Nicaragua

Nicaragua

Overview
Nicaragua is the largest country in the Central American American isthmus
Isthmus
An isthmus is a narrow strip of land connecting two larger land areas usually with waterforms on either side.Canals are often built through isthmuses where they may be particularly advantageous to create a shortcut for marine transportation...

, bordered by Honduras
Honduras
Honduras is a republic in Central America. It was previously known as Spanish Honduras to differentiate it from British Honduras, which became the modern-day state of Belize...

 to the north and Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Costa Rica , officially the Republic of Costa Rica is a multilingual, multiethnic and multicultural country in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Caribbean Sea to the east....

 to the south. The country is situated between 11
11th parallel north
The 11th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 11 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Africa, the Indian Ocean, South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Ocean, Central America, South America and the Atlantic Ocean....

 and 14
14th parallel north
The 14th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 14 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Africa, Asia, the Indian Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, Central America, the Caribbean and the Atlantic Ocean....

 degrees north of the Equator
Equator
An equator is the intersection of a sphere's surface with the plane perpendicular to the sphere's axis of rotation and containing the sphere's center of mass....

 in the Northern Hemisphere, which places it entirely within the tropics. The Pacific Ocean lies to the west, and the Caribbean Sea
Caribbean Sea
The Caribbean Sea is a sea of the Atlantic Ocean located in the tropics of the Western hemisphere. It is bounded by Mexico and Central America to the west and southwest, to the north by the Greater Antilles, and to the east by the Lesser Antilles....

 to the east. The country's physical geography divides it into three major zones: Pacific lowlands, wet, cooler central highlands, and the Caribbean lowlands
Caribbean Lowlands
The Caribbean Lowlands are a common region in Central American nations. It is the area usually on the Eastern side of a country, bordering the Caribbean Sea....

.
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Timeline

1821   Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica jointly declare independence from Spain.

1824   Costa Rica annexes Guanacaste from Nicaragua.

1838   Nicaragua declares independence from the Central American Federation.

1838   The Federal Republic of Central America begins to disintegrate when Nicaragua separates from the federation.

1855   American adventurer William Walker departs from San Francisco with about 60 men to conquer Nicaragua.

1855   American adventurer William Walker conquers Nicaragua.

1893   A revolution led by the liberal general and politician, José Santos Zelaya, takes over state power in Nicaragua.

1895   El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua form the Greater Republic of Central America.

1909   Two United States warships are sent to Nicaragua after 500 revolutionaries (including two Americans) are executed by order of José Santos Zelaya.

1912   United States Marines invade Nicaragua to support the U.S.-backed government installed there after José Santos Zelaya had resigned three years earlier.

 
Encyclopedia
Nicaragua is the largest country in the Central American American isthmus
Isthmus
An isthmus is a narrow strip of land connecting two larger land areas usually with waterforms on either side.Canals are often built through isthmuses where they may be particularly advantageous to create a shortcut for marine transportation...

, bordered by Honduras
Honduras
Honduras is a republic in Central America. It was previously known as Spanish Honduras to differentiate it from British Honduras, which became the modern-day state of Belize...

 to the north and Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Costa Rica , officially the Republic of Costa Rica is a multilingual, multiethnic and multicultural country in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Caribbean Sea to the east....

 to the south. The country is situated between 11
11th parallel north
The 11th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 11 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Africa, the Indian Ocean, South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Ocean, Central America, South America and the Atlantic Ocean....

 and 14
14th parallel north
The 14th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 14 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Africa, Asia, the Indian Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, Central America, the Caribbean and the Atlantic Ocean....

 degrees north of the Equator
Equator
An equator is the intersection of a sphere's surface with the plane perpendicular to the sphere's axis of rotation and containing the sphere's center of mass....

 in the Northern Hemisphere, which places it entirely within the tropics. The Pacific Ocean lies to the west, and the Caribbean Sea
Caribbean Sea
The Caribbean Sea is a sea of the Atlantic Ocean located in the tropics of the Western hemisphere. It is bounded by Mexico and Central America to the west and southwest, to the north by the Greater Antilles, and to the east by the Lesser Antilles....

 to the east. The country's physical geography divides it into three major zones: Pacific lowlands, wet, cooler central highlands, and the Caribbean lowlands
Caribbean Lowlands
The Caribbean Lowlands are a common region in Central American nations. It is the area usually on the Eastern side of a country, bordering the Caribbean Sea....

. On the Pacific side of the country are the two largest fresh water lakes in Central America—Lake Managua
Lake Managua
Lake Managua is a lake in Nicaragua. The Spanish name is Lago de Managua or Lago Xolotlán. At 1,042 km², it is approximately long and wide. Similarly to the name of Lake Nicaragua, its name was coined by the Spanish conquerors from "Mangue" and agua...

 and Lake Nicaragua
Lake Nicaragua
Lake Nicaragua or Cocibolca or Granada or is a vast freshwater lake in Nicaragua of tectonic origin. With an area of , it is the largest lake in Central America, the 19th largest lake in the world and the 9th largest in the Americas. It is slightly smaller than Lake Titicaca. With an elevation...

. Surrounding these lakes and extending to their northwest along the rift valley
Rift valley
A rift valley is a linear-shaped lowland between highlands or mountain ranges created by the action of a geologic rift or fault. This action is manifest as crustal extension, a spreading apart of the surface which is subsequently further deepened by the forces of erosion...

 of the Gulf of Fonseca
Gulf of Fonseca
The Gulf of Fonseca , part of the Pacific Ocean, is a gulf in Central America, bordering El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua.-History:Fonseca Bay was discovered in 1522 by Gil Gonzalez de Avila, and named by him after his patron, Archbishop Juan Fonseca, the implacable enemy of Columbus.In 1849, E. G...

 are fertile lowland plains, with soil highly enriched by ash
Volcanic ash
Volcanic ash consists of small tephra, which are bits of pulverized rock and glass created by volcanic eruptions, less than in diameter. There are three mechanisms of volcanic ash formation: gas release under decompression causing magmatic eruptions; thermal contraction from chilling on contact...

 from nearby volcano
Volcano
2. Bedrock3. Conduit 4. Base5. Sill6. Dike7. Layers of ash emitted by the volcano8. Flank| 9. Layers of lava emitted by the volcano10. Throat11. Parasitic cone12. Lava flow13. Vent14. Crater15...

es of the central highlands. Nicaragua's abundance of biologically significant and unique ecosystem
Ecosystem
An ecosystem is a biological environment consisting of all the organisms living in a particular area, as well as all the nonliving , physical components of the environment with which the organisms interact, such as air, soil, water and sunlight....

s contribute to Mesoamerica
Mesoamerica
Mesoamerica is a region and culture area in the Americas, extending approximately from central Mexico to Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica, within which a number of pre-Columbian societies flourished before the Spanish colonization of the Americas in the 15th and...

's designation as a biodiversity hotspot
Biodiversity hotspot
A biodiversity hotspot is a biogeographic region with a significant reservoir of biodiversity that is under threat from humans.The concept of biodiversity hotspots was originated by Norman Myers in two articles in “The Environmentalist” , revised after thorough analysis by Myers and others in...

.

The Spanish Empire
Spanish Empire
The Spanish Empire comprised territories and colonies administered directly by Spain in Europe, in America, Africa, Asia and Oceania. It originated during the Age of Exploration and was therefore one of the first global empires. At the time of Habsburgs, Spain reached the peak of its world power....

 conquered the region in the 16th century and the territory became associated with the Viceroyalty of New Spain and later the Captaincy General of Guatemala
Captaincy General of Guatemala
The Captaincy General of Guatemala , also known as the Kingdom of Guatemala , was an administrative division in Spanish America which covered much of Central America, including what are now the nations of Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, and the Mexican state of Chiapas...

. Alongside the Spanish, the British established a protectorate
Protectorate
In history, the term protectorate has two different meanings. In its earliest inception, which has been adopted by modern international law, it is an autonomous territory that is protected diplomatically or militarily against third parties by a stronger state or entity...

 on the eastern seaboard beginning in the middle of the 17th century, and ending roughly two centuries later with the rise of the Spanish Viceroyalty of New Granada
Viceroyalty of New Granada
The Viceroyalty of New Granada was the name given on 27 May 1717, to a Spanish colonial jurisdiction in northern South America, corresponding mainly to modern Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, and Venezuela. The territory corresponding to Panama was incorporated later in 1739...

 on the coast. The eastern seaboard retains its colonial heritage; English and Jamaican Patois are commonly spoken and the culture of the Atlantic region identifies as being more Caribbean. In 1821, Nicaragua achieved its independence from Spain and joined the Federal Republic of Central America
Federal Republic of Central America
The Federal Republic of Central America, known as the United Provinces of Central America in its first year of creation, was a sovereign state in Central America, which consisted of the territories of the former Captaincy General of Guatemala of New Spain...

 in 1823, later leaving the Federal Republic in 1838. Nicaragua increasingly became a subject of substantial interest because of its geographic position for a canal
Nicaragua Canal
The Inter-Oceanic Nicaragua Canal was a proposed waterway through Nicaragua to connect the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean with the Pacific Ocean...

 that would service the Windward Passage
Windward Passage
The Windward Passage is a strait in the Caribbean Sea, between the islands of Cuba and Hispaniola. The strait specifically lies between the easternmost region of Cuba and the northwest of Haiti.80km wide, the Windward Passage has a threshold depth of 1,700m...

. Roughly a century after operations of the Panama Canal
Panama Canal
The Panama Canal is a ship canal in Panama that joins the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean and is a key conduit for international maritime trade. Built from 1904 to 1914, the canal has seen annual traffic rise from about 1,000 ships early on to 14,702 vessels measuring a total of 309.6...

 commenced and 185 years after the initial plans for the Nicaraguan Canal waterway, the prospect of a Nicaraguan Ecocanal
Ecocanal
The Nicaraguan Ecocanal is a project under construction in Nicaragua to build deepwater port facilities on the Atlantic Ocean coast, to link to the existing seaport of Corinto on the Pacific Ocean. They would be connected by a rail system to transport containerized and bulk cargo overland...

 has remained the subject of interest, with its construction in progress. Eighteen years after leaving the federal Republic it also became the center of William Walker's Golden Circle filibustering in Central America. Since its independence, Nicaragua has undergone periods of political unrest, military intervention by the United States, dictatorship and fiscal crisis—the most notable causes that lead to the Nicaraguan Revolution
Nicaraguan Revolution
The Nicaraguan Revolution encompasses the rising opposition to the Somoza dictatorship in the 1960s and 1970s, the campaign led by the Sandinista National Liberation Front which led to the violent ousting of that dictatorship in 1979, and the...

 of the 1960s and 1970s. Although the Somoza family ruled the country in the form of a dictatorship for forty years, Nicaragua was among the first countries to sign the United Nations Charter
United Nations Charter
The Charter of the United Nations is the foundational treaty of the international organization called the United Nations. It was signed at the San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center in San Francisco, United States, on 26 June 1945, by 50 of the 51 original member countries...

 in 1945. Prior to the revolution, Nicaragua was one of Central America's wealthiest and most developed countries. The revolutionary conflict, paired with Nicaragua's 1972 earthquake
1972 Nicaragua earthquake
The 1972 Nicaragua earthquake was an earthquake that occurred at 12:29 a.m. local time on Saturday, December 23, 1972 near Managua, the capital of Nicaragua. It had a magnitude of 6.2 and occurred at a depth of about 5 kilometers beneath the centre of the city. Within an hour after the main...

 reversed the country's prior economic standing. Despite the harsh economic effects of both phenomena, Nicaragua is a representative democratic
Representative democracy
Representative democracy is a form of government founded on the principle of elected individuals representing the people, as opposed to autocracy and direct democracy...

 republic which has experienced economic growth and political stability in recent years. In 1990, Nicaragua elected Violeta Chamorro
Violeta Chamorro
Violeta Barrios Torres de Chamorro is a Nicaraguan political leader, former president and publisher. She became president of Nicaragua on April 25, 1990, when she unseated Daniel Ortega...

 as its president, making it the first country in Latin American history and the second in the Western Hemisphere to democratically elect a female head of state.

The population in Nicaragua, hovering at approximately 6 million, is multiethnic. Roughly a quarter of the population lives in the capital city, Managua
Managua
Managua is the capital city of Nicaragua as well as the department and municipality by the same name. It is the largest city in Nicaragua in terms of population and geographic size. Located on the southwestern shore of Lake Xolotlán or Lake Managua, the city was declared the national capital in...

, making Managua the second largest city in Central America (following Guatemala City
Guatemala City
Guatemala City , is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Guatemala and Central America...

). Segments of the population include indigenous
Indigenous peoples
Indigenous peoples are ethnic groups that are defined as indigenous according to one of the various definitions of the term, there is no universally accepted definition but most of which carry connotations of being the "original inhabitants" of a territory....

 native tribes from the Mosquito Coast
Mosquito Coast
The Caribbean Mosquito Coast historically consisted of an area along the Atlantic coast of present-day Nicaragua and Honduras, and part of the Western Caribbean Zone. It was named after the local Miskito Indians and long dominated by British interests...

, Europeans, Africans, Asians, and people of Middle Eastern origin. The main language is Spanish, although native tribes on the eastern coast speak their native languages, such as Miskito, Sumo, and Rama, as well as English Creole. The mixture of cultural traditions has generated substantial diversity in art and literature, particularly the later given the various literary contributions of Nicaraguan writers, including Rubén Darío
Rubén Darío
Félix Rubén García Sarmiento , known as Rubén Darío, was a Nicaraguan poet who initiated the Spanish-American literary movement known as modernismo that flourished at the end of the 19th century...

, Ernesto Cardenal
Ernesto Cardenal
Reverend Father Ernesto Cardenal Martínez is a Nicaraguan Catholic priest and was one of the most famous liberation theologians of the Nicaraguan Sandinistas, a party he has since left. From 1979 to 1987 he served as Nicaragua's first culture minister. He is also famous as a poet...

, and Gioconda Belli
Gioconda Belli
Gioconda Belli is an author, novelist and renowned Nicaraguan poet.-Early life:Gioconda Belli, of Northern Italian descent, was an active participant in the Sandinista struggle against the Somoza dictatorship, and her work for the movement led to her being forced into exile in Mexico in 1975...

. The biological diversity, warm tropical climate, and active volcanoes make Nicaragua an increasingly popular destination.

Etymology


The origin of the name "Nicaragua" is somewhat unclear; in one theory it is a portmanteau coined by Spanish colonists based on the name Nicarao
Nicarao
Nicarao is the name of the capital city of the most populous indigenous tribe when the Spanish arrived in Nicaragua. Gil González Dávila, who first explored the area, came up with this Central American country's name by combining Nicarao and the Spanish word Agua, meaning water, after the two large...

, chief of the most populous indigenous tribe and agua, the Spanish word for water. Another theory is that it may have meant "surrounded by water" or "sweet sea" in an indigenous language. The surrounding water might refer to the country's two largest lakes, Lake Nicaragua
Lake Nicaragua
Lake Nicaragua or Cocibolca or Granada or is a vast freshwater lake in Nicaragua of tectonic origin. With an area of , it is the largest lake in Central America, the 19th largest lake in the world and the 9th largest in the Americas. It is slightly smaller than Lake Titicaca. With an elevation...

—the largest in Central America and the 19th largest in the world—and Lake Managua
Lake Managua
Lake Managua is a lake in Nicaragua. The Spanish name is Lago de Managua or Lago Xolotlán. At 1,042 km², it is approximately long and wide. Similarly to the name of Lake Nicaragua, its name was coined by the Spanish conquerors from "Mangue" and agua...

. Alternatively, it might refer to its east and west ocean boundaries.

History


Pre-Columbian history


In pre-Columbian
Pre-Columbian
The pre-Columbian era incorporates all period subdivisions in the history and prehistory of the Americas before the appearance of significant European influences on the American continents, spanning the time of the original settlement in the Upper Paleolithic period to European colonization during...

 times, in what is now known as Nicaragua, the indigenous people
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

 were part of the Intermediate Area
Intermediate Area
The Intermediate Area is an archaeological geographical area of the Americas that was defined in its clearest form by Gordon R. Willey in his 1971 book An Introduction to American Archaeology, Vol. 2: South America...

, between the Mesoamerica
Mesoamerica
Mesoamerica is a region and culture area in the Americas, extending approximately from central Mexico to Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica, within which a number of pre-Columbian societies flourished before the Spanish colonization of the Americas in the 15th and...

n and Andean
Andes
The Andes is the world's longest continental mountain range. It is a continual range of highlands along the western coast of South America. This range is about long, about to wide , and of an average height of about .Along its length, the Andes is split into several ranges, which are separated...

 cultural regions, and within the influence of the Isthmo-Colombian
Isthmo-Colombian
The Isthmo-Colombian area is defined as a cultural area encompassing those territories occupied by speakers of the Chibchan languages at the time of European contact...

 area. It was the point where the Mesoamerican and South American native cultures met. This is confirmed by the ancient footprints of Acahualinca
Ancient footprints of Acahualinca
The Ancient footprints of Acahualinca exist in Managua, Nicaragua near the southern shore of Lake Managua . The region was once called "El Cauce"...

, along with other archaeological evidence, mainly in the form of ceramics and statues made of volcanic stone, such as the ones found on the island of Zapatera
Zapatera
Zapatera is a shield volcano located in the southern part of Nicaragua. It forms the island of Isla Zapatera in the Lake Nicaragua. Isla Zapatera constitutes one of 78 protected areas of Nicaragua....

 in Lake Nicaragua and petroglyph
Petroglyph
Petroglyphs are pictogram and logogram images created by removing part of a rock surface by incising, picking, carving, and abrading. Outside North America, scholars often use terms such as "carving", "engraving", or other descriptions of the technique to refer to such images...

s found on Ometepe
Ometepe
Ometepe is an island formed by two volcanoes rising from Lake Nicaragua in the Republic of Nicaragua. Its name derives from the Nahuatl words ome and tepetl , meaning two mountains...

 island. The Pipil migrated to Nicaragua from central Mexico after 500 B.C.

By the end of the 15th century, western Nicaragua was inhabited by several indigenous peoples related by culture to the Mesoamerican civilizations, such as the Aztec
Aztec
The Aztec people were certain ethnic groups of central Mexico, particularly those groups who spoke the Nahuatl language and who dominated large parts of Mesoamerica in the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries, a period referred to as the late post-classic period in Mesoamerican chronology.Aztec is the...

 and Maya
Maya peoples
The Maya people constitute a diverse range of the Native American people of southern Mexico and northern Central America. The overarching term "Maya" is a collective designation to include the peoples of the region who share some degree of cultural and linguistic heritage; however, the term...

, and by language to the Mesoamerican Linguistic Area
Mesoamerican Linguistic Area
The Mesoamerican Linguistic Area is a sprachbund containing many of the languages natively spoken in the cultural area of Mesoamerica. This sprachbund is defined by an array of syntactic, lexical and phonological traits as well as a number of ethnolinguistic traits found in the languages of...

. They were primarily farmers who lived in towns, organized into small kingdoms.

Meanwhile, the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua was inhabited by other peoples, mostly Chibcha language
Chibcha language
Chibcha, also known as Muisca or Mosca, is an extinct Chibchan language of Colombia, formerly spoken by the Muisca people, a complex indigenous civilization of South America and the present-day Colombian region. Scholars believe the Chibcha language arose in South America and then migrated with...

 groups. They had coalesced in Central America and migrated also to present-day northern Colombia and nearby areas. They lived a life based primarily on hunting and gathering. Joined by waters, the people of eastern Nicaragua traded with, and were influenced by, other native peoples of the Caribbean. Round thatched huts and canoes, both typical of the Caribbean, were commonly crafted and used in eastern Nicaragua.

In the west and highland areas, occupying the territory between Lake Nicaragua and the Pacific Coast, the Niquirano were governed by chief Nicarao
Nicarao
Nicarao is the name of the capital city of the most populous indigenous tribe when the Spanish arrived in Nicaragua. Gil González Dávila, who first explored the area, came up with this Central American country's name by combining Nicarao and the Spanish word Agua, meaning water, after the two large...

, or Nicaragua. The wealthy ruler lived in Nicaraocali, site of the present-day city of Rivas. The Chorotega
Chorotega
Chorotega, also known as Mangue, was a language indigenous people of Honduras, Costa Rica and Nicaragua. The ethnic population number around 10,000. The Chorotega language, which was a member of the Manguean branch of the Oto-Manguean language family, is now extinct...

lived in the central region of Nicaragua. Without women in their parties, the Spanish conquerors took Niquirano and Chorotega wives and partners, beginning the multi-ethnic mix of native and European stock now known as mestizo
Mestizo
Mestizo is a term traditionally used in Latin America, Philippines and Spain for people of mixed European and Native American heritage or descent...

, which constitutes the great majority of population in western Nicaragua. Within three decades after European contact, what had been an estimated Indian population of one million plummeted. Scientists and historians estimate approximately half of the indigenous people in western Nicaragua died from the rapid spread of new infectious diseases carried by the Spaniards, such as smallpox
Smallpox
Smallpox was an infectious disease unique to humans, caused by either of two virus variants, Variola major and Variola minor. The disease is also known by the Latin names Variola or Variola vera, which is a derivative of the Latin varius, meaning "spotted", or varus, meaning "pimple"...

 and measles
Measles
Measles, also known as rubeola or morbilli, is an infection of the respiratory system caused by a virus, specifically a paramyxovirus of the genus Morbillivirus. Morbilliviruses, like other paramyxoviruses, are enveloped, single-stranded, negative-sense RNA viruses...

, to which the Indians had no immunity. The indigenous people of the Caribbean coast escaped the epidemics due to the remoteness of their area. Their societies continued more culturally intact as a result.

The Spanish conquest


In 1502, Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus was an explorer, colonizer, and navigator, born in the Republic of Genoa, in northwestern Italy. Under the auspices of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, he completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean that led to general European awareness of the American continents in the...

 was the first European known to have reached what is now Nicaragua as he sailed southeast toward the Isthmus of Panama
Isthmus of Panama
The Isthmus of Panama, also historically known as the Isthmus of Darien, is the narrow strip of land that lies between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, linking North and South America. It contains the country of Panama and the Panama Canal...

. On his fourth voyage, Columbus explored the Misquitos Coast on the Atlantic side of Nicaragua. The first attempt to conquer what is now known as Nicaragua was by Gil González Dávila
Gil González Dávila
Gil González Dávila was a Spanish Conquistador and the first European to arrive in present-day Nicaragua.González Dávila first appears in historical records in 1508, when he received a royal commission to examine accounts and tax records of estates. He probably traveled soon afterward to Santo...

, who arrived in Panama
Panama
Panama , officially the Republic of Panama , is the southernmost country of Central America. Situated on the isthmus connecting North and South America, it is bordered by Costa Rica to the northwest, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The...

 in January 1520.

González claimed to have converted some 30,000 indigenous peoples and discovered a possible transisthmian water link. After exploring and gathering gold in the fertile western valleys, González was attacked by the indigenous people, some of whom were commanded by Nicarao and an estimated 3,000 led by chief Diriangén
Diriangen
Diriangen was the legendary tribal leader of the Chorotegas who can rightfully be called the first resistance fighter of the Nicaragua. He fought against the Spanish in the 1520s, keeping them at bay for a time...

. González later returned to Panama where Governor Pedro Arias Dávila tried to arrest him and confiscate his treasure, some 90,000 pesos of gold. González escaped to Santo Domingo
Santo Domingo
Santo Domingo, known officially as Santo Domingo de Guzmán, is the capital and largest city in the Dominican Republic. Its metropolitan population was 2,084,852 in 2003, and estimated at 3,294,385 in 2010. The city is located on the Caribbean Sea, at the mouth of the Ozama River...

.

It was not until 1524 that the first Spanish permanent settlements were founded. Conquistador
Conquistador
Conquistadors were Spanish soldiers, explorers, and adventurers who brought much of the Americas under the control of Spain in the 15th to 16th centuries, following Europe's discovery of the New World by Christopher Columbus in 1492...

 Francisco Hernández de Córdoba
Francisco Hernández de Córdoba (founder of Nicaragua)
Francisco Hernández de Córdoba is usually reputed as the founder of Nicaragua, and in fact he founded two important Nicaraguan cities, Granada and León. The currency of Nicaragua is named the córdoba in his memory....

 founded two of Nicaragua's principal towns in 1524: Granada
Granada, Nicaragua
Granada is a city in western Nicaragua and the capital of the Granada Department. With an estimated population of 110,326 , it is Nicaragua's fourth most populous city. Granada is historically one of Nicaragua's most important cities, economically and politically...

 on Lake Nicaragua was the first settlement, followed by León
León, Nicaragua
León is a department in northwestern Nicaragua . It is also the second largest city in Nicaragua, after Managua. It was founded by the Spaniards as Santiago de los Caballeros de León and rivals Granada, Nicaragua, in the number of historic Spanish colonial homes and churches...

 at a location east of Lake Managua
Lake Managua
Lake Managua is a lake in Nicaragua. The Spanish name is Lago de Managua or Lago Xolotlán. At 1,042 km², it is approximately long and wide. Similarly to the name of Lake Nicaragua, its name was coined by the Spanish conquerors from "Mangue" and agua...

. Córdoba soon built defenses for the cities and attacked against incursions by the other conquistadors. Córdoba was later publicly beheaded
Decapitation
Decapitation is the separation of the head from the body. Beheading typically refers to the act of intentional decapitation, e.g., as a means of murder or execution; it may be accomplished, for example, with an axe, sword, knife, wire, or by other more sophisticated means such as a guillotine...

 following a power struggle with Pedro Arias Dávila. His tomb and remains were discovered in 2000 in the Ruins of León Viejo
León Viejo (archaeological site)
León Viejo or Imabite is an archeological site located at the old site of the city of Leon in Puerto Momotombo, municipality of Paz Centro, León Department, Nicaragua....

.

The clash among Spanish forces did not impede their devastation of the indigenous population and civilization. The series of battles came to be known as The War of the Captains. By 1529, the conquest of Nicaragua was complete. Several conquistadors came out winners, while they executed or murdered others. Pedro Arias Dávila was a winner—although he had lost control of Panama, he moved to Nicaragua and successfully established his base in León. Through adroit diplomatic machinations, he became the first governor of the colony.

The land was parceled out to the conquistadors, who were most interested in the western portion. They enslaved many indigenous people as labor to develop and maintain estates there. Others were put to work in mines in northern Nicaragua, some were killed in warfare. The great majority were sold as slaves, whipped, and shipped to other Spanish colonies in the New World, at a significant profit to the newly landed aristocracy. Many of the indigenous people died as a result of infectious disease, compounded by neglect by the Spaniards, who controlled their subsistence.

Colonization to independence


In 1536, the Viceroyalty of New Spain was established. By 1570, the southern part of New Spain was designated the Captaincy General of Guatemala
Captaincy General of Guatemala
The Captaincy General of Guatemala , also known as the Kingdom of Guatemala , was an administrative division in Spanish America which covered much of Central America, including what are now the nations of Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, and the Mexican state of Chiapas...

. The area of Nicaragua was divided into administrative "parties" with León as the capital. In 1610, the Momotombo
Momotombo
Momotombo is a stratovolcano in Nicaragua, not far from the city of León. It stands on the shores of Lago de Managua. An eruption of the volcano in 1610 forced inhabitants of the Spanish city of León to relocate about 30 miles west...

 volcano erupted, destroying the capital. It was rebuilt northwest of what is now known as the Ruins of Old León
León Viejo
León Viejo, is the place where the city of León was originally founded in what is now the town of Puerto Momotombo in the Municipality of La Paz Centro of the Department of León, Nicaragua. This city, after a popular consultation, was abandoned to be settled in another location...

.

During the American Revolutionary War
American Revolutionary War
The American Revolutionary War , the American War of Independence, or simply the Revolutionary War, began as a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen British colonies in North America, and ended in a global war between several European great powers.The war was the result of the...

, Central America was subject to conflict between Britain and Spain, as Britain sought to expand its influence beyond coastal logging and fishing communities in present-day Belize
Belize
Belize is a constitutional monarchy and the northernmost country in Central America. Belize has a diverse society, comprising many cultures and languages. Even though Kriol and Spanish are spoken among the population, Belize is the only country in Central America where English is the official...

, Honduras and Nicaragua. Horatio Nelson led expeditions against San Fernando de Omoa
Battle of San Fernando de Omoa
The Battle of San Fernando de Omoa was a short siege and battle between British and Spanish forces fought not long after Spain entered the American Revolutionary War on the American side...

 in 1779 and the San Juan in 1780
San Juan Expedition (1780)
The San Juan Expedition took place between March and November 1780 during the American War of Independence when a British force under the command of John Polson and Captain Horatio Nelson landed on the coast of the present-day Nicaragua, with the aim of sailing up the San Juan River to capture the...

, which had temporary success before being abandoned due to disease. In turn, the Spanish colonial leaders could not completely eliminate British influences along the Mosquito Coast.

The Captaincy General of Guatemala was dissolved in September 1821 with the Declaration of Independence of the Mexican Empire
Declaration of Independence of the Mexican Empire
The Declaration of Independence of the Mexican Empire is the foundational document of the empire, and therefore, of the Mexican nation. The morning after the Army of the Three Guarantees entered Mexico City on September 28, 1821, Agustín de Iturbide ordered the Supreme Provisional Governmental...

, and Nicaragua became part of the First Mexican Empire
First Mexican Empire
The Mexican Empire was the official name of independent Mexico under a monarchical regime from 1821 to 1823. The territory of the Mexican Empire included the continental intendencies and provinces of New Spain proper...

. After the monarchy of the First Mexican Empire was overthrown in 1823, Nicaragua joined the newly formed United Provinces of Central America, which was later renamed as the Federal Republic of Central America
Federal Republic of Central America
The Federal Republic of Central America, known as the United Provinces of Central America in its first year of creation, was a sovereign state in Central America, which consisted of the territories of the former Captaincy General of Guatemala of New Spain...

. Nicaragua finally became an independent republic in 1838.

Rivalry between the liberal
Constitutionalist Liberal Party (Nicaragua)
The Constitutionalist Liberal Party is an opposition political party in Nicaragua. At the legislative elections, held on 5 November 2006, the party won 25 of 92 seats in the National Assembly....

 elite of León and the conservative elite of Granada characterized the early years of independence and often degenerated into civil war, particularly during the 1840s and 1850s. Invited by the Liberals in 1855 to join their struggle against the Conservatives, a United States adventurer and filibuster
Filibuster (military)
A filibuster, or freebooter, is someone who engages in an unauthorized military expedition into a foreign country to foment or support a revolution...

 named William Walker set himself up as president of Nicaragua, after conducting a farcical election in 1856. Costa Rica, Honduras and other Central American countries united to drive Walker out of Nicaragua in 1857, after which a period of three decades of Conservative rule ensued.

Great Britain, which had claimed the Mosquito Coast as a protectorate
Protectorate
In history, the term protectorate has two different meanings. In its earliest inception, which has been adopted by modern international law, it is an autonomous territory that is protected diplomatically or militarily against third parties by a stronger state or entity...

 since 1655, delegated the area to Honduras in 1859 before transferring it to Nicaragua in 1860. The Mosquito Coast remained an autonomous area
Autonomous area
An autonomous area or autonomous entity is an area of a country that has a degree of autonomy, or freedom from an external authority. Typically it is either geographically distinct from the rest of the country or populated by a national minority. Countries that include autonomous areas are often...

 until 1894. José Santos Zelaya
José Santos Zelaya
José Santos Zelaya López was the President of Nicaragua from 25 July 1893 to 21 December 1909.-Early life:He was a son of José María Zelaya Irigoyen, born in Nicaragua, and mistress Juana López Ramírez...

, president of Nicaragua from 1893–1909, negotiated the annexation of the Mosquito Coast to the rest of Nicaragua. In his honor, the region was named Zelaya Department.

In the 19th century, Nicaragua attracted many immigrants, primarily from Europe. In particular, families from Germany, Italy, Spain, France and Belgium emigrated to set up businesses with money they brought from Europe. They established many agricultural businesses, such as coffee and sugar-cane plantations, and also newspapers, hotels and banks.

Throughout the late 19th century, the United States (and several European powers) considered a scheme to build a canal across Nicaragua
Nicaragua Canal
The Inter-Oceanic Nicaragua Canal was a proposed waterway through Nicaragua to connect the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean with the Pacific Ocean...

, linking the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic. A bill was put before the U.S. Congress in 1899 to build the canal, which failed to pass; construction of the Panama Canal
Panama Canal
The Panama Canal is a ship canal in Panama that joins the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean and is a key conduit for international maritime trade. Built from 1904 to 1914, the canal has seen annual traffic rise from about 1,000 ships early on to 14,702 vessels measuring a total of 309.6...

 was begun instead.

United States intervention (1909–33)



In 1909, the United States provided political support to conservative-led forces rebelling against President Zelaya. U.S. motives included differences over the proposed Nicaragua Canal
Nicaragua Canal
The Inter-Oceanic Nicaragua Canal was a proposed waterway through Nicaragua to connect the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean with the Pacific Ocean...

, Nicaragua's potential as a destabilizing influence in the region, and Zelaya's attempts to regulate foreign access to Nicaraguan natural resources. On November 18, 1909, U.S. warships were sent to the area after 500 revolutionaries (including two Americans) were executed by order of Zelaya. The U.S. justified the intervention by claiming to protect U.S. lives and property. Zelaya resigned later that year.

In August 1912 the President of Nicaragua, Adolfo Díaz
Adolfo Díaz
Adolfo Díaz Recinos was the President of Nicaragua between 9 May 1911 and 1 January 1917 and between 14 November 1926 and 1 January 1929...

, requested that the Secretary of War, General Luis Mena
Luis Mena
Luis Mena Vado was the President of Nicaragua from 27 to 30 August 1910, after the fall of the government of General José Santos Zelaya. He later became acting President in rebellion. Mena was a conservative, part of the coalition government which also included liberal Juan Jose Estrada and...

, resign for fear that he was leading an insurrection. Mena fled Managua with his brother, the Chief of Police of Managua, to start an insurrection. When the U.S. Legation asked President Díaz to ensure the safety of American citizens and property during the insurrection he replied that he could not and that...

U.S. Marines
United States Marine Corps
The United States Marine Corps is a branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for providing power projection from the sea, using the mobility of the United States Navy to deliver combined-arms task forces rapidly. It is one of seven uniformed services of the United States...

 occupied Nicaragua from 1912 to 1933, except for a nine month period beginning in 1925. From 1910 to 1926, the conservative party ruled Nicaragua. The Chamorro family
Chamorro (family)
The Chamorro family has its origin in Spain. A branch of the family became prominent in Nicaragua in the 18th century and its influence continues to the present. Historically, the Chamorros have been closely associated with the Conservatives, but the Sandinista Revolution has divided their...

, which had long dominated the party, effectively controlled the government during that period. In 1914, the Bryan-Chamorro Treaty
Bryan-Chamorro Treaty
The Bryan-Chamorro Treaty was signed on August 5, 1914 under the approval of the Taft administration. The Wilson administration changed the treaty by adding a provision similar in language to that of the Platt Amendment, which would have authorized U.S. military intervention in Nicaragua...

 was signed, giving the U.S. control over the proposed canal, as well as leases for potential canal defenses. Following the evacuation of U.S. Marines, another violent conflict between liberals and conservatives took place in 1926, known as the Constitutionalist War, which resulted in a coalition government and the return of U.S. Marines.

From 1927 until 1933, Gen. Augusto César Sandino
Augusto César Sandino
Augusto Nicolás Calderón Sandino was a Nicaraguan revolutionary and leader of a rebellion against the U.S. military occupation of Nicaragua between 1927 and 1933...

 led a sustained guerrilla war first against the Conservative regime and subsequently against the U.S. Marines, who withdrew upon the establishment of a new Liberal government. Sandino was the only Nicaraguan general to refuse to sign the el tratado del Espino Negro agreement and then headed up to the northern mountains of Las Segovias, where he fought the U.S. Marines for over five years. When the Americans left in 1933, they set up the Guardia Nacional
National Guard (Nicaragua)
In Nicaragua, the National Guard was a militia and a gendarmerie created during the occupation of that country by the United States from 1909 to 1933. It became notorious for human rights abuses and corruption under the regime of the Somoza family.-Creation:...

 (National Guard), a combined military and police force trained and equipped by the Americans and designed to be loyal to U.S. interests. Anastasio Somoza García
Anastasio Somoza García
Anastasio Somoza García was officially the President of Nicaragua from 1 January 1937 to 1 May 1947 and from 21 May 1950 to 29 September 1956, but ruled effectively as dictator from 1936 until his assassination.-Biography:Somoza was born in San Marcos, Carazo Department in Nicaragua, the son of...

, a close friend of the American government, was put in charge. He was one of the three rulers of the country, the others being Sandino and the President Juan Bautista Sacasa
Juan Bautista Sacasa
Juan Bautista Sacasa Sacasa was the President of Nicaragua from 1 January 1933 to 9 June 1936. He was the eldest son of Roberto Sacasa, 44th and 46th President of Nicaragua, and wife and cousin Ángela Sacasa Cuadra...

.

After the U.S. Marines withdrew from Nicaragua in January 1933, Sandino and the newly elected Sacasa government reached an agreement by which he would cease his guerrilla activities in return for amnesty, a grant of land for an agricultural colony, and retention of an armed band of 100 men for a year. But a growing hostility between Sandino and Somoza led Somoza to order the assassination of Sandino. Fearing future armed opposition from Sandino, Somoza invited him to a meeting in Managua, where Sandino was assassinated on February 21 of 1934 by soldiers of the National Guard. Hundreds of men, women, and children from Sandino's agricultural colony were executed later.

The Somoza dynasty (1936–79)



Nicaragua has experienced several military dictatorships, the longest being the hereditary dictatorship of the Somoza family for much of the 20th century. The Somoza family came to power as part of a US-engineered pact in 1927 that stipulated the formation of the Guardia Nacional, or the National Guard, to replace the US marines that had long reigned in the country. Somoza slowly eliminated officers in the National Guard who might have stood in his way, and then deposed Sacasa and became president on January 1, 1937 in a rigged election
Electoral fraud
Electoral fraud is illegal interference with the process of an election. Acts of fraud affect vote counts to bring about an election result, whether by increasing the vote share of the favored candidate, depressing the vote share of the rival candidates or both...

. Somoza was 35 at the time.

Nicaragua declared war on Germany on December 8, 1941, during World War II. Although war was formally declared, no soldiers were sent to the war, but Somoza did seize the occasion to confiscate attractive properties held by German-Nicaraguans, the best-known of which was the Montelimar
Montelimar Beach
Montelimar is a beach located on the Pacific coast of Nicaragua in the department of Managua. Montelimar consists of 3 km of white sand beach. The main tourist attraction is the Barcelo Hotel and Resort...

 estate which today operates as a privately owned luxury resort and casino. In 1945 Nicaragua was among the first countries to ratify the United Nations Charter.

Throughout his years as dictator, "Tacho" Somoza 'ruled Nicaragua with a strong arm'. He had three main sources for his power: control of Nicaraguan economy, military support, and support from the US. Somoza used the National Guard to force Sacasa to resign, and took control of the country in 1937, destroying any potential armed resistance. Not only did he have military control, but he controlled the National Liberal Party (LPN), which in turn controlled the legislature and judicial systems, giving him complete political power.

Despite his complete control, on September 21, 1956, Somoza was shot by Rigoberto López Pérez
Rigoberto López Pérez
Rigoberto López Pérez was a Nicaraguan poet and music composer. He was the assassin of Anastasio Somoza García, the longtime dictator of Nicaragua....

, a 27-year-old liberal Nicaraguan poet. Somoza was attending a PLN party to celebrate his nomination for the Presidency. He died eight days later. After his father's death, Luis Somoza Debayle
Luis Somoza Debayle
Luis Anastasio Somoza Debayle was the President of Nicaragua from 29 September 1956 to 1 May 1963, but was effectively dictator of the country from 1956 until his death. He was born in León.Luis was educated at LSU...

, the eldest son of the late dictator, was appointed President by the congress and officially took charge of the country. He is remembered by some for being moderate, but was in power only for a few years and then died of a heart attack. Then came president René Schick Gutiérrez
René Schick Gutiérrez
René Schick Gutiérrez was the 71st President of Nicaragua from 1 May 1963 to 3 August 1966, but was considered puppet of Luis Somoza. He was born in León, Nicaragua and died in Managua and was a relative of his successor Lorenzo Guerrero, the 72nd President of Nicaragua....

 whom most Nicaraguans viewed "as nothing more than a puppet of the Somozas". Somoza's brother, Anastasio Somoza Debayle, a West Point graduate, succeeded his father in charge of the National Guard, controlled the country, and officially took the presidency after Schick.

Nicaragua experienced economic growth during the 1960s and 1970s largely as a result of industrialization, and became one of Central America's most developed nations. Due to its stable and high growth economy, foreign investments grew, primarily from U.S. companies such as Citigroup, Sears, Westinghouse, Coca Cola, Bank of America, Chase Manhattan Bank, "Morgan Guaranty Trust and Wells Fargo Bank. Other investors included London Bank and the Bank of Montreal.

The capital city of Managua suffered a major earthquake
1972 Nicaragua earthquake
The 1972 Nicaragua earthquake was an earthquake that occurred at 12:29 a.m. local time on Saturday, December 23, 1972 near Managua, the capital of Nicaragua. It had a magnitude of 6.2 and occurred at a depth of about 5 kilometers beneath the centre of the city. Within an hour after the main...

 in 1972 which destroyed nearly 90% of the city, creating major losses, and leveling a 600-square block area in the heart of Managua. Some Nicaraguan historians see the 1972 earthquake that devastated Managua as the final 'nail in the coffin' for Somoza. Instead of helping to rebuild Managua, Somoza siphoned off relief money to help pay for National Guard luxury homes, while the homeless poor had to make do with hastily constructed wooden shacks. The mishandling of relief money also prompted Pittsburgh Pirates
Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pittsburgh Pirates are a Major League Baseball club based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They play in the Central Division of the National League, and are five-time World Series Champions...

 star Roberto Clemente
Roberto Clemente
Roberto Clemente Walker was a Puerto Rican Major League Baseball right fielder. He was born in Carolina, Puerto Rico, the youngest of seven children. Clemente played his entire 18-year baseball career with the Pittsburgh Pirates . He was awarded the National League's Most Valuable Player Award in...

 to personally fly to Managua on 31 December 1972, but he died enroute in an airplane accident. Even the economic elite were reluctant to support Somoza, as he had acquired monopolies in industries that were key to rebuilding the nation, and did not allow the businessmen to compete with the profits that would result.

In 1973, the year of reconstruction, many new buildings were built, but the level of corruption in the government prevented further growth. Strikes and demonstrations developed as citizens became increasingly angry and politically mobilized. The elite were angry that Somoza was asking them to pay new emergency taxes to further his own ends. As a result, more of the young elite joined the Sandinista Liberation Front (FSLN). The ever increasing tensions and anti-government uprisings slowed growth in the last two years of the Somoza dynasty.

Nicaraguan Revolution


In 1961 Carlos Fonseca
Carlos Fonseca
For the Brazilian boxer with the same name see Carlos Fonseca .Carlos Fonseca Amador was a Nicaraguan teacher and librarian who founded the Sandinista National Liberation Front...

 turned back to the historical figure of Sandino, and along with 2 others founded the Sandinista National Liberation Front
Sandinista National Liberation Front
The Sandinista National Liberation Front is a socialist political party in Nicaragua. Its members are called Sandinistas in both English and Spanish...

 (FSLN). Fonseca turned to the KGB and Cuba's DGI for arms and assistance. The FSLN was a tiny party throughout most of the 1960s, but Somoza's utter hatred of it and his heavy-handed treatment of anyone he suspected to be a Sandinista
Sandinista National Liberation Front
The Sandinista National Liberation Front is a socialist political party in Nicaragua. Its members are called Sandinistas in both English and Spanish...

 sympathizer gave many ordinary Nicaraguans the idea that the Sandinistas were much stronger.

After the 1972 earthquake and Somoza's brazen corruption, mishandling of relief aid, and refusal to rebuild Managua, the ranks of the Sandinistas were flooded with young disaffected Nicaraguans who no longer had anything to lose. These economic problems propelled the Sandinistas in their struggle against Somoza by leading many middle- and upper-class Nicaraguans to see the Sandinistas as the only hope for removing the brutal Somoza regime.

In December 1974, a group of FSLN, in an attempt to kidnap U.S. Ambassador Tuner Shelton, held some Managuan partygoers hostage (after killing the host, former Agriculture Minister Jose Maria Castillo), until the Somozan government met their demands for a large ransom and free transport to Cuba. Somoza granted this, then subsequently sent his National Guard out into the countryside to look for the perpetrators of the kidnapping that were described by opponents of this kidnapping as 'terrorists'. While searching, the National Guard pillaged villages and imprisoned, tortured, raped, and executed hundreds of villagers. This led to the Roman Catholic Church withdrawing any and all support of the Somoza regime. Around this time, Chile
Chile
Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

an president Salvador Allende
Salvador Allende
Salvador Allende Gossens was a Chilean physician and politician who is generally considered the first democratically elected Marxist to become president of a country in Latin America....

 was removed from power in a military coup that prompted Allende to take his own life, as the presidential palace came under fire. With right-wing Augusto Pinochet
Augusto Pinochet
Augusto José Ramón Pinochet Ugarte, more commonly known as Augusto Pinochet , was a Chilean army general and dictator who assumed power in a coup d'état on 11 September 1973...

 in power in Chile, several hundred committed Chilean revolutionaries joined the Sandinista army in Nicaragua.

On January 10, 1978, Pedro Joaquin Chamorro, the editor of the national newspaper La Prensa
La Prensa (Managua)
La Prensa is a Nicaraguan newspaper, with offices in the capital Managua. Its current daily circulation is placed at 42,000.-Early years:La Prensa was founded by Pedro Belli, Gavry Rivas and Enrique Belli on March 2, 1926...

and ardent opponent of Somoza, was assassinated. This is believed to have led to the extreme general disappointment with Somoza. The planners and perpetrators of the murder were at the highest echelons of the Somoza regime and included the dictator's son, "El Chiguin" ("The Kid"), the President of Housing, Cornelio Hueck, the Attorney General, and Pedro Ramos, a Cuban expatriate and close ally, who commercialized blood plasma
Blood plasma
Blood plasma is the straw-colored liquid component of blood in which the blood cells in whole blood are normally suspended. It makes up about 55% of the total blood volume. It is the intravascular fluid part of extracellular fluid...

.

The Sandinistas, supported by some of the populace, elements of the Catholic Church, and regional governments (including Panama, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Venezuela), took power in July 1979. The Carter administration, refusing to act unilaterally, decided to work with the new government, while attaching a provision for aid forfeiture if it was found to be assisting insurgencies in neighboring countries. A group of prominent citizens known as Los Doce
Los Doce
El Grupo de los Doce, or Group of Twelve, were a dozen members of the Nicaraguan establishment whose support for the Sandinista National Liberation Front struggle against dictator Anastasio Somoza Debayle played a pivotal role in the acceptance of the Sandinistas by foreign and domestic...

, "the Twelve", denounced the Somoza regime and said that "there can be no dialogue with Somoza ... because he is the principal obstacle to all rational understanding ... through the long dark history of Somocismo, dialogues with the dictatorship have only served to strengthen it", Somoza fled the country and eventually ended up in Paraguay
Paraguay
Paraguay , officially the Republic of Paraguay , is a landlocked country in South America. It is bordered by Argentina to the south and southwest, Brazil to the east and northeast, and Bolivia to the northwest. Paraguay lies on both banks of the Paraguay River, which runs through the center of the...

, where he was assassinated in September 1980, allegedly by members of the Argentinian Revolutionary Workers Party.

To begin the task of establishing a new government, the Sandinistas created a Council (or ) of National Reconstruction of five members: Sandinista militants Daniel Ortega
Daniel Ortega
José Daniel Ortega Saavedra is a Nicaraguan politician and revolutionary, currently serving as the 83rd President of Nicaragua, a position that he has held since 2007. He previously served as the 79th President, between 1985 and 1990, and for much of his life, has been a leader in the Sandinista...

 and Moises Hassan, novelist Sergio Ramírez Mercado
Sergio Ramírez
Sergio Ramírez Mercado is a Nicaraguan writer and intellectual who served in the leftist Government Junta of National Reconstruction and as Vice President of the country 1985-1990 under the presidency of Daniel Ortega.Born in Masatepe in 1942, he published his first book, Cuentos, in 1963...

 (a member of Los Doce), businessman Alfonso Robelo Callejas
Alfonso Robelo
Luis Alfonso Robelo Callejas , a Nicaraguan businessman, was the founder of the Nicaraguan Democratic Movement . He was one of the "moderates" on the five-members Junta of National Reconstruction that the Sandinistas claimed would rule Nicaragua following the overthrow of Anastasio Somoza Debayle...

, and Violeta Barrios de Chamorro (the widow of Pedro Joaquín Chamorro
Pedro Joaquín Chamorro
Pedro Joaquín Chamorro Alfaro was the President of Nicaragua from 1 March 1875 to 1 March 1879 and a member of the conservative dominant oligarchy Chamorro family.-Background:...

). Sandinista supporters thus comprised three of the five members of the junta.

The non-Sandinistas Robelo and Chamorro later resigned because they had little actual power in the junta. Sandinista mass organizations were also powerful: including the Sandinista Workers' Federation , the Luisa Amanda Espinoza Association of Nicaraguan Women
Luisa Amanda Espinoza Association of Nicaraguan Women
The Luisa Amanda Espinoza Association of Nicaraguan Women was initially established in 1977 under the name Association of Women Concerned about National Crisis . AMPRONAC was part of the Sandinista network which was set on bringing down the Anastasio Somoza García regime in 1979...

 , and the National Union of Farmers and Ranchers .

On the Atlantic Coast a small uprising also occurred in support of the Sandinistas. This event is often overlooked in histories about the Sandinista revolution. A group of Creoles led by a native of Bluefields
Bluefields
Bluefields is the capital of the municipality of the same name, and of Región Autónoma del Atlántico Sur in Nicaragua. It was also capital of the former Zelaya Department, which was divided into North and South Atlantic Autonomous Regions...

, Dexter Hooker (known as Commander Abel), raided a Somoza-owned business to gain access to food, guns and money before heading off to join Sandinista fighters who had liberated the city of El Rama
El Rama
El Rama is a municipality in the Región Autónoma del Atlántico Sur department of Nicaragua. It is along the Escondido River which branches off into three other rivers: the Sumi, Rama, and Escondido. It is home to an important Atlantic/Caribbean port. Its population is approximately 50,000...

. The 'Black Sandinistas' returned to Bluefields on July 19, 1979 and took the city without a fight. The Black Sandinistas were challenged by a group of mestizo Sandinista fighters. The ensuing standoff between the two groups, with the Black Sandinistas occupying the National Guard barracks (the cuartel) and the mestizo group occupying the Town Hall (Palacio) gave the revolution on the Atlantic Coast a racial dimension which was absent from other parts of the country. The Black Sandinistas were assisted in their power struggle with the Palacio group by the arrival of the Simón Bolívar International Brigade from Costa Rica.

One of the brigade's members, an Afro-Costa Rican called Marvin Wright (known as Kalalu) became known for the rousing speeches he made, which included elements of Black Power
Black Power
Black Power is a political slogan and a name for various associated ideologies. It is used in the movement among people of Black African descent throughout the world, though primarily by African Americans in the United States...

 ideology in his attempts to unite all the black militias that had formed in Bluefields. The introduction of a racial element into the revolution was not welcomed by the Sandinista National Directorate, which expelled Kalalu and the rest of the brigade from Nicaragua and sent them to Panama.

Sandinistas and the Contras




On assuming office in 1981, US President Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

 condemned the FSLN for joining with Cuba in supporting Marxist revolutionary movements in other Latin American countries such as El Salvador
El Salvador
El Salvador or simply Salvador is the smallest and the most densely populated country in Central America. The country's capital city and largest city is San Salvador; Santa Ana and San Miguel are also important cultural and commercial centers in the country and in all of Central America...

. Reagan was also concerned about the growing Soviet and Cuban presence in Nicaragua, and the Soviet hope to turn Nicaragua into a "second Cuba". Under the Reagan Doctrine
Reagan Doctrine
The Reagan Doctrine was a strategy orchestrated and implemented by the United States under the Reagan Administration to oppose the global influence of the Soviet Union during the final years of the Cold War...

, his administration authorized the CIA
Central Intelligence Agency
The Central Intelligence Agency is a civilian intelligence agency of the United States government. It is an executive agency and reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence, responsible for providing national security intelligence assessment to senior United States policymakers...

 to have paramilitary officers from their elite Special Activities Division
Special Activities Division
The Special Activities Division is a division in the United States Central Intelligence Agency's National Clandestine Service responsible for covert operations known as "special activities"...

 begin financing, arming and training rebels, some of whom were the remnants of Somoza's National Guard, as anti-Sandinista guerrillas that were branded "counter-revolutionary" by leftists ( in Spanish). This was shortened to Contras
Contras
The contras is a label given to the various rebel groups opposing Nicaragua's FSLN Sandinista Junta of National Reconstruction government following the July 1979 overthrow of Anastasio Somoza Debayle's dictatorship...

, a label the anti-socialist forces chose to embrace. Edén Pastora
Edén Pastora
Edén Atanacio Pastora Gómez is a Nicaraguan politician and former guerrilla who ran for president as the candidate of the Alternative for Change party in the 2006 general elections...

 and many of the indigenous guerrilla forces unassociated with the "Somozistas" also resisted the Sandinistas. The Contras operated out of camps in the neighboring countries of Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. As was typical in guerrilla warfare, they were engaged in a campaign of economic sabotage in an attempt to combat the Sandinista government and disrupted shipping by planting underwater mines in Nicaragua's Port of Corinto
Corinto, Nicaragua
Corinto is a town of 17,000 on the northwest Pacific coast of Nicaragua in the province of Chinandega. The municipality was founded in 1863 and was named in honour of the Greek city of Corinth.- Economy :...

, an action condemned by the World Court
International Court of Justice
The International Court of Justice is the primary judicial organ of the United Nations. It is based in the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands...

 as illegal. The US also sought to place economic pressure on the Sandinistas, and the Reagan administration imposed a full trade embargo.

US support for this Nicaraguan insurgency continued in spite of the fact that impartial observers from international groupings such as the European Economic Community
European Economic Community
The European Economic Community The European Economic Community (EEC) The European Economic Community (EEC) (also known as the Common Market in the English-speaking world, renamed the European Community (EC) in 1993The information in this article primarily covers the EEC's time as an independent...

, religious groups sent to monitor the election, and observers from democratic nations such as Canada and the Republic of Ireland concluded that the Nicaraguan general elections of 1984
Nicaraguan general election, 1984
A general election was held in Nicaragua on 4 November 1984, to elect a president and parliament. Approximately 1.2 million Nicaraguans voted, representing a 75% turnout, with 94% of eligible voters registered. The elections were generally held to be free and fair...

 were completely free and fair. The Reagan administration disputed these results, despite the fact that the government of the United States never had any observers in Nicaragua at the time.

The elections were not recognized as legitimate because Arturo Cruz
Arturo Cruz
Arturo José Cruz Porras , sometimes called Arturo Cruz, Sr. to distinguish him from his son, is a Nicaraguan banker and technocrat. He became prominent in politics during the Sandinista era...

, the candidate nominated by the Coordinadora Democrática Nicaragüense
Coordinadora Democrática Nicaragüense
The Coordinadora Democrática Nicaragüense was a coalition of three right-wing Nicaraguan parties which boycotted the Nicaraguan general election, 1984. The parties were the Social Christians, the Social Democrats, and the Constitutional Liberal Party....

, comprising three rightwing political parties, did not participate in the elections. He withdrew from the elections due to the government's lack of response to the document "A Step Toward Democracy, Free Elections" issued in 1982. The document was asking the government to re-establish all civil rights: freedom of speech, freedom of organization, release of all political prisoners, cease of hostilities against the opposition, lifting the censorship on the media and abolishing all the laws violating human rights.

As the Sandinistas moved further in the direction of creating a Marxist state and repressing political opposition, opposition to the regime increased. Heavy-handed tactics by the Ministry of Interior, guided by Soviet, Cuban, Bulgarian and East German advisers,security forces in the countryside, also added recruits to the contra numbers. Inept economic policies, which resulted in hyperinflation and food shortages, also contributed to discontent. Large Soviet arms shipments, including T-55 tanks, other armored vehicles, and Hind helicopters, were used in an increasingly violent counterinsurgency campaign.

After the U.S. Congress prohibited federal funding of the Contras in 1983, the Reagan administration continued to back the Contras by covertly selling arms to Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 and channeling the proceeds to the Contras (the Iran–Contra affair). When this scheme was revealed, Reagan admitted that he knew about the Iranian "arms for hostages" dealings but professed ignorance about the proceeds funding the Contras; for this, National Security Council
United States National Security Council
The White House National Security Council in the United States is the principal forum used by the President of the United States for considering national security and foreign policy matters with his senior national security advisors and Cabinet officials and is part of the Executive Office of the...

 aide Lt. Col.
Lieutenant colonel
Lieutenant colonel is a rank of commissioned officer in the armies and most marine forces and some air forces of the world, typically ranking above a major and below a colonel. The rank of lieutenant colonel is often shortened to simply "colonel" in conversation and in unofficial correspondence...

 Oliver North
Oliver North
Oliver Laurence North is a retired U.S. Marine Corps officer, political commentator, host of War Stories with Oliver North on Fox News Channel, a military historian, and a New York Times best-selling author....

 took much of the blame.

Senator John Kerry
John Kerry
John Forbes Kerry is the senior United States Senator from Massachusetts, the 10th most senior U.S. Senator and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He was the presidential nominee of the Democratic Party in the 2004 presidential election, but lost to former President George W...

's 1988 U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
The United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations is a standing committee of the United States Senate. It is charged with leading foreign-policy legislation and debate in the Senate. The Foreign Relations Committee is generally responsible for overseeing and funding foreign aid programs as...

 report on Contra-drug links concluded that "senior U.S. policy makers were not immune to the idea that drug money was a perfect solution to the Contras' funding problems." According to the National Security Archive
National Security Archive
The National Security Archive is a 501 non-governmental, non-profit research and archival institution located in the George Washington University in Washington, D.C.. Founded in 1985 by Scott Armstrong, it archives and publishes declassified U.S. government files concerning selected topics of US...

, Oliver North had been in contact with Manuel Noriega
Manuel Noriega
Manuel Antonio Noriega Moreno is a Panamanian politician and soldier. He was military dictator of Panama from 1983 to 1989.The 1989 invasion of Panama by the United States removed him from power; he was captured, detained as a prisoner of war, and flown to the United States. Noriega was tried on...

, a Panamanian general and the de facto military dictator of Panama from 1983 to 1989 when he was overthrown and captured by a U.S. invading force. He was taken to the United States, tried for drug trafficking, and imprisoned in 1992.

In August 1996, San Jose Mercury News
San Jose Mercury News
The San Jose Mercury News is a daily newspaper in San Jose, California. On its web site, however, it calls itself Silicon Valley Mercury News. The paper is owned by MediaNews Group...

reporter Gary Webb
Gary Webb
Gary Webb was a Pulitzer prize-winning American investigative journalist.Webb was best known for his 1996 "Dark Alliance" series of articles written for the San Jose Mercury News and later published as a book...

 published a series titled Dark Alliance, linking the origins of crack cocaine
Crack cocaine
Crack cocaine is the freebase form of cocaine that can be smoked. It may also be termed rock, hard, iron, cavvy, base, or just crack; it is the most addictive form of cocaine. Crack rocks offer a short but intense high to smokers...

 in California to the Contras. Freedom of Information Act
Freedom of Information Act (United States)
The Freedom of Information Act is a federal freedom of information law that allows for the full or partial disclosure of previously unreleased information and documents controlled by the United States government. The Act defines agency records subject to disclosure, outlines mandatory disclosure...

 inquiries by the National Security Archive and other investigators unearthed a number of documents showing that White House officials, including Oliver North, knew about and supported using money raised via drug trafficking to fund the Contras. Sen. John Kerry's report in 1988 led to the same conclusions; major media outlets, the Justice Department, and Reagan denied the allegations.

The International Court of Justice
International Court of Justice
The International Court of Justice is the primary judicial organ of the United Nations. It is based in the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands...

, in regard to the case of Nicaragua v. United States in 1984, found; "the United States of America was under an obligation to make reparation to the Republic of Nicaragua for all injury caused to Nicaragua by certain breaches of obligations under customary international law and treaty-law committed by the United States of America". United States however rejected and did not comply with the judgement under the 'Connally Amendment' (part of the conditional participation of USA in the International court of Justice, which excludes from ICJ's jurisdiction "disputes with regard to matters that are essentially within the jurisdiction of the United States of America, as determined by the United States of America").

1990s and the Post-Sandinista era



The Nicaraguan general election, 1990
Nicaraguan general election, 1990
A general elections were held in Nicaragua to elect a president and parliament on 25 February 1990.William I. Robinson wrote that "massive foreign interference completely distorted an endogenous political process and undermined the ability of the elections to be a free choice regarding the destiny...

 saw the defeat of the Sandinistas by a coalition of anti-Sandinista (from the left and right of the political spectrum) parties led by Violeta Chamorro, the widow of Pedro Joaquín Chamorro. The defeat shocked the Sandinistas, as numerous pre-election polls had indicated a sure Sandinista victory, and their pre-election rallies had attracted crowds of several hundred thousand people. The unexpected result was subject to extensive analysis and comment. Commentators such as Noam Chomsky
Noam Chomsky
Avram Noam Chomsky is an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, and activist. He is an Institute Professor and Professor in the Department of Linguistics & Philosophy at MIT, where he has worked for over 50 years. Chomsky has been described as the "father of modern linguistics" and...

 and Brian Willson
Brian Willson
S. Brian Willson is an American Vietnam veteran, peace activist, and attorney-at-law.Willson served in the US Air Force from 1966 to 1970, including several months as a combat security officer in Vietnam. He left the Air Force as a Captain...

 attributed the outcome to the U.S./Contra threats to continue the war if the Sandinistas retained power, the general war-weariness of the Nicaraguan population, and the abysmal Nicaraguan economic situation.

P. J. O'Rourke
P. J. O'Rourke
Patrick Jake "P. J." O'Rourke is an American political satirist, journalist, writer, and author. O'Rourke is the H. L. Mencken Research Fellow at the Cato Institute and is a regular correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly, The American Spectator, and The Weekly Standard, and frequent panelist on...

 countered the US-centered criticism in his book Give War a Chance, saying "the unfair advantages of using state resources for party ends, about how Sandinista control of the transit system prevented UNO
United Nicaraguan Opposition
The United Nicaraguan Opposition was a Nicaraguan rebel umbrella group formed in 1985, led by the triumvirate of Adolfo Calero, Alfonso Robelo, and Arturo Cruz...

 supporters from attending rallies, how Sandinista domination of the army forced soldiers to vote for Ortega and how Sandinista bureaucracy kept $3.3 million of U.S. campaign aid from getting to UNO while Daniel Ortega spent millions donated by overseas people and millions and millions more from the Nicaraguan treasury ..."

Exit polls of Nicaraguans reported Chamorro's victory over Ortega was achieved with 55% majority. Violeta Chamorro was the first female President of Nicaragua, and also the first woman to be popularly elected for this position in any American nation. Exit polling convinced Daniel Ortega that the election results were legitimate, and were instrumental in his decision to accept the vote of the people and step down rather than void the election. Ortega vowed that he would govern desde abajo (from below); in other words due to his widespread control of institutions and Sandinista individuals in all government agencies, he would still be able to maintain control and govern even without being president.

Chamorro came to office with an economy in ruins. The per capita income of Nicaragua had been reduced by over 80% during the 1980s, and a huge government debt had ascended to US$12 billion, primarily due to the financial and social costs of the Contra war with the Sandinista-led government. Much to the surprise of the U.S. and the contra forces, Chamorro did not dismantle the Sandinista Popular Army
Sandinista Popular Army
The Sandinista Popular Army was the military established in 1979 by the new Sandinista government to replace the National Guard, following the overthow of Anastasio Somoza Debayle. In post-Sandinista Nicaragua, it has been remolded into the National Army of Nicaragua. Joaquín Cuadra was chief of...

, although the name was changed to the Nicaraguan Army. Chamorro's main contribution to Nicaragua was the disarmament
Disarmament
Disarmament is the act of reducing, limiting, or abolishing weapons. Disarmament generally refers to a country's military or specific type of weaponry. Disarmament is often taken to mean total elimination of weapons of mass destruction, such as nuclear arms...

 of groups in the northern and central areas of the country. This provided the stability which the country had lacked for over ten years.

In the next election, the Nicaraguan general election, 1996
Nicaraguan general election, 1996
A general election was held in Nicaragua to elect a president and parliament on 20 October 1996.- Presidential election results :- Legislative election :* Including three seats for unsuccessful presidential candidates....

, Daniel Ortega and the Sandinistas of the FSLN were again defeated, this time by Arnoldo Alemán
Arnoldo Alemán
José Arnoldo Alemán Lacayo was the 81st President of Nicaragua from 10 January 1997 to 10 January 2002.-Biography:Alemán was born in Managua and received his early education at the La Salle institute in Managua...

 of the Constitutional Liberal Party
Constitutionalist Liberal Party (Nicaragua)
The Constitutionalist Liberal Party is an opposition political party in Nicaragua. At the legislative elections, held on 5 November 2006, the party won 25 of 92 seats in the National Assembly....

 (PLC).

In the 2001 elections
Nicaraguan general election, 2001
General elections were held in Nicaragua to elect a president and parliament on 4 November 2001.-Presidential election:Daniel Ortega lost his third successive presidential election, being beaten by Enrique Bolaños of the Constitutionalist Liberal Party....

, the PLC again defeated the FSLN, with Enrique Bolaños
Enrique Bolaños
Enrique José Bolaños Geyer was the President of Nicaragua from 10 January 2002 to 10 January 2007. President Bolaños is of Spanish and German heritage and was born in Masaya ....

 winning the Presidency. President Bolaños subsequently brought forward allegations of money laundering, theft and corruption against former President Alemán. The ex-president was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison for embezzlement
Embezzlement
Embezzlement is the act of dishonestly appropriating or secreting assets by one or more individuals to whom such assets have been entrusted....

, money laundering
Money laundering
Money laundering is the process of disguising illegal sources of money so that it looks like it came from legal sources. The methods by which money may be laundered are varied and can range in sophistication. Many regulatory and governmental authorities quote estimates each year for the amount...

, and corruption. Liberal members who were loyal to Alemán and also members of congress reacted angrily, and along with Sandinista parliament members, stripped the presidential powers of President Bolaños and his ministers, calling for his resignation and threatening impeachment
Impeachment
Impeachment is a formal process in which an official is accused of unlawful activity, the outcome of which, depending on the country, may include the removal of that official from office as well as other punishment....

.

The Sandinistas alleged that their support for Bolaños was lost when U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell
Colin Powell
Colin Luther Powell is an American statesman and a retired four-star general in the United States Army. He was the 65th United States Secretary of State, serving under President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2005. He was the first African American to serve in that position. During his military...

 told Bolaños to keep his distance from the FSLN. This "slow motion coup d'état" was averted partially due to pressure from the Central American presidents, who vowed not to recognize any movement that removed Bolaños; the U.S., the OAS, and the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 also opposed the "slow motion coup d'état". The proposed constitutional changes, to be introduced in 2005 against the Bolaños administration, were delayed until January 2007 after the entrance of the new government. One day before they were due to be enforced, the National Assembly postponed their enforcement until January 2008.

Before the general elections on 5 November 2006
Nicaraguan general election, 2006
Nicaragua held a general election on 5 November 2006. The country's voters went to the polls to elect a new President of the Republic and 90 members of the National Assembly, all of whom will serve five-year terms...

, the National Assembly
National Assembly of Nicaragua
The National Assembly is the legislative branch of the government of Nicaragua.-Composition:The Nicaraguan legislature is a unicameral body....

 passed a bill further restricting abortion in Nicaragua
Abortion in Nicaragua
Abortion in Nicaragua is completely illegal. Prior to a change in the law, which took effect on 18 November 2006, the law allowed pregnancies to be terminated for "therapeutic" reasons, but this clause is no longer in effect.-Abortion law in Nicaragua:...

 52-0 (9 abstaining, 29 absent). President Enrique Bolaños
Enrique Bolaños
Enrique José Bolaños Geyer was the President of Nicaragua from 10 January 2002 to 10 January 2007. President Bolaños is of Spanish and German heritage and was born in Masaya ....

 supported this measure, and signed the bill into law on 17 November 2006. As a result, Nicaragua is one of five countries in the world where abortion is illegal with no exceptions, along with Chile, Malta
Malta
Malta , officially known as the Republic of Malta , is a Southern European country consisting of an archipelago situated in the centre of the Mediterranean, south of Sicily, east of Tunisia and north of Libya, with Gibraltar to the west and Alexandria to the east.Malta covers just over in...

, El Salvador, and the Vatican City
Vatican City
Vatican City , or Vatican City State, in Italian officially Stato della Città del Vaticano , which translates literally as State of the City of the Vatican, is a landlocked sovereign city-state whose territory consists of a walled enclave within the city of Rome, Italy. It has an area of...

.

Legislative and presidential elections
Nicaraguan general election, 2006
Nicaragua held a general election on 5 November 2006. The country's voters went to the polls to elect a new President of the Republic and 90 members of the National Assembly, all of whom will serve five-year terms...

 took place on November 5, 2006. Daniel Ortega returned to the presidency with 37.99% of the vote. This percentage was enough to win the presidency outright, due to a change in electoral law which lowered the percentage requiring a runoff election from 45% to 35% (with a 5% margin of victory).

Government


Politics of Nicaragua takes place in a framework of a presidential
Presidential system
A presidential system is a system of government where an executive branch exists and presides separately from the legislature, to which it is not responsible and which cannot, in normal circumstances, dismiss it....

 representative democratic
Representative democracy
Representative democracy is a form of government founded on the principle of elected individuals representing the people, as opposed to autocracy and direct democracy...

 republic, whereby the President of Nicaragua
President of Nicaragua
The position of President of Nicaragua was created in the Constitution of 1854. From 1825 until the Constitution of 1838 the title of the position was known as Head of State and from 1838 to 1854 as Supreme Director .-Heads of State of Nicaragua within the Federal Republic of Central America...

 is both head of state
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

 and head of government
Head of government
Head of government is the chief officer of the executive branch of a government, often presiding over a cabinet. In a parliamentary system, the head of government is often styled prime minister, chief minister, premier, etc...

, and of a multi-party system
Multi-party system
A multi-party system is a system in which multiple political parties have the capacity to gain control of government separately or in coalition, e.g.The Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition in the United Kingdom formed in 2010. The effective number of parties in a multi-party system is normally...

. Executive power
Executive (government)
Executive branch of Government is the part of government that has sole authority and responsibility for the daily administration of the state bureaucracy. The division of power into separate branches of government is central to the idea of the separation of powers.In many countries, the term...

 is exercised by the government. Legislative power
Legislature
A legislature is a kind of deliberative assembly with the power to pass, amend, and repeal laws. The law created by a legislature is called legislation or statutory law. In addition to enacting laws, legislatures usually have exclusive authority to raise or lower taxes and adopt the budget and...

 is vested in both the government and the National Assembly
National Assembly of Nicaragua
The National Assembly is the legislative branch of the government of Nicaragua.-Composition:The Nicaraguan legislature is a unicameral body....

. The Judiciary
Judiciary
The judiciary is the system of courts that interprets and applies the law in the name of the state. The judiciary also provides a mechanism for the resolution of disputes...

 is independent of the executive and the legislature.

Between 2007–2009, Nicaragua's major political parties discussed the possibility of going from a presidential system to a parliamentary system. Their reason: there would be a clear differentiation between the head of government
Head of government
Head of government is the chief officer of the executive branch of a government, often presiding over a cabinet. In a parliamentary system, the head of government is often styled prime minister, chief minister, premier, etc...

 (Prime Minister) and the head of state
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

 (President). Nevertheless, it was later known the true reason behind this proposal was to find a legal way for current President Ortega to stay in power after January 2012 (this is when his second and last government period ends).

Presidential election


Cid Gallup
Party Candidate January 2011 May 2011 September 2011
  FSLN Daniel Ortega
Daniel Ortega
José Daniel Ortega Saavedra is a Nicaraguan politician and revolutionary, currently serving as the 83rd President of Nicaragua, a position that he has held since 2007. He previously served as the 79th President, between 1985 and 1990, and for much of his life, has been a leader in the Sandinista...

36% 38% 44%
  PLI Fabio Gadea Mantilla
Fabio Gadea Mantilla
Fabio Gadea Mantilla is a Nicaraguan radio journalist, writer, and politician. He is owner and co-founder of the news radio station Radio Corporación...

17% 28% 32%
  PLC Arnoldo Alemán
Arnoldo Alemán
José Arnoldo Alemán Lacayo was the 81st President of Nicaragua from 10 January 1997 to 10 January 2002.-Biography:Alemán was born in Managua and received his early education at the La Salle institute in Managua...

23% 14% 13%
  Other Other parties N/A 4% 1%
  N/A No answer 24% 16% 10%

Military


The armed forces of Nicaragua
Military of Nicaragua
-National Guard 1927-1979:The long years of strife between the liberal and conservative political factions and the existence of private armies led the United States to sponsor the National Guard as an apolitical institution to assume all military and police functions in Nicaragua...

 consists of various military contingencies. Nicaragua has an Army, Navy
Nicaraguan Navy
The Nicaraguan Navy of Somoza's National Guard consisted of a few old patrol boats in the early 1980s. The Sandinistas acquired more modern vessels, although none were larger than fifty tons....

 and Air Force
Nicaraguan Air Force
The Nicaraguan Air Force continues the former Sandinista air units. Before 1979 the Nicaraguan National Guard had some air units .-Air force:...

. There are roughly 14,000 active duty personnel, which is much less compared to the numbers seen during the Nicaraguan Revolution
Nicaraguan Revolution
The Nicaraguan Revolution encompasses the rising opposition to the Somoza dictatorship in the 1960s and 1970s, the campaign led by the Sandinista National Liberation Front which led to the violent ousting of that dictatorship in 1979, and the...

. Although the army has had a rough military history, a portion of its forces, which were known as the National Guard
National Guard (Nicaragua)
In Nicaragua, the National Guard was a militia and a gendarmerie created during the occupation of that country by the United States from 1909 to 1933. It became notorious for human rights abuses and corruption under the regime of the Somoza family.-Creation:...

 became integrated with what is now the National Police of Nicaragua
Policía Nacional (Nicaragua)
The National Nicaraguan Police Force is the national police of Nicaragua. The force is in charge of regular police functions and, at times, works in conjunction with the Nicaraguan military, making it an indirect and rather subtle version of a gendarmerie.However, the Nicaraguan National Police...

. In essence, the police became a gendarmerie
Gendarmerie
A gendarmerie or gendarmery is a military force charged with police duties among civilian populations. Members of such a force are typically called "gendarmes". The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary describes a gendarme as "a soldier who is employed on police duties" and a "gendarmery, -erie" as...

. The National Police of Nicaragua are rarely, if ever, labeled as a gendarmerie
Gendarmerie
A gendarmerie or gendarmery is a military force charged with police duties among civilian populations. Members of such a force are typically called "gendarmes". The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary describes a gendarme as "a soldier who is employed on police duties" and a "gendarmery, -erie" as...

. The other elements and manpower that were not devoted to the National Police were sent over to cultivate the new Army of Nicaragua.

The age to serve in the armed forces is 17 and conscription
Conscription
Conscription is the compulsory enlistment of people in some sort of national service, most often military service. Conscription dates back to antiquity and continues in some countries to the present day under various names...

 is not imminent. As of 2006, the military budget was roughly 0.7% of Nicaragua's expenditures.

Departments and municipalities


Nicaragua is a unitary
Unitary state
A unitary state is a state governed as one single unit in which the central government is supreme and any administrative divisions exercise only powers that their central government chooses to delegate...

 republic. For administrative purposes it is divided into 15 departments (departamentos) and two self-governing regions (autonomous communities) based on the Spanish model. The departments are then subdivided into 153 municipios (municipalities). The two autonomous regions are 'Región Autónoma Atlántico Norte'
and 'Región Autónoma Atlántico Sur', often referred to as RAAN and RAAS, respectively; until they were granted autonomy in 1985 they formed the single department of Zelaya.
Department
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
Department
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Geography and climate




Nicaragua occupies a landmass of 130967 km² (50,567 sq mi), comparable to that of Greece or the state of Alabama
Alabama
Alabama is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Mississippi to the west. Alabama ranks 30th in total land area and ranks second in the size of its inland...

. It lies between latitudes 10°
10th parallel north
The 10th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 10 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Africa, the Indian Ocean, South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Ocean, Central America, South America and the Atlantic Ocean....

 and 15°N
15th parallel north
The 15th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 15 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Africa, Asia, the Indian Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, Central America, the Caribbean and the Atlantic Ocean....

, and longitudes 82°
82nd meridian west
The meridian 82° west of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, North America, the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean Sea, Central America, the Pacific Ocean, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

 and 88°W
88th meridian west
The meridian 88° west of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, North America, the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean Sea, Central America, the Pacific Ocean, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

.

Nearly one fifth of the territory is designated as protected areas like national parks, nature reserves, and biological reserves. The country is bordered by Honduras to the north, the Caribbean to the east, Costa Rica to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Geophysically, Nicaragua is surrounded by the Caribbean Plate
Caribbean Plate
The Caribbean Plate is a mostly oceanic tectonic plate underlying Central America and the Caribbean Sea off the north coast of South America....

, an oceanic
Oceanic crust
Oceanic crust is the part of Earth's lithosphere that surfaces in the ocean basins. Oceanic crust is primarily composed of mafic rocks, or sima, which is rich in iron and magnesium...

 tectonic plate underlying Central America and the Cocos Plate
Cocos Plate
The Cocos Plate is an oceanic tectonic plate beneath the Pacific Ocean off the west coast of Central America, named for Cocos Island, which rides upon it.-Geology:...

. Since Central America is a major subduction
Subduction
In geology, subduction is the process that takes place at convergent boundaries by which one tectonic plate moves under another tectonic plate, sinking into the Earth's mantle, as the plates converge. These 3D regions of mantle downwellings are known as "Subduction Zones"...

 zone, Nicaragua hosts most of the Central American Volcanic Arc.

Nicaragua has three distinct geographical regions: the Pacific lowlands, fertile valleys which the Spanish colonists settled, the Amerrisque Mountains (North-central highlands), and the Mosquito Coast (Atlantic lowlands). The low plains of the Atlantic Coast are 60 miles wide in areas. They have long been exploited for their natural resources.

Pacific lowlands


In the west of the country, these lowlands consist of a broad, hot, fertile plain. Punctuating this plain are several large volcanoes of the Cordillera Los Maribios
Cordillera Los Maribios
Cordillera de Maribios is a mountain range in León and Chinandega departments, western Nicaragua, at and about 64.4 km long. It is a volcanic range comprised most notably by San Cristóbal 1745 m, Pilas 983 m, Telica 1060 m, Cerro Negro 450 m, and Momotombo 1258 m....

 mountain range, including Mombacho
Mombacho
Mombacho is a stratovolcano in Nicaragua, near the city of Granada. It is 1344 metres high. The Mombacho Volcano Nature Reserve is one of 78 protected areas of Nicaragua. Mombacho is an active volcano but the last eruption occurred in 1570...

 just outside Granada, and Momotombo
Momotombo
Momotombo is a stratovolcano in Nicaragua, not far from the city of León. It stands on the shores of Lago de Managua. An eruption of the volcano in 1610 forced inhabitants of the Spanish city of León to relocate about 30 miles west...

 near León. The lowland area runs from the Gulf of Fonseca
Gulf of Fonseca
The Gulf of Fonseca , part of the Pacific Ocean, is a gulf in Central America, bordering El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua.-History:Fonseca Bay was discovered in 1522 by Gil Gonzalez de Avila, and named by him after his patron, Archbishop Juan Fonseca, the implacable enemy of Columbus.In 1849, E. G...

 to Nicaragua's Pacific border with Costa Rica south of Lake Nicaragua
Lake Nicaragua
Lake Nicaragua or Cocibolca or Granada or is a vast freshwater lake in Nicaragua of tectonic origin. With an area of , it is the largest lake in Central America, the 19th largest lake in the world and the 9th largest in the Americas. It is slightly smaller than Lake Titicaca. With an elevation...

. Lake Nicaragua is the largest freshwater lake in Central America (20th largest in the world), and is home to some of the world's only freshwater sharks (Nicaraguan shark
Bull shark
The bull shark, Carcharhinus leucas, also known as Zambezi shark or unofficially known as Zambi in Africa and Nicaragua shark in Nicaragua, is a shark common worldwide in warm, shallow waters along coasts and in rivers...

). The Pacific lowlands region is the most populous, with over half of the nation's population. The capital city of Managua is the most populous and is the only city with over 1.5 million inhabitants.
The eruptions of western Nicaragua's 40 volcanoes, many of which are still active, have sometimes devastated settlements but also have enriched the land with layers of fertile ash. The geologic activity that produces vulcanism also breeds powerful earthquakes. Tremors occur regularly throughout the Pacific zone, and earthquakes have nearly destroyed the capital city, Managua, more than once.

Most of the Pacific zone is tierra caliente
Tierra caliente
Tierra caliente is a pseudo-climatalogical term used in Latin America to refer to those places within that realm which have a distinctly tropical climate...

, the "hot land" of tropical Spanish America at elevations under 2000 feet (610 m). Temperatures remain virtually constant throughout the year, with highs ranging between 85 and 90 °F (29.4 and 32.2 °C). After a dry season lasting from November to April, rains begin in May and continue to October, giving the Pacific lowlands 40 to 60 in (1,016 to 1,524 mm) of precipitation. Good soils and a favorable climate combine to make western Nicaragua the country's economic and demographic center. The southwestern shore of Lake Nicaragua lies within 15 miles (24 km) of the Pacific Ocean. Thus the lake and the San Juan River were often proposed in the 19th century as the longest part of a canal route across the Central American isthmus. Canal proposals were periodically revived in the 20th and 21st centuries. Roughly a century after the opening of the Panama Canal
Panama Canal
The Panama Canal is a ship canal in Panama that joins the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean and is a key conduit for international maritime trade. Built from 1904 to 1914, the canal has seen annual traffic rise from about 1,000 ships early on to 14,702 vessels measuring a total of 309.6...

, the prospect of a Nicaraguan ecocanal
Ecocanal
The Nicaraguan Ecocanal is a project under construction in Nicaragua to build deepwater port facilities on the Atlantic Ocean coast, to link to the existing seaport of Corinto on the Pacific Ocean. They would be connected by a rail system to transport containerized and bulk cargo overland...

 remains a topic of interest.

In addition to its beach and resort communities, the Pacific lowlands contains most of Nicaragua's Spanish colonial architecture and artifacts. Cities such as León and Granada
Granada, Nicaragua
Granada is a city in western Nicaragua and the capital of the Granada Department. With an estimated population of 110,326 , it is Nicaragua's fourth most populous city. Granada is historically one of Nicaragua's most important cities, economically and politically...

 abound in colonial architecture; founded in 1524, Granada is the oldest colonial city in the Americas.

North-central highlands


The central highlands are a significantly less populated and economically developed area in the north, between Lake Nicaragua and the Caribbean. Forming the country's tierra templada
Tierra templada
Tierra templada is a pseudoclimatological term used in Latin America to refer to places within that realm which are either located in the tropics at a moderately high elevation, or are marginally outside the astronomical tropics, producing a somewhat cooler overall climate than that found in the...

, or "temperate land", at elevations between 2000 and 5000 ft (609.6 and 1,524 m), the highlands enjoy mild temperatures with daily highs of
75 to 80 °F (23.9 to 26.7 °C). This region has a longer, wetter rainy season than the Pacific lowlands, making erosion a problem on its steep slopes. Rugged terrain, poor soils, and low population density characterize the area as a whole, but the northwestern valleys are fertile and well settled.

The area has a cooler climate than the Pacific lowlands. About a quarter of the country's agriculture takes place in this region, with coffee grown on the higher slopes. Oak
Oak
An oak is a tree or shrub in the genus Quercus , of which about 600 species exist. "Oak" may also appear in the names of species in related genera, notably Lithocarpus...

s, pine
Pine
Pines are trees in the genus Pinus ,in the family Pinaceae. They make up the monotypic subfamily Pinoideae. There are about 115 species of pine, although different authorities accept between 105 and 125 species.-Etymology:...

s, moss
Moss
Mosses are small, soft plants that are typically 1–10 cm tall, though some species are much larger. They commonly grow close together in clumps or mats in damp or shady locations. They do not have flowers or seeds, and their simple leaves cover the thin wiry stems...

, fern
Fern
A fern is any one of a group of about 12,000 species of plants belonging to the botanical group known as Pteridophyta. Unlike mosses, they have xylem and phloem . They have stems, leaves, and roots like other vascular plants...

s and orchids
Orchidaceae
The Orchidaceae, commonly referred to as the orchid family, is a morphologically diverse and widespread family of monocots in the order Asparagales. Along with the Asteraceae, it is one of the two largest families of flowering plants, with between 21,950 and 26,049 currently accepted species,...

 are abundant in the cloud forest
Cloud forest
A cloud forest, also called a fog forest, is a generally tropical or subtropical evergreen montane moist forest characterized by a persistent, frequent or seasonal low-level cloud cover, usually at the canopy level. Cloud forests often exhibit an abundance of mosses covering the ground and...

s of the region.

Bird life in the forests of the central region includes Resplendent Quetzal
Resplendent Quetzal
The Resplendent Quetzal, Pharomachrus mocinno, is a bird in the trogon family. It is found from southern Mexico to western Panama . It is well known for its colorful plumage. There are two subspecies, P. m. mocinno and P. m...

, goldfinches
Lesser Goldfinch
The Lesser Goldfinch or Dark-backed Goldfinch is a very small songbird of the Americas. Together with its relatives the American Goldfinch and Lawrence's Goldfinch, it forms the American goldfinches clade in the genus Carduelis sensu stricto.The American goldfinches can be distinguished by the...

, hummingbird
Hummingbird
Hummingbirds are birds that comprise the family Trochilidae. They are among the smallest of birds, most species measuring in the 7.5–13 cm range. Indeed, the smallest extant bird species is a hummingbird, the 5-cm Bee Hummingbird. They can hover in mid-air by rapidly flapping their wings...

s, jay
Jay
The jays are several species of medium-sized, usually colorful and noisy, passerine birds in the crow family Corvidae. The names jay and magpie are somewhat interchangeable, and the evolutionary relationships are rather complex...

s and toucanets
Emerald Toucanet
The Emerald Toucanet, Aulacorhynchus prasinus, is a near-passerine bird occurring in mountainous regions from Mexico, through Central America, to northern Venezuela and along the Andes as far south as central Bolivia...

.

Caribbean lowlands


This large rainforest
Rainforest
Rainforests are forests characterized by high rainfall, with definitions based on a minimum normal annual rainfall of 1750-2000 mm...

 region is irrigated by several large rivers and is sparsely populated. The area has 57% of the territory of the nation and most of its mineral resources. It has been heavily exploited, but much natural diversity remains. The Rio Coco
Coco River
The Río Coco, formerly known as the Río Segovia, Cape River, or Yara River, is a river in southern Honduras and northern Nicaragua. To the Miskito Indians that live along the river it is known as the Wanki or Wanks River...

 is the largest river in Central America; it forms the border with Honduras. The Caribbean coastline is much more sinuous than its generally straight Pacific counterpart; lagoons and deltas make it very irregular.

Nicaragua's Bosawás Biosphere Reserve
Bosawás Biosphere Reserve
The Bosawás Biosphere Reserve in the northern part of Nicaragua is a hilly tropical forest designated in 1997 as a UNESCO biosphere reserve. At approximately 20,000 km² in size, the reserve The Bosawás Biosphere Reserve in the northern part of Nicaragua is a hilly tropical forest designated...

 is in the Atlantic lowlands; it protects 1800000 acres (728,435 ha) of La Mosquitia
La Mosquitia
La Mosquitia refers to the northeastern part of Honduras along the Mosquito Coast. It is an underdeveloped region of tropical rainforest accessible primarily by water and air. Its population include indigenous groups such as the Miskito, the Pech, Rama, Sumo, and Tawakha. The Río Plátano Biosphere...

 forest – almost seven percent of the country's area – making it the largest rainforest north of the Amazon
Amazon Rainforest
The Amazon Rainforest , also known in English as Amazonia or the Amazon Jungle, is a moist broadleaf forest that covers most of the Amazon Basin of South America...

 in Brazil.

Nicaragua's tropical east coast is very different from the rest of the country. The climate is predominantly tropical, with high temperature and high humidity. Around the area's principal city of Bluefields, English is widely spoken along with the official Spanish. The population more closely resembles that found in many typical Caribbean ports than the rest of Nicaragua.

A great variety of birds can be observed including eagle
Eagle
Eagles are members of the bird family Accipitridae, and belong to several genera which are not necessarily closely related to each other. Most of the more than 60 species occur in Eurasia and Africa. Outside this area, just two species can be found in the United States and Canada, nine more in...

s, turkeys
Turkey (bird)
A turkey is a large bird in the genus Meleagris. One species, Meleagris gallopavo, commonly known as the Wild Turkey, is native to the forests of North America. The domestic turkey is a descendant of this species...

, toucan
Toucan
Toucans are members of the family Ramphastidae of near passerine birds from the Neotropics. The family is most closely related to the American barbets. They are brightly marked and have large, often colorful bills. The family includes five genera and about forty different species...

s, parakeet
Parakeet
Parakeet is a term for any one of a large number of unrelated small to medium sized species of parrot, that generally have long tail feathers...

s and macaw
Macaw
Macaws are small to large, often colourful New World parrots. Of the many different Psittacidae genera, six are classified as macaws: Ara, Anodorhynchus, Cyanopsitta, Primolius, Orthopsittaca, and Diopsittaca...

s. Animal life in the area includes different species of monkey
Monkey
A monkey is a primate, either an Old World monkey or a New World monkey. There are about 260 known living species of monkey. Many are arboreal, although there are species that live primarily on the ground, such as baboons. Monkeys are generally considered to be intelligent. Unlike apes, monkeys...

s, anteater
Anteater
Anteaters, also known as antbear, are the four mammal species of the suborder Vermilingua commonly known for eating ants and termites. Together with the sloths, they compose the order Pilosa...

s, white-tailed deer
Deer
Deer are the ruminant mammals forming the family Cervidae. Species in the Cervidae family include white-tailed deer, elk, moose, red deer, reindeer, fallow deer, roe deer and chital. Male deer of all species and female reindeer grow and shed new antlers each year...

 and tapir
Tapir
A Tapir is a large browsing mammal, similar in shape to a pig, with a short, prehensile snout. Tapirs inhabit jungle and forest regions of South America, Central America, and Southeast Asia. There are four species of Tapirs: the Brazilian Tapir, the Malayan Tapir, Baird's Tapir and the Mountain...

s.

Exports


Nicaragua is primarily an agricultural country; agriculture constitutes 60% of its total exports which annually yield approximately US $2.0 billion. In addition, Nicaragua's Flor de Caña
Flor de Caña
Flor de Caña is a brand of rum distributed by Compañía Licorera de Nicaragua which is headquartered in Managua, Nicaragua.-History:...

 rum is renowned as among the best in Latin America, and its tobacco and beef are also well regarded. Nicaragua's agrarian economy has historically been based on the export of cash crop
Cash crop
In agriculture, a cash crop is a crop which is grown for profit.The term is used to differentiate from subsistence crops, which are those fed to the producer's own livestock or grown as food for the producer's family...

s such as bananas, coffee, sugar, beef and tobacco. Light industry (maquila), tourism, banking, mining, fisheries, and general commerce are expanding.
Nicaragua also depends heavily on remittances from Nicaraguans living abroad, which totaled $655.5 million in 2006.

Nicaragua has always been a predominantly agricultural country. On the Pacific side, coffee and cotton are by far the most important commercial crops. In 1992, more land was devoted to coffee than to any other crop, and it is the nation's leading export in terms of value. Nearly two-thirds of the coffee crop comes from the northern part of the central highlands, in the area north and east of the town of Estelí.

In the early 1980s, cotton became Nicaragua's second-largest export earner. Production is centered on large farms along the central Pacific coast. Unfortunately, the growth of the cotton industry has created serious problems. Soil erosion and pollution from the heavy use of pesticides have become serious concerns in the cotton district. Yields and exports have both been declining since 1985.

Plantation crops are significant in the Caribbean lowlands. After disease wiped out most of the region's banana plants in the years before 1945, attempts were made to diversify crops. Today most of Nicaragua's bananas are grown in the northwestern part of the country near the port of Corinto; sugarcane is also grown in the same district. Subsistence farms, where food is grown mainly for the consumption of the farm family instead of for sale, are found throughout Nicaragua. Favorite food crops grown on such farms include rice, beans, maize, citrus fruits, and cassava. Cassava, a root crop somewhat similar to the potato, is an important food in tropical regions. The plant's roots can be eaten boiled and sliced, or ground into flour. Cassava is also the main ingredient in tapioca pudding.

The Pacific lowlands and the middle and southern parts of the Central highlands are the principal cattle-grazing areas. An especially large number of cattle are found to the east of Lake Nicaragua.
Beginning in the 1960s, shrimp became big business on both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts. The main shrimping centers on the Pacific coast are Corinto and San Juan del Sur. Fishing boats on the Caribbean side bring shrimp as well as lobsters into processing plants at Puerto Cabezas, Bluefields, and Laguna de Perlas.

The lumber industry, concentrated mainly in the eastern third of the country, has been lethargic since 1980, with its activities limited by several problems. First, the best trees in the most accessible places have already been cut down. In addition, pure groves of trees are uncommon in tropical forests. Hundreds of species per acre are generally the rule, complicating the task of harvesting. Moreover, the most valuable dense hardwood
Hardwood
Hardwood is wood from angiosperm trees . It may also be used for those trees themselves: these are usually broad-leaved; in temperate and boreal latitudes they are mostly deciduous, but in tropics and subtropics mostly evergreen.Hardwood contrasts with softwood...

s will not float. As a result, these trees must be trucked out of the forest rather than floated downriver to a sawmill. Finally, more restrictions are being placed on lumbering due to increased environmental concerns about destruction of the rain forests. But lumbering continues despite these obstacles; indeed, a single hardwood tree may be worth thousands of dollars.

Political turmoil has had a severe impact on the mining industry. Exports of gold are down, and little effort has been made to develop the large copper deposits of the northeast. Fighting during the revolution destroyed nearly one-third of Nicaragua's industry. As it rebuilds, the government is trying to change the industrial mix of the country and achieve decentralization. Before the revolution, more than 60 percent of the nation's industrial production, by value, was concentrated in Managua. The industrial-decentralization policy may help to slow the growth of the largest cities, while assisting in the redistribution of income and development of economies in impoverished areas. Major industries include food processing, cement production, metal fabrication, and oil refining. The Centroamérica power plant on the Tuma River
Tuma River
The Tuma River is a river located in Nicaragua.The river, a tributary of the Río Grande de Matagalpa, is located in the Jinotega Department, about 250 kilometers northeast of the capital, Managua...

 in the Central highlands has been expanded, and other hydroelectric projects have been undertaken to help provide electricity to the nation's newer industries.

The economic core of Nicaragua is in the Pacific zone, and the railway and highway network reflects that concentration of activity. The government-owned rail system—an inefficient money loser—is gradually being replaced by truck transport. Transportation throughout the rest of the nation is often inadequate. For example, one cannot travel all the way by highway from Managua to the Caribbean coast. The road ends at the town of Rama. Travelers have to transfer and make the rest of the trip by riverboat
Riverboat
A riverboat is a ship built boat designed for inland navigation on lakes, rivers, and artificial waterways. They are generally equipped and outfitted as work boats in one of the carrying trades, for freight or people transport, including luxury units constructed for entertainment enterprises, such...

 down the Río Escondido
Río Escondido
Río Escondido is a 1948 Mexican drama film directed by Emilio Fernández and starring María Félix.-Plot:The President of México sends Rosaura , a young teacher, to educate a remote rural village known as Río Escondido. The goodwill of Rosaura is impaired by Don Regino Sandoval , the town's...

—a five-hour journey.

Corinto
Corinto
Corinto may refer to any of the following:Brazil*Corinto, Minas GeraisColombia*Corinto, CaucaEl Salvador*Corinto, MorazánNicaragua*Corinto, Nicaragua...

 is the only modern deepwater port in Nicaragua. It handles both agricultural exports and general-cargo imports. Petroleum is unloaded at Puerto Sandino
Puerto Sandino
Puerto Sandino is a coastal town in western Nicaragua. It is located at around .- U.S. Attacks :While supporting the Contras in the 1980s, U.S. forces attacked Puerto Sandino on September 13 and October 14, 1983. On March 28 and March 30, 1984 U.S. forces attacked patrol boats at Puerto Sandino....

, from which it travels by pipeline to a refinery in Managua. Trade with other nations in Central America has increased in recent years. Nicaragua has long been considered as a possible site for a new sea-level canal that could supplement the Panama Canal.

Components of the economy


Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in purchasing power parity
Purchasing power parity
In economics, purchasing power parity is a condition between countries where an amount of money has the same purchasing power in different countries. The prices of the goods between the countries would only reflect the exchange rates...

 (PPP) in 2008 was estimated at $17.37 billion USD. The service sector is the largest component of GDP at 56.9%, followed by the industrial sector at 26.1% (2006 est.). Agriculture represents 17% of GDP, the highest percentage in Central America (2008 est.). Remittances account for over 15% of the Nicaraguan GDP. Close to one billion dollars are sent to the country by Nicaraguans living abroad. Nicaraguan labor force is estimated at 2.322 million of which 29% is occupied in agriculture, 19% in the industrial sector and 52% in the service sector (est. 2008).

Agriculture



After 1950 the scope of capital-intensive modern agriculture increased greatly. This growth was concentrated in export crops, while crops destined for domestic use continued to be produced by traditional labor-intensive methods. The shift to industrialized agriculture also significantly reduced the proportion of the population directly dependent on agriculture.

Commercial agriculture thrives in the Pacific lowlands, where cotton and sugarcane
Sugarcane
Sugarcane refers to any of six to 37 species of tall perennial grasses of the genus Saccharum . Native to the warm temperate to tropical regions of South Asia, they have stout, jointed, fibrous stalks that are rich in sugar, and measure two to six metres tall...

 are the staple crops. Although coffee is grown in the Pacific zone at elevations over 1,000 feet (300 meters), the most important coffee zone is the northwestern part of the Central highlands, from Matagalpa
Matagalpa
Matagalpa is a city in Nicaragua, the capital of the department of Matagalpa. The city has a population of 109,100 , while the population of the department is more than 480,000. Matagalpa is Nicaragua's fifth largest city and one of its most commercially active outside of Managua...

 to Jinotega
Jinotega
Jinotega is the capital of Jinotega Department in the north central region of Nicaragua.-About:The capital city of the Department of Jinotega is the City of Jinotega. The Department of Jinotega produces 80% of the nation's coffee. It has a population of about 51,000 living inside a vast valley...

. Cattle for the export of beef are raised in the southeastern part of the highlands. The overall expansion of export production by large landholders pushed the smallholders who produced the country's maize, beans, and other dietary staples onto marginal lands, with the result that food production could not keep up with population increase.

In the 1990s the government initiated efforts to diversify agriculture. Some of the new export-oriented crops were peanuts, sesame
Sesame
Sesame is a flowering plant in the genus Sesamum. Numerous wild relatives occur in Africa and a smaller number in India. It is widely naturalized in tropical regions around the world and is cultivated for its edible seeds, which grow in pods....

, melons, and onions.

Nicaragua's agricultural sector has benefited because of the country's strong ties to Venezuela
Venezuela
Venezuela , officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America. It borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south...

. It is estimated that Venezuela will import approximately $200 million in agricultural goods.

Fishing and forestry



Forestry and fishing are the bases of the eastern seaboard's commercial economy. In national terms, neither sector was important until the take-off of the fishing industry in the late 20th century. Mahogany
Mahogany
The name mahogany is used when referring to numerous varieties of dark-colored hardwood. It is a native American word originally used for the wood of the species Swietenia mahagoni, known as West Indian or Cuban mahogany....

 was harvested commercially on the Atlantic coast beginning early in the 19th century. In the 20th century pine
Pine
Pines are trees in the genus Pinus ,in the family Pinaceae. They make up the monotypic subfamily Pinoideae. There are about 115 species of pine, although different authorities accept between 105 and 125 species.-Etymology:...

 stands began to be exploited. In neither case, though, was the resource managed so as to ensure a sustained yield.

Nicaragua's fishing industry operates off both coasts and in freshwater Lake Nicaragua. The lake also has an aquaculture industry. The most valuable catches are shrimp
Shrimp
Shrimp are swimming, decapod crustaceans classified in the infraorder Caridea, found widely around the world in both fresh and salt water. Adult shrimp are filter feeding benthic animals living close to the bottom. They can live in schools and can swim rapidly backwards. Shrimp are an important...

 and spiny lobster
Spiny lobster
Spiny lobsters, also known as langouste or rock lobsters, are a family of about 45 species of achelate crustaceans, in the Decapoda Reptantia...

. The government expanded the size of the fishing fleet in the 1980s, which permitted a rapid expansion of shrimp and lobster exports in the 1990s. A turtle fishery thrived on the Caribbean coast before it collapsed from overexploitation
Overexploitation
Overexploitation, also called overharvesting, refers to harvesting a renewable resource to the point of diminishing returns. Sustained overexploitation can lead to the destruction of the resource...

.

Mining and the production of energy


Mining is not a major industry in Nicaragua, contributing less than 1% of gross domestic product (GDP). Still, gold and silver mines in the north-central and northeastern parts of the country are important elements of regional economies and constitute sources of revenue. Important domestic sources of electrical energy are hydropower and geothermal power
Geothermal power
Geothermal energy is thermal energy generated and stored in the Earth. Thermal energy is the energy that determines the temperature of matter. Earth's geothermal energy originates from the original formation of the planet and from radioactive decay of minerals...

, the latter from the volcano Momotombo, near Managua. But most commercial electricity is generated by imported petroleum.

Manufacturing


Although the manufacturing sector of the economy contributes somewhat more to GDP than agriculture, it employs far fewer people. It was traditionally concerned largely with the processing of agricultural products, and it supplied the domestic market with foods, beverages, edible oils, cigarettes, and textile goods. Also manufactured were light metal goods, construction materials, wood and paper products, and chemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides.

The manufacturing sector was expanded beyond these areas in the 1990s with the introduction of maquila industries, in which imported parts are assembled for reexport. The principal products were garments, footwear, aluminum frames, and jewelry. Growth in the maquila sector slowed in the first decade of the 21st century with rising competition from Asian markets, particularly China.

Economic development in the 21st century


Nicaragua has widespread underemployment and the second lowest per capita income in the Americas. The US-Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) has been in effect since April 2006 and has expanded export opportunities for many agricultural and manufactured goods. Textiles and apparel account for nearly 60% of Nicaragua's exports, but recent increases in the minimum wage have a strong possibility of eroding Nicaragua's comparative advantage
Comparative advantage
In economics, the law of comparative advantage says that two countries will both gain from trade if, in the absence of trade, they have different relative costs for producing the same goods...

 in this industry. Nicaragua's minimum wage is among the lowest in the Americas and in the World.

Nicaragua relies on international economic assistance to meet internal and external debt financing obligations. In early 2004, Nicaragua secured some $4.5 billion in foreign debt reduction under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries
Heavily Indebted Poor Countries
Heavily Indebted Poor Countries is a group of 40 developing countries with high levels of poverty and debt overhang which are eligible for special assistance from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.- History and structure :...

 initiative. In October 2007, the International Monetary Fund
International Monetary Fund
The International Monetary Fund is an organization of 187 countries, working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world...

 (IMF) approved a new Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility
Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility
The Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility is an arm of the International Monetary Fund which lends to the world's poorest countries. It was created in September 1999, replacing the Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility....

 program. Despite the support, severe budget shortfalls resulting from the suspension of large amounts of direct budget support from foreign donors concerned with recent political developments has caused a slowdown in PRGF disbursements.

Similarly, private sector concerns surrounding Daniel Ortega's handling of economic issues have dampened investment. Economic growth has slowed in 2009, due to decreased export demand from the US and Central American markets from the overall recession, lower commodity prices for key agricultural exports, and low remittance growth. Remittances are equivalent to roughly 15% of the country's Gross Domestic Product.

Poverty


Nicaragua is among one of the poorer countries in the Americas. Nicaragua's nominal GDP stands at 6.554 for 2009 and increasing to 8.532 by 2014. Nicaragua's GDP (PPP) 16.709 billion and the GDP per capita is $1,028 for Nicaragua.

According to the PNUD
United Nations Development Programme
The United Nations Development Programme is the United Nations' global development network. It advocates for change and connects countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help people build a better life. UNDP operates in 177 countries, working with nations on their own solutions to...

, 48% of the population in Nicaragua live below the poverty line, 79.9% of the population live with less than $2 per day, unemployment is 3.9%, and another 46.5% are underemployed
Underemployment
Underemployment refers to an employment situation that is insufficient in some important way for the worker, relative to a standard. Examples include holding a part-time job despite desiring full-time work, and overqualification, where the employee has education, experience, or skills beyond the...

 (2008 est.). As in many other developing countries
Developing country
A developing country, also known as a less-developed country, is a nation with a low level of material well-being. Since no single definition of the term developing country is recognized internationally, the levels of development may vary widely within so-called developing countries...

, a large segment of the economically poor in Nicaragua are women. In addition, a relatively high proportion of Nicaragua's homes have a woman as head of household: 39% of urban homes and 28% of rural homes. According to UN figures, 80% of the indigenous people
Indigenous peoples
Indigenous peoples are ethnic groups that are defined as indigenous according to one of the various definitions of the term, there is no universally accepted definition but most of which carry connotations of being the "original inhabitants" of a territory....

 (who make up 5% of the population) live on less than $1 per day. According to the FAO
Fão
Fão is a town in Esposende Municipality in Portugal....

, 27% of all Nicaraguans are suffering from undernourishment; the highest percentage in Central America.

Infrastructure


During the war between the US-backed Contras and the government of the Sandinistas
Sandinista National Liberation Front
The Sandinista National Liberation Front is a socialist political party in Nicaragua. Its members are called Sandinistas in both English and Spanish...

 in the 1980s, much of the country's infrastructure was damaged or destroyed. Inflation averaged 30% throughout the 1980s. After the United States imposed a trade embargo in 1985, which lasted 5 years, Nicaragua's inflation rate rose dramatically. The 1985 annual rate of 220% tripled the following year and rose to more than 13,000% in 1988, the highest rate for any country in the Western Hemisphere
Western Hemisphere
The Western Hemisphere or western hemisphere is mainly used as a geographical term for the half of the Earth that lies west of the Prime Meridian and east of the Antimeridian , the other half being called the Eastern Hemisphere.In this sense, the western hemisphere consists of the western portions...

 in that year.

The country is still a recovering economy and it continues to implement further reforms to improve profits for foreign businesses, on which aid from the IMF
International Monetary Fund
The International Monetary Fund is an organization of 187 countries, working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world...

 is conditional. In 2005 finance ministers of the leading eight industrialized nations (G8
G8
The Group of Eight is a forum, created by France in 1975, for the governments of seven major economies: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In 1997, the group added Russia, thus becoming the G8...

) agreed to forgive some of Nicaragua's foreign debt, as part of the HIPC
Heavily Indebted Poor Countries
Heavily Indebted Poor Countries is a group of 40 developing countries with high levels of poverty and debt overhang which are eligible for special assistance from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.- History and structure :...

 program. According to the World Bank
World Bank
The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans to developing countries for capital programmes.The World Bank's official goal is the reduction of poverty...

, Nicaragua's GDP was around $4.9 billion US dollars. In March 2007, Poland and Nicaragua signed an agreement to write off 30.6 million dollars which was borrowed by the Nicaraguan government in the 1980s. Since the end of the war almost two decades ago, more than 350 state enterprises have been privatized
Privatization
Privatization is the incidence or process of transferring ownership of a business, enterprise, agency or public service from the public sector to the private sector or to private non-profit organizations...

. Inflation reduced from 33,500% in 1988 to 9.45% in 2006, and the foreign debt was cut in half.

According to the World Bank, Nicaragua ranked as the 62nd best economy for starting a business: making it the second best in Central America, after Panama. Nicaragua's economy is "62.7% free" with high levels of fiscal, government, labor, investment, financial, and trade freedom. It ranks as the 61st freest economy
Index of Economic Freedom
The Index of Economic Freedom is a series of 10 economic measurements created by The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal. Its stated objective is to measure the degree of economic freedom in the world's nations....

, and 14th (of 29) in the Americas.

Currency


During the era of the Spanish colonial rule, and for more than 50 years afterward, Nicaragua used Spanish coins that were struck for use in the "New World". The first unique coins for Nicaragua were issued in 1878 in the peso
Peso
The word peso was the name of a coin that originated in Spain and became of immense importance internationally...

denomination. The córdoba
Nicaraguan córdoba
- History :The first córdoba was introduced on March 20, 1912. It replaced the peso at a rate of 12½ pesos = 1 córdoba & was initially equal to the US dollar. It was named after the founder of Nicaragua, Francisco Hernández de Córdoba....

 became Nicaragua's currency in 1912 and was initially equal in value to the U.S. dollar. The Córdoba
Nicaraguan córdoba
- History :The first córdoba was introduced on March 20, 1912. It replaced the peso at a rate of 12½ pesos = 1 córdoba & was initially equal to the US dollar. It was named after the founder of Nicaragua, Francisco Hernández de Córdoba....

 was named after Francisco Hernández de Córdoba
Francisco Hernández de Córdoba (founder of Nicaragua)
Francisco Hernández de Córdoba is usually reputed as the founder of Nicaragua, and in fact he founded two important Nicaraguan cities, Granada and León. The currency of Nicaragua is named the córdoba in his memory....

, the national founder. The front of each of Nicaragua's circulating coins features the national coat of arms. The five volcanoes represent the five Central American countries at the time of Nicaragua's independence; the rainbow at the top symbolizes peace; and the cap in the center is a symbol of freedom. The design is contained within a triangle to indicate equality. The back of each coin features the denomination, with the inscription En Dios Confiamos (In God We Trust).

Nicaragua is the first country in the Americas to successfully overhaul production of its paper currency in favor of polymer banknotes. Polymer banknotes were issued in 2009 to reduce the need to reprint banknotes, combat counterfeiting and introduce a more hygienic currency. The previously issued banknotes are still accepted as legal tender. However, unlike previous banknote series, the current series does not have any illustration of politicians. Rather, the current currency series celebrates the country's landmarks, history and culture.

Conversion to the SUCRE


Nicaragua is currently a member of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas, which is also known as ALBA. ALBA has proposed creating a new currency, the Sucre for use among its members. In essence, this means that the Nicaraguan córdoba will be replaced with the Sucre. Members must make their local currency deposits in Caracas
Caracas
Caracas , officially Santiago de León de Caracas, is the capital and largest city of Venezuela; natives or residents are known as Caraquenians in English . It is located in the northern part of the country, following the contours of the narrow Caracas Valley on the Venezuelan coastal mountain range...

, to enter into force on sucre. The monetary union first will be virtual, to be used only among the states for inter-regional trade. It will then be used in print form. The ALBA-Sucre union is similar to that of the Euro of the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

.

Other nations that will follow a similar pattern include: Venezuela
Venezuela
Venezuela , officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America. It borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south...

, Ecuador, Bolivia
Bolivia
Bolivia officially known as Plurinational State of Bolivia , is a landlocked country in central South America. It is the poorest country in South America...

, Honduras, Cuba
Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica
Dominica
Dominica , officially the Commonwealth of Dominica, is an island nation in the Lesser Antilles region of the Caribbean Sea, south-southeast of Guadeloupe and northwest of Martinique. Its size is and the highest point in the country is Morne Diablotins, which has an elevation of . The Commonwealth...

 and Antigua and Barbuda
Antigua and Barbuda
Antigua and Barbuda is a twin-island nation lying between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. It consists of two major inhabited islands, Antigua and Barbuda, and a number of smaller islands...

.

Tourism


By 2006, tourism in Nicaragua had become the second largest industry in the nation, over the last 7 years tourism has grown about 70% nationwide with rates of 10%–16% annually. Nicaragua had seen positive growth in the tourism sector over the last decade, and it became the first largest industry in 2007. The increase and growth led to the income from tourism to rise more than 300% over a period of 10 years. The growth in tourism has also positively affected the agricultural, commercial, and finance industries, as well as the construction industry.


Every year about 60,000 U.S. citizens visit Nicaragua, primarily business people, tourists, and those visiting relatives. Some 5,300 people from the U.S. reside in the country now. The majority of tourists who visit Nicaragua are from the U.S., Central or South America, and Europe. According to the Ministry of Tourism of Nicaragua (INTUR), the colonial city of Granada
Granada, Nicaragua
Granada is a city in western Nicaragua and the capital of the Granada Department. With an estimated population of 110,326 , it is Nicaragua's fourth most populous city. Granada is historically one of Nicaragua's most important cities, economically and politically...

 is the preferred spot for tourists. Also, the cities of León, Masaya, Rivas and the likes of San Juan del Sur
San Juan del Sur
San Juan del Sur is a municipality and coastal town on the Pacific Ocean, in the Rivas department in south-west Nicaragua. San Juan del Sur is popular among surfers and is a vacation spot for many Nicaraguan families and foreign tourists....

, San Juan River, Ometepe
Ometepe
Ometepe is an island formed by two volcanoes rising from Lake Nicaragua in the Republic of Nicaragua. Its name derives from the Nahuatl words ome and tepetl , meaning two mountains...

, Mombacho Volcano, the Corn Islands
Corn Islands
The Corn Islands are two islands about east off the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua, constituting one of 12 municipalities of the Región Autónoma del Atlántico Sur department...

, and others are main tourist attractions. In addition, ecotourism
Ecotourism
Ecotourism is a form of tourism visiting fragile, pristine, and usually protected areas, intended as a low impact and often small scale alternative to standard commercial tourism...

 and surfing
Surfing
Surfing' is a surface water sport in which the surfer rides a surfboard on the crest and face of a wave which is carrying the surfer towards the shore...

 attract many tourists to Nicaragua.

According to TV Noticias (news program) on Canal 2
Televicentro (Canal 2)
Televicentro is a nationwide terrestrial television channel from Nicaragua owned by Televicentro de Nicaragua, S.A.- History :Televicentro de Nicaragua, S.A. was founded in December 1965 by Octavio Sacasa Sarria, first broadcast in March, 1966. It was the second television channel in Nicaragua,...

, a Nicaragua television station, the main attractions in Nicaragua for tourists are the beaches, scenic routes, the architecture of cities such as León and Granada, and most recently ecotourism
Ecotourism
Ecotourism is a form of tourism visiting fragile, pristine, and usually protected areas, intended as a low impact and often small scale alternative to standard commercial tourism...

 and agritourism
Agritourism
Agritourism, as it is defined most broadly, involves any agriculturally-based operation or activity that brings visitors to a farm or ranch. Agritourism has different definitions in different parts of the world, and sometimes refers specifically to farm stays, as in Italy...

, particularly in Northern Nicaragua. As a result of increased tourism, Nicaragua has seen its foreign direct investment
Foreign direct investment
Foreign direct investment or foreign investment refers to the net inflows of investment to acquire a lasting management interest in an enterprise operating in an economy other than that of the investor.. It is the sum of equity capital,other long-term capital, and short-term capital as shown in...

 increase by 79.1% from 2007 to 2009.

Population


According to the CIA World Factbook
The World Factbook
The World Factbook is a reference resource produced by the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States with almanac-style information about the countries of the world. The official paper copy version is available from the National Technical Information Service and the Government Printing Office...

, Nicaragua has a population of 5,891,199; comprising mainly 69% mestizo, 17% white
White Latin American
White Latin Americans are the people of Latin America who are white in the racial classification systems used in individual Latin American countries. Persons who are classified as White in one Latin American country may be classified differently in another country...

, 5% Amerindian, 9.0% black and other races
Afro-Latin American
An Afro-Latin American is a Latin American person of at least partial Black African ancestry; the term may also refer to historical or cultural elements in Latin America thought to emanate from this community...

 and this fluctuates with changes in migration patterns. The population is 84% urban.

According to the CIA World Factbook, Nicaragua's life expectancy was 71.5 years in 2009, a figure roughly equivalent to that of Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

 and Palau
Palau
Palau , officially the Republic of Palau , is an island nation in the Pacific Ocean, east of the Philippines and south of Tokyo. In 1978, after three decades as being part of the United Nations trusteeship, Palau chose independence instead of becoming part of the Federated States of Micronesia, a...

. The infant mortality rate stood at 25.5, roughly equivalent to that of the Marshall Islands
Marshall Islands
The Republic of the Marshall Islands , , is a Micronesian nation of atolls and islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, just west of the International Date Line and just north of the Equator. As of July 2011 the population was 67,182...

 and Paraguay
Paraguay
Paraguay , officially the Republic of Paraguay , is a landlocked country in South America. It is bordered by Argentina to the south and southwest, Brazil to the east and northeast, and Bolivia to the northwest. Paraguay lies on both banks of the Paraguay River, which runs through the center of the...

.

Nicaragua appears ranked 91st in the international mortality rate, which places it between the world average and Panama.

The most populous city in Nicaragua is the capital, Managua, with a population of 1.8 million (2005) and an estimated 2.2 by 2010 and more than 2.5 mill for the metro area. As of 2005, over 7.0 million inhabitants live in the Pacific, Central and North regions, 5.5 in the Pacific region alone, while inhabitants in the Caribbean region reached an estimated 700,000.

There is a growing expatriate community the majority of whom move for business, investment or retirement from all across the world, such as from the US, Canada, Taiwan, and various European countries; the majority have settled in Managua, Granada
Granada, Nicaragua
Granada is a city in western Nicaragua and the capital of the Granada Department. With an estimated population of 110,326 , it is Nicaragua's fourth most populous city. Granada is historically one of Nicaragua's most important cities, economically and politically...

 and San Juan del Sur
San Juan del Sur
San Juan del Sur is a municipality and coastal town on the Pacific Ocean, in the Rivas department in south-west Nicaragua. San Juan del Sur is popular among surfers and is a vacation spot for many Nicaraguan families and foreign tourists....

.

Many Nicaraguans live abroad
Nicaraguan Diaspora
The 1980s were the backdrop to a savage civil war which saw conflict destroy the nation of Nicaragua, and the lives of 50,000+ civilians in the process. The multicultural country of Nicaragua experienced an excessive outpouring of citizens who fled the nation for their own security...

, particularly in the United States, Mexico, Costa Rica, Canada and El Salvador.

Nicaragua has a population growth rate of 1.8% as of 2008. This is the result of one of the highest birth rate
Birth rate
Crude birth rate is the nativity or childbirths per 1,000 people per year . Another word used interchangeably with "birth rate" is "natality". When the crude birth rate is subtracted from the crude death rate, it reveals the rate of natural increase...

s in the Western Hemisphere
Western Hemisphere
The Western Hemisphere or western hemisphere is mainly used as a geographical term for the half of the Earth that lies west of the Prime Meridian and east of the Antimeridian , the other half being called the Eastern Hemisphere.In this sense, the western hemisphere consists of the western portions...

: 24.9 per 1,000 according to the United Nations for the period 2005–2010. The death rate is 4.1 per 1,000 during the same period according to the United Nations.

Ethnic groups



The majority of the Nicaraguan population, (86% or approximately 5.06 million people), is either Mestizo or White. 69% are Mestizos (mixed Amerindian and European) and 17% of European origin, the majority of Spanish, German, Italian, English or French ancestry. Mestizos and Whites mainly reside in the western region of the country.

About 9% of Nicaragua's population are black, and mainly reside on the country's sparsely populated Caribbean or Atlantic coast. The black population is mostly composed of black English-speaking Creoles who are the descendents of escaped or shipwrecked slaves; many carry the name of Scottish settlers who brought slaves with them, such as Campbell, Gordon, Downs and Hodgeson. Although many Creoles supported Somoza because of his close association with the US, they rallied to the Sandinista cause in July 1979 only to reject the revolution soon afterwards in response to a new phase of 'westernization' and imposition of central rule from Managua. Nicaragua has the largest African diaspora
African diaspora
The African diaspora was the movement of Africans and their descendants to places throughout the world—predominantly to the Americas also to Europe, the Middle East and other places around the globe...

 population in Central America. There is also a smaller number of Garifuna, a people of mixed West African, Carib and Arawak descent. In the mid-1980s, the government divided the department of Zelaya – consisting of the eastern half of the country – into two autonomous regions and granted the black and indigenous people of this region limited self-rule within the Republic.
The remaining 5% of Nicaraguans are Amerindians, the unmixed descendants of the country's indigenous inhabitants. Nicaragua's pre-Columbian
Pre-Columbian
The pre-Columbian era incorporates all period subdivisions in the history and prehistory of the Americas before the appearance of significant European influences on the American continents, spanning the time of the original settlement in the Upper Paleolithic period to European colonization during...

 population consisted of many indigenous groups. In the western region the Nicarao people, after whom the country is named, were present along with other groups related by culture and language to the Mayans
Maya civilization
The Maya is a Mesoamerican civilization, noted for the only known fully developed written language of the pre-Columbian Americas, as well as for its art, architecture, and mathematical and astronomical systems. Initially established during the Pre-Classic period The Maya is a Mesoamerican...

. The Caribbean coast of Nicaragua was inhabited by indigenous peoples who were mostly chibcha
Chibcha language
Chibcha, also known as Muisca or Mosca, is an extinct Chibchan language of Colombia, formerly spoken by the Muisca people, a complex indigenous civilization of South America and the present-day Colombian region. Scholars believe the Chibcha language arose in South America and then migrated with...

 related groups that had migrated from South America, primarily present day Colombia
Colombia
Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia , is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the...

 and Venezuela
Venezuela
Venezuela , officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America. It borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south...

. These groups include the Miskitos, Ramas and Sumos. In the 19th century, there was a substantial indigenous
Indigenous (ecology)
In biogeography, a species is defined as native to a given region or ecosystem if its presence in that region is the result of only natural processes, with no human intervention. Every natural organism has its own natural range of distribution in which it is regarded as native...

 minority, but this group was also largely assimilated culturally into the mestizo majority.

Immigration


Relative to its overall population, Nicaragua has never experienced any large-scale immigrant waves. The total number of immigrants to Nicaragua, both originating from other Latin American countries and all other countries, never surpassed 1% of its total population prior to 1995. The 2005 census showed the foreign-born population at 1.2%, having risen a mere .06% in 10 years.

In the 19th century Nicaragua experienced modest waves of immigration from Europe. In particular, families from Germany, Italy, Spain, France and Belgium immigrated to Nicaragua, particularly the departments in the Central and Pacific region. As a result, the Northern cities of Estelí
Estelí
Estelí, officially Villa de San Antonio de Pavia de Estelí is a city and municipality within the Estelí department. It is the third largest city in Nicaragua, an active commercial center in the north and is known as "the Diamond of the Segovias."...

, Jinotega
Jinotega
Jinotega is the capital of Jinotega Department in the north central region of Nicaragua.-About:The capital city of the Department of Jinotega is the City of Jinotega. The Department of Jinotega produces 80% of the nation's coffee. It has a population of about 51,000 living inside a vast valley...

 and Matagalpa
Matagalpa
Matagalpa is a city in Nicaragua, the capital of the department of Matagalpa. The city has a population of 109,100 , while the population of the department is more than 480,000. Matagalpa is Nicaragua's fifth largest city and one of its most commercially active outside of Managua...

 have significant communities of fourth generation Germans. They established many agricultural businesses such as coffee and sugar cane plantations, newspapers, hotels and banks.

Also present is a small Middle Eastern-Nicaraguan community of Syrians
Demographics of Syria
Syrians today are an overall indigenous Levantine people. While modern-day Syrians are commonly described as Arabs by virtue of their modern-day language and bonds to Arab culture and history...

, Armenians
Armenians
Armenian people or Armenians are a nation and ethnic group native to the Armenian Highland.The largest concentration is in Armenia having a nearly-homogeneous population with 97.9% or 3,145,354 being ethnic Armenian....

, Palestinian Nicaraguan
Palestinian Nicaraguan
Palestinian Nicaraguan are Nicaraguans of Palestinian ancestry who were born in or have immigrated to Nicaragua...

s, Jewish Nicaraguans
History of the Jews of Nicaragua
Jewish Nicaraguans or Nicaraguan Jews are Nicaraguans of Jewish ancestry who were born in or have immigrated to Nicaragua. They are part of the ethnic Jewish diaspora.-History:...

, and Lebanese
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

 people in Nicaragua with a total population of about 30,000. There is also an East Asian community mostly consisting of Chinese
Han Chinese
Han Chinese are an ethnic group native to China and are the largest single ethnic group in the world.Han Chinese constitute about 92% of the population of the People's Republic of China , 98% of the population of the Republic of China , 78% of the population of Singapore, and about 20% of the...

, Taiwanese, and Japanese. The Chinese Nicaraguan
Chinese Nicaraguan
Chinese Nicaraguans are Nicaraguans of Chinese ancestry who immigrated to or born in Nicaragua...

 population is estimated at around 12,000. The Chinese arrived in the late 19th century but were unsubstantiated until the 1920s.

Diaspora


The Civil War forced many Nicaraguans to start lives outside of their country. Although many Nicaraguans returned after the end of the war, many people emigrated during the 1990s and the first decade of the 21st century due to the lack of employment opportunities and poverty. The majority of the Nicaraguan Diaspora
Nicaraguan Diaspora
The 1980s were the backdrop to a savage civil war which saw conflict destroy the nation of Nicaragua, and the lives of 50,000+ civilians in the process. The multicultural country of Nicaragua experienced an excessive outpouring of citizens who fled the nation for their own security...

 migrated to Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Costa Rica , officially the Republic of Costa Rica is a multilingual, multiethnic and multicultural country in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Caribbean Sea to the east....

 and the United States, and today one in six Nicaraguans live in these two countries.

The diaspora has also seen Nicaraguans settling around in smaller communities in other parts of the world, particularly Western Europe. Small communities of Nicarguans are found in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Communities also exist in Australia and New Zealand. Canada, Brazil and Argentina in the Americas also host small groups of these communities. In Asia, Japan also hosts a small Nicaraguan community.

Maternal and child health care


In June 2011, the United Nations Population Fund
United Nations Population Fund
The United Nations Population Fund is a UN organization. The work of the UNFPA involves promotion of the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity. This is done through major national and demographic surveys and with population censuses...

 released a report on The State of the World's Midwifery. It contained new data on the midwifery workforce and policies relating to newborn and maternal mortality for 58 countries. The 2010 maternal mortality rate per 100,000 births for Nicaragua is 100. This is compared with 102.6 in 2008 and 100.8 in 1990. The under 5 mortality rate, per 1,000 births is 27 and the neonatal mortality as a percentage of under 5's mortality is 46. The aim of this report is to highlight ways in which the Millennium Development Goals
Millennium Development Goals
The Millennium Development Goals are eight international development goals that all 193 United Nations member states and at least 23 international organizations have agreed to achieve by the year 2015...

 can be achieved, particularly Goal 4 – Reduce child mortality and Goal 5 – improve maternal death. In Nicaragua the number of midwives per 1,000 live births is 7 and 1 in 300 shows us the lifetime risk of death for pregnant women.

Culture



Nicaraguan culture
Culture of Nicaragua
British possessions. The people of Nicaragua are mostly mestizos, and Spanish is invariably their first language. Nicaraguans are prone to refer to themselves as Nicas, Nicoyas & Pinoleros.-Culture:...

 has strong folklore, music and religious traditions, deeply influenced by European culture
Culture of Europe
The culture of Europe might better be described as a series of overlapping cultures. Whether it is a question of North as opposed to South; West as opposed to East; Orthodoxism as opposed to Protestantism as opposed to Catholicism as opposed to Secularism; many have claimed to identify cultural...

 but enriched with Amerindian sounds and flavors. Nicaraguan culture can further be defined in several distinct strands. The Pacific coast has strong folklore, music and religious traditions, deeply influenced by Europeans
Iberian Peninsula
The Iberian Peninsula , sometimes called Iberia, is located in the extreme southwest of Europe and includes the modern-day sovereign states of Spain, Portugal and Andorra, as well as the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar...

. It was colonized by Spain and has a similar culture to other Spanish-speaking Latin American countries. The indigenous groups that historically inhabited the Pacific coast have largely been assimilated into the mestizo
Mestizo
Mestizo is a term traditionally used in Latin America, Philippines and Spain for people of mixed European and Native American heritage or descent...

 culture.

The Caribbean coast of the country, on the other hand, was once a British protectorate. English is still predominant in this region and spoken domestically along with Spanish and indigenous languages
Languages of Nicaragua
The official language of Nicaragua is Spanish; however, Nicaraguans on the Caribbean coast speak indigenous languages and also English. The communities located on the Caribbean coast also have access to education in their native languages.-Languages:...

. Its culture is similar to that of Caribbean nations that were or are British possessions, such as Jamaica
Jamaica
Jamaica is an island nation of the Greater Antilles, in length, up to in width and 10,990 square kilometres in area. It is situated in the Caribbean Sea, about south of Cuba, and west of Hispaniola, the island harbouring the nation-states Haiti and the Dominican Republic...

, Belize, the Cayman Islands
Cayman Islands
The Cayman Islands is a British Overseas Territory and overseas territory of the European Union located in the western Caribbean Sea. The territory comprises the three islands of Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac, and Little Cayman, located south of Cuba and northwest of Jamaica...

, etc. Unlike on the west coast, the indigenous peoples of the Caribbean coast have maintained distinct identities, and some still speak their native languages as first languages.

Music


Nicaraguan music
Music of Nicaragua
Music of Nicaragua is a mixture of indigenous and European, especially Spanish, influences. Musical instruments include the marimba and others that are common across Central America...

 is a mixture of indigenous and European, especially Spanish, influences. Musical instruments include the marimba
Marimba
The marimba is a musical instrument in the percussion family. It consists of a set of wooden keys or bars with resonators. The bars are struck with mallets to produce musical tones. The keys are arranged as those of a piano, with the accidentals raised vertically and overlapping the natural keys ...

 and others common across Central America. The marimba of Nicaragua is uniquely played by a sitting performer holding the instrument on his knees. He is usually accompanied by a bass fiddle
Fiddle
The term fiddle may refer to any bowed string musical instrument, most often the violin. It is also a colloquial term for the instrument used by players in all genres, including classical music...

, guitar and guitarrilla (a small guitar like a mandolin
Mandolin
A mandolin is a musical instrument in the lute family . It descends from the mandore, a soprano member of the lute family. The mandolin soundboard comes in many shapes—but generally round or teardrop-shaped, sometimes with scrolls or other projections. A mandolin may have f-holes, or a single...

). This music is played at social functions as a sort of background music. The marimba is made with hardwood plates placed over bamboo or metal tubes of varying lengths. It is played with two or four hammer
Hammer
A hammer is a tool meant to deliver an impact to an object. The most common uses are for driving nails, fitting parts, forging metal and breaking up objects. Hammers are often designed for a specific purpose, and vary widely in their shape and structure. The usual features are a handle and a head,...

s. The Caribbean coast of Nicaragua is known for a lively, sensual form of dance music
Dance music
Dance music is music composed specifically to facilitate or accompany dancing. It can be either a whole musical piece or part of a larger musical arrangement...

 called Palo de Mayo
Palo de Mayo
Palo de Mayo is a type of Afro-Caribbean dance with sensual movements that forms part of the culture of several communities in the RAAS region in Nicaragua, as well as Belize, the Bay Islands of Honduras and Bocas del Toro in Panama. It is also the name given to the month long May Day festival...

which is popular throughout the country. It is especially loud and celebrated during the Palo de Mayo festival in May. The Garifuna community (Afro-Indian) is known for its popular music called Punta.


Nicaragua enjoys a variety of international influence in the music arena. Bachata, Merengue
Merengue music
Merengue is a type of music and dance from the Dominican Republic. It is popular in the Dominican Republic and all over Latin America. Its name is Spanish, taken from the name of the meringue, a dessert made from whipped egg whites and sugar...

, Salsa
Salsa music
Salsa music is a genre of music, generally defined as a modern style of playing Cuban Son, Son Montuno, and Guaracha with touches from other genres of music...

 and Cumbia have gained prominence in cultural centers such as Managua, Leon and Granada
Granada
Granada is a city and the capital of the province of Granada, in the autonomous community of Andalusia, Spain. Granada is located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains, at the confluence of three rivers, the Beiro, the Darro and the Genil. It sits at an elevation of 738 metres above sea...

. Cumbia dancing has grown popular with the introduction of Nicaraguan artists, including Gustavo Leyton, on Ometepe Island and in Managua. Salsa dancing has become extremely popular in Managua's nightclubs. With various influences, the form of salsa dancing varies in Nicaragua. New York style and Cuban Salsa (Salsa Casino) elements have gained popularity across the country.

Bachata dancing
Bachata (dance)
Bachata is a style of dance that originated in the Dominican Republic. It is danced widely all over the world but not identically.The basics to the dance are three-step with a Cuban hip motion, followed by a hip tap on the 4th beat just like in other Latin dances . The knees should be slightly bent...

 has also gained popularity in Nicaragua. Combinations of styles from the Dominican Republic
Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is a nation on the island of La Hispaniola, part of the Greater Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean region. The western third of the island is occupied by the nation of Haiti, making Hispaniola one of two Caribbean islands that are shared by two countries...

 and the United States can be found throughout the country. The nature of the dance in Nicaragua varies depending on the region. Rural areas tend to have a stronger focus on movement of the hips and turns. Urbanized cities, on the other hand, focus primarily on more sophisticated footwork in addition to movement and turns. A considerable amount of Bachata dancing influence comes from Nicaraguans living abroad, in cities that include Miami, Los Angeles and, to a much lesser extent, New York City. Tango
Tango (dance)
Tango dance originated in the area of the Rio de la Plata , and spread to the rest of the world soon after....

 has also surfaced recently in cultural cities and ballroom dance occasions.

Literature


The literature of Nicaragua
Literature of Nicaragua
Nicaraguan literature can be traced to pre-Columbian times with the myths and oral literature that formed the cosmogonic view of the world that indigenous people had. Some of these stories are still known in Nicaragua. Like many Latin American countries, the Spanish conquerors have had the most...

 can be traced to pre-Columbian
Pre-Columbian
The pre-Columbian era incorporates all period subdivisions in the history and prehistory of the Americas before the appearance of significant European influences on the American continents, spanning the time of the original settlement in the Upper Paleolithic period to European colonization during...

 times; the myths and oral literature
Oral literature
Oral literature corresponds in the sphere of the spoken word to literature as literature operates in the domain of the written word. It thus forms a generally more fundamental component of culture, but operates in many ways as one might expect literature to do...

 formed the cosmogonic view of the world of the indigenous people. Some of these stories are still known in Nicaragua. Like many Latin American countries, the Spanish conquerors have had the most effect on both the culture and the literature. Nicaraguan literature has historically been an important source of poetry in the Spanish-speaking world, with internationally renowned contributors such as Rubén Darío
Rubén Darío
Félix Rubén García Sarmiento , known as Rubén Darío, was a Nicaraguan poet who initiated the Spanish-American literary movement known as modernismo that flourished at the end of the 19th century...

, who is regarded as the most important literary figure in Nicaragua. He is called the "Father of Modernism" for leading the modernismo
Modernismo
Modernismo is Spanish for modernism, however the term Modernism also indicates a more specific art movement:* Modernismo refers to a Spanish-American literary movement, best exemplified by Rubén Darío...

literary movement at the end of the 19th century. Other literary figures include Carlos Martinez Rivas
Carlos Martinez Rivas
Carlos Martínez Rivas is a Nicaraguan poet most famous for his poem "El paraíso recobrado" , a love poem first published in 1944.-Early years and time in Spain:...

, Pablo Antonio Cuadra
Pablo Antonio Cuadra
Pablo Antonio Cuadra was a Nicaraguan essayist, art and literary critic, playwright, graphic artist and one of the most famous poets of Nicaragua.-Early life and career:...

, Alberto Cuadra Mejia, Manolo Cuadra, Pablo Alberto Cuadra Arguello, Orlando Cuadra Downing, Alfredo Alegría Rosales, Sergio Ramirez Mercado, Ernesto Cardenal
Ernesto Cardenal
Reverend Father Ernesto Cardenal Martínez is a Nicaraguan Catholic priest and was one of the most famous liberation theologians of the Nicaraguan Sandinistas, a party he has since left. From 1979 to 1987 he served as Nicaragua's first culture minister. He is also famous as a poet...

, Gioconda Belli
Gioconda Belli
Gioconda Belli is an author, novelist and renowned Nicaraguan poet.-Early life:Gioconda Belli, of Northern Italian descent, was an active participant in the Sandinista struggle against the Somoza dictatorship, and her work for the movement led to her being forced into exile in Mexico in 1975...

, Claribel Alegría
Claribel Alegría
Clara Isabel Alegría Vides is a Nicaraguan poet, essayist, novelist, and journalist who was a major voice in the literature of contemporary Central America. She writes under the pseudonym Claribel Alegría.-Early life:...

 and José Coronel Urtecho
José Coronel Urtecho
José Coronel Urtecho was a Nicaraguan poet, translator, essayist, critic, narrator, playwright, diplomat and historian. He has been described as "the most influential Nicaraguan thinker of the twentieth century"...

, among others.

The satirical drama El Güegüense
El Güegüense
El Güegüense is a satirical drama and was the first literary work of post-Columbian Nicaragua. It is regarded as one of Latin America's most distinctive colonial-era expressions and as Nicaragua's signature folkloric masterpiece combining music, dance and theater...

was the first literary work of post-Columbian Nicaragua. It is regarded as one of Latin America's most distinctive colonial-era expressions and as Nicaragua's signature folkloric masterpiece, combining music, dance and theater. The theatrical
Theatre
Theatre is a collaborative form of fine art that uses live performers to present the experience of a real or imagined event before a live audience in a specific place. The performers may communicate this experience to the audience through combinations of gesture, speech, song, music or dance...

 play was written by an anonymous author in the 16th century, making it one of the oldest indigenous theatrical/dance works of the Western Hemisphere
Western Hemisphere
The Western Hemisphere or western hemisphere is mainly used as a geographical term for the half of the Earth that lies west of the Prime Meridian and east of the Antimeridian , the other half being called the Eastern Hemisphere.In this sense, the western hemisphere consists of the western portions...

. After centuries of popular performance, the play was first published in a book in 1942.

Language



Nicaraguan Spanish
Nicaraguan Spanish
Nicaraguan Spanish is geographically defined as the form of Spanish spoken in the country of Nicaragua in Central America. Affectionately, Nicaraguan Spanish is often called Nicañol....

 has many indigenous influences and several distinguishing characteristics. Until the 19th century, a hybrid form of Nahuat-Spanish was the common language of Nicaragua. Today Nahuat, Mangue
Mangue
the word Mangue can refer to several things:*The Mangue Bit, a Brazilian music style.*The Mangue language, an extinct Oto-Manguean language of Nicaragua.*The Mangue people, who spoke the language....

, and Mayan
Mayan languages
The Mayan languages form a language family spoken in Mesoamerica and northern Central America. Mayan languages are spoken by at least 6 million indigenous Maya, primarily in Guatemala, Mexico, Belize and Honduras...

 words and syntax can be found in everyday speech. The Nicaraguan accent dates back to the 16th century in Andalusia
Andalusia
Andalusia is the most populous and the second largest in area of the autonomous communities of Spain. The Andalusian autonomous community is officially recognised as a nationality of Spain. The territory is divided into eight provinces: Huelva, Seville, Cádiz, Córdoba, Málaga, Jaén, Granada and...

, and the relative isolation of Nicaragua meant that the accent did not change in the same ways that the Andalusian accent has. For example, some Nicaraguans have a tendency to replace the "s" sound with an "h"" sound when speaking. Other Nicaraguans pronounce the word vos with a strong s sound at the end. In the central part of the country, regions such as Boaco
Boaco
Boaco is the capital city and municipality of the Boaco department of Nicaragua. The municipality of Boaco has a population of 56,900 and an area of 1,086.81 km² while the department is 4,177 km2....

 pronounce vos without the s sound at the end. The result is vo, similar to vous in French and voi in Italian.

Central American Spanish
Central American Spanish
Central American Spanish is the general name of the Spanish language dialects spoken in Central America...

 is spoken by about 90% of Nicaragua's population. In Nicaragua, the voseo
Voseo
Voseo is the use of the second person singular pronoun vos in many dialects of Spanish. In dialects that have it, it is used either instead of tú, or alongside it....

form of address is dominant in both speech and publications. The same is true for the Río de la Plata
Río de la Plata
The Río de la Plata —sometimes rendered River Plate in British English and the Commonwealth, and occasionally rendered [La] Plata River in other English-speaking countries—is the river and estuary formed by the confluence of the Uruguay River and the Paraná River on the border between Argentina and...

 region of South America. Nicaraguan Spanish can be understood everywhere in the Hispanosphere.
Nicaraguans, unlike most Spanish-speaking groups, cannot be categorized uniformly in terms of accent and word usage. Although Spanish is spoken throughout the country, the country has great variety: vocabulary, accents and colloquial language can vary between towns and departments.

In the Caribbean coast, many Afro-Nicaraguans and creoles speak English and creole English
English-based creole languages
An English-based creole language is a creole language that was significantly influenced by the English language...

 as their first language, but as a second language, they speak a fluent Spanish. The language in the North and South Atlantic Regions are influenced by English, Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish and French roots. In addition, many of the indigenous people speak their native languages, such as the Miskito
Miskito language
Miskito is a Misumalpan language spoken by the Miskito people in northeastern Nicaragua, especially in the North Atlantic Autonomous Region, and in eastern Honduras....

, Sumo
Sumo language
Sumo is the collective name for a group of Misumalpan languages spoken in Nicaragua and Honduras. Hale & Salamanca classifies the Sumu languages into a northern Mayangna, composed of the Twahka and Panamahka dialects, and southern Ulwa...

, Rama
Rama language
Rama is one of the indigenous languages of the Chibchan family spoken by the Rama people on the island of Rama Cay and south of lake Bluefields on the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua. Other indigenous languages of this region include Miskito and Sumu . Rama is one of the northernmost languages of the...

 and Garifuna language
Garifuna language
Garifuna is an Arawakan language spoken in Honduras, Guatemala, and Belize by the Garifuna people. The language is also spoken to a lesser extent in Nicaragua's Mosquito Coast. Historically it was referred to as Carib or Black Carib and Igñeri by Europeans. Garifuna has a vocabulary split between...

. In addition, many ethnic group
Ethnic group
An ethnic group is a group of people whose members identify with each other, through a common heritage, often consisting of a common language, a common culture and/or an ideology that stresses common ancestry or endogamy...

s in Nicaragua have maintained ancestral languages, while also speaking Spanish or English; these include Chinese, Arabic, German, and Italian.

Spanish is taught as the principal language. English is taught to students during their high school years and tends to be the national second language. Other languages can also be found sporadically, particularly within expatriate communities.

Nicaragua was home to three extinct language
Extinct language
An extinct language is a language that no longer has any speakers., or that is no longer in current use. Extinct languages are sometimes contrasted with dead languages, which are still known and used in special contexts in written form, but not as ordinary spoken languages for everyday communication...

s, one of which was never classified. Nicaraguan Sign Language
Nicaraguan Sign Language
Nicaraguan Sign Language is a signed language spontaneously developed by deaf children in a number of schools in western Nicaragua in the 1970s and 1980s...

 is also of particular interest to linguists
Linguistics
Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. Linguistics can be broadly broken into three categories or subfields of study: language form, language meaning, and language in context....

 as the world's youngest language.

Religion



Religion is a significant part of the culture of Nicaragua and is referred to in the constitution
Constitution of Nicaragua
The Constitution of Nicaragua was reformed due to a negotiation of the executive and legislative branches in 1995. The reform of the 1987 Sandinista Constitution gave extensive new powers and independence to the National Assembly, including permitting the Assembly to override a presidential veto...

. Religious freedom, which has been guaranteed since 1939, and religious tolerance are promoted by both the Nicaraguan government and the constitution.

Nicaragua has no official religion. Catholic Bishops are expected to lend their authority to important state occasions, and their pronouncements on national issues are closely followed. They can also be called upon to mediate between contending parties at moments of political crisis.

The largest denomination, and traditionally the religion of the majority, is Roman Catholic. The numbers of practicing Roman Catholics have been declining, while members of evangelical
Evangelism
Evangelism refers to the practice of relaying information about a particular set of beliefs to others who do not hold those beliefs. The term is often used in reference to Christianity....

 Protestant
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

 groups and Mormons have been rapidly growing in numbers since the 1990s. There are also strong Anglican
Anglicanism
Anglicanism is a tradition within Christianity comprising churches with historical connections to the Church of England or similar beliefs, worship and church structures. The word Anglican originates in ecclesia anglicana, a medieval Latin phrase dating to at least 1246 that means the English...

 and Moravian communities on the Caribbean coast.

Roman Catholicism came to Nicaragua in the 16th century with the Spanish conquest and remained, until 1939, the established faith. Protestantism and other Christian denomination
Christian denomination
A Christian denomination is an identifiable religious body under a common name, structure, and doctrine within Christianity. In the Orthodox tradition, Churches are divided often along ethnic and linguistic lines, into separate churches and traditions. Technically, divisions between one group and...

s came to Nicaragua during the 19th century, but only gained large followings in the Caribbean Coast during the 20th century.

Popular religion revolves around the saints, who are perceived as intercessors (but not mediators) between human beings and God. Most localities, from the capital of Managua to small rural communities, honor patron saint
Patron saint
A patron saint is a saint who is regarded as the intercessor and advocate in heaven of a nation, place, craft, activity, class, clan, family, or person...

s, selected from the Roman Catholic calendar, with annual fiestas. In many communities, a rich lore has grown up around the celebrations of patron saints, such as Managua's Saint Dominic (Santo Domingo), honored in August with two colorful, often riotous, day-long processions through the city. The high point of Nicaragua's religious calendar for the masses is neither Christmas nor Easter, but La Purísima, a week of festivities in early December dedicated to the Immaculate Conception
Immaculate Conception
The Immaculate Conception of Mary is a dogma of the Roman Catholic Church, according to which the Virgin Mary was conceived without any stain of original sin. It is one of the four dogmata in Roman Catholic Mariology...

, during which elaborate altars to the Virgin Mary
Mary (mother of Jesus)
Mary , commonly referred to as "Saint Mary", "Mother Mary", the "Virgin Mary", the "Blessed Virgin Mary", or "Mary, Mother of God", was a Jewish woman of Nazareth in Galilee...

 are constructed in homes and workplaces.

The country's close political ties have also encouraged religious ties. Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 has increased with a steady influx of immigration.

Cuisine


The Cuisine of Nicaragua is a mixture of criollo food and dishes of pre-Columbian origin. The Spaniards found that the Creole people
Creole peoples
The term Creole and its cognates in other languages — such as crioulo, criollo, créole, kriolu, criol, kreyol, kreol, kriulo, kriol, krio, etc. — have been applied to people in different countries and epochs, with rather different meanings...

 had incorporated local foods available in the area into their cuisine. Traditional cuisine changes from the Pacific to the Caribbean coast; while the Pacific coast's main staple revolves around local fruits and corn, the Caribbean coast cuisine makes use of seafood and the coconut.

As in many other Latin American countries, corn
Maize
Maize known in many English-speaking countries as corn or mielie/mealie, is a grain domesticated by indigenous peoples in Mesoamerica in prehistoric times. The leafy stalk produces ears which contain seeds called kernels. Though technically a grain, maize kernels are used in cooking as a vegetable...

 is a main staple. Corn is used in many of the widely consumed dishes, such as the nacatamal
Nacatamal
A nacatamal is a Nicaraguan dish similar to the tamal and yet unlike the tamales typical of Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and elsewhere in Latin America, the nacatamal is unique to Nicaragua both in its name and its culinary combination...

, and indio viejo. Corn is also an ingredient for drinks such as pinolillo
Pinolillo
Pinolillo is a sweet cornmeal and cacao-based traditional drink in Nicaragua. It is made of ground toasted corn and a bit of cacao. It can be mixed with water or milk, served sweetened or unsweetened. If unsweetened, it is rather bitter. It can also be used in cooking some local dishes, such as...

 and chicha
Chicha
For the musical genre, see Peruvian cumbiaChicha is a term used in some regions of Latin America for several varieties of fermented and non-fermented beverages, rather often to those derived from maize and similar non-alcoholic beverages...

 as well as sweets and desserts. In addition to corn, rice and beans are eaten very often.

Gallo pinto
Gallo pinto
Gallo pinto is a traditional dish of Costa Rica that was introduced by nicaraguan immigrants. During the 1980's many nicaraguans immigrated to Costa Rica influencing their food and music. Though many variations exist, the dish at its most basic is composed of pre-cooked rice and beans fried together...

, Nicaragua's national dish
National dish
A national dish is a dish, food or a drink that is considered to represent a particular country, nation or region.A dish can become a national dish for a variety of reasons. It can be the national dish because it is a staple daily food for the majority of the population. It can also be the national...

, is made with white rice and red beans that are cooked separately and then fried together. The dish has several variations including the addition of coconut oil
Coconut oil
Coconut oil is an edible oil extracted from the kernel or meat of matured coconuts harvested from the coconut palm . Throughout the tropical world, it has provided the primary source of fat in the diets of millions of people for generations. It has various applications in food, medicine, and industry...

 and/or grated coconut
Coconut
The coconut palm, Cocos nucifera, is a member of the family Arecaceae . It is the only accepted species in the genus Cocos. The term coconut can refer to the entire coconut palm, the seed, or the fruit, which is not a botanical nut. The spelling cocoanut is an old-fashioned form of the word...

 on the Caribbean coast. Most Nicaraguans begin their day with Gallopinto. Gallopinto is most usually served with carne asada, a salad, fried cheese, platains or maduros.

Many of Nicaragua's dishes include indigenous fruits and vegetables such as jocote
Jocote
Spondias purpurea is a species of flowering plant in the cashew family, Anacardiaceae, that is native to tropical regions of the Americas. It is most commonly known as Jocote, which derives from the Nahuatl word xocotl, meaning "fruit." Other common names include Red Mombin, Purple Mombin, Hog...

, mango
Mango
The mango is a fleshy stone fruit belonging to the genus Mangifera, consisting of numerous tropical fruiting trees in the flowering plant family Anacardiaceae. The mango is native to India from where it spread all over the world. It is also the most cultivated fruit of the tropical world. While...

, papaya
Papaya
The papaya , papaw, or pawpaw is the fruit of the plant Carica papaya, the sole species in the genus Carica of the plant family Caricaceae...

, tamarind
Tamarind
Tamarind is a tree in the family Fabaceae. The genus Tamarindus is monotypic .-Origin:...

o, pipian, banana, avocado
Avocado
The avocado is a tree native to Central Mexico, classified in the flowering plant family Lauraceae along with cinnamon, camphor and bay laurel...

, yuca
Cassava
Cassava , also called yuca or manioc, a woody shrub of the Euphorbiaceae native to South America, is extensively cultivated as an annual crop in tropical and subtropical regions for its edible starchy tuberous root, a major source of carbohydrates...

, and herbs such as cilantro
Coriander
Coriander is an annual herb in the family Apiaceae. Coriander is native to southern Europe and North Africa to southwestern Asia. It is a soft, hairless plant growing to tall. The leaves are variable in shape, broadly lobed at the base of the plant, and slender and feathery higher on the...

, oregano
Oregano
Oregano – scientifically named Origanum vulgare by Carolus Linnaeus – is a common species of Origanum, a genus of the mint family . It is native to warm-temperate western and southwestern Eurasia and the Mediterranean region.Oregano is a perennial herb, growing from 20–80 cm tall,...

 and achiote.

Nicaraguans also have been known to eat guinea pigs, tapirs, iguanas, turtle eggs, armadillos and boas but efforts are currently underway to curb this tendency.

Sports


Baseball is the most popular sport played in Nicaragua. Although some professional Nicaraguan baseball teams have folded in the recent past, Nicaragua enjoys a strong tradition of American-style Baseball. Baseball was introduced to Nicaragua at different years during the 19th century. In the Caribbean coast locals from Bluefields were taught how to play baseball in 1888 by Albert Addlesberg, a retailer from the United States. Baseball did not catch on in the Pacific coast until 1891 when a group of mostly students originating from universities of the United States formed "La Sociedad de Recreo" (Society of Recreation) where they played various sports, baseball being the most popular among them. There are five teams that compete amongst themselves: Indios del Boer (Managua), Chinandega, Tiburones (Sharks) of Granada, León and Masaya. Players from these teams comprise the national team
Nicaragua national baseball team
The Nicaragua national baseball team is the national baseball team of Nicaragua. Considered the best in Central America along with Panama It represents Nicaragua in international tournaments.- Placings :Olympic Games* 1992 : did not qualify...

 when Nicaragua competes internationally. The country has had its share of MLB
Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball is the highest level of professional baseball in the United States and Canada, consisting of teams that play in the National League and the American League...

 players (including current Los Angeles Dodgers
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Los Angeles Dodgers are a professional baseball team based in Los Angeles, California. The Dodgers are members of Major League Baseball's National League West Division. Established in 1883, the team originated in Brooklyn, New York, where it was known by a number of nicknames before becoming...

 pitcher Vicente Padilla
Vicente Padilla
Vicente de la Cruz Padilla is a Major League Baseball pitcher, who is a free agent. Padilla previously pitched for the Arizona Diamondbacks, Philadelphia Phillies and Texas Rangers...

 and Boston Red Sox
Boston Red Sox
The Boston Red Sox are a professional baseball team based in Boston, Massachusetts, and a member of Major League Baseball’s American League Eastern Division. Founded in as one of the American League's eight charter franchises, the Red Sox's home ballpark has been Fenway Park since . The "Red Sox"...

 pitcher Devern Hansack
Devern Hansack
Devern Brandon Hansack is a Nicaraguan pitcher who is currently a free agent. He bats and throws right-handed.-Professional career:Hansack, born in Pearl Lagoon, Nicaragua, Hansack is an Afro-Nicaraguan....

), but the most notable is Dennis Martínez
Dennis Martínez
José Dennis Martínez Emilia , nicknamed "El Presidente" , is a former Major League Baseball pitcher...

, who was the first baseball player from Nicaragua to play in Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball is the highest level of professional baseball in the United States and Canada, consisting of teams that play in the National League and the American League...

. He became the first Latin-born pitcher to throw a perfect game
Perfect game
A perfect game is defined by Major League Baseball as a game in which a pitcher pitches a victory that lasts a minimum of nine innings and in which no opposing player reaches base. Thus, the pitcher cannot allow any hits, walks, hit batsmen, or any opposing player to reach base safely for any...

, and the 13th in major league history, when he played with the Montreal Expos against the Dodgers
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Los Angeles Dodgers are a professional baseball team based in Los Angeles, California. The Dodgers are members of Major League Baseball's National League West Division. Established in 1883, the team originated in Brooklyn, New York, where it was known by a number of nicknames before becoming...

 at Dodger Stadium in 1991.

Boxing
Boxing
Boxing, also called pugilism, is a combat sport in which two people fight each other using their fists. Boxing is supervised by a referee over a series of between one to three minute intervals called rounds...

 is the second most popular sport in Nicaragua. The country has had world champions such as Alexis Argüello
Alexis Argüello
Alexis Argüello , also known by the stage name El Flaco Explosivo , was a Nicaraguan professional boxer and politician...

 and Ricardo Mayorga
Ricardo Mayorga
Ricardo Mayorga , is a Nicaraguan professional boxer. He is the former WBA/WBC Welterweight champion and the former WBC light middleweight champion. He holds a record of 29-8 with 23 knockouts and 1 draw 1 no contest. He was featured for the first time on the cover of Ring Magazine on the December...

 among others. Recently, football has gained popularity, especially with the younger population. The Dennis Martínez National Stadium has served as a venue for both baseball and football but the first ever national football stadium in Managua is currently under construction.

Education



Nicaragua's first public primary school opened in 1837. By the late 1860s public grade schools existed in most of the larger cities. In 1877, Nicaraguan authorities accepted the principle that such schools should be nationally funded, and that attendance should be free and compulsory. In 1881 education was formally removed from religious control and turned over to government, but church-run schools continued to operate alongside the public system. Subsequently shortages of facilities and teachers, especially in rural areas, hampered educational development. The Sandinista government sharply increased spending on education and reduced illiteracy significantly, but shortages of facilities and personnel remained a problem. The Sandinistas also added a leftist ideological content to the curriculum, which was removed after 1990.

Higher education dates from 1818 when the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua (UNAN) was founded in León. A major reform, begun in 1980, reorganized the country's postsecondary system into two universities: the UNAN, with campuses in León and Managua, and the Central American University in Managua. It also restructured the curriculum, giving more emphasis to science and technology, and less to law and commerce. Nicaragua also has several more specialized institutions, with a focus on education that will promote economic development.

Education is paid via taxes for all Nicaraguans. Elementary education is free and compulsory, but many children in rural areas are unable to attend due to lack of schools and other reasons. Communities on the Caribbean coast have access to education in their native languages.

The majority of higher education institutions are in Managua, higher education has financial, organic and administrative autonomy, according to the law. Also, freedom of subjects is recognized. Nicaragua's higher education system consists of 48 universities, and 113 colleges and technical institutes in the areas of electronics
Electronics
Electronics is the branch of science, engineering and technology that deals with electrical circuits involving active electrical components such as vacuum tubes, transistors, diodes and integrated circuits, and associated passive interconnection technologies...

, computer systems
Computer
A computer is a programmable machine designed to sequentially and automatically carry out a sequence of arithmetic or logical operations. The particular sequence of operations can be changed readily, allowing the computer to solve more than one kind of problem...

 and sciences
Computer science
Computer science or computing science is the study of the theoretical foundations of information and computation and of practical techniques for their implementation and application in computer systems...

, agroforestry
Agroforestry
Agroforestry is an integrated approach of using the interactive benefits from combining trees and shrubs with crops and/or livestock.It combines agricultural and forestry technologies to create more diverse, productive, profitable, healthy and sustainable land-use systems.-Definitions:According to...

, construction and trade-related services. The educational system includes 1 U.S. accredited
Educational accreditation
Educational accreditation is a type of quality assurance process under which services and operations of educational institutions or programs are evaluated by an external body to determine if applicable standards are met...

 English-language university, 3 Bilingual university programs
Bilingual education
Bilingual education involves teaching academic content in two languages, in a native and secondary language with varying amounts of each language used in accordance with the program model.-Bilingual education program models:...

, 5 Bilingual secondary schools and dozens of English Language Institutes. In 2005, almost 400,000 (7%) of Nicaraguans held a university degree
Academic degree
An academic degree is a position and title within a college or university that is usually awarded in recognition of the recipient having either satisfactorily completed a prescribed course of study or having conducted a scholarly endeavour deemed worthy of his or her admission to the degree...

. 18% of Nicaragua's total budget is invested in primary, secondary and higher education. University level institutions account for 6% of 18%.

As of 1979, the educational system was one of the poorest in Latin America. Under the Somoza dictatorships, limited spending on education and generalized poverty, which forced many adolescents into the labor market, constricted educational opportunities for Nicaraguans. One of the first acts of the newly elected Sandinista government in 1980 was an extensive and successful literacy campaign, using secondary school students, university students and teachers as volunteer teachers: it reduced the overall illiteracy rate from 50.3% to 12.9% within only five months. This was one of a number of large scale programs which received international recognition for their gains in literacy
Literacy
Literacy has traditionally been described as the ability to read for knowledge, write coherently and think critically about printed material.Literacy represents the lifelong, intellectual process of gaining meaning from print...

, health care, education, childcare
Childcare
Child care means caring for and supervising child/children usually from 0–13 years of age. In the United States child care is increasingly referred to as early childhood education due to the understanding of the impact of early experiences of the developing child...

, unions
Trade union
A trade union, trades union or labor union is an organization of workers that have banded together to achieve common goals such as better working conditions. The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members and negotiates labour contracts with...

, and land reform
Land reform
[Image:Jakarta farmers protest23.jpg|300px|thumb|right|Farmers protesting for Land Reform in Indonesia]Land reform involves the changing of laws, regulations or customs regarding land ownership. Land reform may consist of a government-initiated or government-backed property redistribution,...

. In September 1980, UNESCO
UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

 awarded Nicaragua the Nadezhda Krupskaya award for the literacy campaign. This was followed by the literacy campaigns of 1982, 1986, 1987, 1995 and 2000, all of which were also awarded by UNESCO.

Communications and media


For most Nicaraguans radio and TV are the main sources of news. There are more than 100 radio stations, many of them in the capital, and several TV networks. Cable TV is available in most urban areas.

The print media are varied and partisan, representing pro and anti-government positions.

Television


Televicentro Canal 2; Multinoticias Canal 4; Telenica Canal 8; Canal 9; Canal 10; TVRED canal 11; Nicavision Canal 12; Viva Nicaragua Canal 13; VosTV Canal 14; 100% Noticias canal 15; CDNN Canal 23; Extraplus Canal 37

Radio


Radio Corporacion; Radio Mundial; Radio Nicaragua (state-owned); Radio Sandino; Radio Pirata; Radio Maranata:; Estacion X; Radio joya; Radio Romantica; Radio Pachanguera; Radio Buenisima; Radio Disney: Radio Oldis

See also


  • International rankings of Nicaragua
    International rankings of Nicaragua
    -Economic:* The Wall Street Journal: Index of Economic Freedom: 2006; , ranked 61 out of 157 countries* World Economic Forum: Global Competitiveness Report ranked 95 out of 125 countries* GDP growth rate ranked 175 out of 215 2.5% growth rate...

  • List of Nicaraguans

Further reading


  • Asleson, Vern. (2004) Nicaragua: Those Passed By. Galde Press ISBN 1-931942-16-1


External links



Government
General information
Volunteer
  • The Pulsera Project A US based non-profit Organization connecting Nicaraguan youths with US students in more than 100 schools. Sales of handwoven bracelets made by former street children raise funds for projects in Nicaragua.
  • ProNica A quaker organization dedicated to empowering the people of Nicaragua. Student groups volunteer annually.


Other