|Country Information & Lifestyle|
A little harder to find, but the best things in life always are
Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America and least populated. It boasts the greatest area of uncut rain forest in North America and is still one of the least developed countries in the region. Now the safest country in Latin America after Uruguay the country is developing rapidly and tourism is at the forefront of the development.
Nicaragua is bordered by Honduras to the north, Costa Rica in the south, the North Pacific Ocean to the west and the Caribbean Sea in the east. It is the second poorest of the Latin American countries second only to Haiti, and the warm, friendly people make this a very welcoming place.
The climate is tropical in the lowlands and in the highlands it is cooler, with the rainy season from May to mid November, February to May is hotter.
The country has spectacular scenery with the Pacific region home to unspoiled beaches, volcanoes, picturesque lakes, tropical forests and mangrove swamps, whilst the central region boasts unexplored mountains, fabulous rivers and is the agricultural area. The Atlantic region contains rain-forest, magical lagoons, mangrove swamps, pristine jungles brimming with wildlife and coral reefs.
In the north of the country are the Isabella mountains while the main feature in the southwest are two of the regions largest lakes, Lake Nicaragua and Lake Managua joined by the winding Tipitapa River. Lake Nicaragua is 92 miles by 34 miles and has a reputation for great beauty and is one of the country's main tourist attractions.
The island of Ometepe is the largest of the 310 islands on the lake and volcanoes like the famous Momotombo protrude from the surrounding lowlands north west of the lake. Boats can be hired on the shores of Lake Managua for visiting the still-smoking Momotombo volcano.
The centre of the capital Managua was completely destroyed by an earthquake in December 1972 and further damaged during the civil war 1973-1979, the government is now going to rebuild adding parks and recreational facilities. The city of Managua remains the capital but it has never been it's heart. That role has been split, throughout Nicaragua's history between Conservative, inward-looking, Catholic Granada in the south west and it's liberal, laid-back rival Leon to the north west.
Granada and Leon have been quarrelling since 1524 when the cities were founded by Spanish Conquistadors. Granada insists that it is the oldest colonial town in the Americas, Leon vigorously disputes the claim.
Leon, in the Matagalpa Highlands, destroyed in 1610 by the volcano Momotombo, is the intellectual capital of Nicaragua with university, baroque churches, religious colleges, the largest cathedral in Central America and Spanish colonial architecture. It is hotter here but with the close proximity to the Pacific Ocean and its spectacular backdrop of volcanoes, the 10-strong Aribios Range, it certainly has much to offer the visitor and resident alike.
Granada was the first city founded in the country and has applied for accreditation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are many beautiful colonial buildings and Castilian traditions have been faithfully preserved. Granada has 17th century adobe houses, crumbling courtyard gardens and Italiante villas in shady streets. With such natural beauty as the pristine cloud forest along the slopes of the dormant volcano Mombacho, the idyllic island clusters in the middle of Lake Nicaragua and the perfectly circular lake crater at Apoyo Granada is certainly one of the most beautiful places in Nicaragua to reside in.
On an island opposite the city is the 18th century fortress of San Pablo, built to protect the city from pirates.
The beautiful Corn Islands, Big Corn and Little Corn, are on the Caribbean side of Nicaragua with the inhabitants descended from European pirates, British land owners and African slaves. The islands offer an all year round warm climate, remote beaches and are full of gorgeous scenery, crystal clear waters and totally laid back.
Big Corn is forested with lush greenery and mangroves in the interior and surrounded by white sand beaches and tropical waters. The only way to get there is to fly on a small plane out of Managua. Brig Bay is the principal town on the island with the thatched roof airport the size of a small house. This is the Caribbean without the tourists.
The only way to get to Little Corn is on a twice daily small ferry from Big Corn. The waters around Little Corn are turquoise with white sand beaches and hidden coves of crystal clear, warm waters and just 800 acres in area. The island has no modern resort or motor vehicles and can support only 250 visitors at a time. Little Corn has none of the reputation that Big Corn has so this is the ideal place to chill out and unwind. There is excellent fishing, world-class diving, mouthwatering seafood and plenty to explore from lawless jungle to uninhabited pristine beaches of the northwest coastline.
The Spanish speaking country of Nicaragua has many traditions like THE PURISIMA, about four hundred years old, celebrated on the eve of 7th December, the Immaculate Conception of Maria and known as "The Shouting".
The procession will start at the unearthly hour of 5am with mortars and a band, and the bishop of the city sounds the bells in the imposing old cathedral. The tradition is due to the intercession of the Virgin Mary to appease fury of the volcanic nature of the Nicaraguan geography. "The Shouting" begins when the bishop gives the shout "Who causes so much happiness" and the answer is "The Conception of Maria".
After coffee tourism will soon be Nicaragua's most important source of foreign exchange. With so much natural beauty is it surprising that ex-pat's from around the world are looking to Nicaragua for their new home.
Nicaragua is known as "The Land of Lakes and Volcanoes" and is truly a paradise. With the fragrance of flowers and vistas of incredible beauty, this magnificent country will haunt you until the day you die.