According to transporthint, Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America. 6.5 million people live in an area of almost 130,000 km². This makes the country about the size of Greece or one and a half times the size of Austria. Its geographical location shows an important feature: it lies between the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific, and it occupies the center of the narrow continental bridge between North and South America. It is bordered by Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. It is also called “tierra de lagos y volcanes” because 9,200 km² of its area is inland water. Lake Nicaragua (Cocibolca) is the tenth largest freshwater lake in the world and by far the largest in Central America. The center is crossed by a chain of volcanoes and is very prone to earthquakes. The longest river is the Río Coco, border river to Honduras, with 780 km.
The Nicaraguans are, if you may say so, nothing like their own kitchen. Whether in Los Angeles, Berlin, Miami or San José: Everywhere there is the Fritanga and the Nacatamal, the Indio Viejo, Tarjadas, Quesillo, Vigorón, Chicharrón, the wonderful Guirilla, the Baho. Above all, however, is Nica’s favorite dish, the “Gallo Pinto” (rice and beans), preferably with tortilla; that’s for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Corn defines the national cuisine, and the ingenuity in the preparation of the most diverse dishes – desserts, drinks, alcoholic beverages, stews, vegetables, etc. – is impressive. The daily diet is not particularly healthy, because a lot is fatty and comes out of the pan. Those who can afford it also eat a lot of meat and cheese. A look at the recipesshows that most dishes are very high in calories (like they used to be in the country, when you had to work hard in the fields), but also delicious. In addition to the well-known standards such as bistec encebollado (beef steak with onions), maduro (plantain) and crema (sour cream), there are also pronounced highlights such as parilla (beef from the grill), brocheta (meat skewer), chuleta caribeña (cutlet with pineapple), sea fish, Prawns in garlic sauce, ceviche, braised pumpkin with minced meat, etc.
Those who do not eat at home like to visit one of the restaurants frequented by tourists. But you have to find the most beautiful ones yourself, or get recommended. You can also go to a “comedor” for lunch during your work break; this is a kind of canteen where the food costs only half as much and is usually well and lovingly cooked. You can also eat well in the street kitchens (Fritangas) and in the market. Here you can find all tropical delicacies, fruits and vegetables at cheap prices. However, it is advisable to take a critical look behind the scenes, because sometimes there is a risk of infection because unclean water is used.
The latter risk, of course, applies especially to drinks that you buy on the street. The variety of tropical fruits is impressive, and juices are made from all of them (unfortunately usually with tons of sugar), mostly called “fresco”. The “Raspado”, a thickened fruit juice that is topped up with crushed ice and water, is also typical. The traditional Nicaraguan drink, the “Tiste” (a mixture of cocoa and sweet corn, served in a calabash with water) has almost disappeared. If the wallet allows it, they usually just order a beer or a cola.
In any case, the Nicaraguan rum (Flor de Caña) must be praised. When you chat with the neighbors on the terrace or in front of the front door in the evening and the heat of the day has subsided, it tastes simply good with lime, ice cream and possibly cola (or in a cocktail).
Basic information can be found on the Nicaragua website of the Federal Foreign Office and in the country profile of the World Bank. The CIA’s World Factbook provides further current data. Detailed, comprehensive statistics on the economy and society can be found on the Nicaragua country page in Knoema’s World Data Atlas. Some chapters of the US government’s extensive 1993 country study are still worth reading. The Nicaragua portal is an appealing site.
The Nicaragua en Cifras report (2019) is compiled annually by the central bank and contains official figures. The 2017 statistical yearbook is available from the national institute INIDE. The overview Estadísticas de Centroamérica (2018), which is being developed in Costa Rica by the renowned research group “Estado de la Nación”, contains a wealth of data on the sustainable social development of the seven Central American countries and thus enables regional comparison. Many figures have been taken from these works. The current population figures of the cities and departments are at city population.