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Ometepe Island, Nicaragua

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Some brief information about Nicaragua

Geography

With a surface of 129,490 km² and an estimated 6 million inhabitants the Republic of Nicaragua is the biggest country in Central America. Since 1852 Managua is the capital having about 2 million persons living in the metropolitan area, followed by León and Masaya and Tipitapa, all of them with well over 120,000 inhabitants. Nicaragua has borders with Costa Rica in the south and Honduras to the north, Pacific coast on the west and Atlantic coast to the east. The country is divided into fifteen administrative districts and two autonomous regions north and south on the atlantic side.

With Lago de Nicaragua (Cocibolca) and Lago de Managua (Xolotlan) the country has two big lakes of which Lake Nicaragua is the second biggest in all of Latin America. On the pacific side you will find a chain of 19 vulcanoes from north to south of which 4 still had eruptions during the last 15 years. One of them is Volcano Concepción on Ometepe Island. Just a few kilometers offshore of the pacific coastline the carribean plate meets the cocos plate and movements of both of them can cause earthquakes every once and a while in the entire region. All theses geographical conditions and its location on the map make Nicaragua part of the Pacific Ring of Fire.

As any Central American country Nicaragua has a great biodiversity. It would go beyond the scope of this page to go more into the details of this topic, but you will find some interesting pages searching the web if you are interested in seeking more information.
Hiking on Vulcan Concepcion

Climate

The lowlands on the pacific side are very dry between December and April but receive usually daily rainfalls between May and October. The atlantic zone is considered as always wet, as rainfalls can happen anytime of the year. Temperatures range between 21°C to 36°C (70°F to 100°F) in the lowlands and can drop down to 12°C (52°F) in night time in more elevated areas of the central highlands to the north. Anual rainfall levels reach about 6000 millimeters on the caribbean side, while the western parts of the country only receives up to 1800 millimeters per year. Hurricanes can appear from May to November with a bigger focus on strength and frequency during September and October, especially on the east coast towards the Caribbean Sea.

Hiking on Vulcan Concepcion

The History of Nicaragua

During the pre-columbian era Nicaragua was populated by various indigenous tribes mostly coming from the central mexican region, but there have also been found older tracks from tribes from the south of the continent. Idols, petroglyphs and pottery are witnesses of this time before the spaniards came to Latin America and can still be found all over the country.

In 1502 Christopher Columbus landed on the Atlantic coast of Nicaragua and by 1524 Granada and León were founded by the Spanish. Leon later was destroyed by a volcanic eruption of the Momotombo volcano and rebuilt to the northwest of its former location. Granada was exposed to a permanent threat of pirate attacks, which entered Lake Nicaragua from the atlantic side through Río San Juan. On the 15th of September 1821 Nicaragua declared its independence and joined the First Mexican Empire and later on the Federal Republic of Central America together with other countries of the area. Finally in 1838 it obtained its complete independence as the Republic of Nicaragua.

During the following years people of Nicaragua had to experience various attempts of northern american invasions as the US government was still planning on a second canal from the Atlantic to the Pacific through Nicaragua. This situation brought out national hero Augusto César Sandino who fought the nicaraguan conservatives troops and and US forces with his guerrilla army between the late 1920's until 1933. He was assassinated on the 21st of February 1934 by Anastasio Somoza García in Managua who was left in charge as president of the country by the americans when they left the territory one year earlier.

From this point on Somoza established his dictatorship in Nicaragua which lasted during three generations of his family. The Somozas were well supported by the
northern american government but on the 19th of July in 1979 the dictatorship was overthrown by the FSLN guerilla movement. The Frente Sandinista de Liberacion Nacional (Sandinista Front of National Liberation) was founded by Carlos Fonseca Amador in 1963 and picked up the ideas and ideology of General Augusto Sandino. During the sandinista revolution in the 80's the Contra troops, former Somoza soldiers, started to invade Nicaragua from the north. These troops were outfitted by the US Government and financed through operations like the Iran-Contra Affair. The revolution ended in 1989 with free elections won by the liberal party and the power handed over in by the sandinistas in 1990. In the 2006 elections the FSLN came back to power and is governing the country until today.

Nicaragua's economy

Following the statistics Nicaragua is the second poorest country in the Latin America and Caribbean area. The national currency is the Cordoba Oro, bigger transactions are usually managed in US$. Nicaragua's most important export goods are coffee, tobacco, cacao and beef. Beans, rice, corn, plantains etc. are upon the most important crops planted and traded inside the country. Fishery, mining and hardwood are parts of the economy, as well as tourism, which progressed fast during recent years.

The countrys wealth is distributed only between a small percentage of the population and Nicaragua has a high poverty and extreme poverty rate. Even conditions are getting slowly better a big part of the society only survives by remittances send by family members living and working in other countries. Even the government has started useful social programs in rural areas, invested in infrastructure of transportation, education, the energy sector and tourism all over the country, foreign investments are growing and new trading treaties with other countries are signed in the last years, it will still be a long way to see a significant change of the picture of Nicaragua.

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