LEARN ABOUT NICARAGUA
(CTTN ministers primarily in Ciudad Sandino, El
Crucero, and Bluefields.)
MAP OF NICARAGUA
MAP OF MANAGUA AND SURROUNDING
Nicaragua is a
word from the Nahualt, an Aztec language. It was
used to describe the land occupied by the isthmus
between the Pacific Ocean and Nicaragua Lake. It was
taken from Chief Nicarao, who ruled the lands during
the late 1400s and early 1500s.
Nicaraguan land was inhabited during
pre-Colombian times by many indigenous peoples, such
as the Nicaraos, Chorotegas, Chontales and Miskitos.
Christopher Columbus was the first European to
explore Nicaraguan land during his fourth and last
journeys to America. After Columbus, many Spanish
conquerors settled on these lands. Hernández de
Córdoba, from whom Nicaragua's currency is named,
discovered Nicaragua Lake and founded the cities of
Granada and León in 1524.
In 1625, the English arrived in Nicaragua and
declared it a British Protectorate called the
Mosquito Kingdom, which extended from Belize to the
San Juan River. The British stayed until 1894.
Nicaragua belonged to the Spanish Mexican
Viceroyalty and later to the Central America United
Provinces Federation, which received independence
from Spain in 1821. However, the country did not
achieve full independence until 1838.
Much of Nicaragua's politics since independence
have been characterized by the rivalry between the
Liberal elite of Leon and the Conservative elite of
Granada. In 1978, a short-lived civil war broke out,
resulting in the formation of the Marxist Sandinista
guerrillas, who came to power in 1979. Although they
were defeated in free elections in 1990, 1996, and
2001, the Sandinistas regained control after winning
the country's presidential election in 2006.
Nicaragua's infrastructure and economy -- hard
hit by the earlier civil war and by Hurricane Mitch
in 1998 -- have been slowly rebuilt, but democratic
institutions have been weakened under the
Source: The World Factbook, 2014.
In 1979, the Nicaraguan
government set about to improve an educational
system that ranked among the worst in Latin America.
In the decades before, many impoverished families
had ushered their children into the work force and
by the late 1970s, only 65 percent of those eligible
were enrolled in primary school. During the 1980s,
the government greatly increased funding for
pre-university education and even launched a
successful literacy campaign.
Nicaraguan society remains largely undereducated.
However, Nicaraguans recognize that an education
makes a difference in giving them opportunities for
work. Even though the overall rate of literacy is
over 75 percent, it is, in fact much lower among
families living in poverty, which further limits
their chances of getting good jobs. Most of these
families' incomes come from working as street
sellers or laborers.
Access to early childhood development
interventions is limited. Additionally, the quality
and relevance of education are significant problems.
It takes an average of 10.3 years to complete the
mandatory six years of schooling, and only 29
percent of children complete primary schooling.
Poverty affects school participation, and many
families are unable to afford the direct or hidden
Freedom of religion is
provided by the Nicaraguan Constitution, which states
that no one "shall be obligated by coercive measures to
declare their ideology or beliefs."
Nicaragua does not have a state religion but the Roman
Catholic Church is the most politically active religious
denomination and has significant political influence.
Religion is not taught in public schools; however, there
are private religious schools. The government pays
teacher salaries in a number of Catholic primary and
Source: International Religious Freedom Report,
released in 2012 by the Bureau of Democracy, Human
Rights and Labor.
Poetry is one of Nicaragua's most beloved arts. Rubén
Darío (1867-1916) is known as the "Prince of
Spanish-American literature," and recent work by
Nicaraguan poets, fiction writers and essayists can be
found in most bookstores. Art Earthquakes and war have
obliterated much tangible evidence of Nicaragua's
cultural heritage, especially its colonial architecture,
although León retains many fine, old buildings. The
Archipiélago de Solentiname in Lago de Nicaragua is
famous as a haven for artists, poets and craftspeople.
Street art in the form of modernist murals is especially
prominent in the university town of León.
Many Nicaraguans favor Mexican styles of music, often
characterized by guitars and marimbas. Tonada-style
music is also popular. Bluefields, the largely
English-speaking town on the Caribbean coast, is a
center for reggae music.
Holy Week, March
or April: Celebrated the week before Easter.
Labor Day, May 1
Independence Day, Sept. 15: This holiday
commemorates Nicaragua's independence from Spain in
1821. In certain regions of Nicaragua, the day is marked
by bullfights in which a matador attempts to mount and
ride the bull, rather than kill it.
Christmas, Dec. 25: Nicaraguan children
celebrate Christmas throughout the month of December
with contests, parties and games. The celebration
concludes on Christmas Day when they receive gifts.
In addition to these national holidays, many towns and
cities hold annual celebrations in honor of their own
patron saints like La Fiesta de San Sebastian on Jan.
20, celebrated in Diriamba. This day is noted for its
dance-theater performances. The dance routines are
accompanied by traditional flutes, and drums and dancers
often wear plumed hats and elaborate masks. These
fiestas patronales often include parades where
participants wear masks and reenact mythical battles.
Baseball is the most popular sport in Nicaragua.
Younger children typically favor games of tag.
A traditional Nicaraguan meal
consists of eggs or meat, beans and rice, salads of
cabbage and tomatoes, tortillas and fruit. Also common
is gallo pinto, a blend of rice and beans.
Other typical dishes include bajo, a
combination of beef, greens and ripe plantains and
yucca; and vigorón, yucca served with fried
pork skins and coleslaw.
Nicaraguan food, like that of all Mesoamerican peoples,
is based on corn. Today, corn is the main ingredient
used in cakes, alcohol, desserts and drinks. Cassava,
beans and chili pepper are also widely used as
ingredients in different Nicaraguan dishes. Some of the
most recognized corn dishes are listed below:
dumplings boiled in plantain leaves stuffed with
Corn tortillas: A flatbread typically made with
corn flour, water, salt and lime
Caballo Vayo: A tortilla wrap made of meat,
chicken, avocado, cheese, etc.
Gallo Pinto Recipe
1 Tb. oil
1 16 oz. can red beans
2-1/2 cups white rice
Fry the red beans and rice in oil until heated through.
Buenos dias (Good morning)
Dios le bendiga (God bless you)
¿Cómo está? (How are you?)
NICARAGUA FACTS AND FIGURES
5,848,641 (2014 estimate)
(official), Miskito 2.2%, Mestizo of the
Caribbean coast 2%, other 0.5% (2005 estimate)
Note: English and indigenous languages found
on the Caribbean coast
Christian 80.1% (Roman Catholic 58.5%,
Evangelical 21.6%), Moravian 1.6%, Jehovah's
Witnesses 0.9%, other 1.7%, none 15.7% (2005
Definition: Age 15 and over can read and
Female: 77.9% (2005 estimate)
Percentage of population using improved drinking
|Percentage of population
using adequate sanitation facilities
Tropical in lowlands, cooler in highlands
|Percentage of population
Female: 74.98 years (2014 estimate)
|Under-5 mortality rate
$4,500 (2013 estimate)
||gold cordoba (NIO)
Number of people living with HIV/AIDS
|Percentage of population
living below $1.25 a day
||12% (2007-11 study)
Sources for facts: The World Factbook,
2014; The State of the World's Children,