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Nicaragua (ə/ (About this soundlisten); Spanish: [nikaˈɾaɣwa] (About this soundlisten)), officially the Republic of Nicaragua (ES-pe - República de Nicaragua.ogg), is the largest country in the Central American isthmus, bordered by Honduras to the northwest, the Caribbean to the east, Costa Rica to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the southwest. Managua is the country's capital and largest city and is also the third-largest city in Central America, behind Tegucigalpa and Guatemala City. The multi-ethnic population of six million includes people of indigenous, European, African, and Asian heritage. The main language is Spanish. Indigenous tribes on the Mosquito Coast speak their own languages and English.

Originally inhabited by various indigenous cultures since ancient times, the region was conquered by the Spanish Empire in the 16th century. Nicaragua gained independence from Spain in 1821. The Mosquito Coast followed a different historical path, being colonized by the English in the 17th century and later coming under British rule. It became an autonomous territory of Nicaragua in 1860 and its northernmost part was transferred to Honduras in 1960. Since its independence, Nicaragua has undergone periods of political unrest, dictatorship, occupation and fiscal crisis, including the Nicaraguan Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s and the Contra War of the 1980s.

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The Nicaraguan Literacy Campaign, also called the Literacy Campaign, was a campaign launched in 1980 by the Sandinista government in order to reduce illiteracy in Nicaragua. It was awarded the prestigious UNESCO Literacy Award. There have been many other literacy campaigns in the country since the first one was launched in 1980. Read more...

Did you know...

  • ...that the first woman to be popularly elected as President of a Latin American nation was Violeta Chamorro who served her term from 1990-1997 in Nicaragua. As of 2007 she is the only woman to have served in the role?
  • ...that in 1972, nearly 90% of the capital city of Managua was destroyed in an earthquake?
  • ...that Lake Nicaragua is the largest freshwater lake in Central America (19th largest in the world) and is home to the world's only freshwater sharks?
  • ...that Nicaragua's Bosawas Biosphere Reserve protects 1,800,000 acres (7,300 km2) of Mosquitia forest - almost seven percent of the country's area - making it the second largest Biosphere reserve in the world after the Amazon in Brazil?
  • ...that most Nicaraguans begin and end every day with Gallo pinto, a meal of rice and beans cooked separately and then fried together, and that on the Atlantic coast it is common to add coconut oil to the dish?
  • ...that one of the world's finest rums, Ron Flor de Caña, is produced in Nicaragua?
  • ...that in the 19th century the United States had plans to build a waterway linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans through the country. The Nicaragua Canal concept was abandoned after the U.S. opted to back the construction of the Panama Canal instead?

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Departments

Nicaragua is a unitary republic. For administrative purposes it is divided into 15 departments (departamentos) and two self-governing regions (autonomous communities) based on the Spanish model:

(Department capitals in parenthesis)

  1. Boaco (Boaco)
  2. Carazo (Jinotepe)
  3. Chinandega (Chinandega)
  4. Chontales (Juigalpa)
  5. Estelí (Estelí)
  6. Granada (Granada)
  7. Jinotega (Jinotega)
  8. León (León)
  9. Madriz (Somoto)
  10. Managua (Managua)
  11. Masaya (Masaya)
  12. Matagalpa (Matagalpa)
  13. Nueva Segovia (Ocotal)
  14. Rivas (Rivas)
  15. Río San Juan (San Carlos)
  16. Región Autónoma Costa Caribe Norte (Bilwi)
  17. Región Autónoma Costa Caribe Sur (Bluefields)
NicaraguaDepartmentsNumbered.png

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