How Central America Got Their Independence

The Central Americas have a long and interesting history. The countries of Central America include Belize, Honduras, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Guatemela and Nicaragua. The rich history of this fascinating continent all started when Christopher Columbus set sail from Spain. Over many different trips, Columbus “discovered” and colonized many parts of Central America.

The first real Spanish settlement was Panama in 1509, but the land and buildings were soon later used as a Spanish fortress. About a decade later, in 1519, Hernán Cortés led savage attacks on the indigenous people in Mexico after landing on the island of Cozumel. On that same year, Pedro Arias De Ávila established Panama City and made a cruel and bloody takeover to some of the indigenous land. Five years later, in 1524, he established the city of León and the city of Grenada in Nicaragua. His lieutenant Pedro De Alvarado also took on the territories of Guatemala and El Salvador while fighting with some other Spanish settlers for the land. In 1561, many years after the other takeovers, parts of Costa Rica were finally colonized.

Over the next hundred years, the settlers seemed to be doing fine, while the indigenous people of Central America seemed to be dying from diseases such as smallpox as well as being used as slaves by the settlers. Spanish expeditions had also killed a large piece of the indigenous population when conquering new lands. 75 years after the discovery of the new lands, 90% of the indigenous population had been killed by smallpox and many more had been killed by the Spanish during cruel conquests that wiped out the native people in those areas. The settlers were mostly criminals trying to get rich in the new land. The criminals and other settlers often got into fights as well, resulting in bloody wars and other bad affairs. These affairs often got out of hand.

By the 17th and 18th century, the population of the Spanish ruled territories was growing large and all of the Spanish colonies were starting to wish that they could leave Spain and start their own cultures. Their wish came true, though, in 1821, when the colonies were voluntarily granted their independence. The Spanish had a reason to grant them their freedom other than the fact that the Central American colonies were pleading for it. The reason was that Spain was at war back in Europe and was having trouble delivering supplies and handling politics from all the way across the world. The Spanish eventually decided that it was just too hard for the colonies of Central America to stay with the colonies, so when the colonies requested to be granted freedom from Spain, they were granted it voluntarily, without any wars.

The colonies were extremely happy about this decisionbut were unhappy about the fact that they had to be part of the mexican empire. They got their independence from Mexico in less than a 5 years though. After getting their independence form Spain and Mexico, the countries were hit with a big decision between themselves. Should Central America stay together and form one large country? Or should they break up into smaller countries with their own cultures? Both of the options were good, they could become one big powerhouse or break off and start their own cultures and government. The new countries eventually came to a tie, they would form an organization (Organizatión De Estados Centroamericanos) and stay together, but become their own countries.

This decisions was one that all of the new countries came to agree on and they finally all became officially countries. This was a great moment for them and every year around Central America, people celebrate the day September 15, the day they got their independence from Spain after nearly 300 years of Spanish rule.

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