Miskito Coast Creole

Miskito Coast Creole
Native to Nicaragua
Native speakers
30,000 (2001)[1]
English Creole
  • Atlantic

    • Western
      • Miskito Coast Creole
Language codes
ISO 639-3 bzk
Glottolog nica1252[2]
Linguasphere 52-ABB-af

Mískito Coast Creole or Nicaragua Creole English is a language spoken in Nicaragua based on English. Its approximately 30,000 speakers are found along the Mosquito Coast of the Caribbean Sea.[3] The language is nearly identical to Belizean Creole, and similar to all Central American Creoles. It does not have the status of an official language.

Geographic distribution

Speakers of Miskito Coast Creole are primarily persons of African, Amerindian, and European descent in the towns and on the offshore islands of the Mosquito Coast. The main concentration of speakers is around Bluefields, capital of the South Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region, although a majority of inhabitants of the city are now Spanish-speaking immigrants.

Other communities of Creoles are found in Waspán on the Coco River near Cape Gracias a Dios, in Laguna de Perlas, Puerto Cabezas, the offshore Corn Islands, Prinzapolka (Puerto Isabel), and San Juan del Norte (Greytown). Inland, the language is spoken in Siuna, Rosita, and Bonanza on the Prinzapolka River. On the Pacific coast, there are small numbers of speakers in Corinto, Puerto Sandino, and the Nicaraguan capital of Managua.

Rama Cay Creole is a variety of the language spoken by the Rama people on Rama Cay, an island in the Bluefields Lagoon.

Geographic distribution of Miskito Coast Creole in 1987[4]
Location Number of speakers
Bluefields 11,258
Corn Islands 3,030
Pearl Lagoon 1,285
Puerto Cabezas 1,733
Other locations 8,417
Total 25,723


African slaves were shipwrecked on the Mosquito Coast as early as 1640 and interaction between them and the local Miskito population commenced. Larger numbers of Africans from Jamaica enslaved by British owners were settled in the area during the 18th century which led to the development of Miskito Coastal Creole. The Coast was officially under British protection from 1740 to 1787 according to the Treaty of Friendship and Alliance with the Miskito Kingdom and remained under British influence until the late 19th century. In the mid-19th century, more English- or Creole-speaking laborers, primarily from Jamaica, were brought to the Coast as labourers.

However, following the 1894 formal annexation of the Miskito Kingdom by Nicaragua, an increasing number of Spanish speakers migrated to the area. The 1987 Constitution of Nicaragua granted autonomy to the Zelaya Department as two autonomous regions of the North and South Caribbean Coast. Autonomous status has allowed for the promotion and development of the languages of the Caribbean Coast and, as of 1992, there was education in English and Spanish, as well as education in indigenous languages.

See also


  1. Miskito Coast Creole at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Nicaragua Creole English". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. Nicaragua Creole English Ethnologue report
  4. Chalres R. Hale and Edmund T. Gordon. 1987. "Costeno Demography: Historical and Contemporary Demography of Nicaragua’s Atlantic Coast: An Historical Overview." In CIDCA 1987. Cited in Ken Decker and Andy Keener. "A Report on the English-Lexifier Creole of Nicaragua, also known as Miskito Coast Creole, with special reference to Bluefields and the Corn Islands." Summer Institute of Linguistics. February 1998.


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