Nicaragua lies on the Central American land bridge between the Pacific and the Caribbean. The natural area of the country is shaped by the mountain ranges of the Cordilleras, between which the Nicaraguan Depression is embedded, in which the main settlement areas of the population are located.
Nicaragua has a hot and humid tropical climate that is tempered in the mountains. Extensive tropical rainforests cover the lowlands on the Caribbean coast. After a long civil war and devastating natural disasters, the country is one of the poorest developing countries in Central America. The most important pillar of its economy is agriculture with the cultivation of export crops such as coffee, cotton, sugar cane and bananas.
As one of the 10 countries starting with N according to COUNTRYAAH, Nicaragua borders on Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. Nicaragua is the largest, but also the least populated country in Central America after Belize.
Important data about the country
|Population density:||43 residents / km²|
|Growth of population:||2.4% per year|
|Life expectancy:||69 years|
|Form of government:||Presidential Republic|
|Languages:||Spanish as the official language, various Indian languages|
|Religions:||more than 90% Catholics, about 5% Protestants|
|Climate:||Always humid tropical climate with average temperatures around 27 °C (Managua), on the Pacific coast alternately humid with winter dry season, significantly cooler at high altitudes|
|Land use:||Arable land 12%, pastures 42%, forest 20%|
|Export goods:||Cotton, coffee, bananas, sugar, wood|
|Gross domestic product:||$ 4,083 million (2003)|
(share of GDP 2003)
|Industry 26%, agriculture
18%, services 56%
|Gross National Product:||US $ 740 / residents (2003)|
The surface shape of Nicaragua is divided into four major landscapes: The central mountainous region in the north and in the interior of the country is strongly divided by mountain ranges. Its highest mountain, the Mogotón (2107 m) on the border with Honduras, is also the highest point in Nicaragua. Towards the Pacific, the mountains drop off steeply, while towards the Caribbean Sea they gradually merge into lowlands. In the east of the country is the up to 80 km wide, sparsely populated Caribbean lowland, which merges into the swampy, lagoon-rich Mosquito coast on the Caribbean Sea. There are numerous coral reefs and islands in front of the coast. Perhaps the most interesting landscape is the Nicaragua Depression,a deep incision between the Cordilleras running diagonally south-east from Fonseca Bay to the Caribbean coast. In it are the huge Lake Nicaragua and Lake Managua.
The depression was discussed in the 19th century as an alternative to the Panama Canal route for an Atlantic-Pacific Canal. Lake Nicaragua is the largest lake in Central America at 8264 km². There are over 400 islands in it. The largest of the islands, Ometepe, consists of the 1610 m high active volcano Conceptión and the 1394 m high extinct volcano Maderas. The Pacific lowlands are approximately 50 km wide. In its center a chain of z. Partly still active volcanoes, which runs parallel to the coast from the Gulf of Fonseca to Ometepe Island.Nicaragua is also quite often used by z. Sometimes devastating earthquakes. One of these earthquakes destroyed the capital Managua in 1992 and left 16,000 people homeless.
The largest waters of Nicaragua flow through the Caribbean lowlands and flow into the Caribbean Sea. At 780 km, the longest Coco River forms almost the entire border with Honduras. In the south, the San Juan, which drains Lake Nicaragua, is the border river to Costa Rica.
Nicaragua’s climate is tropical. The lowlands in the east are always humid with up to 6000 mm of precipitation per year and are one of the rainiest regions on earth.
The west is with max. 2000 mm of precipitation and a dry season from December to April drier. The rainy season lasts from May to October.
The annual temperature fluctuations are low overall. Depending on the altitude, the average annual temperatures in the lowlands are 27 °C and in the higher elevations of the mountainous regions between 17 °C and 20 °C.
The natural vegetation of the Caribbean lowlands and the eastern slopes of the mountains is a species-rich evergreen rainforest. Where it was cut down, there are extensive pine forests in the higher areas.
The Mosquito Coast on the Caribbean is largely overgrown by mangrove thickets and palm trees. The predominant forms of vegetation in the central mountain region are mountain rainforests and tropical dry forests, which, however, have largely been cleared to gain agricultural land.
Nicaragua has been in a serious economic crisis since the mid-1980’s. The causes lie primarily in a long-standing civil war between a left-wing government and right-wing rebels supported by the USA. The civil war, which was linked to the suspension of economic aid and a US trade embargo, did not end until the mid-1990’s. At that time, unemployment was 57% and the country was in debt with almost $ 6 billion abroad. Hurricane Mitch also caused severe economic damage. This devastated large parts of the country in 1998 and abruptly interrupted a phase of the beginning economic recovery.
Agriculture, which generates around a third of GDP, is Nicaragua’s leading industry. Cotton, sugar cane and bananas are grown on the Pacific coast. There are many coffee plantations in the central mountain region.
Rice, bananas, sugar cane and cocoa trees thrive on the Caribbean coast. Cattle breeding dominates the livestock sector. The valuable wood stocks, u. a. Mahogany and rosewood are almost exhausted by decades of overexploitation. In the Caribbean Sea, crabs and lobsters are mainly fished for export.
Natural resources and industry
Nicaragua’s rich natural resources (lead, iron, gold, copper, silver, tungsten, zinc) have not yet been developed. So far, only gold, silver and copper have been mined to a significant extent. The overall poorly developed industry mainly processes agricultural raw materials. Textiles, leather goods, but also metal goods and pharmaceuticals are manufactured.
The most important export products are coffee, cotton, meat, sugar, wood, shrimp and lobster. In addition, the country has little traffic. The Panamerican Highway, the connection to the neighboring countries, was affected in the civil war. The rest of the road network is also in poor condition. The railway was shut down in 1994.
The only international airport is at Managua.