The Mosquito Coast, also known as the Mosquito Shore or Mosquitia, is the area along the eastern coast of the present-day nations of Nicaragua and Honduras. It was called the Mosquito Kingdom for a long time and was under British authority, where they included it as part of their Western Caribbean Zone.
However, in November 1894, Nicaragua’s military took over the Mosquito Coast. It was after the area’s suzerainty was given to Nicaragua in 1860 as Mosquito Reserve. Despite the significant conflict between the government’s and the indigenous people’s claims, the Miskito continued to enjoy some autonomy under Nicaragua.
This tension was stated publicly during the Sandinista government, which wanted more state control. The Miskito were crucial allies of the Contras and zealous advocates of American efforts to destabilize the Sandinistas.
Where is the Mosquito Coast Located?
Although the term “Mosquito Coast” is occasionally used to refer to the entire eastern coast of Nicaragua and Mosquitia located in Honduras, it refers to a narrow strip of land along the Caribbean Sea that extends 40 miles (60 km) inland.
However, in the latter part of the 20th century, the area fronting the Caribbean Sea and stretching roughly 11°45′ to 14°10′ N was part of the Mosquito Coast. It was approximately 400 km (225 miles) from north to south. Its northern boundary followed the Wawa River; its western border lined up with the eastern edge of Nicaragua’s highlands, and its southern boundary followed the Rio Rama.
Currently, the region centers on Cape Gracias a Dios on the border between Honduras and Nicaragua at the hump of the Central American isthmus. It stretches from the Bluefields Lagoon in Nicaragua to the San Juan River in northeastern Honduras.
Magdala on Pearl Cay, Bluefields, Prinzapolca, Vounta, and Carata are some of the major settlements in Mosquito, while Bluefields acts as its unofficial capital. The Mosquito Coast’s length comprises coral-lined shorelines, shallow shorelines, shoals, reefs, sandbars, marshes, and tiny islands.
Where Did the Mosquito Coast Get Its Name?
The Miskito people, the area’s native population, are the source of the name. They are typically small with a dark complexion, while the Chorotega, a native South American people, are the ancestors of the Miskito. European colonizers later changed the word “Miskito” to “Mosquito.”
Are There Mosquitoes on the Mosquito Coast?
Although the Mosquito Coast receives approximately 250 inches (635 centimeters) of rain every year, providing an ideal mosquito breeding ground, its name is derived from the local natives, the Mosquito Indians, and not as a result of being infested with mosquitoes. This assumption is common among people wondering where did the Mosquito Coast get its name.
However, it is primarily a barren area where the topography rises as you move away from the shore into the savannas and pine forests. This land layout makes the place hot, humid, and swampy; hence it is safe to conclude that possibly, there are mosquitoes present on the Mosquito Coast.
Is the Mosquito Coast a Political or Geographic Region?
Although the area has historically been a center of international politics, Mosquito Coast is a geographic region included as part of Nicaragua’s territory. The International Court of Justice decided to award Honduras the northern region in 1960, ending a protracted dispute. However, in 1987, the Nicaraguan section received formal partial autonomy.
Although the northern portion of the Mosquito Coast was handed to Honduras by the International Court of Justice in 1960, Nicaragua took the southern portion in 1894. The subject of the kingdom’s borders was crucial in international diplomacy throughout the 19th century between the United States, Britain, Nicaragua, and Honduras.
The scope of the kingdom and its possible nonexistence was a contentious topic in diplomatic discussions. The eastern coast of Nicaragua and even La Mosquitia in Honduras fell under the British and Miskito classification, including the shoreline region west of the Rio Negro or Tinto.
Despite being sparsely populated, a larger part of the Mosquito Coast is now under the protection of UNESCO. The Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the most well-known protected place in the region. Patuca National Park, Tawahka Anthropological Reserve, and Sierra de Agalta National Park are a few more protected areas in the region.