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Nicaragua - Country facts

Map

Small map of Nicaragua
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Flag

Country flag: Nicaragua

Capital

Managua

Currency

gold cordoba (NIO)

Internet Code

.ni

Location

Central America, bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean, between Costa Rica and Honduras

Background

The Pacific Coast of Nicaragua was settled as a Spanish colony from Panama in the early 16th century. Independence from Spain was declared in 1821 and the country became an independent republic in 1838. Britain occupied the Caribbean Coast in the first half of the 19th century, but gradually ceded control of the region in subsequent decades. 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, 1996, and again in 2001 saw the Sandinistas defeated. The country has slowly rebuilt its economy during the 1990s, but was hard hit by Hurricane Mitch in 1998.

Climate

tropical in lowlands, cooler in highlands

Terrain

extensive Atlantic coastal plains rising to central interior mountains; narrow Pacific coastal plain interrupted by volcanoes

Population

5,465,100 (July 2005 est.)

Ethnic Groups

mestizo (mixed Amerindian and white) 69%, white 17%, black 9%, Amerindian 5%

Religions

Roman Catholic 85%, Protestant 15%

Languages

Spanish (official)
note: English and indigenous languages on Atlantic coast

Map of Nicaragua

Large map of Nicaragua
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