Take an adventure holiday in NICARAGUA with World Expeditions, one of the world's leading travel companies
Most people have recollections of Nicaragua as a revolution hot spot, plagued by censorship, guerrilla warfare and political turbulence. Fortunately, the country has enjoyed remarkable stability since President Chamorro came to power in 1990 following peaceful elections. Before 1978 it was the wealthiest country in Central America and a major producer of agriculture and in particular beef for the region and the USA (i.e. a major supplier for McDonalds hamburgers). Today, due to the revolution of ‘78 and ‘79, the US lead economic embargo of the 80’s and the poor economic policies of the same period: Nicaragua is not only the poorest country in Central America, but also the poorest Spanish speaking country in the world and the second poorest in the Western Hemisphere (Haiti is the poorest). Thanks to having incredibly fertile land and the lowest population density in the region, hunger is generally not a problem, but health care and education levels are below acceptable standards. For the visitor, private health care, of good standards is available. The country continues to rebuild and there is hope that the rise in tourism will contribute to this process of economic development.
Central America’s largest country (129,494 km²), Nicaragua is bordered by Honduras and the Gulf of Fonseca in the north, Costa Rica in the south, the Caribbean Sea in the east and the Pacific Ocean in the west.There are 3 distinct geographic regions; the Pacific lowlands or western region, the Caribbean lowlands (also known as the ‘Miskito Coast’ and the eastern region) and the north-central mountains situated between these two lowland regions.
In the Pacific basin, from the northern Pacific gulf of Fonseca, south into Lake Nicaragua and Costa Rica, runs a chain of 28 volcanoes seven of which are active, including the country’s two biggest San Cristobal and Concepcion and its smallest Masaya. Lake Nicaragua is the 2nd largest non-glacier formed lake at 8,264 km2 and is home to over 400 volcanic origin islands, including a dual volcano island that is the largest lake island in the world (Ometepe Island) and three distinct archipelagos. Lake Nicaragua is separated from the Pacific Ocean by only a 17 km wide strip of land, but drains into the Caribbean Sea by means of the Rio San Juan’s 190 km length.
Located on the southern shores of the lake by the same name, Managua has been the capital since 1852. The population of the city is just above one million and is spread out in a green and volcanic setting. The old city center was badly damaged in 1972 by an earthquake and a concrete downtown has never been rebuilt; this along with a steady lake breeze makes Managua one of the least polluted, greenest and quietest capitals in the world. Where downtown once stood is now a mixture of parks and open green spaces punctuated by monuments, where it is not unusual to see horses grazing.
Nicaragua has a population of 4.5 million, most of which live in the Pacific basin. The majority of the population is metizo with smaller populations of people of pure indigenous and European blood. The official language is Spanish and is often laced with words of Nahuat origin. English is not widely spoken. The religion is predominantly Catholic but all major western religions are present. It would be difficult to find a more open, warm and gregarious people than the Nicaraguans, and when you consider the hardships they have been through, it makes this friendly good humour all the more special and one of the best reasons to visit.