Description: three horizontal bands, blue, white, blue; national coat of arms in the center, which is a triangle encircled by the words República de Nicaragua, América Central; this flag is similar to the flags of Honduras and El Salvador.



NAME:                                  República de Nicaragua; country named for Chief Nicaraoa when Spanish arrived in 1524; or  "nicarao" (> name of Náhuatl-speaking tribe living on the shores of Lake Nicaragua; the ending "agua" was possibly added by the Spanish for the water (agua = water) in the region; however, this latter is most likely just a popular etymology.


POPULATION:                    4,300,000 (1997); 5,700,000 (2007); 6,500,000 (2014)

ETHNIC GROUPS:             Mestizo (69%); white (17%); black (9%); Indian (5%)

CAPITAL:                            Managua (2,200,000 population–2014)

LANGUAGES:                     Spanish (official); Indian languages

RELIGION:                          Roman Catholicism (95%)

LIFE EXPECTANCY:        1997: men (63); women (68); 2007: men, 69; women, 73

LITERACY:                         1997: 66%; 2007: 67%

GOVERNMENT:                 democratic republic

                President:              Daniel Ortega Saavedra (since 2007)

MILITARY:                         12,000 active troops

ECONOMY:                         oil refining, bananas, cotton, fruit, coffee

MONEY:                               gold córdoba (NIO); 1997: 8.4 = $1.0 USD; 2007: 17.6 NI) / 1.0 USD

GEOGRAPHY:                    both Atlantic and Pacific coasts are over 200 miles long; lake Managua; mountain range down middle of country

INTERNET CODE:             .ni



            6000 BCE                   Evidence of native inhabitants

            700 BCE – 1425 CE   Various tribes, first Maya, then Chibcha (Colombia) inhabit the region of present-day Nicaragua

            1425-1524                   Part of Aztec Empire

            1502                            Nicaragua discovered by Columbus

            1524-1552                   Settled and conquered by Spain

            1524-1858                   Capital at León; thereafter at Managua

            1821                            Independence from Spain

            1825-1840                   Nicaragua part of United Provinces of Central America

            1852-1933                   US Marines land/invade 14 times

            1855-1860                   William Walker (American) attempted to establish control over Nicaragua; he reestablished slavery

            1909                            United States pressure forced President José Santos Zelaya from office

            1912                            United States marines invade Nicaragua when civil war broke out

            1916-1926                   Instability under conservative presidents

            1926 (May 2)              Gen. Agusto César Sandino starts insurrection after Gen. Moncada agrees with U.S. to form Conservative-Liberal coalition to govern Nicaragua; United States invades; Succession of governments; civil war

            1933                            Sandino killed by Anastasio Somoza's National Guard

            1936-1956                   Anastasio Somoza (senior) dictator

            1956-1967                   Luis Somoza dictator (dies of heart attack), brother of Anastasio Somoza Debayle

            1967-1979                   Anastasio Somoza Debayle (junior), dictator (started as elected president, then “elected” again 1974)

            1972                            Earthquake kills 13,000 and destroys 80% of buildings in Managua

            1972-1979                   Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (FSLN) wages guerrilla war

            1978                            Pedro Joaquín Chamorro (editor of La Prensa ) assassinated by National Guard (husband to Violeta Barrios de Chamorro)

            1979                            Dictator Anastasio Somoza  Debayle  overthrown by Sandinistas

                                                Land Reform Law passed; 1979-84, 3,476,627 acres distributed to 54,252 families

            1980                            Somoza assassinated in Paraguay

            1984                            CIA mines Nicaraguan ports

                                                Daniel Ortega Saavedra (Sandinista) elected president

            1985                            Sandinistas sign accord with Miskito Indians

            1987                            Aug. 7: Signed Treaty with 5 Central American countries in Esquipulas, Honduras

                                                Nov. 6: Appointed Miguel Cardinal Obando y Bravo to mediate peace with Contras ; effort failed

            1988                            Jan.: Negotiations with contras  begin; Feb. U.S. cuts off aid to contras ; effort failed                     

            1989                            Feb. 14:  Signed new treaty with 5 Central American countries to liberalize press and elections in exchange for dismantling the contras

                                                Mar. 25:  Pres. George Bush (USA) signs agreement with USA Congress to stop military agression against Sandinista government and to seek diplomatic solutions

                                                Aug. 4:  Agreement between all political parties and Sandinistas to hold elections on Feb. 25, 1990 and to eliminate all foreign support for contras

            1990–2006                  Feb. 25:  Unión Nacional de la Oposición (UNO) wins elections: Violeta Barrios de Chamorro elected president with 55% of vote; takes office April 25, 1990; defeated Daniel Ortega

            2007–2017                  Daniel Ortega elected president twice


GOVERNMENT:       Constitutional Republic, Representative Democracy

PRESIDENT:             Daniel Ortega


                        Frente Sandinista, leader Daniel Ortega Saavedra

                        Partido Conservador de Nicaragua

                        Partido Liberal Constitucionalista

                        Partido Liberal Independiente, president Virgilio Godoy Reyes

                        Partido Popular Socialcristiano, president Mauricio Díaz Dávila

                        Partido Socialcristiano           

                        Partido Socialdemócrata y Comunista de Nicaragua

                        Roman Catholic Church,  Miguel Cardinal Obando y Bravo

Unión Nacional de la Oposición (UNO; coalition of 14 parties opposed to Sandinistas)


            Rubén Darío (1867-1916), national poet laureat; Modernist:  Azul  (1888), Prosas profanas (1897), Cantos de vida y esperanza  (1903)

            Ernesto Cardenal, poet: En Cuba  (1972), Homenaje a los indio americanos, Quetzalcóatl    (1989)

            Sergio Ramírez, short stories, essays, biography, novel: Tiempo de fulgor  (1970)

            Cristina Chamorro Barrios: editor of La Prensa