Nicaragua could well be one of the most misunderstood countries in Central America.
More than any other country in the region, the name “Nicaragua” is synonymous with war, poverty, and despair. Sad but true.
But that typical image of Nicaragua that has been played again and again on our TV screens since the 1980s is false. Sure, there’s poverty. But war and despair? Nope, not so much anymore.
Nicaragua could actually be one of the most uplifting and hopeful countries in Central America today. There’s a lot to be hopeful about, as it claws its way from being the poorest country in Central America to a higher living standard.
There’s a long way to go, of course, and things are far from perfect in Nicaragua.
But the infrastructure is good, the physical beauty of the countryside is second to none. And the colonial towns are wonderful places to explore. Nicaragua has seen tourism emerge as one of its fastest-growing industries in recent years.
Nicaragua is a country on the up, despite the gloom and doom that surrounds it. Anyone interested in the region should ignore it at their peril.
Five Facts About Nicaragua
- Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America. With an area of about 50,000 square miles, it’s over six times larger than the smallest country in Central America, El Salvador. With two of the biggest lakes in Central America that take up over seven percent of the country’s landmass and many active volcanoes, Nicaragua’s nickname is “The Land of Lakes and Volcanoes”.
- The Rio San Juan in the south of Nicaragua forms part of the border with neighboring Costa Rica. It is one of the few river boundaries between two countries in the world where the entire river belongs to one country. Instead of one side being Nicaraguan and the other Costa Rican, with the frontier in the middle of the river, the whole river is Nicaraguan. Costa Rica only begins on the southern bank. Nicaraguans are proud of this.
- The island of Ometepe in Lake Nicaragua consists of two volcanoes. The height of one of them – Concepcion Volcano – at 5,280’ makes Ometepe the highest lake island in the world.
- The oldest European-founded city in the mainland Americas is in Nicaragua. The city of Granada was founded in 1524.
- Nicaragua’s capital city, Managua, suffered an earthquake in 1972 that leveled it. Since then, the core of the city has never been rebuilt except for a few monuments. Managua still distinguishes itself as a city without a center. Fields and trees exist instead of buildings. It’s the strangest capital city in the region.