Nicaragua is a republic in Central America, bordering Honduras in the north and Costa Rica in the south, and has coasts both to the Pacific and the Caribbean. The islands of Islas de Maiz (Corn Islands), Cayos Miskitos and Cayos Perlas in the Caribbean belong to Nicaragua. The capital is Managua.
Nicaragua was a Spanish colony in the period 1524–1821, and became independent in 1838. The country was ruled by the Somoza family dynasty from 1934 to 1979, when a widespread popular revolt led by the Sandinist Front instituted revolution and ruled the country until 1990, a period marked by war and trade boycott.
In 1990, the Sandinists (FSLN) surrendered without power to Latin America’s first female head of state, Violeta Barrios de Chamorro. From 1996 to 2006, the country was ruled by Liberal presidents Arnoldo Aleman (1996–2001) and Enrique Bolaños (2001–2006) before Daniel Ortega took over again in 2006. Ortega is still president (2020).
The name Nicaragua comes from Nicaro, a close- knit people who lived here.
Geography and environment
It is common to divide Nicaragua into three geographical/climatic regions: the lowlands in the west by the Pacific, the central highlands and the lowlands of the Caribbean. The climate is tropical in the lower parts of the country and cooler in the higher altitudes.
The lowland in the west is the most populous. The area is a fertile plain and well-suited for agriculture. Here are the great lakes of Lago de Nicaragua and Lago de Managua, and a volcanic range stretches from south to north; several of them are active.
In the highlands there is a somewhat cooler climate, and the area is well suited for coffee production. There are mostly scattered settlements here, but in coffee areas there are some major cities. The highest mountain in Nicaragua, Mogotón (2106 meters above sea level), lies on the border with Honduras.
The lowlands in the east are characterized by rainforests, swamps and coastal lagoons. The climate is tropical and very humid, and the area has a rich and varied wildlife. Here is the outlet of Central America’s largest rivers, Rio Coco and Rio San Juan.
Throughout history, Nicaragua has been subjected to severe and devastating earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. In 1972, Managua experienced a powerful earthquake in which over 6,000 died. This high volcanic and seismic activity is due to Nicaragua being on the dividing line between two continental plates (Caribbean plate and Cocos plate).
The center of Nicaragua’s capital, Managua.
People and society
The population of Nicaragua in 2019 was estimated at 6 465 501 (UN). The majority (69 per cent) of the population are Spanish-speaking masters, 17 per cent are of European descent (mainly Spanish, Italian, German and British), nine per cent are of African descent and five per cent are indigenous. The largest indigenous people in Nicaragua are the Miskitos, other indigenous groups are mayagna and rama. Most indigenous people and people of African descent are concentrated in the sparsely settled lowlands of the east.
Nicaragua is traditionally an agricultural country, and much of this production is export-oriented. The main export products are coffee, sugar, cattle, tobacco and bananas. Later decades of urbanization have resulted in 58.5 percent of Nicaraguan people now living in cities, and Managua in particular has experienced this growth. Nearly 40 percent of the country’s population lives in Managua with suburbs.
In 2018, life expectancy was 78.4 years for women and 72.5 years for men. Each woman gives birth to an average of 2.5 children.
According to World Bank indicators, Nicaragua is one of the poorest countries in Latin America. Estimates from 2015 indicate that 29.4 percent of the population lives in poverty, and the gross national income per capita was $ 2030 in 2018. The bulk of the poverty is in rural areas, especially in the highlands and the east coast, and new settlements in the major cities.
From colonial times Nicaragua has been Catholic, but in recent decades many Nicaraguan people have converted to Protestant evangelical congregations, mainly Pentecostal. In 2014, statistics show that 40 percent of the population are Protestants.
The official language is Spanish. On the east coast there is also spoken English, michito and other indigenous languages such as mayagna and rama.
Economy and business
Nicaragua is Central America’s poorest country and the second poorest country after Haiti in the Western Hemisphere.
The most important agricultural products are coffee, bananas, sugar, cotton, maize, rice, wheat, sorghum, beans and sorghum. The large team is extensive; Meat was previously an important export commodity. Along the west coast, fishing is driven by shrimp and lobster, among others. Gold, silver, copper, zinc, lead and iron are mined. Natural gasis recovered on the Pacific coast. Primary industries account for 31 per cent of employed persons (2011) and constitute 16.9 per cent of GDP (2016).
Industrial production includes most simpler consumer goods, including foodstuffs, textiles and shoes for the domestic market, tobacco, pharmaceuticals and metal products. The industry comprises 18 per cent of employment and accounts for 24.3 per cent of GDP.
Coffee beans are one of the most important agricultural products in Nicaragua.
The service sector has 50 per cent of employment (2011) and 58.8 per cent of GDP. Tourism is of increasing importance.
Agricultural products and textiles make up nearly 50 per cent of the country’s exports. The main exporting countries are the United States and Mexico.
Construction of the planned Nicaragua Canal with Chinese financial resources has been postponed (2019).
Literally, poetry is particularly high in Nicaragua, and the great poet chief is the poet Rubén Darío. Darío started the “modernista” movement in the late 1800s and has had a great influence on both Spanish and Spanish-American literature.
Other important poets are Ernesto Cardenal and Pablo Antonio Cuadra, both of whom have achieved breakthroughs outside the country. Well-known Nicaraguan novelists include Sergio Ramírez and Gioconda Belli.
Nicaragua’s revolutionary history has also had an impact on the country’s music scene. In the 1970s and 1980s saw the emergence of show / folk music with political sting. This music started as a popular criticism of the Somoza board. Later, this music has become a kind of “soundtrack” to the revolution, and it is largely played today. The most famous artists in this genre are the brothers Carlos and Luis Enrique Mejía Godoy and the siblings Salvador and Katia Cardenal.
Internationally, salsa musician Luis Enrique Mejía López has had the biggest impact. Luis Enrique is a resident of the United States, and in 2012 he won a Latin Grammy for the salsa album “Soy y seré”.