Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America with an area of 130,373km² and contains the largest freshwater body in Central America, Lago de Nicaragua (Lake Nicaragua) or Cocibolca with its capital city being Managua. It has coastlines on both the Caribbean Sea, in the east, and the North Pacific Ocean, in the west, and has Costa Rica to the southeast and Honduras to the northwest. Roughly one quarter of the nation’s population lives in the Nicaraguan capital, making it the second largest city and metropolitan area in Central America.
It’s dry in the months of November to April and very hot in the Pacific lowlands. It also gets rainy (mild) in May to October and can leave you soaked and chilly. The Atlantic coast has been known to experience occasional hurricanes each season. Nicaragua has a population of about 5.6 million Nicaragüenses with about 90% speaking the main language Spanish. The majority of the population is mestizo and white. Nicaraguan culture has strong folklore, music and religious traditions, deeply influenced by European culture but enriched with Amerindian sounds and flavors.
When you visit Nicaragua, the sound of church bells is a constant reminder that you are in a country where religion is a vital part of most people’s lives. On special occasions, like Sundays with family, the Nicaraguan Nactamale is served. This is a meal in a package wrapped up with banana leaves filled with rice, meat, potato, as well as prunes. It can also contain olives or capers depending on your taste.
What don’t you know:
- Lake Nicaragua is known locally as Cocibolca, meaning ‘Sweet Sea’ in the local indigenous language.
- During the colonial period, Nicaragua was part of the Capitania General based in Guatemala.
- Nicaragua has 50 volcanoes but only 7 are believed to be active.
Must see places:
- Visit the island of Ometepe and the Mombacho volcano for hiking and nature exploration.
- Go see the the mountainous coffee farm region of Jinotega and Matagalpa.
- Sábalos is an important bird area and a wildlife refuge along with the Indio-Maiz national reserve.