Timeline: Nicaragua

BBC News Online, 30 July 2001

A chronology of key events

1522—Spanish explorer Gil Gonzalez de Avila names Nicaragua after a local Indian chief, Nicarao.

1523-24—Francisco Hernandez de Cordoba completes conquest of Nicaragua.

17th-18th centuries—British plunder and extend their influence over the inhabitants of Nicaragua's Caribbean coast.

1821—Nicaragua becomes independent, but is incorporated into the Mexican empire.

1823—Nicaragua becomes part of the United Provinces of Central America, which also comprises Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.


1838—Nicaragua becomes fully independent.

1860—British cede control over the country's Caribbean coast to Nicaragua.

1893—General Jose Santos Zelaya, a Liberal, seizes power and establishes dictatorship.

1909—US troops help depose Zelaya.

1912-25—US establishes military bases.

1927-33—Guerrillas led by Augusto Cesar Sandino campaign against US military presence.

1934—Sandino assassinated on the orders of the National Guard commander, General Anastasio Somoza Garcia.

Somoza family dictatorship

1937—General Somoza elected president, heralding the start of a 40-year-long dictatorship by his family.

1956—General Somoza assassinated, but is succeeded as president by his son, Luis Somoza Debayle.

1961—Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) founded.

1967—Luis Somoza dies and is succeeded as president by his brother, Anastasio Somoza.

1978—Assassination of the leader of the opposition Democratic Liberation Union, Pedro Joaquin Chamorro, triggers general strike and brings together moderates and the FSLN in a united front to oust Somoza.

Sandinista revolution and US subversion

1979—FSLN military offensive ends with the ouster of Somoza.

[Daniel Ortega]
Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega

1980—Somoza assassinated in Paraguay; FSLN government led by Daniel Ortega nationalises and turns into cooperatives lands held by the Somoza family.

1982—US-sponsored attacks by Contra rebels based in Honduras begin; state of emergency declared.

1984—US mines Nicaraguan harbours and is condemned by the World Court for doing so.

1987-88—Nicaraguan leadership signs peace agreement and subsequently holds talks with Contra; hurricane leaves 180,000 people homeless.

Post-Sandinista era

1990—US-backed centre-right National Opposition Union defeats FSLN in elections; Violeta Chamorro becomes president.

1992—Earthquake renders 16,000 people homeless.

1996—Arnoldo Aleman elected president.

1998—Hurricane Mitch causes massive devastation.

2000—FSLN win Managua municipal elections.