Information about Nicaragua - a Central American Country know for its dramatic terrain of lakes, volcanoes, the Pacific Ocean/ Caribbean Sea beaches. -

Facts


Population: 6,218 million (2017)
Area: 130 375 km²
Capital City:Managua


About Nicaragua
Nicaragua , officially the Republic of Nicaragua , is the largest country in the Central American isthmus, bordered by Honduras to the northwest, the Caribbean to the east, Costa Rica to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the southwest. Managua is the country’s capital and largest city and is also the third-largest city in Central America, behind Tegucigalpa and Guatemala City. The multi-ethnic population of six million includes people of indigenous, European, African, and Asian heritage. The main language is Spanish. Indigenous tribes on the Mosquito Coast speak their own languages and English.

Originally inhabited by various indigenous cultures since ancient times, the Spanish Empire conquered the region in the 16th century. Nicaragua gained independence from Spain in 1821. The Mosquito Coast followed a different historical path, with the English colonizing it in the 17th century and later coming under the British rule, as well as some minor Spanish interludes in the 19th century. It became an autonomous territory of Nicaragua in 1860 and the northernmost part of it was later transferred to Honduras in 1960. Since its independence, Nicaragua has undergone periods of political unrest, dictatorship, occupation and fiscal crisis, leading to the Nicaraguan Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s and the Contra War of the 1980s.

Currency

The Nicaraguan córdoba is the local currency in Nicaragua. The American dollar is also accepted throughout the country, and prices can be quoted either in dollars or córdobas. Make sure to check the currency sign (C$) or (US$).

Climate

A tropical climate can be observed in Nicaragua. Just as in the other Central American countries, there are two seasons: the dry and the raining season. During the dry season (January – June) there is virtually no rain and trees and plants start to dry out. Once the rains come around June, July, everything starts growing and the yellow plants and leafless trees turn green and start blossoming. In August and September it often rains once a day. Fortunately, it just rains for a short period of time and these are often spectacular, tropical downpours. In the eastern part of the country it rains more than in the west.

There are three temperature zones in Nicaragua. In the lowlands (Pacific and Atlantic coast) temperatures vary roughly between 72° F at night and 86° F at daytime (22° C – 30° C). Temperature can reach 100° F in May (38° C). The central part of the country is about 9° F (5° C) cooler, and in the mountains in the north it’s about 18° F (10° C) cooler.


Language

Nicaraguan Spanish has many indigenous influences and several distinguishing characteristics. For example, some Nicaraguans have a tendency to replace /s/ with /h/ when speaking. Although Spanish is spoken throughout, the country has great variety: vocabulary, accents and colloquial language can vary between towns and departments.

On the Caribbean coast, indigenous languages, English-based creoles, and Spanish are spoken. The Miskito language, spoken by the Miskito people as a first language and some other indigenous and Afro-descendants people as a second, third, or fourth language, is the most commonly spoken indigenous language. The indigenous Misumalpan languages of Mayangna and Ulwa are spoken by the respective peoples of the same names. Many Miskito, Mayangna, and Ulwa people also speak Miskito Coast Creole, and a large majority also speak Spanish. Fewer than three dozen of nearly 2,000 Rama people speak their Chibchan language fluently, with nearly all Ramas speaking Rama Cay Creole and the vast majority speaking Spanish. Linguists have attempted to document and revitalize the language over the past three decades.

The Garifuna people, descendants of indigenous and Afro-descendant people who came to Nicaragua from Honduras in the early twentieth century, have recently attempted to revitalize their Arawakan language. The majority speak Miskito Coast Creole as their first language and Spanish as their second. The Creole or Kriol people, descendants of enslaved Africans brought to the Mosquito Coast during the British colonial period and European, Chinese, Arab, and British West Indian immigrants, also speak Miskito Coast Creole as their first language and Spanish as their second.


Economy

Nicaragua is among the poorest countries in the Americas.Its gross domestic product (GDP) in purchasing power parity (PPP) in 2008 was estimated at US$17.37 billion. Agriculture represents 17% of GDP, the highest percentage in Central America. Remittances account for over 15% of the Nicaraguan GDP. Close to one billion dollars are sent to the country by Nicaraguans living abroad. The economy grew at a rate of about 4% in 2011.

According to the United Nations Development Programme, 48% of the population of Nicaragua live below the poverty line, 79.9% of the population live with less than $2 per day, According to UN figures, 80% of the indigenous people (who make up 5% of the population) live on less than $1 per day.


According to the World Bank, Nicaragua ranked as the 123rd out of 190 best economy for starting a business. In 2007, Nicaragua’s economy was labelled “62.7% free” by the Heritage Foundation, with high levels of fiscal, government, labor, investment, financial, and trade freedom. It ranked as the 61st freest economy, and 14th (of 29) in the Americas.


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


Education

The adult literacy rate in 2005 was 78.0%.Primary education is free in Nicaragua. A system of private schools exists, many of which are religiously affiliated and often have more robust English programs. As of 1979, the educational system was one of the poorest in Latin America. 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, health care, education, childcare, unions, and land reform. The Sandinistas also added a leftist ideological content to the curriculum, which was removed after 1990. In September 1980, UNESCO awarded Nicaragua the Soviet Union sponsored Nadezhda Krupskaya award for the literacy campaign.


Government

Politics of Nicaragua takes place in a framework of a presidential representative democratic republic, whereby the President of Nicaragua is both head of state and head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative poweris vested in both the government and the national assembly. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.

Between 2007 and 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 (prime minister) and the head of state(president). Nevertheless, it was later argued that the true reason behind this proposal was to find a legal way for President Ortega to stay in power after January 2012, when his second and last government period was expected to end. Ortega was reelected to a third term in November 2016.

 

Military

The armed forces of Nicaragua consists of various military contingents. Nicaragua has an army, navy and an air force. There are roughly 14,000 active duty personnel, which is much less compared to the numbers seen during the Nicaraguan Revolution. Although the army has had a rough military history, a portion of its forces, which were known as the national guard, became integrated with what is now the National Police of Nicaragua. In essence, the police became a gendarmerie. The National Police of Nicaragua are rarely, if ever, labeled as a gendarmerie. The other elements and manpower that were not devoted to the national police were sent over to cultivate the new Army of Nicaragua.

 

Law enforcement


The National Police of Nicaragua Force (in Spanish: La Policía Nacional Nicaragüense) 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 work separately and have a different established set of norms than the nation’s military.


Nicaragua is the safest country in Central America and one of the safest in Latin America, according to the United Nations Development Program, with a homicide rate of 8.7 per 100,000 inhabitants.


Culture


Nicaraguan culture has strong folklore, music and religious traditions, deeply influenced by European culture but also including Native American 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. 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 culture.
The Caribbean coast of Nicaragua was once a British protectorate. English is still predominant in this region and spoken domestically along with Spanish and indigenous languages. Its culture is similar to that of Caribbean nations that were or are British possessions, such as Jamaica, Belize, the Cayman Islands, 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.

Health


Although Nicaragua’s health outcomes have improved over the past few decades with the efficient utilization of resources relative to other Central American nations, healthcare in Nicaragua still confronts challenges responding to its populations’ diverse healthcare needs.
The Nicaraguan government guarantees universal free health care for its citizens. However, limitations of current delivery models and unequal distribution of resources and medical personnel contribute to the persistent lack of quality care in more remote areas of Nicaragua, especially amongst rural communities in the Central and Atlantic region. To respond to the dynamic needs of localities, the government has adopted a decentralized model that emphasizes community-based preventative and primary medical care.

Tourism

By 2006, tourism had become the second largest industry in Nicaragua. Previously, tourism had grown about 70% nationwide during a period of 7 years, with rates of 10%–16% annually. 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. President Daniel Ortega has stated his intention to use tourism to combat poverty throughout the country. The results for Nicaragua’s tourism-driven economy have been significant, with the nation welcoming one million tourists in a calendar year for the first time in its history in 2010.

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 Nicaragua. 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 cities of León and Granada are the preferred spots for tourists. Also, the cities of Masaya, Rivas and the likes of San Juan del Sur, El Ostional, the Fortress of the Immaculate Conception, Ometepe Island, the Mombacho volcano, and the Corn Islands among other locations are the main tourist attractions. In addition, ecotourism, sport fishing and surfing attract many tourists to Nicaragua.

Cuisine

Nicaraguan cuisine is a mixture of Spanish food and dishes of a pre-Columbian origin. Traditional cuisine changes from the Pacific to the Caribbean coast. 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, maize is a staple food and is used in many of the widely consumed dishes, such as the nacatamal, and indio viejo. Maize is also an ingredient for drinks such as pinolillo and chicha as well as sweets and desserts. In addition to corn, rice and beans are eaten very often.

Gallo pinto, Nicaragua’s national dish, is made with white rice and red beans that are cooked individually and then fried together. The dish has several variations including the addition of coconut milk and/or grated coconut on the Caribbean coast. Most Nicaraguans begin their day with Gallopinto. Gallopinto is most usually served with carne asada, a salad, fried cheese, plantains or maduros.

Many of Nicaragua’s dishes include indigenous fruits and vegetables such as jocote, mango, papaya, tamarindo, pipian, ban

Traditional street food snacks found in Nicaragua include “quesillo”, a thick tortilla with soft cheese and cream, “tajadas”, deep-fried plantain chips, “maduros”, sautéed ripe plantain, and “fresco”, fresh juices such as hibiscus and tamarind commonly served in a plastic bag with a straw.

 

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