Nicaragua - Facts & History
Nicaragua is the largest country in Central American, bordering Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. The Pacific Ocean lies to the west and the Caribbean Sea to the east. The country's physical geography divides it into three major zones: Pacific lowlands; wet, cooler central highlands; and the Caribbean lowlands. On the Pacific side of the country are the two largest fresh water lakes in Central America—Lake Managua and Lake Nicaragua. Surrounding these lakes and extending to their northwest along the rift valley of the Gulf of Fonseca are fertile lowland plains, with soil highly enriched by ash from nearby volcanoes of the central highlands. Nicaragua's abundance of biologically significant and unique ecosystems contribute to Mesoamerica's designation as a biodiversity hotspot.
The Spanish Empire conquered the region in the 16th century. Nicaragua achieved its independence from Spain in 1821. Since its independence, Nicaragua has undergone periods of political unrest, dictatorship, and fiscal crisis—the most notable causes that led to the Nicaraguan Revolution of the 1960s and 70s. Nicaragua is a representative democratic republic, and has experienced economic growth and political stability in recent years. Since 2007, Daniel Ortega has been the President.
The population of Nicaragua, approximately 6 million, is multi-ethnic. Its capital, Managua, is the third-largest city in Central America. Segments of the population include indigenous native tribes from the Mosquito Coast, 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 latter given the various literary contributions of Nicaraguan poets and writers, including Rubén Darío, Pablo Antonio Cuadra and Ernesto Cardenal. The biological diversity, warm tropical climate, and active volcanoes make Nicaragua an increasingly popular tourist destination.
ISLA DE 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 (two) and tepetl (mountain), meaning two mountains. It is the largest island in Lake Nicaragua as well as the largest volcanic island inside a fresh water lake in the world.
The two volcanoes of Concepción and Maderas are joined by a low isthmus to form one island in the shape of an hourglass. Ometepe has an area of 276 km². It is 31 km long and 5 to 10 km wide. The island has an economy based on livestock, agriculture, and tourism. Plantains are the major crop. Known as the "Oasis of Peace", the island is a mesmerizing place, entrenched in history, and full of stunning sights and activities.