Concepcion and Maderas
Nicaragua, although it is the largest republic in Central America, has a relatively tiny population, 4.5 million. Nicaragua is bound on the north by Honduras, on the east by the Caribbean Sea, on the south by Costa Rica, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean and it's a little bit bigger than the US state of New York, 130,000 square kilometers. The capital city, Managua, is by far the largest, most developed, and hottest city in Nicaragua. About a million people live in Managua and the rest of them live on a 100 kilometer-wide strip that runs along the Pacific coast. There are a few cities on the Caribbean coast, but the population on that side of the country is tiny. Click here to see a big map of the country.
About 69 percent of these people are mestizos--mixed Spanish and Native American descent. The rest of the population is made up of white, black, and Native American. More than 75 percent of the people are Catholic with Protestants making up the rest but these Protestant groups are quickly bridging the gap. The official and dominant language is Spanish except on the east coast where a form of English that's a mix of English, Spanish, and native Indian is spoken. English is spoken by many businessmen and government officials and it is taught in many schools.
The Nicaraguan literacy rate is comparatively high, no doubt do to the massive reading campaign which was instituted during the Sandinista era, although critics note that the definition of "literacy" varies from nation to nation. Primary and secondary education is free and compulsory but many children can not attend because there are not available facilities in many rural areas and since children must begin to help out their families at an early age and are forced to drop out long before high school. About 678,900 students enrolled in primary but only 20 percent of these same students made it into secondary. However, there are 50,000 students currently attending institutions of higher education in Nicaragua and the number is growing steadily as new universities are opened all the time.
The Nicaraguan highlands, with an average elevation of about 610m cross Nicaragua from the northwest to the southeast. Several mountain ranges, the highest of which, the Cordillera Isabelia, reaches an elevation of more than 2100m, cut the highlands from east to west. There's a great big basin in the west which contains two lakes, Lake Nicaragua, the largest in Central America, and Lake Managua which are connected by the Tipitapa River. A chain of volcanoes, part of the ring-of-fire, rise up between the lakes and Pacific coast. In the east, the Caribbean coastal plain know as the Costa de Mosquitoes (Mosquito Coast) extends some 72km inland and is partly overgrown with rain forest. The four principal rivers, the San Juan, Coco, Grande (Big), and Escondido (Hidden), empty into the Caribbean.
The coastal regions of Nicaragua have a tropical climate with an average temperature of 25.5C and 26.5C. In the higher altitudes in the interior the temperature varies between 15.5C and 26.5C. The rainy season is from May to October and along the Caribbean coast annual rainfall averages 3.8m. Even though Nicaragua is located above the equator, the seasons would appear to be the opposite of those in the United States. For this reason, the seasons are simply referred to as the "rainy" and "dry" seasons instead of "winter" and "summer."
Nicaragua is lucky to have some of the best and most abundant resources in Central America. It's volcanic soil is perfect for growing rich crops, the volcanoes provide geothermal energy potential, and Nicaragua also has some petroleum and mineral reserves. Nicaragua also has rich forests of commercially-valuable trees like oak, pine, cedar, balsam, mahogany, and wild rubber covering 35% of the country. The vegetation is obviously tropical and subtropical, producing dense rain forests along the Caribbean coast and on the eastern slopes of the highlands. There is also a wide variety of wildlife, many of which are trapped and sold like deer, pumas, monkeys, and macaws and parrots.
Click here to see a big map of the country.