There are so many fascinating facts about Nicaragua that most people do not know! In this article I share my favourite 25 things that everyone should know about this magnificent country. Ready to learn more about Nicaragua? Read on…
- Facts About Nicaragua
- 1. Nicaragua Takes Its Name From Chief Nicarao
- 2. Nicaragua Has the First Geopark in Central America
- 3. Nicaragua Is a Biodiversity Hotspot
- 4. Spanish Is the Official Language of Nicaragua
- 5. Gallo Pinto Is Nicaragua’s National Dish
- 6. Managua Was Not Always the Capital of Nicaragua
- 7. Colonial Cities Still Live in Nicaragua
- 8. Nicaragua Is the Largest Central American Country
- 9. Nicaragua Is the Poorest Country in Central America
- 10. Nicaragua Has Many Volcanoes
- 11. Lake Nicaragua Is Central America’s Largest Lake
- 12. Lake Nicaragua Is the Only Freshwater Lake Where Sharks Live
- 14. The British and the Spanish Invaded Nicaragua
- 15. Nicaragua Is the Birthplace of Rubén Darío
- 16. An American President Took Control of Nicaragua
- 17. You Shouldn’t Miss Stargazing in Nicaragua
- 18. Nicaragua Is the Perfect Place for Surfing
- 19. Baseball Is the National Sport of Nicaragua
- 20. Nicaragua Relies Heavily on Renewable Energy
- 21. Nicaragua is Famous for Producing Coffee
- 22. Nicaragua Is Home to Multiple Ethnic Races
- 23. The Meaning Behind Nicaragua’s Flag
- 24. Eastern Nicaragua Is Covered by Rainforests
- 25. Nicaragua Is One of the Safest Countries in Central America
- Further Reading – Facts About Nicaragua
Facts About Nicaragua
Being the largest country in Central America, there’s a lot to discover about Nicaragua. The country is filled with hills, lakes, and volcanoes. The colonial cities of Nicaragua are also worth talking about due to their artistic architecture. Nicaragua has so much to offer…. lets delve into it!
1. Nicaragua Takes Its Name From Chief Nicarao
Let’s start with some naming-related facts about Nicaragua.
The term “Nicaragua” is inspired by Chief Nicarao, the main head of the indigenous tribe that existed around Lake Nicaragua.
The Nicarao indigenous tribe, led by Chief Nicarao (whose real name is Macuilmiquiztli) thrived between the Guanacaste Province (in present-day Costa Rica) and the Lake Nicaragua.
Initially, when Christopher Columbus went to explore the now-Nicaragua region, he didn’t find any tribes. Yet, in 1522, Gil González Dávila, a Spanish conquistador, discovered a Nahuat-speaking tribe, the Nicarao tribe. He also had a conversation with Macuilmiquiztli.
2. Nicaragua Has the First Geopark in Central America
Here are some impressive eco facts about Nicaragua!
Río Coco, in Nicaragua, was designated as the first Geopark in entire Central America by UNESCO on July 7th, 2020. It’s also the eighth geopark in South America.
The park covers an area of 954 square kilometres in Madriz, Nicaragua, and also serves as the northern border for Nicaragua and Honduras. It’s filled with majestic mountain ranges, lush-green plains, and several tiny rivers.
In fact, the name of the geopark, Río Coco, is taken from the longest river in Central America, the Coco River!
3. Nicaragua Is a Biodiversity Hotspot
These facts about Nicaragua are perfect for somebody who loves to explore the outdoors! 20% of Nicaragua’s land cover consists of 78 protected areas.
The country is popular for having several lakes and volcanoes. Apart from that, it has more than 200 species of mammals, including some exquisite monkey species! You can find “new world monkeys” species here too, like the spider monkeys, howler monkeys, and capuchin monkeys.
Nicaragua is also home to more than 700 species of birds, out of which eight are endangered species.
So, if you ever go to Nicaragua, you’ll get to explore all kinds of animals and birds, including a few unique ones.
4. Spanish Is the Official Language of Nicaragua
Just like other Central and Latin American countries, Spanish is the main and official language of Nicaragua as well.
More than 90% of Nicaraguans speak Spanish. The ones living near the Caribbean coast also speak English, whereas the tribes have their own indigenous languages, like Sumo, Miskito, and Rama.
Other minor languages include Italian, German, Arabic, and Chinese.
5. Gallo Pinto Is Nicaragua’s National Dish
Here are some interesting food facts about Nicaragua.
Gallo Pinto, the national dish of Nicaragua, consists of rice and beans. It also contains additional vegetables, like onions and peppers, for extra flavour.
The dish’s name is a Spanish term which translates to “spotted rooster”.
Now, if you’re confused, the name is given not because of the ingredients but instead of the appearance. The combination of rice and beans has a speckled appearance that resembles a rooster’s feathers!
Generally, the locals consume Gallo Pinto as a side dish or sometimes, even for breakfast.
6. Managua Was Not Always the Capital of Nicaragua
Presently, Managua is the capital and the largest city of Nicaragua. However, the country’s capital wasn’t the same several years back!
During the colonial period of Nicaragua (around 1524), the country’s capital was León. Another city, named Granada, also served as the capital of the Spanish colony of Nicaragua.
Then, the capital was officially changed to Managua in 1852 as it was a common city between the rival cities, León and Granada.
7. Colonial Cities Still Live in Nicaragua
If you want to experience the colonial past of Nicaragua, you can explore various colonial cities, like Leon, Granada, and Managua.
Granada, a city located near Lake Nicaragua, is one of the most beautiful colonial cities. Right from colourful houses to cobblestone streets, it has everything! Additionally, volcanoes surround the city, which simply adds to its beauty.
León is another beautiful colonial city, full of churches, including the splendid Church of León! You’ll find elegant white architecture around the whole town as well.
8. Nicaragua Is the Largest Central American Country
Let’s discuss some geography-related facts about Nicaragua.
The entire region of Central America consists of seven countries – Panama, Guatemala, Belize, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Honduras, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, and Jamaica.
Out of these, Nicaragua is the largest as it spans an area of 130,373 square kilometres or 50,337 square miles. The country has around 46 cities, out of which five are major ones.
The second largest right after Nicaragua is Honduras with an area of 112,492 square kilometres or 43,433 square miles.
9. Nicaragua Is the Poorest Country in Central America
This is one of the saddest facts about Nicaragua.
The country is the poorest one in Central America, and the second poorest, after Haiti, in the Western Hemisphere.
There are many reasons behind its poverty such as a high level of unemployment, political instability, natural disasters, etc.
The HDI (Human Development Index) of Nicaragua is just around 0.667 and it faces food deficits. Also, the country’s minimum wage is the lowest in the entire Central America.
10. Nicaragua Has Many Volcanoes
Here’s one of the unique facts about Nicaragua.
This Central American country has 19 active volcanoes! Hence, it is referred to as the “Land of Lakes and Volcanoes” too.
In the last 500 years, there have been five serious eruptions which have killed more than 2000 people.
The worst disaster struck the country on 30th October 1998 when San Cristóbal, the largest volcano in Nicaragua, erupted and caused more than 1,600 deaths! The same volcano also erupted in July 2023.
Other volcanoes in Nicaragua include Momotombo Volcano, Concepción Volcano, and Maderas Volcano.
11. Lake Nicaragua Is Central America’s Largest Lake
I’ve mentioned Lake Nicaragua in many facts about Nicaragua above! After all, Lake Nicaragua is the largest and most significant lake in Central America.
Lake Nicaragua has an area of 8,264 square kilometres and was formed due to tectonic movements. It is also the 10th largest one in the Americas and the 19th largest in the entire world.
The lake is an important centre for recreational and tourism activities, like kayaking, boating, and birdwatching. It also has more than 400+ islands, including Ometepe, which has two volcanoes – Concepción and Maderas.
12. Lake Nicaragua Is the Only Freshwater Lake Where Sharks Live
Here’s another important fact about Lake Nicaragua.
We all have heard about sharks living in oceans and seas. Yet, have you ever heard about them living in a freshwater lake? If not, these facts about Nicaragua are pretty surprising!
Lake Nicaragua is home to endemic freshwater sharks like Lake Nicaragua Shark (Carcharhinus nicaraguensis). Other sharks like bull sharks also travel to Lake Nicaragua via the San Juan River from the Caribbean Ocean.
Apart from sharks, you’ll also find torpedoes and swordfish in the lake!
13. There Are Almost No Street Names in Nicaragua
This is one of the quirkiest facts about Nicaragua.
All countries have cities with their own street names. Yet, Nicaragua is different with no street numbers or names. Instead, people rely on local directions based on landmarks to find an address.
Well, you might face some difficulty in Nicaragua if you’re used to using Google or Apple Maps!
14. The British and the Spanish Invaded Nicaragua
Nicaragua has a history of colonialism with both the British and the Spanish.
In 1522, the Spanish conquistador, Gil González Dávila with his crew discovered Nicaragua and its indigenous tribes. The Spaniards soon established their dominance over the region and the colonial cities Granada and León in 1524.
Then, in 1633, the British established their territories along the Caribbean Coast. They kept it under their control till 1860. Later on, it was merged with Nicaragua in 1894.
Finally, Nicaragua got independence from Spain in 1821.
15. Nicaragua Is the Birthplace of Rubén Darío
If you’re into poetry and literature, these facts about Nicaragua are for you.
Rubén Darío, a Nicaraguan poet, was an important part of the Spanish-language literary movement that took place at the end of the 19th century. He was born on 18th January 1867 in Metapa (also known as Ciudad Darío) in Northern Nicaragua!
The famous works of Rubén Darío include Prosas Profanas, Cantos de Vida y Esperanza, and Azul. His works mostly revolved around love, nature, beauty, and philosophy.
16. An American President Took Control of Nicaragua
This is one of the most revolutionary facts about Nicaragua.
In the 19th century, William Walker, an American filibuster, tried to conquer Nicaragua and become its president.
William, with a group of people, captured the city of Granada and called himself the President of the country, in 1856.
Thankfully, countries like the US and Great Britain opposed his rule. He was soon removed from his self-proclaimed position in 1857 and had to leave the country.
17. You Shouldn’t Miss Stargazing in Nicaragua
There are so many countries in the world offering a beautiful stargazing experience, and Nicaragua is one of them.
Nicaragua’s location is also quite ideal for stargazing, as there are magnificent mountains and volcanoes. You might get to see meteor showers as well!
If you want to gaze at the Milky Way, Playa Maderas is the best place to be. It’s a beach on the coast of the Pacific Ocean and offers majestic sights.
18. Nicaragua Is the Perfect Place for Surfing
These facts about Nicaragua are for surfers!
Just like stargazing spots, you’ll find beaches with the perfect waves for surfing as well. Surfers from various parts of the world come to Nicaragua to surf at the Playa Maderas beach.
You can also get some consistent swells between April and October. Also, as Nicaragua isn’t as popular as other surfing destinations, you won’t encounter many crowds.
19. Baseball Is the National Sport of Nicaragua
These are some sports-related facts about Nicaragua.
In the late 19th century, the US introduced baseball and the whole culture surrounding it, to Nicaragua.
The country also has its own baseball team, the Nicaragua national baseball team, which is considered the best, alongside Panama, in the Central American region.
The country’s national team has participated in the Olympics twice – in 1984 and 1996. In 2023, it also qualified for the World Baseball Classic.
20. Nicaragua Relies Heavily on Renewable Energy
These facts about Nicaragua show how sustainable the country is when it comes to energy requirements.
The country gets 58% of its energy from renewable sources, whereas the rest 42% is from oil-based bunker fuel.
Out of 58%, 33.2% of the renewable energy is sourced from sugarcane biofuel.
21. Nicaragua is Famous for Producing Coffee
If you love coffee, you’ll love these facts about Nicaragua.
Nicaragua is the 11th largest producer of coffee. Jinotega, in Nicaragua, is the prime region for coffee production.
Keep in mind that coffee production also contributes 20% to the Agriculture GDP of the country.
22. Nicaragua Is Home to Multiple Ethnic Races
Nicaragua has people from various races. The majority of the population (69%) include mestizos (indigenous and white), 17% white, 9% black, and 5% indigenous.
23. The Meaning Behind Nicaragua’s Flag
Let’s discuss some flag-related facts about Nicaragua.
The country’s flag consists of three alternating bands of blue and white. The blue represents the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, whereas the white represents peace.
There’s also a coat of arms on the flag which depicts a liberty cap for freedom, a triangle for equality, and five volcanoes located between two oceans.
24. Eastern Nicaragua Is Covered by Rainforests
East Nicaragua is a part of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor, which starts in Mexico and ends in Panama. The whole region is known for its high biodiversity, lush-green trees, and varied species of flora and fauna.
Nicaragua is known for being the home to the largest tropical forests in the Americas, after Amazon, The Bosawás and Indio Maíz Biosphere Reserves.
Many indigenous tribes also live in these rainforests in Nicaragua.
25. Nicaragua Is One of the Safest Countries in Central America
You’d expect that Nicaragua would’ve high crime rates due to increased poverty. Yet, these facts about Nicaragua will prove you wrong!
Compared to the other countries in Central America, Nicaragua is the third safest country. The government has been trying to promote tourism to increase revenue in the country.
Further Reading – Facts About Nicaragua
Nicaragua is truly a country that has been blessed with the most bewitching kind of nature. From huge volcanoes to peaceful lakes, there’s a lot that this not-so-small country is hiding!
So, I hope these facts about Nicaragua helped you unravel the beauties of the country.
If you want to read more about such countries, check out these posts on my blog.