Corn Islands

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Corn Islands
Las Islas del Maíz
Map of the Corn Islands
Map of the Corn Islands
Corn Islands is located in Nicaragua
Corn Islands
Corn Islands
Location in Nicaragua
Coordinates: 12°10′N 83°02′W / 12.167°N 83.033°W / 12.167; -83.033
Country  Nicaragua
Department South Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region
 • Total 5.0 sq mi (12.9 km2)
Elevation 371 ft (113 m)
Population (2005)
 • Total 7,429

The Corn Islands (Spanish: Las Islas del Maíz) are two islands about 70 kilometres (43 mi) east of the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua, constituting one of 12 municipalities of the South Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region. The official name of the municipality is Corn Island (the English name is officially used in Spanish-speaking Nicaragua).


Coast of Little Corn Island

The Corn Islands, along with the eastern half of present-day Nicaragua, were a British protectorate from 1655 until 1860, a period when the region was called the Mosquito Coast. At one time, the islands were frequented by Caribbean pirates. The Nicaraguan government annexed the region in 1894.

Under the Bryan–Chamorro Treaty of 1914, the islands were leased to the United States for a period of 99 years. The terms of the lease made the Corn Islands subject to the sovereignty of the United States.[1] The lease notwithstanding, the United States never maintained a significant presence in the islands. The right of the United States to use of the islands remained until April 25, 1971, when the lease was officially terminated by the denunciation of the Bryan-Chamorro Treaty on July 14, 1970, under the presidency of Anastasio Somoza Debayle.[2]


The Corn Islands consist of the Big Corn Island (Isla Grande del Maíz; often simply referred to as Corn Island; Isla del Maíz), with an area of 10 square kilometres (3.9 sq mi), and Little Corn Island (Isla Pequeña del Maíz), with an area of 2.9 square kilometres (1.1 sq mi). The total area is 12.9 square kilometres (5.0 sq mi). Mount Pleasant Hill in the north of Big Corn Island, is the highest elevation of the islands, at 113 metres (371 ft). Little Corn Island reaches a height of 38 metres (125 ft) at Lookout Point in the northern part of the island.

Aerial view of Corn Island


According to the Köppen climate classification, the nearby mainland region of Bluefields features a tropical rainforest climate (Köppen Af). There is a drier period from February to April, but the trade winds ensure that unlike the Pacific coast of Nicaragua, rain still falls frequently during this period. For the rest of the year when tropical low pressure dominates rainfall is extremely heavy, helped by the coast being shaped in such a manner as to intercept winds from the south as prevail during the northern summer.

Climate data for Corn Islands, Nicaragua
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 27.8
Daily mean °C (°F) 24.9
Average low °C (°F) 22.2
Average precipitation mm (inches) 218
Average rainy days (≥ 1.0 mm) 19 13 10 10 15 23 26 25 21 21 20 22 225
Source: HKO[3]


The population of the islands numbered 6,626 as of 2005 (census of population, May 28 to June 11, 2005).[4]

As of early 2009, local authorities estimate the population of Big Corn Island to be 6,200 and that of Little Corn Island to be 1,200. The distribution of tourists is estimated to be roughly 25% at Big Corn Island and 75% at Little Corn Island.[citation needed]

The islanders are Afro-descendant, English-speaking Creole people mixed with indigenous.


Caribbean Cow

The municipality of Corn Island is subdivided into six wards (barrios), five of which are on Big Corn Island, while Little Corn Island constitutes the sixth ward:

Barrio Population
(Census May 28-
June 11, 2005)
Location Villages
Brig Bay 3,930 west Brig Bay
La Loma 682 south La Loma, Long Beach, Queen Hill, Bluff Point
South End 764 east South End, Mount Pleasant
Sally Peachie 265 northeast Sally Peachie, Little Hill
North End 490 northwest North End
Little Corn Island 495 island 13 km
The Village, Carib Town
Corn Island 6,626    


Isla Pequeña del Maiz Lighthouse
Corn Islands is located in Nicaragua
Corn Islands
Location Corn Island
Coordinates 12°17′25.6″N 82°58′58.4″W / 12.290444°N 82.982889°W / 12.290444; -82.982889
Foundation concrete base
Construction metal skeletal tower
Tower shape square pyramidal tower with balcony and light
Markings / pattern white tower
Height ~ 15 metres (49 ft)
Light source solar power
Range 8 nautical miles (15 km; 9.2 mi)
Characteristic Fl W
Admiralty number J6065
NGA number 16502
ARLHS number NIC-002
Managing agent Aquatic Transport Directorate[6][7]

Big Corn Island has a paved road about 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) long which runs the length of the island. Automobiles, motorbikes and bicycles are the primary means of transport on the island. Most cars are used as taxis and cost 18 Cordobas for each ride of an adult person. The only other public transportation option is the bus that circles the island clockwise and costs 10 cordobas.

Little Corn Island is accessible by fast boats, usually three or four times per day depending on weather from Big Corn Island, and by a small cargo ship from the port at Southwest Bay on Big Corn Island (World Port Index No. 9775). Little Corn Island has no motor vehicles. Due to its small size, all transport on the island is done on foot.


The Corn Islands are about 70 kilometres (43 mi) away from Bluefields. Corn Island Airport in the city of Brig Bay is served by La Costeña airlines from Bluefields and Managua.


Big Corn Island can be reached by a cargo ship that departs two or three times per week from El Rama through Escondido River with its mouth at Bluefields. These ships usually do not have much passenger room, and the trip may last 12 hours. From Bluefields passengers may also use a once-a-week government ferry, a trip of around 5 hours. The Isla Pequeña del Maiz Lighthouse is on Little Corn Island.

Economy and tourism[edit]

Throughout most of the 20th century the economy revolved around coconut production. During the 1960s and 1970s, commercial fishing as well as lobster and shrimp fishing, became the main industry. The recent growth in tourism throughout the region, however, has also affected the islands. Tourism on the islands has grown considerably, with their many surrounding coral reefs making them a popular destination for scuba diving and snorkeling.

Barracudas, nurse sharks, hammerhead sharks, green sea turtles, and spotted eagle rays are among the marine life that can be seen around the islands.

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Treaties and Other International Agreements of the United States of America, 1776-1949: Nepal-Peru, p. 379
  2. ^ "Formerly Disputed islands". Office of Insular Affairs, U.S. Department of the Interior. Retrieved 2015-06-09.
  3. ^ "Climatological Normals of Bluefields, Nicaragua". Hong Kong Observatory. Retrieved 2012-03-13.
  4. ^ "POBLACION VOLUMEN" (PDF). Retrieved 18 July 2014.
  5. ^ VIII CENSO DE POBLACIÒN Y IV DE VIVIENDA, 2005 Archived 2009-03-20 at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ Nicaragua Caribbean Coast The Lighthouse Directory. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Retrieved 23 January 2017
  7. ^ List of Lights, Pub. 110: Greenland, The East Coasts of North and South America (Excluding Continental U.S.A. Except the East Coast of Florida) and the West Indies (PDF). List of Lights. United States National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. 2016.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 12°10′N 83°02′W / 12.167°N 83.033°W / 12.167; -83.033