a democratic republic in Central America, made worldwide
news in the 1986 in, “Nicaragua v. United States,”
ruled on the International Court of Justice in the Hague,
years later, Gary Simpson, contacted the U.S. Embassy in
Managua, Nicaragua, requesting collection of soil for his
project, Common Ground 191. In June, 2007 Benjamin A. East.
Cultural Affairs Officer of Nicaragua wrote to Simpson,
“The soil was collected from the Isla de Ometepe,
which is understood as the burial ground of Nicarao, the
main Indigenous chieftain encountered in Nicaragua by the
Spanish upon their arrival.” He added, “The
Spanish word for Peace is Paz.”
Christopher Columbus reached what is now Nicaragua as he
sailed south along the Central America isthmus. On a subsequent
voyage, he explored the Mosquito Coast on the east side
of Nicaragua. In 1524, Conquistador Francisco Hernández
de Córdoba founded the first Spanish permanent settlements
there, including Granada on Lake Nicaragua, León
east of Lake Managua and Nueva Segovia in Nicaragua's north.
was settled as a colony of Spain within the kingdom of Guatemala
in the 1520s and later became a part of the Mexican Empire.
The country ultimately gained its independence as part of
the United Provinces of Central America in 1821, and as
an independent republic in its own right in 1838.
Nicaragua had been considered a very important colony by
the Spaniards, as it had a natural route to transport goods
from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.
1800s Nicaragua experienced a wave of immigration from Germany,
Italy, Spain, France and Belgium, as families moved there
to set up coffee and sugar cane plantations, as well as
newspapers, hotels and banks.
its political instability, Nicaragua experienced high economic
growth during the 1960s and 1970s, becoming one of Central
America's most developed nations. At that time, foreign
investments grew, particularly from U.S. companies such
as Citigroup, Sears, Westinghouse and Coca Cola.
Managua suffered a major earthquake. This toppled most of
the city center. In 1973, many new buildings were erected.
But by then, the high level of corruption in the government
and many anti-government uprisings prevented major growth.
has experienced lengthy periods of military dictatorship,
the longest one – for most of the 20th century –
being the rule of the Somoza family.
responding to the country’s political volatility,
a student, Carlos Fonseca, founded the Sandinista National
Liberation Front, which was a tiny party throughout most
of the 1960. But the heavy-handed treatment toward that
party by the Somoza family strengthened support toward the
that time, Somoza had been acquiring monopolies in several
nation-building industries, while not allowing other members
of the upper class to share the profits. This action further
weakened the Somoza family, enabling the Sandinistas to
gain more strength. Soon, middle and upper class Nicaraguans
began to see the Sandinistas as the only hope for ridding
the country of the Somoza regime.
January 1978 assassination of Pedro Joaquin Chamorro, a
newspaper editor and ardent opponent of Somoza, further
strengthened the Sandinistas ‘ cause. The planners
of the murder had been at the highest echelons of the Somoza
regime, including Somoza’s son, “El Chiguin”,
his President of Housing, Cornelio Hueck, his Attorney General,
and Pedro Ramos, a close Cuban ally who commercialized in
illegal blood plasma.
Sandinistas, supported by much of the populace, elements
of the Catholic Church, and regional and international governments
took power in July of 1979. Somoza left the country, ending
up in Paraguay, where he was assassinated in September 1980,
allegedly by members of the Argentinean Revolutionary Workers'
and volatile politics continue to monopolize Nicaragua to
the present day. Legislative and presidential elections
took place on Nov. 5 2006. Daniel Ortega became President
with 37.99% of the vote.
is roughly the size of Greece. Close to 20% of the country
is protected as national parks or biological reserves. The
country is bordered by Costa Rica on the south and Honduras
on the north, with the Caribbean Sea to the east. It has
three distinct geographical regions: the Pacific Lowlands,
the North-Central Mountains and the Atlantic Lowlands.
country has a population of 5,570,129. Whites and Mestizos
make up the majority (86%) of the population of Nicaragua
with approx. 69% Mestizos and 17% Caucasian (mostly of Spaniard,
German, Italian, or French ancestry), making it the country
with the second largest white population in Central America.
is spoken by 90% of the country's population. A 1980 literacy
campaign, reduced the illiteracy rate from 50 percent to
23 percent of the population. The Sandinistas launched this
literacy program, while spearheading gains in health care,
education, childcare, unions, and land reform.
Nicaragua's Spanish colonial heritage is evident in its
beach and resort communities, the Pacific Lowlands and in
cities as Granada and León. Granada, founded in 1524,
is the oldest city in the Western Hemisphere.
country has strong folklore, music and religious traditions
that are deeply influenced by European culture, but enriched
with Amerindian sounds and flavors. Nicaragua is an important
source of poetry in the Hispanic world, with internationally
renowned contributors; the best known is Rubén Darío.
is the number one sport in Nicaragua. There are currently
five teams that compete amongst themselves: Indios del Boer
(Managua), Chinandega, Tiburones (Sharks) of Granada, Leon
and Masaya. Players from these teams comprise the National
team when Nicaragua competes internationally. Dennis Martínez
was the first baseball player from Nicaragua to play in
Major League Baseball; he pitched the 13th perfect game
in major league history.
Soccer has gained popularity, especially with the younger
population. Boxing is also popular; the country has had
several world champions, including Alexis Argüello
and Ricardo Mayorga.
are common in Nicaragua. They collectively arrive at the
same time every year on the same beach to lay their eggs.
A variety of birds inhabit the country, including eagles,
turkeys, toucans, parakeets and macaws. Animal life includes
monkeys, ant-eaters, white-tailed deer and tapirs.
one of Nicaragua’s most important exports, is sent
worldwide throughout the Americas, Europe, Asia and as far