The Spanish Conquest of Central America, 1521-1538

The Spanish, from their bases in Panama respectively Mexico, sent expeditions to explore and conquer the stretch of unknown land located between these two areas. The adelantados (conquistadors) were, of course, primarily looking for gold. Nicaragua was conquered by GIL GONZALEZ DE AVILA in 1522. From Mexico, PEDRO DE ALVARADO launched a campaign into Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. The local Indio population was subdued.
The Spanish immediately began to establish cities, both in the mountains (with a more favourable climate) and along the coast (to facilitate the vital connection with Spain).
Central America, from a Spanish point of view, was a disappointment. There were some silver mines found, of minor importance, and no impressive Indian states the riches of which could be conquered. In addition, the climate, especially of the tropical forests of Nicaragua and Panama, was burdensome, as infectious diseases took a high toll.

Articles from Infoplease : Pedro de Alvarado
Library of Congress, Country Studies : Nicaragua; Honduras (enter : Colonial Honduras); El Salvador

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2001, last revised on November 5th 2004

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