This chapter begins with brief descriptions of indigenous Central American society, of the devastating impact of the Conquest, and of the creation of the colonial agrarian system. It discusses the coming of the great banana companies and describes the creation of banana enclaves around the beginning of the twentieth century. The chapter assesses the impact of the agrarian transformations of each period on the lives of rural people. Central to most of the transformations of the past has been the expropriation of land and labor from the peasantry in order that elites might pursue their objectives. The repartimiento provided another effective way to guarantee a labor supply. The appropriation of those lands left many of them helpless in the face of the determination of elites to coerce an adequate labor supply through debt labor and, the vagrancy system. Many peasants in Nicaragua occupied prime coffee land, and they often lost it as a result of the flouting of the law.