Bluefields

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Bluefields
Bluefields and Bluefields Bay (Bahia de Bluefields)

Seal
Bluefields is located in Nicaragua
Bluefields
Coordinates: 12°0′N 83°45′W / 12.000°N 83.750°W / 12.000; -83.750
Country Nicaragua
Autonomous RegionAutonomous Region of the Southern Atlantic
MunicipalityBluefields
Government
 • MayorDr. Harold Bacon
Elevation25 m (82 ft)
Population (2005)
 • Total85,547
 
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Bluefields
Bluefields and Bluefields Bay (Bahia de Bluefields)

Seal
Bluefields is located in Nicaragua
Bluefields
Coordinates: 12°0′N 83°45′W / 12.000°N 83.750°W / 12.000; -83.750
Country Nicaragua
Autonomous RegionAutonomous Region of the Southern Atlantic
MunicipalityBluefields
Government
 • MayorDr. Harold Bacon
Elevation25 m (82 ft)
Population (2005)
 • Total85,547
The RAAS
Historic flag of the British Protectorate of the Mosquito Coast. Bluefields was the capital of the protectorate.

Bluefields (or Blewfields) is the capital of the municipality of the same name, and of Región Autónoma del Atlántico Sur (R.A.A.S.) in Nicaragua. It was also capital of the former Zelaya Department, which was divided into North and South Atlantic Autonomous Regions. It is located on Bluefields Bay at the mouth of the Escondido River.

Bluefields was named after the Dutch pirate Abraham Blauvelt who hid in the bay’s waters in the early 17th century.[1] It has a population of 87,000 (2005)[2] and its inhabitants are mostly Mestizo, Miskito, whites, blacks, along with smaller communities of Garifuna, Chinese, Sumu, and Ramas. Bluefields is Nicaragua’s chief Caribbean port, from where hardwood, seafood, shrimp and lobster are exported. Bluefields was a rendezvous for English and Dutch buccaneers in the 16th and 17th century and became capital of the English protectorate over the Mosquito Coast in 1678. During United States interventions (1912–15, 1926–33) in Nicaragua, Marines were stationed there. In 1984, the United States mined the harbor (along with those of Corinto and Puerto Sandino). Bluefields was destroyed by Hurricane Joan in 1988 but was rebuilt.

Until recently, there was no road access to Bluefields from the west coast of Nicaragua. There is now a dirt road from El Rama, but no bus service. It may not be open year-round. Visitors usually either fly in from Managua and other cities, or take a Panga (boat) down the Rio Escondido from the city of El Rama.[citation needed]

History[edit]

Generally, it is accepted that the origin of the city of Bluefields is connected with the presence on the Nicaraguan Caribbean coast of European pirates, subjects of powers at the time hostile to Spain. These pirates used the Escondido River to rest, to repair damages and to be provisioned. By then, the territory of the present municipality was populated by the native towns of Kukra and Branch. In 1602 one of these soldiers of fortune chose the bay of Bluefields as his center of operations due to its tactical advantages, a Dutchman named Blauveldt or Bleeveldt, and from him originates the name of the municipality.

Consensus exists that the black Africans first appeared in the Caribbean coast in 1641, when a Portuguese ship that transported slaves wrecked in the Miskito Cays. From the original settlement the bay began to be populated; the English subjects burst in 1633 and from 1666 they were already organized into colonies, and by 1705 there were authorities established. In 1730 the colony of Bluefields came to depend on the British government of Jamaica. For this, the alliance of the English Miskito ethnic group was decisive, and the British provided them with armaments that allowed them to subdue the other ethnic groups of the Caribbean coast, the Sumu, and the Rama.

In 1740 the Miskitos yielded to England sovereignty over the territory, and in 1744 a transfer of English colonists was organized from Jamaica to the Mosquito Coast; they brought along with them black slaves. French citizens were also installed. The area was a British Protectorate until 1796, when England recognized the sovereignty of Spain on the Mosquito Coast; the English subjects also abandoned the islands, but the Spaniards did not take firm positions in them.

The Moravian Church was installed in 1847, and in 1860 the Miskito Reserve was created in the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua, by an agreement between the British and American governments in which Nicaragua as a country did not have part, and the English crown intervened again, putting it under its protection. The city of Bluefields was declared capital of that Reserve.

On the other hand, slaves originating in Jamaica that sought freedom on the Nicaraguan coast continued arriving during the greater part of the 19th century.

The plan of “Europeanization” of the natives was completed by the 1880s, when English and Americans expanded the production of banana and wood, creating an enclave economy; by the 1880 Bluefields was already a city of cosmopolitan character, with an intense commercial activity.

Economic growth also brought a marked process of social differentiation, by which the races and ethnic groups were distributed spatially and in terms of work: in the dome the white population represented the interests of the foreign businesses; the mulattoes worked as artisans and in working class occupations; the blacks had their niche in physical work, and the native population were employed as servants and for other smaller works. In 1894 the government of Nicaragua incorporated the Miskito Reserve into the national territory, extinguishing the Miskito monarchy, and on October 11, 1903 Bluefields was proclaimed capital of the Department of Zelaya.

In recent years however, due to American Coast Guard patrols attempting to intercept Colombian drug smugglers, cocaine (often referred to locally as "white lobster") has become an important part of the local economy. When threatened with potential boarding by US Coast Guard ships, cocaine smugglers try to dispose of their illegal cargo by throwing it overboard; simultaneously lightening their load for a faster escape and eliminating the evidence in case of capture. A percentage of the cocaine bales are then carried by ocean currents into the lagoon around Bluefields. Residents may find the bales washed up on the beach; some have even rigged canoes with Yamaha engines to search for “white lobster” floating offshore.

The majority of the residents of Bluefields however remain impoverished. The “white lobster” cocaine is seen by many as ultimately a curse, helping fuel the local economy, but also inhabitants’ addictions[citation needed].

Climate[edit]

According to Köppen climate classification, 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 Bluefields, Nicaragua
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Average high °C (°F)27.8
(82)
28.4
(83.1)
29.0
(84.2)
29.8
(85.6)
29.9
(85.8)
28.9
(84)
28.1
(82.6)
28.5
(83.3)
29.1
(84.4)
28.8
(83.8)
28.4
(83.1)
28.0
(82.4)
28.73
(83.69)
Daily mean °C (°F)24.9
(76.8)
25.2
(77.4)
26.2
(79.2)
27.0
(80.6)
27.0
(80.6)
26.0
(78.8)
25.6
(78.1)
25.6
(78.1)
25.8
(78.4)
25.6
(78.1)
25.3
(77.5)
25.2
(77.4)
25.78
(78.42)
Average low °C (°F)22.2
(72)
22.3
(72.1)
23.3
(73.9)
23.7
(74.7)
24.2
(75.6)
23.9
(75)
23.7
(74.7)
23.6
(74.5)
23.5
(74.3)
23.1
(73.6)
22.8
(73)
22.6
(72.7)
23.24
(73.84)
Precipitation mm (inches)218
(8.58)
114
(4.49)
71
(2.8)
101
(3.98)
264
(10.39)
581
(22.87)
828
(32.6)
638
(25.12)
383
(15.08)
418
(16.46)
376
(14.8)
328
(12.91)
4,320
(170.08)
Avg. rainy days (≥ 1.0 mm)191310101523262521212022225
Source: HKO[3]

Districts[edit]

The city is located beside the eponymous bay; consisting of 17 neighborhoods including the port of El Bluff, located on a peninsula of the same name. Due to gradual erosion, the peninsula is becoming a true island that closes the Bay of Bluefields on the east side. El Bluff has an extension of 1.29 km² and it is about 8 km from Bluefields.

Urban Bluefields street scene
Bluefields rural waterfront homes

Bluefields has several municipal headquarters and rural communities including:

Urban Level: Santa Rosa, Central, San Mateo, Point Teen, Fátima, Tres Cruces, Ricardo Morales, Old Bank, San Pedro, Teodoro Martínez, 19 de Julio, Pancasán, Cotton Tree, New York, Beholden, El Canal, Loma Fresca.

Rural Level: Cuenca Río Escondido, Cuenca Río Maíz, San Nicolás, La Fonseca, Rama Cay, San Luís, Caño Frijol, Tarsuani, Long Beach, Dalzuno, Cuenca Río Indio, Río Maíz, Guana Creek, Nueva Chontales, Neysi Ríos, La Palma, Sub-Cuenta Mahagony, Krisinbila, Sub-Cuenca Caño Negro, Río Kama, El Bluff, Las Mercedes, Monkey Point, El Corozo, Cuenca Punta Gorda, Caño Dalzuno, Hallouver, Villa Hermosa, San Ramón, Río Cama (El Cilicio), San Brown, La Virgen, San Mariano, La Pichinga, Musulaine, Caño Blanco, Aurora (San Francisco), Kukra River (Delirio), Barra Punta Gorda, Kukra River.

Education[edit]

The University of the Autonomous Regions of the Nicaraguan Caribbean Coast has a campus in Bluefields.

Bluefields Indian and Caribbean University (BICU) [4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Leonardi, Richard (2001). Nicaragua Handbook: The Travel Guide. Footprint Travel Guides. p. 248. ISBN 1-903471-14-1. 
  2. ^ "VIII Censo de Población y IV de Vivienda" (in Spanish). Retrieved 2007-09-12. 
  3. ^ "Climatological Normals of Bluefields, Nicaragua". Hong Kong Observatory. Retrieved 2012-03-13. 
  4. ^ http://www.bicu.edu.ni/

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 12°00′N 83°45′W / 12.000°N 83.750°W / 12.000; -83.750