About Nicaragua

69% mestizo (mixed white & Amerindian)
17% white
9% black
5% Amerindian
Managua: pop. 1.3 million (est.)
In 2005, Nicaragua began observing Daylight Saving Time, but it is on a slightly different schedule from the U.S.
Major religion: Roman Catholic (90-95%)
Largest country in Central America (about the size of New York state)
Situated between Honduras, to the north, and Costa Rica, to the south
Country population: 5.1 million (est.)
Population under age 15: about 40 %
Population is concentrated in the small area from Leon through Managua to Granada
East coast is very sparsely settled, and difficult to reach, except by air
City/rural breakdown: 67% urban population and 33% rural
Population density: 92 people per square mile (largest country, yet most sparsely populated in Central America)
Following 12 years of civil war, free elections were held in 1990
Voting age: 16
Presidential term of office: 5 years
Currency: Cordoba, named after Spaniard Francisco Hernandez de Cortez, founder of the historic cities of Granada and Leon
Along with Haiti, Nicaragua is one of the Western hemisphere’s two poorest countries
Huge external debt, although debt reduction agreements are being negotiated
Inflation rate: about 11.5 %
Population living below poverty line: 50% or more
Per capita income: about $440 per year
44% of the populations survives on about $1 per day
Economy was devastated in the 1980’s by economic mismanagement and 12 years of civil war. During the 1990’s, inflation has stabilized somewhat as outside investors return. Historically, a small upper class has controlled the land,
as well as the economic and political power.
Less than 13 percent of Nicaragua’s roads are paved.
Especially in Managua, the urban poor live in extensive slums, sometimes in houses made of cardboard with dirt floors.
Many of the nation’s households do not have access to clean drinking water or plumbing.
Urban residents typically receive better services than do those in rural areas, yet even in the cities health and education facilities, water supplies, and sanitation are often inadequate.
Telephone service is erratic, & potential customers may wait years before being
granted a telephone line.
Although exports were recovering in the mid-1990s, Nicaragua continues to run a huge trade deficit.
Coffee is the most important export, followed by cotton, sugar, seafood, meat, gold, sesame, and bananas.
Coffee is the major cash crop.
Beef production is increasing, generating $3.7 million in 1995.
Fishing industry is expanding.
Tropical climate in lowlands and cooler in the highlands
Seasons: rainy (summer) and dry (winter)
Percent who complete a 6th grade education: about 34%
Public education is said to be free & mandatory, yet many children who are enrolled in school do not attend
Many families are too poor to afford shoes and the required uniforms to attend public schools
Public schools frequently lack the necessary books, desks, and basic supplies
Adult illiteracy rate: about 32%
Limited health care and nutrition contribute to a life expectancy at birth of 69 (female) and 64 (male) years, one of the lowest in the region.
One doctor for every 1,168 people (1997)
40 infants die for every 1,000 live births, one of the highest infant mortality rates in Central America.
Although hospital care is available to most, public hospitals have very little in the way of supplies (dressings, linens, life-saving equipment, IV fluids, IV tubing, syringes, gowns) or medications with which to actually treat the patients.
The poor are unable to afford even simple medications like aspirin and must purchase such things as sutures, dressings, and medications BEFORE they can have any surgery done.
Maternity patients frequently share beds—that’s 2 mothers and 2 babies in one bed.
Masaya Volcano National Park: active volcano with museum
Caterina Lagoona: beautiful overlook and native crafts
Masaya market for native crafts and folklore
Mombacho Volcano Park: zip line down the side and walk around the top
Lake Nicaragua: boat rides and fishing
Remote Rio San Juan area with its many nature preserves
Rustic Solentiname with its artisan colony
Ometepe: rustic island resort area with 2 volcanoes
Pochamil and Montelimar resorts: beaches on the Pacific
Granada: first city of Nicaragua (in 1524) with its colonial charm
Leon: previous capitol of Nicaragua (for 200 years), and the country’s political, military, cultural, educational, and religious center
Bluefields: remote and rough seaport Caribbean town where English and native dialects are spoken
Managua: Old Cathedral ruins, National/Cultural Palace museum, Acahualinca Footprints Museum(one of only 2 places in the world to have preserved human footprints estimated to be as old as 6,000 years)
Known as the “land of fire and water” (volcanoes and lakes)
Lake Nicaragua (Lago de Nicaragua), the largest freshwater body in Central America, is over 100 miles long—the only lake in the world with freshwater sharks
Managua is prone to earthquakes, which destroyed it in 1931 and again in 1972
(killing 6-10,000 people)
Bluefields was all but destroyed in 1974 by Hurricane Joan
Hurricane Mitch devastated NW Nicaragua in 1998, killing 8-9,000 people, left 2 million homeless, & causing extensive property and infrastructure damage

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