Facts about the Corn Islands



Name


The official Spanish name of the municipality, according to Law No. 59, is Corn Island, which refers to both islands. In English, the proper way to refer to both islands is The Corn Islands. The official name of the largest island, according to historical texts and maps, is Great Corn Island, and Little Corn Island refers to the smaller island.


Other names 


Throughout history, the Corn Islands has had several names, the best known and told through oral and written history are Skull Islands, Pearl Islands, Islas Limonares, San Luis de los Mangles and Corn Islands. 


First spotted by Europeans


On September 18, 1502, on his fourth and last voyage, and after taking refuge from a hurricane at Cabo Gracias a Dios and losing one of his four ships in the Escondido River, Christopher Columbus spotted Great Corn Island and Little Corn Island, naming them Islas Limonares. This event appears in one of Columbus' personal writings and in the history of the discovery of Nicaragua.


Neighbourhoods 


Historically, the neighbourhoods of the Corn Islands are Quinn Hill, South End, Sally Peachie, North End, Brig Bay, and Little Corn Island-now considered an urban community of Corn Island municipality. 


Promar Blue (or simply Promar), Vicente, Passion Street, Hill Road, Long Bay, Little Hill, Sandfly Bay, among others, are originally some of the island's sectors. 


First settlers


According to the French ethnologist Edward Conzemius, in his article “Les Îles Corn du Nicaragua”, the first inhabitants of the Corn Islands were the Kukra Indians. Historical records state that in the mid-17th century, after the Kukra Indians were exterminated, British settlers (English, Welsh and Irish) settled on Great Corn Island, bringing with them enslaved Africans. These initially inhabited the southeast of the island. 


Refuge of pirates and buccaneers  


Several pirates visited Great Corn Island and Little Corn Island in search of refuge. John Morris, Henry Morgan, Gil Patrick Quinn, Raveneau de Lussan, François l'Olonnais, William Dampier, Jackman, among others, were some of them, according to compilations. French buccaneers were the first to visit the islands, followed by Dutch and British pirates. 


Emancipation from slavery 


On August 27, 1841, a British navy ship arrived at Southwest Bay with Colonel Alexander McDonald, superintendent of British Honduras, on it. McDonald read the Emancipation Act, announcing the freedom of 98 enslaved men and women, who celebrated that afternoon drinking crab soup.


First church and school 


On August 25, 1852, Reverend Edward Kelly, son of former slaves, arrived in Great Corn Island from British Honduras and founded the Ebenezer Baptist Church and School in the neighborhood of North End, being the first religious and academic institution of that denomination to be established in all of Nicaragua. This church was also responsible for institutionalizing Emancipation Day, which was initially celebrated in North End, in the sector known as Bernard Bank, as a feast of Thanksgiving.


Incorporation to Nicaragua 


In 1894, with the official incorporation of the Mosquitia to the Republic of Nicaragua, the Corn Islands became part of the country along with the rest of the Caribbean Coast. The islands became part of the newly named department of Zelaya, District of Siquia, Corn Island, (...), whose authorities were called Governor and Intendente, and appointed canton judges to watch over the interests of the government and to exercise the role of civil registrar and judge. 


In Corn Island, according to the Gazette No. 58 of 1883, the canton judges were divided by sectors: Southwest Bay to Long Bay; Long Bay to Conplin; Conplin to Sandfly Bay; Sandfly Bay to Brig Bay and Brig Bay to Southwest Bay. 


Elevated to a municipality of Nicaragua


Corn Island was elevated to the category of municipality by Presidential Decree No. 311 of February 9, 1940. In Decree No. 312 signed the same day, and published in the Gazette No. 45 of February 23 of the same year, the President of the country appointed Mr. Isaiah Harold Lampson as the first Mayor and Civil Registrar, and Sam Jackson as alternate with the functions of Secretary and Trustee. 


Corn Island has had 15 mayors. The only woman to occupy the executive seat has been Mrs. Ena Moses Hart and the first Mayor to be elected by the people was Mr. George Howard, in 1997. 


Language 


Standard English (American or British, as some call it) was the first language in which the Corn Islanders were literate, after the opening of the Ebenezer Baptist School in 1852. Spanish began to be taught in schools, according to a thesis compilation, in the mid-1960s and was reinforced much more after 1979.


Creole English, or simply Creole, is a linguistic heritage of the Africans brought to the Caribbean during the slave trade, who out of necessity created their own linguistic system, based on standard English and words borrowed from their original or mother tongues.


Today, Creole English, Standard English, Spanish and Miskito are widely spoken on the islands. 

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