description of the kingdom, written in 1699, shows it was discontinuously spread out along the coast and probably did not include a number of settlements of English traders. Although English accounts refer to the ruler as a "king" and subsequently to other noble titles, Miskito social structure does not appear to have been particularly stratified. The 1699 description noted that people holding titles such as "king" and "governor" were only empowered as war leaders, and did not have the last word in judicial disputes either. Otherwise, the author saw the population as living in an egalitarian state.
M. W. mentioned titled officers in his account of 1699, but later sources define these superior offices to include the king, a Governor, and a General. In the early 18th century, the Miskitu kingdom became organized into four distinct clusters of population, centered on the banks of the navigable rivers, but integrated into a single, if loosely structured political entity. The northern portions were dominated by Sambus and the southern ones by Tawira Miskitos. The King, whose domain lay from the Wanks River south to the Rio Kukakalaya, including the king's residence near Sandy Bay. was a Sambu, as was the General, who ruled the northern portions of the kingdom, from the Wanks River to nearly Trujillo. The Governor, who was a Tawira, controlled the southern regions, from the Cucalaya River to Pearl Key Lagoon. In the later 18th century, (post 1766) yet another title, Admiral appeared, also a Tawira, controlling a region on the extreme south from Pearl Key Lagoon down to around Bluefields.
The Miskito Kingdom, British Settlements, and Spanish Claims
The Miskito king Edward and the British concluded a formal Treaty of Friendship and Alliance in 1740, and Robert Hodgson, Senior was appointed as Superintendent of the Shore. The language of the treaty includes what amounts to a surrender of sovereignty, and is often taken by historians as an indication that a British protectorate was established over the Miskito Kingdom.
Britain's primary motive and the most immediate result of the treaty was to secure an alliance between the Miskito and English for the War of Jenkin's Ear, and Miskito and English cooperated in attacks on Spanish settlements during the war. This military cooperation would prove important as Miskito forces were vital to protecting not only English interests in the Miskito Kingdom, but also for British holdings in Belize.
A more lasting result of this formal relation was that Edward and other Miskito rulers who followed him allowed the British to establish settlements and plantations within his realm, and issued the first land grants to this effect in 1742. British settlement concentrated especially in the Black River area, Cape Gracias a Dios, and Bluefields. The British plantation owners used their estates to grow some export crops and as bases for the exploitation of timber resources, especially mahogany. Most of the labor on the estates was supplied by African slaves and by indigenous slaves captured in Miskito and English raids into Spanish territory. By 1786, there were several hundred English residents on the shore and several thousand mostly African slaves.
The Miskito kings received regular gifts from the English mostly in weapons and consumer goods, and provided security against slave revolts and to capture runaways.
The British Evacuation and Spanish Settlements
Spain, which claimed the territory, suffered considerably from the Miskito attacks which continued in peacetime following the end of the wars. When the wars of the American Revolutionary War, broke out Spanish forces attempted to eliminate the British presence, seizing the settlement at Black River, and driving British settlers from the isle of Roatán, however this ultimately failed when the Anglo Irish soldier Edward Despard with armed settlers retook the settlements.
Although Spain had been unable to drive the English from the coast or occupy any position, in the course of the diplomatic negotiations following the war, England found itself making concessions to the Spanish. In the 1786 Convention of London, Britain agreed to evacuate English settlers and their slaves from the Mosquito Coast to their colony in Belize, but continued to claim a protectorate over the Miskitos.
The Spanish then sought to occupy the positions formerly held by British settlers with their own colonists. Beginning in 1787, around 1,200 settlers were brought from Spain and the Canary Islands. The Spanish government did not colonize Bluefields in the south, but allowed Robert Hodgson, who had sworn loyalty to Spain to serve as a sort of governor, but they did send settlers to Sandy Bay, Cape Gracias a Dios and Black River. However, the new colony was immediately beset with problems, many of the settlers died in route, and the Miskito were dissatisfied with the "stupid little things" the Spanish offered as gifts, which had been a mainstay of the British welcome in previous years. As a result, the Miskito resumed trade with Jamaica, and when a new Anglo-Spanish war broke out in 1797, Miskito King George II attacked and ended Hodgson's rule in Bluefield, and then on 4 September 1800, George led a large force that stormed the Spanish positions and drove them from his lands. 
The Spanish hoped to win over support of the Miskito elite, for example, by offering them the same sort of presents that the English, and by educating their youth in Guatemala, as so many Miskito had been educated in Jamaica. A number of elite members of Miskito did accept this, but it was cut across by underlying tensions between the northern regions that were controlled by Zambos and were always loyal to George II, and the Tawira southerners, who aligned with the Admiral, Brinton that became more partisan of Spain.
Era of independence
As Spain's former colonies in Central America gained their independence in 1821 and then began a series of wars to determine whether there would be a federalist, unitary union, or each former province would be independent, the potential of any regional power to threaten the Miskito kingdom declined. Miskito Kings renewed their alliance with Great Britain, and Belize replaced Jamaica as the principal English connection for the kingdom. Miskito kings began being crowned in Belize, as was George Frederic Augustus I (1816) and Robert Charles Frederic (1845), and commissions along the lines of those issues in Jamaica continued to be administered.
The Miskito kings also continued to encourage settlement by foreigners in their lands as long as their sovereignty was respected. This included giving ample grants to Garifuna settlers who came from Trujillo and a variety of English merchants. One of the more famous settlement schemes was the Poyais scheme in 1820, in which a land speculator used a grant from the Miskito king to draw settlers to the coast, but left them without the means to manage themselves and the settlement failed. In the 1830s and 40s King Robert Charles Frederic also appointed several small traders, notably William Hodgson, and brothers Peter and Samuel Shepherd as his agents to administer his claims to tribute and taxes from lands as far south as today's Panama.
At the same time, the mahogany trade peaked in Europe, and Belize, a principal supplier of wood had deforested the easier stands of the wood. So the Miskito Kingdom, where there were still mahogany trees, became of interest to Belize based traders and wood cutting companies who obtained, in turn concessions and grants from King Robert Charles Frederic. In 1837 Britain which began to encourage these traders by formally recognizing the Miskito Kingdom, pointedly noted its interest in preventing interference in the kingdom by Central American countries. 
Arrival of the Creoles
During the 1830s and 1840s, following the emancipation of slaves in the British West Indies (1838), a number of free Afro-West Indians began migrating to the Mosquito coast, settling at a number of points along the coast making their living by subsistence activities and fitting into the life style of the local people. In the region around Bluefields, in addition, there were a large number of slaves that had not left with their former masters when the British evacuated the region in 1786, they, in turn received significant numbers of the Afro-West Indians as well. Collectively the two groups gradually merged to be come the Creoles in local parlance, most of whom were of African or mixed Afro-European ancestry. While many were content to fish and hunt, a small number were educated and they formed a local elite that worked in tandem with European, West Indian and American whites in trading.
In 1844, the British government decided to return to formal relations with the Miskito Kingdom and formally declared a protectorate. However, the British presence was opposed by both the governments of Nicaragua and Honduras as well as the United States operating under the Monroe Doctrine. Operating under the command of the successive newly appointed Superintendents of the Coast, they pursued an aggressive policy of forwarding English economic interests in the mahogany trade, and later in seeking control over strategic points where an inter-oceanic canal might be built.
The opposition of the United States was due in large part to the fear that Britain would acquire a privileged position in regard to a proposed inter-oceanic canal. In 1848, the seizure of San Juan del Norte, subsequently renamed Greytown by the Miskito supported by a British warship, aroused great excitement in the United States, and even involved the risk of war. In 1854, the American ship USS Cyane bombarded Greytown after failing to receive compensation for violence which had been directed against Solon Borland, an American diplomat, and other US citizens. But through the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty of 1850, both powers pledged themselves not to fortify, colonise or exercise dominion over any part of Central America; in November 1859, Britain delegated its protectorate to Honduras.
Treaty of Managua
This caused great dissatisfaction among the Miskito, who shortly afterwards revolted; and on 28 January 1860, Britain and Nicaragua concluded the treaty of Managua, which transferred to Nicaragua the suzerainty over the entire Caribbean coast from Cabo Gracias a Dios to Greytown but granted autonomy to the Miskito in the more limited Mosquito Reserve (the area described above). King George Augustus Fredric II accepted this change on condition that he should retain his local authority, and receive a yearly subvention of £1000 until 1870. On his death in 1865, Nicaragua refused to recognize his successor, William Henry Clarence.
The reserve nevertheless continued to be governed by an elected chief, aided by an administrative council, which met in Bluefields; and the Miskito denied that the suzerainty of Nicaragua connoted any right of interference with their internal affairs. The question was referred for arbitration to the Habsburg emperor of Austria, whose award (published in 1880) upheld the contention of the Indians, and affirmed that the suzerainty of Nicaragua was limited by the Miskitos' right of self-government.
In 1847, Moravian Church missionaries from Herrnhut, Kingdom of Saxony in what is today Germany, began mission work among the Miskito Indians and Creoles. By the end of the century, almost the entire native population had been converted.
Annexation to Nicaragua
When, in 1894, Rigoberto Cabezas led a campaign to annex the reserve, natives responded with vigorous protest, an appeal to Britain to protect them, and more militant resistance  — to little avail. The situation was such that, from July 6 to August 7, the US occupied Bluefields to 'protect US interests'. After enjoying almost complete autonomy for fourteen years, on 20 November 1894, their territory formally became incorporated in that of the republic of Nicaragua by Nicaraguan president José Santos Zelaya. The former Mosquito Coast was established as the Nicaraguan department of Zelaya. During the 1980s, the department disappeared, substituted by RAAN (Región Autónoma del Atlántico Norte) and RAAS (región Autónoma del Atlántico Sur), autonomous regions with a certain degree of self-government.
Miskito Under Nicaragua
The Miskito continued to enjoy a certain autonomy under Nicaragua, though there was considerable tension between the claims of the government and those of the indigenous people. This tension was expressed openly during Sandinista rule, which sought greater state control. The Miskito were strong supporters of U.S. efforts to undermine the Sandinistas and were important allies of the Contras.
A group of Miskito dissidents recently (2009) created the Communitarian Nation of Moskitia.
- c 1650–c 1687 Oldman
- c 1687–1718 Jeremy I
- 1718–1729 H.M. Jeremy II
- 1729–1739 H.M. Peter I
- 1739–1755 H.M. Edward I
- 1755–1776 H.M. George I
- 1776–1801 H.M. George II Frederic
- 1801–1824 H.M. George Frederic Augustus I
- 1824–1842 H.M. Robert Charles Frederic
- 1842–1865 H.M. George Augustus Frederic II
- 1865–1879 H.E. William Henry Clarence, Hereditary Chief of Miskito
- 1879–1888 H.E. George William Albert Hendy, Hereditary Chief of Miskito
- 1888–1889 H.E. Andrew Hendy, Hereditary Chief of Miskito
- 1889–1890 H.E. Jonathan Charles Frederick, Hereditary Chief of Miskito
- 1890–1908 H.E. Robert Henry Clarence, Hereditary Chief of Miskito
The Mosquito Coast of Nicaragua has a population of 118,000 inhabitants, consisting of 57% Miskito, 22% Creoles (Afro-Europeans) 15% Ladinos, 4% Sumu (Amerindian), 1% Garifuna (Afro-Indians), 0.5% Chinese and 0.5% Rama (Amerindian).
- "Mosquito Coast". Encyclopædia Britannica (Britannica Concise Encyclopedia). Retrieved 2007-08-03.
- Naylor, 'Penny Ante Imperialism' pp. 95-102, 110-112, 144-57.
- Offen, Karl (2002). "The Sambo and Tawira Miskitu: The Colonial Origins and Geography of Intra-Miskitu Differentiation in Eastern Nicaragua and Honduras". Ethnohistory 49 (2): 319–372 [pp. 328–333]. doi:10.1215/00141801-49-2-319.
- Añoveros, Jesus Maria Garcia (1988). "La presencia franciscana en la Taguzgalpa y la Tologalpa (La Mosquitia)". Mesoamérica 9: 58–63.
- Karen Ordal Kupperman, Providence Island: The Other Puritan Colony, 1631-41 (Cambridge, 19xx), pp.
- Hans Sloane, A Voyage to the Islands of Madera, Barbados, Nieves, St. Christophers and Jamaica... (2 vols., London, 1707), pp. lxxvi-lxxvii, according to a conversation held with Jeremy, the future king in about 1688
- M. W. "The Mosqueto Indian and his Golden River," in Ansham Churchill, A Collection of Voyages and Travels (London, 1732), vol. 6, p.288.
- Helms, Mary (1983). "Miskito Slaving and Culture Contact: Ethnicity and Opportunity in an Expanding Population". Journal of Anthropological Research 39 (2): 179–197. JSTOR 3629966.
- German Romero Vargas, Las sociedades del Atlántico de Nicaragua en los siglos XVII y XVIII (Managua, 1995), p.165.
- W. M. "The Mosqueto Indian and His Golden River," in Anshaw Churchill, A Collection of Voyages and Travels (6 vols., London, 1728) vol. 6 pp. 285-290.
- M. W. "Mosketo Indian" p. 293.
- Offen, Karl (2002). "The Sambo and Tawira Miskitu: The Colonial Origins and Geography of Intra-Miskitu Differentiation in Eastern Nicaragua and Honduras". Ethnohistory 49 (2): 319–372. doi:10.1215/00141801-49-2-319.
- Olien, Michael (1998). "General, Governor and Admiral: Three Miskito Lines of Succession". Ethnohistory 45 (2): 278–318. JSTOR 483061.
- Troy Floyd, The Anglo-Spanish Struggle for Mosquitia (Albuquerque, NM, 1967), pp. 68-69.
- Enrique S. Pedrote, "El Coronel Hodgson y la Expedici6n a la Costa de Mosquitos," 'Anuario de Estudios Americanos' 23 (1967): 1205-1235.
- William Sorsby, "Spanish Colonization of the Mosquito Coast, 1787-1900," 'Revista de Historia de América' 73/74 (1972): 145-153."
- Frank Dawson, "The Evacuation of the Mosquito Shore and the English Who Stayed Behind, 1786-1800, 'The Americas' 55 (1) (1998): 63-89."
- Naylor, 'Penny-Ante Imperialism', pp. 99-100
- His grants to them are found in 'British and Foreign State Papers (1849-50)',38 (London, 1862), pp.687 and 689
- Naylor, Robert A. (1967). "The Mahogany Trade as a Factor in the British Return to the Mosquito Shore in the Second Quarter of the Nineteenth Century". Jamaica Historical Journal 7: 63–64.
- Naylor, 'Penny Ante Imperialism' pp. 103-117; 122-123 on the concessions.
- Charles Hale, 1994, p.37
- "Nicaragua's Miskitos seek independence". BBC News. 3 August 2009. Retrieved 12 May 2010.
- Lenguas indigenas
Sources and references
- http://www.flag.de/FOTW/flags/ni-mc.html - Mosquito Coast flag
- Douglas, James (1867). "Account of the attempt to form a settlement in 1823, on the Mosquito Shore". Transactions, New Series, No. 5 (Literary and Historical Society of Quebec). Retrieved April 27, 2013.
- Dozier, Craig (1985). Nicaragua's Mosquito Shore: The Years of British and American Presence. University of Alabama Press.
- Floyd, Troy (1967). The Anglo-Spanish Struggle for Mosquitia. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.
- Hale, Charles (1994). Resistance and Contradiction: Miskitu Indians and the Nicaraguan State, 1894-1987. Stanford University.
- Helms, Mary (1969). "The Cultural Ecology of a Colonial Tribe," Ethnology 8 (1): 76-84.
- Helms, Mary (1983). "Miskito Slaving and Culture Contact: Ethnicity and Opportunity in an Expanding Population". Journal of Anthropological Research 39 (2): 179–197.
- Helms, Mary (1986). "Of Kings and Contexts: Ethnohistorical Interpretations of Miskito Political Structure and Function," American Ethnologist 13 (3): 506-523.
- Ibarra Rojas, Eugenia (2011). Del arco y la flecha a las armas de fuego. Los indios mosquitos y la historia centroamericana. San Jose: Editorial Universidad de Costa Rica.
- Naylor, Robert (1989). Penny-Ante Imperialism: The Mosquito Shore and the Bay of Honduras, 1600-1914. A Case Study in British Informal Empire. Madison, Rutherford, Teaneck: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press.
- Offen, Karl (2002). "The Sambo and Tawira Miskitu: The Colonial Origins and Geography of Intra-Miskitu Differentiation in Eastern Nicaragua and Honduras". Ethnohistory 49 (2): 319–372.
- Olien, Michael (1983). "The Miskito Kings and the Line of Succession," Journal of Anthropological Research, 39 (2): 198-241.
- Olien, Michael (1987) "Micro/Macro-Level Linkages: Regional Political Structure on the Mosquito Coast, 1845-1864," Ethnohistory 34 (3): 256-287.
- Olien, Michael (1998). "General, Governor and Admiral: Three Miskito Lines of Succession". Ethnohistory 45 (2): 278–318.
- Potthast, Barbara (1988). Die Mosquitoküste im Spannungsfeld Britischer und Spanischer Politik, 1502-1821. Cologne: Bölau.
- Romero Vargas, Germán (1995). Las sociedades del Atlántico de Nicaragua en los siglos XVII y XVIII. Managua: Banco Nicaraguënse.