Nicaragua -- Geography --
Official Name: Republic of Nicaragua
Capital City: Managua
Official Currency: Cordoba
Official Lenguage: Spanish
Population: 5,891,199 (2009)
Land Area: 130,373 km2
Landforms: Nicaragua has three distinct geographical regions: the Pacific Lowlands, the Amerrique Mountains (North-Central Highlands), and the Mosquito Coast (Atlantic Lowlands).
Nearly one fifth of the territory is designated as protected areas like national parks, nature reserves, and biological reserves.
Borders: The country is bordered by Honduras to the north, the Caribbean Sea to the east, Costa Rica to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the west.
Departments: Boaco, Carazo, Chinandega, Chontales, Esteli, Granada, Jinotega, Leon, Madriz, Managua, Masaya, Matagalpa, Nueva Segovia, Rivas, Rio San Juan
Nicaragua -- History --
In 1502, Christopher Columbus was the first European known to have reached what is now Nicaragua as he sailed south along the Central America isthmus. On his fourth voyage Columbus sailed alongside and explored the Mosquito Coast on the east of Nicaragua. The first attempt to conquer what is now known as Nicaragua was by Gil Gonzalez Davila,whose Central American exploits began with his arrival in Panama in January 1520.
It was not until 1524 that the first Spanish permanent settlements were founded.Conquistador Francisco Hernandez de Cordoba founded two of Nicaragua's principal towns in 1524: Granada on Lake Nicaragua was the first settlement and Leon east of Lake Managua came after.
The Indian civilization was soon destroyed. By 1529, the conquest of Nicaragua was complete. “he first governor of colony became Pedrarias Davila. The land was parceled out to the conquistadores. Many indigenous people were soon enslaved to develop and maintain "estates" there. Others were put to work in mines in northern Nicaragua, few were killed in warfare, and the great majority were sent as slaves to other New World Spanish colonies. Many of the indigenous people died as a result of disease and neglect by the Spaniards who controlled everything necessary for their subsistence.
Nicaragua became a part of the Mexican Empire and then gained its independence as a part of the United Provinces of Central America in 1821 and as an independent republic in its own right in 1838.
Much of Nicaragua's independence was characterized by rivalry between the liberal elite of Leon and the conservative elite of Granada. The rivalry often degenerated into civil war, particularly during the 1840s and 1850s.
In the 1800s Nicaragua experienced a wave of immigration, primarily from Europe. In particular, families from nicaraguamany, Italy, Spain, France and Belgium moved to Nicaragua to set up businesses with money they brought from Europe. They established many agricultural businesses such as coffee and sugar cane plantations, and also newspapers, hotels and banks.
Throughout the late nineteenth century began the construction of the Panama Canal.
From 1910 to 1926, the conservative party ruled Nicaragua. The Chamorro family, which had long dominated the party, effectively controlled the government during that period.
From 1927 until 1933, Gen. Augusto Cesar Sandino led a sustained guerrilla war first against the Conservative regime. There were three rulers of the country-Sandino, the President Juan Bautista Sacasa and Anastasio Somoza Garcia.
Augusto Sandino was treacherously killed in 1934 following a wide years managing the family Somoza clan through various of its members (1934-1979). In 1979 he broke Sandinista revolution, which deposed US-backed Somoza dikatatorŮ. Sandinistas in turn are supported financially and militarily by the Soviet Union and Cuba over the years and who are in power not bring peace and advancement of the country. Leads to civil war between the Sandinistas and military units. Nikaraguantsi Tens of thousands emigrated during this time in neighboring countries or the United States.
In February 1990 held its first democratic elections under the supervision of international observers, which were won by Violeta Chamorro - the candidate of antisandinistkiya Union.
Nicaragua -- Economy --
Nicaragua is primarily an agricultural country; agriculture constitutes 60% of its total exports which annually yield approximately US $300 million. In addition, Nicaragua's Flor de Cana rum is renowned as among the best in Latin America, and its tobacco and beef are also well regarded. Nicaragua's agrarian economy has historically been based on the export of bananas, coffee, sugar, beef and tobacco. Light industry, tourism, banking, mining, fisheries, and general commerce are expanding. Nicaragua also depends heavily on remittances from Nicaraguans living abroad, which totaled $655.5 million in 2006.
The service sector is the largest component of GDP at 56.9%, followed by the industrial sector at 26.1% (2006). Agriculture represents 17% of GDP, the highest percentage in Central America (2008). Remittances account for over 15% of the Nicaraguan GDP. Nicaraguan labor force is estimated at 2.322 million of which 29% is occupied in agriculture, 19% in the industry sector and 52% in the service sector (2008).
Nicaragua is the second poorest countries in the Americas.48% of the population in Nicaragua live below the poverty line, 79.9% of the population live with less than $2 per day, unemployment is 3.9%, and another 46.5% are underemployed (2008). As in many other developing countries, a large segment of the economically poor in Nicaragua are women. In addition, a relatively high proportion of Nicaragua's homes have a woman as head of household: 39% of urban homes and 28% of rural homes. 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 FAO, 27% of all Nicaraguans are suffering from undernourishment; the highest percentage in Central America.
In 2005 finance ministers of the leading eight industrialized nations (G8) agreed to forgive some of Nicaragua's foreign debt, as part of the HIPC program. According to the World Bank Nicaragua's GDP was around $4.9 billion US dollars. 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. Since the end of the war, more than 350 state enterprises have been privatized. Inflation reduced from 33,500% in 1988 to 9.45% in 2006, and the foreign debt was cut in half.
According to the World Bank, Nicaragua ranked as the 62nd best economy for starting a business making it the second best in Central America, after Panama.
The first unique coins for Nicaragua were issued in 1878 in the peso denomination. The cordoba became Nicaragua's currency in 1912 and was initially equal in value to the U.S. dollar. “he Cordoba was named after Francisco Hernandez de Cordoba, its national founder. The five volcanoes on it represent the five Central American countries at the time of Nicaragua's independence, while the rainbow at the top symbolizes peace and the cap in the center is a symbol of freedom. The back of each coin features the denomination, with the inscription "En Dios Confiamos" (In God We Trust).
Nicaragua -- Culture --
Nicaraguan culture has strong folklore, music and religious traditions, deeply influenced by European culture but enriched with Amerindian 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 Caribbean coast of the country, on the other hand, 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.
Nicaraguan music is a mixture of indigenous and European, especially Spanish, influences. Musical instruments include the marimba and others common across Central America. The marimba of Nicaragua is uniquely played by a sitting performer holding the instrument on his knees. He is usually accompanied by a bass fiddle, guitar and guitarrilla (a small guitar like a mandolin).The marimba is made with hardwood plates, placed over bamboo or metal tubes of varying lengths. The Caribbean coast of Nicaragua is known for a lively, sensual form of dance music called Palo de Mayo.
Nicaraguan literature has historically been an important source of poetry in the Spanish-speaking world, with internationally renowned contributors such as Ruben Dario who is regarded as the most important literary figure in Nicaragua, referred to as the "Father of Modernism" for leading the modernismo literary movement at the end of the 19th century. Other literary figures include Ernesto Cardenal, Gioconda Belli, Claribel Alegria and Jose Coronel Urtecho.
El Gueguense is a satirical drama and was the first literary work of post-Columbian Nicaragua. It is regarded as one of Latin America's most distinctive colonial-era expressions and as Nicaragua's signature folkloric masterpiece combining music, dance and theater. The theatrical play was written by an anonymous author in the 16th century, making it one of the oldest indigenous theatrical/dance works of the Western Hemisphere.
The Cuisine of Nicaragua is a mixture of criollo food and dishes of pre-Columbian origin. Traditional cuisine changes from the Pacific to the Caribbean coast; while 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, corn is a main staple. Corn is used in many of the widely consumed dishes, such as the nacatamal, and indio viejo. Corn 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 separately and then fried together. The dish has several variations including the addition of coconut oil and/or grated coconut on the Caribbean coast. Most Nicaraguans begin their day with Gallo pinto.
Many of Nicaragua's dishes include indigenous fruits and vegetables such as jocote, mango, papaya, tamarindo, pipian, banana, avocado, yuca, and herbs such as cilantro, oregano and achiote.Nicaraguans also eat guinea pigs, tapirs, iguanas and turtle eggs.
Nicaragua -- Political system, law and 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 power is vested in both the government and the National Assembly. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.
Currently, Nicaragua's major political parties have been discussing the possibility of going from a presidential system to a parliamentary system. This way, there would be a clear differentiation between the head of government (Prime Minister) and the head of state (President).