by Lauren Smith

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Nicaragua is a beautiful country with many wonders to see. From the Pacific to the Caribean, this country is filled with mountains, rain forests, waterfalls, volcanoes, and other strikingly beautiful aspects. It is a great place to vacation. However, before you go on a vacation, here are a few facts about Nicaragua's background that the average traveler should know about.



Nicaragua is a Democratic Republic. It's president, Daniel Ortega, was elected in 2006. The Nicaraguan Revolution happened in the 80's. The Nicaraguan Rovolution was where the people over threw the previous government and established the current, democratic government. The current population of Nicaragua is around 5,675,356 people, one of the smallest in Latin America. 69% of the population are Mestizos, 17% are White, 9% are black, and 5% are Amerindian.

Nicaragua is located in Central America. On both east and west sides it is boardered by water; on the west the Pacific, and on the east the Caribean. It is the largest in Central america, with 130,373 km2.The capitol city in Nicaragua is Managua. Two of the largest cities are Leon, and Chinandega (aside from Managua).


Nicaragua's economy is based largely on tourism. Other exports of Nicaragua include coffee, beef, shrimp, lobster, tobacco, sugar, gold and peanuts. The second largest industy in the country, and growing rapidly since the Nicaraguan Revolution, tourism supports thousand of people. The average income in Nicaragua is $2,900 (explaining how 48% of the population is below the poverty line) and with the country relying so much on tourism, if people stopped to Nicaragua the countries economy would collapse. While in Nicaragua, people enjoy hiking, eco-tourism, surfing, touring the cities, and going to see volcanoes. Some of the most popular places to do these activities are;
Masaya- this city is known for it's traditional hand-crafted items, and is a popular place to shop.
Volcan Masaya National Park- this park is a beautiful reserve, and a great chamce to see a volcano.
The Corn Islands- these are stunning tropical islands, perfect for relaxing, scuba diving, and snorkling
Ometepe Island- located in the middle of Lake Nicaragua, and the largest lake-island in the world, this island is perfect for hiking.
San Ramon Waterfall- on Ometepe Island, this picturesque waterfall is stiking
Tola- this region of Nicaragua is on the Pacific, and known for it's surfing.
external image images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTc6wqUY_E0L5zvXipCbY37F6oorJuJn5B5wXAZr-iGAIBANseeNgexternal image nicaragua-2.jpgexternal image nic_small.jpg


The currency in Nicaragua is called córdobas. Each córdobas is worth about $.2


Religion; Although Nicaragua is open to all religions, the primary religion in Nicaragua is Christianity (90%).

Art/Music; Nicaraguan paintings are filled with bright colors and patterns. Nicaraguan music is a mixture of indeginous music, and Spanish music. Instruments used include the marimba and other Central American instruments.external image fletescruz_lapas2.jpg
Food; While some dishes have Spanish influences, most of Nicaraguan dishes date back to pre-Colombian times. Some popular dishes include: allo Pinto, Nacatamal, Vigorón, Quesillo, and Sopa de Mondongo.external image food1.gif
RECIPE FOR NACATAMALES (traditional nicaraguan tamales)
(makes 10 to 12)
masa (Dough)

  • Masa harina -- 6 cups
  • Lard or shortening -- 1 cup
  • Salt -- 1 tablespoon
  • Sour orange juice (see variations) -- 1/2 cup
  • Chicken stock or broth -- 4-5 cups


  • Pork butt, cubed -- 3 pounds
  • Salt and pepper -- to season
  • Rice, soaked in warm water for 30 minutes -- 3/4 cup
  • Potatoes, peeled, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds -- 1/2 pound
  • Onion, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds -- 1
  • Bell pepper, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds -- 2
  • Tomatoes, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds -- 2
  • Mint -- 1 bunch


  • Banana leaves, hard spine removed and cut into 10x10-inch rectangles
-- 12 pieces
  • Aluminum foil, cut into 10x10-inch rectangles -- 12 pieces


1. Place the masa harina, lard or shortening and salt in the bowl of an
electric mixer. Blend on a low speed to incorporate the fat into the
masa harina and give it a mealy texture. You may have to do this and
the next step in two batches if your mixer bowl is not large enough to
hold all the ingredients without overflowing.
2. With the mixer still on low speed, add the sour orange juice and
enough chicken stock to make a soft, moist dough. It should be a little
firmer than mashed potatoes. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high
and beat for 2-3 minutes to incorporate some air into the masa and make
it fluffier. Cover the bowl and set the masa aside to rest for at least
30 minutes.
3. Season the pork with salt and pepper. Drain the rice. Assemble all
of your filling ingredients and assembly items on a large table or work
surface. Gather family and friends to help in an assembly line.
4. Lay out a banana leaf square with the smooth side up. Place 1 cup of
the masa in the middle of the banana leaf and, using wetted hands,
spread it out a little. Put about 1/2 cup of pork on top of the masa
and sprinkle 1 or 2 tablespoons of rice over the pork. Lay 1 or 2
slices of potato on top of the pork and then top with 1 or 2 pieces of
onion, 1 or 2 pieces of pepper and a slice of tomato. Top it all off
with a few mint leaves.
5. Fold the top edge of the banana leaf down over the filling. Bring
the bottom edge of the banana leaf up over this. Then fold in both
sides to make a rectangular package. Be careful not to wrap it too
tightly or the filling will squeeze out. Flip the package over so it is
seam side down.
6. Set the tamal in the middle of an aluminum foil square and wrap it
up tightly the same way you wrapped up the banana leaf. Set aside and
repeat with the remaining ingredients to make 10 to 12 nacatamales in
7. Add 2 or 3 inches of water to a tamalera or pot large enough to hold
all the nacatamales. (You may have to use two pots if you don't have
one big enough to hold the nacatamales in one batch.) Place a rack in
the bottom or toss in enough wadded up aluminum foil to hold the
nacatamales mostly out of the water. Add the nacatamales and bring to a
boil over high heat. Cover tightly, reduce heat to low and steam for 3
to 4 hours. Add more water as needed to keep the pot from boiling dry.
8. Remove the nacatamales from the pot, take off their aluminum foil
covering and serve hot. Each diner opens the banana leaf on his or her
own nacatamal before eating.

Famous Nicaraguans;
Rubén Darío is a famous poet, born on 18 January 1867. He was internationally recognized after he wrote the collection of short stories and poetry called “Azul”.
Sergio Ramírez Mercado is a famous writter, and intellectual born in 1942. He served as vice-president from 1984 to 1990. He played an important role in the Nicaraguan Revolution. He has won many awards for his books.
Language; The official language of Nicaragua is Spanish. In the past nine other languages were spoken in Nicaragua. However, only seven of these are currently considered living languages and the remaining three are now seen as being extinct. Spanish, Miskito, Garífuna, Nicaragua Creole English, Rama, Sumo-Mayangna, are Nicaraguan Sign Language are the seven languages spoken (or signed) in Nicaragua officially today.


Unfortunantly, the education in Nicaragua is terrible. only 65% of children are enrolled in elementery school, and of those only 22% make it passed 6th grade. 3/4 of the rural population is illiterate. This is because it is too expensive for many families to send their children to school. This is another reason why tourism is important in Nicaragua. The money which comes from tourism can be used to send children to school.

As a tourist, it would be good to plan out what you are going to be doing each day before you leave for Nicaragua. While it is not good to micro-manage every second of your time on vacation, a schedual will help you accomplish what you want to while in Nicaragua. This is one possible itinerary for your trip


Wake up: around 7:00 am
  1. Walk around historical center of Managua
  2. Visit National Museum
  3. Get in car- Drive to Masaya
  4. Shop in Masaya
  5. Eat Lunch in Masaya
  6. Drive to San Jorge
  7. Take boat to Ometepe island
  8. Land at San Ramon (town)
  9. Hike to San Ramon Waterfall
  10. Spend night on Island
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