Nicaragua - Country history and economic development

20,000-10,000 B.C. Native Americans settle in the region.

1502. Columbus lands on the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua.

1524. Hernandez de Cordoba establishes the first Spanish colonies in Nicaragua, including 2 of the present-day principal cities of Leon and Granada.

1740-86. The Mosquito Coast region becomes a British protectorate. The British continue to exert influence on the region well into the 20th century.

1821. Nicaragua becomes independent of Spain; first as part of the Mexican Empire and then as a member of the federation, the United Provinces of Central America.

1838. Nicaragua becomes an independent republic.

1848-60. The British control the port of San Juan del Norte.

1850s. Many Americans travel through Nicaragua on their way to the gold fields of California.

1855-57. American William Walker seizes the presidency, but is overthrown in 1857 by a coalition of 5 Central American nations.

1909. The United States provides support for a conservative revolt after American businesses and property are threatened in the Bluefields region.

1912-33. With the exception of a 9-month period from 1925-26, U.S. troops are stationed in Nicaragua.

1936. General Anastasio Somoza Garcia takes control of the government. This initiates 40 years of rule by the Somoza family.

1972. A massive earthquake devastates the nation, leaving 6,000 dead and over 300,000 homeless.

1979. Led by the Sandinistas, a popular uprising overthrows the Somoza dynasty.

1981. The United States suspends economic aid after the Sandinistas begin privatizing property and businesses.

1985. The United States imposes an economic embargo in Nicaragua because of its support for Marxist Central American revolutionary groups. The United States also begins support for anti-Sandinista rebels, known as Contras.

1990. Under international pressure, the Sandinistas agree to open elections in which the opposition candidate Violetta Chamorro is elected.

1994. The nation's stock market begins operations.

1996. Former Managua Mayor Arnoldo Aleman, leader of the moderate-conservative Liberal Alliance, defeats the Sandinista candidate to become president.

1998. Hurricane Mitch devastates the nation, causing 4,000 deaths and widespread economic disruption.

2000. Nicaragua qualifies for debt-relief under the HIPC program.

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