Nicuragua Geography - History

Nicuragua Geography - History

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NICARAGUA

Nicaragua is located in Middle America, bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean, between Costa Rica and Honduras. The terrain of Nicaragua includes extensive Atlantic coastal plains rising to central interior mountains; narrow Pacific coastal plain interrupted by volcanoes. Climate: Nicaragua is Tropical in lowlands, cooler in highlands.
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Nicuragua Geography - History

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León, city situated in western Nicaragua. The city of León was founded on the edge of Lake Managua in 1524, but after an earthquake it was moved in 1610 to the site of the old Indian capital and shrine of Sutiaba. León was the capital of the Spanish province and of the Republic of Nicaragua until 1855, although its great political and commercial rival, Granada, long disputed the honour. The rivalry brought on civil wars that resulted in the coming of William Walker, the American filibuster, who was expelled in 1857. León was a scene of heavy fighting between Sandinista guerrillas and government troops in 1978–79, leaving much of the centre of the city in ruins.

León long has been noted as a liberal political and intellectual centre of Nicaragua. In 1952 the University of León (founded in 1812) became part of the National University of Nicaragua. Rubén Darío, one of the greatest Spanish-American poets, lived and was educated there. Nicaragua’s second largest city, León is the centre of an important agricultural and commercial region: cotton, sugarcane, and rice are the principal crops cattle are raised for export and manufactures include processed cotton, cigars, shoes, and saddlery. León is linked to Managua, the national capital, and other cities by the Pacific Railway and a paved road. León was severely affected by Hurricane Mitch in October 1998. Pop. (2005) urban area, 139,433.

This article was most recently revised and updated by Amy Tikkanen, Corrections Manager.


Where is Nicaragua?

Nicaragua is a large country located in Central America. It is positioned both in the Northern and Western hemispheres of the Earth. Nicaragua is bordered by Honduras to the northwest and by Costa Rica to the south. It is bounded by the Caribbean Sea to the east and by the Pacific Ocean to the southwest.

Nicaragua Bordering Countries: Costa Rica, Honduras.

Regional Maps: Map of North America


Key Facts & Information

Geography, People, and Nature

  • The Republic of Nicaragua covers a total land area of 50,193 square miles and is the largest country in Central America. The local people call themselves Nicas, while outsiders call them Nicaraguans.
  • The capital city of Managua is home to over 900,000 people. Most of the locals are mestizos, a combination of indigenous people and Spanish. Some are descendants of plantation slaves.
  • Aside from being the most populous city in Nicaragua, Managua is also the largest by land area. Unlike other countries, Nicaragua is divided into departamentos and not by states or provinces.
  • The country is divided into three regions: the Pacific lowlands, the Atlantic lowlands, and the North-Central highlands.
  • Nicaragua borders the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Oceans, which contribute to its 565 miles of coastline.
  • Like many countries in Central America, Nicaragua is known for its biodiversity and ecosystems.
  • Its terrain is mostly interior mountain, which rises from the coastal plains. The Pacific side of the country is dotted with volcanoes. The country’s Caribbean lowlands are covered with 7,722 square miles of rainforest. This side of Nicaragua is sometimes called the Mosquito Coast.
  • Nicaragua and Honduras are separated by the mountain border, Mogotó, which rises 6,900 feet above sea level and is the highest peak in Nicaragua.
  • The first and largest National Park in Nicaragua is the Masaya Volcano National Park, which includes two volcanoes and five craters.
  • Nicaragua is home to many exotic animals including toucans, boa constrictors, wild boars, monkeys, jaguars, cougars, and sloths.
  • Many endangered species live in over 70 protected areas that help preserve their habitats.
  • The only freshwater lake in the world that can sustain shark life is Lake Managua. Bull sharks from the Atlantic Ocean migrate to the lake by traveling the Rio San Juan River. Despite this adaptation, bull sharks are now rarely seen in the area.

History, Politics, Economy, and Culture

  • Nicaragua comes from the words ‘nicarao’ and ‘agua’, which literally means the Nicarao Indian tribes that first inhabited Lake Nicaragua and water in Spanish.
  • The Nicarao people were one of the largest groups who inhabited present-day Nicaragua. Many suggest that they are related to Mexico’s early Maya and Aztec people.
  • In 1524, Francisco Hernández de Córdoba arrived in the isthmus and founded the first European settlement. Like many other countries in Central and South America, Nicaragua was colonized by Spain from the 16th century to the 19th century. As a result, Nicas’ official language is Spanish, but they also recognize English, Miskito, Rama, Coastal Creole, and Garifuna as spoken languages.
  • In 1821, Nicaragua gained independence from Spain and became part of the Mexican Empire. The Provinces of Central America were soon established with a central government in Guatemala City.
  • By 1838, Nicaragua became an independent nation after splitting from the group. Following its independence, the people of Nicaragua faced civil war due to political battles over power.
  • When hostilities grew between the Conservatives and the Liberals because of the plan to build a trans-isthmian canal, the United States intervened in 1909. Furthermore, American troops were stationed in Nicaragua from 1912 to 1933 to ensure the safety of Americans working on the canal.
  • In 1936, National Guard Commander Anastasio Somoza became president of Nicaragua and kept strong ties with the United States. However, dictator Daniel Ortega ended the rule of Somoza as well as Nicaragua’s friendly relations with the U.S.
  • As a result, the U.S. suspended all its foreign aid to Nicaragua in 1981. By 1985, an oil embargo was also enforced between the two countries.
  • In 1990, after a series of tensions under Ortega’s regime, an election was held in February and Violeta Barrios de Chamorro won. She became the first female president of Nicaragua and in Central America. During Chamorro’s term, Nicaragua revived its economy and improved human rights.
  • The elections following 1996 were marred by serious issues of corruption. In 2006, Daniel Ortega of Sandinista National Liberation Front was again elected as president.
  • Both president and vice presidents are elected for a five-year term.
  • Today, Nicaragua is a unitary presidential constitutional republic and has been governed by a constitution since 1987.
  • Part of Nicaraguan culture is religious freedom and tolerance. Despite being colonized for centuries, Nicaragua has no state religion, yet the majority of its people are Roman Catholic.
  • In 1936, National Guard Commander Anastasio Somoza became president of Nicaragua and kept strong ties with the United States. However, dictator Daniel Ortega ended the rule of Somoza as well as Nicaragua’s friendly relations with the U.S.
  • As a result, the U.S. suspended all its foreign aid to Nicaragua in 1981. By 1985, an oil embargo was also enforced between the two countries.
  • In 1990, after a series of tensions under Ortega’s regime, an election was held in February and Violeta Barrios de Chamorro won. She became the first female president of Nicaragua and in Central America. During Chamorro’s term, Nicaragua revived its economy and improved human rights.
  • The elections following 1996 were marred by serious issues of corruption. In 2006, Daniel Ortega of Sandinista National Liberation Front was again elected as president.
  • Both president and vice presidents are elected for a five-year term.
  • Today, Nicaragua is a unitary presidential constitutional republic and has been governed by a constitution since 1987.
  • Part of Nicaraguan culture is religious freedom and tolerance. Despite being colonized for centuries, Nicaragua has no state religion, yet the majority of its people are Roman Catholic.
  • One of the biggest aspects of every Nicaraguan celebration is dancing. One such dance is Palo de Mayo, a frequently performed folk dance.
  • Nicaraguan cuisine shares some flavors and ingredients with Mexican cuisine, but also resemble that of Honduras and Guatemala. Nicas also enjoy tamales, which are called nacatamales. In addition, fruit like mango and plantains are popular in Nicaragua.
  • In general, their cuisine is a mixture of Creole and Caribbean food. They cook a lot of corn, rice, beans, seafood, and peppers, which are all home-grown.
  • Despite being considered as the poorest country in Central America due to high rates of poverty and unemployment, Nicaragua is labeled as the safest Central American country to travel to.
  • Among the historic places to visit in Nicaragua are León Viejo, one of the oldest Spanish settlements in the Americas, which has preserved the social and economic structures of the Spanish Empire and the Cathedral of León, which was built from 1747 to 1814. Aside from its architectural and cultural importance, the cathedral is the largest in Central America.
  • The oldest colonial city in Nicaragua is Granada, which features colonial buildings in pastel shades.
  • The national sport of Nicaragua is baseball.
  • In terms of the economy, the country is a good producer of bananas, coffee, rice, corn, cotton, and sesame.
  • Among the national symbols of Nicaragua is their flag with three horizontal bands and the national coat of arms centered in the white band. The white band in the middle signifies the country’s purity and territory, while the two blue bands represent the oceans that border Nicaragua.
  • The coat of arms features an equilateral triangle (represents equality) encircled by the words REPUBLICA DE NICARAGUA-AMERICA CENTRAL. Inside the triangle is a rainbow that stands for peace, a Phrygian cap for freedom, and five volcanoes symbolizing union and fraternity of the original five Central American countries.
  • Other national symbols are the motmot (bird), sacuanjoche (flower), and madroño (tree).
  • Nicas use the cόrdoba as their official currency.

Nicaragua Worksheets

This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Nicaragua across 25 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Nicaragua worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Nicaragua which is a country in the Central America isthmus located between Honduras and Costa Rica. It also borders the Pacific Ocean on the west and the Caribbean Sea on the east. As of 2016, an estimated 6.15 million people inhabit this country and most densely in the capital city of Managua.

Complete List Of Included Worksheets

  • Nicaragua Facts
  • Mapping Central America
  • National Symbol
  • Spanish Empire Hunt
  • Nicaragua Truths
  • Amazing Volcanoes
  • Nicaraguan Cuisine
  • The Nica Way
  • The Colonial Jewel
  • The Animal Guide
  • Explore Nicaragua!

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Geography

Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America, bordering Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. To the east lies the Caribbean, and to the west the Pacific. In the north are the Isabella Mountains, while the country's main feature in the southwest is Lake Nicaragua which is about 160km (99 miles) long and about 72km (44 miles) at its widest. The island of Ometepe is the largest of the hundreds of islands on the lake. These islands have a reputation for great beauty and are one of the country's main tourist attractions.

Lake Managua is situated northwest of Lake Nicaragua. Volcanoes, including the famous Momotombo, protrude from the surrounding lowlands northwest of the lakes. The country's main rivers are the San Juan, the lower reaches of which form the border with Costa Rica, and the Rio Grande de Matagalpa. The Corn Islands (Islas del Maiz) in the Caribbean are two small beautiful islands fringed with white coral and palms. They are very popular as holiday resorts with both Nicaraguans and tourists.


Contents

Pacific lowlands Edit

The Pacific lowlands extend about 75 kilometers inland from the Pacific coast. Most of the area is flat, except for a line of young volcanoes, many of which are still active, running between the Golfo de Fonseca and Lago de Nicaragua. These peaks lie just west of a large crustal fracture or structural rift that forms a long, narrow depression passing southeast across the isthmus from the Golfo de Fonseca to the Río San Juan.

The rift is occupied in part by the largest freshwater lakes in Central America: Lago de Managua (56 kilometers long and 24 kilometers wide) and Lago de Nicaragua (about 160 kilometers long and 75 kilometers wide). These two lakes are joined by the Río Tipitapa, which flows south into Lago de Nicaragua. Lago de Nicaragua in turn drains into the Río San Juan (the boundary between Nicaragua and Costa Rica), which flows through the southern part of the rift lowlands to the Caribbean Sea.

The valley of the Río San Juan forms a natural passageway close to sea level across the Nicaraguan isthmus from the Caribbean Sea to Lago de Nicaragua and the rift. From the southwest edge of Lago de Nicaragua, it is only nineteen kilometers to the Pacific Ocean. This route was considered as a possible alternative to the Panama Canal at various times in the past.

Surrounding the lakes and extending northwest of them along the rift valley to the Golfo de Fonseca are fertile lowland plains highly enriched with volcanic ash from nearby volcanoes. These lowlands are densely populated and well cultivated. More directly west of the lake region is a narrow line of ash-covered hills and volcanoes that separate the lakes from the Pacific Ocean. This line is highest in the central portion near the cities of León and Managua.

Because Western Nicaragua is located where two major tectonic plates collide, it is subject to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Although periodic volcanic eruptions have caused agricultural damage from fumes and ash, earthquakes have been by far more destructive to life and property. Hundreds of shocks occur each year, some of which cause severe damage. The capital city of Managua was virtually destroyed in 1931 and again in 1972.

Central highlands Edit

The triangular area known as the central highlands lies northeast and east of the Pacific lowlands. These rugged mountains are composed of ridges 900 to 1,809 meters high and a mixed forest of oak and pine alternating with deep valleys that drain primarily toward the Caribbean. Very few significant streams flow west to the Pacific Ocean. Those that do are steep, short, and flow intermittently.

The relatively dry western slopes of the central highlands, protected by the ridges of the highlands from the moist winds of the Caribbean, have drawn farmers from the Pacific region since colonial times. The eastern slopes are among the wettest places in the world, being too wet for agriculture, and have an economy dominated by timber extraction.

Caribbean lowland Edit

The eastern Caribbean lowlands of Nicaragua form the extensive and exaggerated (occupying more than 50 percent of national territory) and still sparsely settled lowland area known as the Costa de Mosquitos (Miskito Coast). The Caribbean lowlands are sometimes considered synonymous with the former department of Zelaya, which is now divided into the North Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region (Región Autónoma de la Costa Caribe Norte, RACCN) and the South Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region (Región Autónoma de la Costa Caribe Sur, RACCS) and constitutes about 45 percent of Nicaragua's territory.

These lowlands are a hot, humid area that includes coastal plains, the eastern spurs of the central highlands, and the lower portion of the Río San Juan basin. The soil is generally leached and infertile. Pine and palm savannas predominate as far south as the Laguna de Perlas. Tropical rain forests are characteristic from the Laguna de Perlas to the Río San Juan, in the interior west of the savannas, and along rivers through the savannas.

Fertile soils are found only along the natural levees and narrow floodplains of the numerous rivers, including the Escondido, the Río Grande de Matagalpa, the Prinzapolka, and the Coco, and along the many lesser streams that rise in the central highlands and cross the region en route to the complex of shallow bays, lagoons, and salt marshes of the Caribbean coast.

Temperature varies little with the seasons in Nicaragua and is largely a function of elevation. The "hot land" is characteristic of the foothills and lowlands from sea level to about 750 meters (2,461 ft) of elevation. At night temperatures drop to 21 to 24 °C (69.8 to 75.2 °F) most of the year.

The tierra templada, or the "temperate land," is characteristic of most of the central highlands, where elevations range between 750 and 1,600 meters (2,461 and 5,249 ft).The "cold land" at elevations above 1,600 meters (5,249 ft), is found only on and near the highest peaks of the central highlands. Daytime averages in this region are 22 to 24 °C (71.6 to 75.2 °F), with nighttime lows below 15 °C (59 °F).

Rainfall Edit

Rainfall varies greatly in Nicaragua. The Caribbean lowlands are the wettest section of Central America, receiving between 2,500 and 6,500 millimeters (98.4 and 255.9 in) of rain annually. The western slopes of the central highlands and the Pacific lowlands receive considerably less annual rainfall, being protected from moisture-laden Caribbean trade winds by the peaks of the central highlands.

Mean annual precipitation for the rift valley and western slopes of the highlands ranges from 1,000 to 1,500 millimeters (39.4 to 59.1 in). Rainfall is seasonal—May through October is the rainy season, and December through April is the driest period.

During the rainy season, Eastern Nicaragua is subject to heavy flooding along the upper and middle reaches of all major rivers. Near the coast, where river courses widen and river banks and natural levees are low, floodwaters spill over onto the floodplains until large sections of the lowlands become continuous sheets of water. River bank agricultural plots are often heavily damaged, and considerable numbers of savanna animals die during these floods.

The coast is also subject to destructive tropical storms and hurricanes, particularly from July through October. The high winds and floods, accompanying these storms often cause considerable destruction of property. In addition, heavy rains (called papagayo storms) accompanying the passage of a cold front or a low-pressure area may sweep from the north through both eastern and western Nicaragua (particularly the rift valley) from November through March.

Hurricanes or heavy rains in the central highlands where agriculture has destroyed much of the natural vegetation also cause considerable crop damage and soil erosion. In 1988, Hurricane Joan forced hundreds of thousands of Nicaraguans to flee their homes and caused more than US$1 billion in damage, most of it along the Caribbean coast. In November 2020, two major hurricanes: Eta and Iota, made landfall on the nation in nearly same locations in consecutive weeks, causing hundreds of deaths throughout the caribbean region and causing millions of dollars in damage.

Area:
total: 130,370 km 2
land: 119,254 km 2
water: 10,380 km 2

Northernmost point: North of Liwa Sirpe

Southernmost point: Trinidad, Río San Juan

Easternmost point: Miskito Cays archipelago, North Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region
Lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
Highest point: Mogotón 2,438 m

Land use:
arable land: 14.57%
permanent crops: 1.76%
other: 83.66% (2011.)

Irrigated land: 942.4 km 2 (2011)

Total renewable water resources:' 196.6 km 3 (2011)

Maritime claims
Contiguous zone: 24 nautical miles (44.4 km 27.6 mi)
Territorial sea: 12 nautical miles (22.2 km 13.8 mi)
Exclusive economic zone: 123,881 km 2 (47,831 sq mi)

Nicaragua is subject to destructive earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, and occasionally severe hurricanes. It currently faces deforestation, soil erosion, and water pollution. It is a party to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, the Nuclear Test Ban, and the Ozone Layer Protection, and has signed but not ratified the Law of the Sea.


Geography of Nicaragua

Nicaragua is an incredibly beautiful country with wonderfully diverse geography. The country covers slightly less area than the state of New York but that does not mean it is small and uninteresting – quite to the contrary! Because there has been relatively little development in the country, you will still be able to enjoy many of the natural wonders that it has to offer. Much of the face of the country has also been altered by volcanic eruptions that only add to the amazing geography of Nicaragua.

Nicaragua is located in Central America. It is nestled between Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. Its western shores are lapped by the waters of the North Pacific Ocean while its eastern beaches enjoy the turquoise azure of the Caribbean Sea. As a result it enjoys some 910 km of stunning and varied coastline. Add to this the some 9240 sq km of water and you will find that Nicaragua is a virtual water wonderland filled with amazing and sometimes surprising opportunities. Nicaragua, as the largest Central American country, is even home to the largest body of freshwater in Central America, Lago de Nicaragua.

If you are trying to find Nicaragua on a map, its geographical coordinates are 13°00′N 85°00′W. It is at this precise location on the globe that you will find the amazing coastal plains, interior mountains, old volcanoes and the narrow pacific coastal plain that is known today as Nicaragua. The highest physical point of this stunning, sometimes rugged, country is a mountain called Mogoton, which stands at 2 438 meters above sea level. You will also find that the mountains in this country yield gold, silver, copper, tungsten, zinc and lead. There is plenty of timber that is drawn on by most of the population and fish is a very popular natural resource that is used for food.

For many one of the best features of this country is the climate. Those living in the lowlands and along the coast enjoy a warm, tropical climate – great for swimming and water sports. People living in the more mountainous highland areas are able to escape some of the heat. Unfortunately, Nicaragua does or has suffered from earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides and hurricanes in the past. Many of these natural hazards are brought about by deforestation, soil erosion and water pollution but these issues are being addressed and will hopefully be solved in the near future.

Related Page

Exports

Nicaraguan exports include coffee, beef, shrimp, lobster, tobacco, sugar, gold and peanuts. Export from Nicaragua has improved since the establishment of the Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement or CAFTA-DR.

Shopping

Nicaragua has some very impressive shopping centers and markets. There are often so many different shops in Nicaragua that sell a variety of goods that you will be able to just stroll around for days on end. Some of the locally manufactured and sold items for sale in Nicaragua include gold work, embroidery, leather work, shoes, artwork and paintings.


Nicaragua's Caribbean Region

The vast Caribbean region covers more than half of Nicaragua&rsquos territory, but is inhabited by only 10% of the population. This part of the country is ethnically diverse with the predominant indigenous cultures being the Sumus, Miskitos, Ramas, Garifonas and Creoles. Most of the region is flat with some small mountains at an average height of 700 m. Some of the main rivers in the Caribbean region are: &ldquoRio Indio&rdquo born in the mountains of Nueva Guinea, Nicaragua and travels down for 70 kms &ldquoRio Escondido&rdquo 88 kms long and formed by the junction of three other rivers, Sikia, Mico and Rama &ldquoRio Prinzapolka&rdquo which originates from &ldquoIsabelia&rdquo mountain range, this river is 245 kms long and half of it can be navigated by small boats. One of the main characteristics of this region is its rainy season which extends to almost 10 months.


Historic explorer: finding Nicaragua’s roots

The history of Nicaragua reverberates through its people, places and culture with a resonance that's found around every corner. While this little Central American nation lacks the major pre-Columbian archaeological sites found in nearby countries like Honduras and Guatemala, it's home to an extensive geological past and a fascinating modern history – visiting these historic sites throughout the country is a highlight for the culturally inquisitive visitor.

Nicaragua was forged from fire, and visits to its waterfalls and hidden lakes will connect you with the living natural history of this Jurassic land. This narrow isthmus of volcanoes, lakes, hills, pastures and swamps dates back some 500 million years – the country's geological past comes to light atop places like the towering Cerro Negro Volcano or near the twin volcanoes of Isla de Ometepe. Nicaragua's turbulent natural history mirrors its cultural one, a legacy marked by colonization, pirate attacks, the rise of the upper class, revolutionary tides, a long-fought civil war and a peace process that continues to this day.

Pre-Columbian Nicaragua

Don’t expect pyramids and huge archaeological sites here. Much of the traces of the ancient Chorotega and Nicaragua civilizations of the Pacific Coast – and the ancestors of the Rama people of the Caribbean – have been virtually erased. There are a number of worthwhile museums in Managua and Granada worth a look, however, plus a few low-key archaeological sites that will add to your understanding of this lost piece of Nicaraguan history.

Start your exploration right in Managua with a visit to the 6000-year-old fossilized footprints at Huellas de Acahualinca. There’s a small onsite museum there too, but you’re better off going to the Museo Nacional for unique glimpses into the statuary and pottery of these ancient peoples.

If exploring the pre-Columbian era interests you, Isla Zapatera on Lake Nicaragua is an unmissable highlight. Here you will find an excellent collection of petroglyphs and statues dating back some 1500 years, plus great opportunities to explore the surrounding national park. Isla Ometepe also has an excellent collection of petroglyphs worth investigating.

Arrival of the Europeans

While Christopher Columbus explored the eastern coast of Nicaragua in the early 1500s, it was later conquistadors, including González Dávila and Francisco Hernández de Córdoba, that really left their mark.

They wiped out huge numbers of native Nicaraguans – by disease or by sword – and established new towns and cities that remain today. The best samples of colonial architecture are now found in Granada to the south and León to the north.

Granada can keep you captivated for several days with its cathedrals, plazas and nearby natural areas. The city center is populated by a number of historic buildings and markets – take a tour to learn the history behind these longstanding structures and institutions.

Iglesia La Merced is a stand out for its beauty, historic significance and lovely bell tower. Originally built in 1534, the church was razed by pirates in 1655. Not to be deterred, citizens rebuilt it in a baroque style 1781. The church was damaged again in 1854, when William Walker, an American physician and lawyer set on claiming Nicaragua for himself, invaded the country with an army of mercenaries. The “Filibusterer” ruled for just a short time before a coalition of Central American armies ran him out of town and had him executed. The church is a testament to the age of conquest and conversion, the non-stop pirate raids of early colonial Nicaragua, and – as evidenced every year in the Virgen de Fatima celebrations – the new-born traditions of the Catholic faith.

If Granada is majesty, then León is pure poetry. Take a day to walk through the central part of the city and visit the various monuments that make it the firebrand of Nicaraguan politics. If you wish to extend your colonial exploration, don’t miss a side trip to the ruins at León Viejo, the original site of the city and the nation’s first capital.

The Catedral de León has a checkered history similar to the Iglesia la Merced in Granada, having been rebuilt four times since its original construction. The original church was built in 1610 and replaced in 1624 by a wood-and-adobe structure that burned to the ground in 1685. Another temporary adobe structure was constructed here while they started work on the baroque-style church you see today. Some historians estimate it took around 100 years to complete the church.

The cathedral is also the resting place of Nicaragua’s native poet laureate Rubén Darío. After paying your respects and checking out the roof tour for views to over the delightfully clapboard city, head down to the poet’s namesake museum – Museo Rubén Darío – to learn more about the life and accomplishments one of the nineteenth century's preeminent poets.

To really immerse yourself in the place's legacy, stay the night in one of the historic hotels in the city center, like Hotel El Convento. As you look around at the elegant colonial homes here, you might see how an age of indulgence and excess led by the county's wealthiest members resulted in a revolution.

The Revolution

Despite the country's extensive pre-Columbian and colonial history, most people connect Nicaragua with the Sandinista Revolution and Contra War. León is, without a doubt, the best place to learn about this tempestuous era.

Three museums offer up excellent exhibits on revolutionary history and some sad and appalling tales from the Contra War. As you dive into this part of Nicaragua’s history, take your time to talk with the locals – who likely lived through the war and revolution – before touring the Galería de Héroes y Mártires, Museo de Leyendas y Tradiciones and the Museo Historico de la Revolución.

More interesting artifacts from Nicaragua’s revolution can be found in nearby Matagalpa this was the base of Augusto Sandino, and a visit to the tiny-but-highly-informative Casa Museo Comandante Carlos Fonseca (Fonseca was one of the leading intellectuals of the Sandinista movement), provides interesting insights into the lives of Nicaragua’s esteemed revolutionaries. With a little more time, you can continue your revolutionary investigations with an extended route in the north that includes visits to historic Contra War sites in Estelí, Somoto and Ocotal.

While the revolution, civil war and peace process are the biggest events in recent history, a new history is now being written in Nicaragua. You can experience this first hand by visiting the new businesses dedicated to ecotourism and the growing number of sophisticated nightlife spots, boutique hotels and surf resorts this new era of peace embraces progressive modernism and creativity while still maintaining its connection with the past.

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What Are the Physical Features of Nicaragua?

Nicaragua is the largest country in all of Central America, with a total area of 81,008.2 square miles. About 74,558 square miles of the country is land. Nicaragua shares a long border with Honduras in the north and a shorter border with Costa Rica in the south. It has a coastline spanning around 565 miles along the North Pacific Ocean to its west and the Caribbean Sea to its east.

The two largest freshwater lakes in Central America, Lago de Managua and Lado de Nicaragua, are both located in Nicaragua. The Río San Juan carries water from Lago de Nicaragua eastward across the country, ultimately depositing its waters in the Caribbean Sea. The lowlands run through the Río San Juan basin, hosting both tropical rain forests and savannahs. The Nicaraguan isthmus refers to the land located between the Lago de Nicaragua and the Caribbean Sea. The Río Tipitapa brings the water from Lago de Managua southward into the Lago de Nicaragua. The highest elevations in the country are situated in an area called the central highlands, which is located in the northeast of the country. The western portion of the country is located along a fault of two tectonic plates.


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