Latin-American History/Spanish Colonial Era

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During Spanish rule, Latin America was parcelled out among four viceroyalties:

  • New Spain
  • Peru
  • New Granada
  • Rio del Plata

Central America was composed of six independent nations: Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. After the Spanish conquest in the 16th century, most of the inhabitants of Central America shared a similar history. The exception was British Honduras, a sparsely populated area that was leased by the Spanish Crown to Great Britain for 150 years for the exploitation of certain natural dyes. Later the region of Belize was claimed as a colony by the English Crown and to never go back to Spain or Guatemala, which claimed as its territory until the 1970s . British Honduras for the English and Belice for the Spaniards and Guatemalans gained its independence from Great Britain in 1981 having adopted the name "Belize" in 1973.

From the 16th century through 1821 Central America formed the Captaincy General of Guatemala, sometimes known also as the Kingdom of Guatemala, composed by the states of Chiapas (now part of Mexico), Guatemala (including present day Belize), El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. Officially, the Captaincy was part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain and therefore under the rule of the Spanish viceroy in Mexico City. It was, however, administered not by the viceroy or his deputies, but by an independently appointed Captain General headquartered first in Antigua Guatemala and later in Guatemala City.