Nicaragua is the
largest country in Central America. It's
bordered to the north by Honduras, to the
south by Costa Rica, to the
east by the Caribbean Sea and to the west by the Pacific Ocean. The
country has three distinct geographic regions: the Pacific lowlands,
the north-central mountains and the Caribbean lowlands, also called
the Mosquito Coast or Mosquitía.
fertile Pacific lowlands are interrupted by about 40 volcanoes, and
dominated by Lago de Nicaragua, which is the largest lake in Central
America. The Mosquito Coast is a sparsely populated rainforest area
and the outlet for many of the large rivers originating in the central
mountains. To date, 17% of the country has been given national-park
status. Lago de Nicaragua supports unusual fish, including the world's
only freshwater sharks, as well as a huge variety of bird life.
The cloud- and rainforests in the northwest contain abundant wildlife
including ocelots, warthogs, pumas, jaguars, sloths and spider monkeys.
Avian life in the forests is particularly rich: The cinnamon hummingbird,
ruddy woodpecker, stripe-breasted wren, elegant trogon, shining hawk
and even the quetzal, the holy bird of the Maya, can all be seen.
The jungles on the Caribbean coast contain trees that grow up to almost
200ft (60m) high and are home to boas, anacondas, jaguars, deer and
howler monkeys. Nicaragua's climate varies according to altitude.
The Pacific lowlands are always extremely hot, but the air is fresh
and the countryside green during the rainy season (May to November);
the dry season (December to April) brings winds that send clouds of
brown dust across the plains. The Caribbean coast is hot and wet;
it can rain heavily even during the brief dry season (March to May).
The mountains of the north are much cooler than the lowlands.
Earthquakes and war have obliterated much tangible
evidence of Nicaragua's cultural heritage, especially its colonial
architecture - although León retains many fine old buildings. Poetry
is one of Nicaragua's most beloved arts, and no other Central American
country can match its literary output. Rubén Darío (1867-1916) is
known as the
'Prince of Spanish-American literature,' and recent work by Nicaraguan
poets, fiction writers and essayists can be found in most bookshops.
Bluefields, the largely English-speaking town on the Caribbean coast,
is a center for reggae music. The Archipiélago de Solentiname in
Lago de Nicaragua is famous as a haven for artists, poets and craftspeople.
Sandinista street art in the form of modernist murals is especially
prominent in the university town of León. Spanish is the language
of Nicaragua, but English and a number of Indian languages are spoken
on the Caribbean coast.
The main religion is Catholicism, although there are a number of
Protestant sects such as the Pentecostals and the Baptists. The
Moravian church, introduced by British missionaries, is important
on the Caribbean coast. A typical meal in Nicaragua consists of
eggs or meat, beans and rice, salad (cabbage and tomatoes), tortillas
and fruit in season.
Most common of all Nicaraguan foods is gallo pinto, a blend of rice
and beans, with cooking water from the beans added to color the
rice. Other traditional dishes include bajo, a mix of beef, green
and ripe plantains and yucca (cassava), and vigorón, yucca served
with fried pork skins and coleslaw. Street vendors sell interesting
drinks such as tiste, made from cacao and corn, and posol con leche,
a corn-and-milk drink. Nicaragua boasts the best beer and rum in
climate varies according to altitude. The Pacific lowlands are always
extremely hot, but the air is fresh and the countryside green during
the rainy season (May to November); the dry season (December to
April) brings winds that send clouds of brown dust across the plains.
The Caribbean coast is hot and wet; it can rain heavily even during
the brief dry season (March to May). The mountains of the north
are much cooler than the lowlands.
Health risks: cholera, dengue fever, hepatitis, malaria, rabies,
Entry & Exit Policies
Visas: Citizens of the UK, USA, the Scandinavian countries,
Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and
European Union countries do not need visas and are issued a tourist
card (US$5) valid for 90 days on arrival. Citizens of Australia,
Canada, New Zealand and European countries that do not have reciprocal
agreements with Nicaragua will require either a visa or a tourist
card allowing a 30-day stay.
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