Nicaragua Travel Information

Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > Nicaragua > Map Economy History

Masaya Volcano National Park
The Nature Conservancy in Nicaragua

Facts About Nicaragua

Background: Settled as a colony of Spain in the 1520s, Nicaragua gained its independence in 1821. Violent opposition to governmental manipulation and corruption spread to all classes by 1978 and resulted in a short-lived civil war that brought the Marxist Sandinista guerrillas to power in 1979. Nicaraguan aid to leftist rebels in El Salvador caused the US to sponsor anti-Sandinista contra guerrillas through much of the 1980s. Free elections in 1990 and again in 1996 saw the Sandinistas defeated. The country has slowly rebuilt its economy during the 1990s, but was hard hit by Hurricane Mitch in 1998.
Government type: republic
Capital: Managua
Currency: 1 gold cordoba (C$) = 100 centavos

Geography of Nicaragua

Location: Middle America, bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean, between Costa Rica and Honduras
Geographic coordinates: 13 00 N, 85 00 W
Area:
total: 129,494 sq km
land: 120,254 sq km
water: 9,240 sq km
Land boundaries:
total: 1,231 km
border countries: Costa Rica 309 km, Honduras 922 km
Coastline: 910 km
Maritime claims:
contiguous zone: 25-nm security zone
continental shelf: natural prolongation
territorial sea: 200 nm
Climate: tropical in lowlands, cooler in highlands
Terrain: extensive Atlantic coastal plains rising to central interior mountains; narrow Pacific coastal plain interrupted by volcanoes
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mogoton 2,438 m
Natural resources: gold, silver, copper, tungsten, lead, zinc, timber, fish
Land use:
arable land: 9%
permanent crops: 1%
permanent pastures: 46%
forests and woodland: 27%
other: 17% (1993 est.)
Irrigated land: 880 sq km (1993 est.)
Natural hazards: destructive earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, and occasionally severe hurricanes
Environment - current issues: deforestation; soil erosion; water pollution; Hurricane Mitch damage
Environment - international agreements:
party to:  Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification
Geography - note: largest country in Central America; contains the largest freshwater body in Central America, Lago de Nicaragua.

People of Nicaragua

Most Nicaraguans have both European and Indian ancestry, and the culture of the country reflects the Ibero-European and Indian heritage of its people. Only the Indians of the eastern half of the country remain ethnically distinct and retain tribal customs and languages. A large black minority, of Jamaican origin, is concentrated on the Caribbean coast. In the mid-1980s, the central government divided the eastern half of the country--the former department of Zelaya--into two autonomous regions and granted the people of the region limited self-rule.

The 1995 constitutional reform guaranteed the integrity of the regions' several unique cultures and gave the inhabitants a say in the use of the area's natural resources. Roman Catholicism is the major religion, but Evangelical Protestant groups have grown recently, and there are strong Anglican and Moravian communities on the Caribbean coast. Most Nicaraguans live in the Pacific lowlands and the adjacent interior highlands. The population is 54% urban.

Population: 5,465,100 (July 2005 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years:  38.98%
15-64 years:  58.08%
65 years and over:  2.94% 
Population growth rate: 2.15% 
Birth rate: 27.64 births/1,000 population 
Death rate: 4.82 deaths/1,000 population 
Net migration rate: -1.33 migrant(s)/1,000 population 
Infant mortality rate: 33.66 deaths/1,000 live births 
Life expectancy at birth:
total population:  69.05 years
male:  67.1 years
female:  71.11 years 
Total fertility rate: 3.18children born/woman 
Nationality:
noun: Nicaraguan(s)
adjective: Nicaraguan
Ethnic groups: mestizo (mixed Amerindian and white) 69%, white 17%, black 9%, Amerindian 5%
Religions: Roman Catholic 85%, Protestant
Languages: Spanish (official)
note: English and indigenous languages on Atlantic coast
Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 65.7%
male: 64.6%
female: 66.6% (1995 est.)

SOURCES: The World Factbook, U.S. Department of State

Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > Nicaragua > Map Economy History