Nicaragua Travel and Tourism Information
The country of Nicaragua is known for its enormous lakes and many spectacular volcanoes. The largest nation in Central America, it can be found at the very heart of the Americas, surrounded by the two seas, the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea (part of the Atlantic Ocean).
The Nicaraguan coasts represent an incredible number of enchanting beaches to the delight of its visitors who come to find a spot to relax. Over twenty-five percent of the country¹s total area is represented by parks and natural reserves which protect the many species of wildlife native to the area.
The variety of attractions for tourists include white beaches in the San Juan del Sur e Rivas areas, famous for their crystalline waters and as one of the main recreational fishing spots in the country.
The staples in Nicaraguan cuisine are eggs and meat, especially chicken, pork, fish and beef. Other popular foods are beans, rice, salads, omelettes, and seasonal fruits. The most popular dishes are the galo pinto, the nacatamal and the tajaditas.
The Nicaraguan kitchen is synonymous with corn. A large number of dishes have a corn base prepared in a variety of ways. For this reason, Nicaraguans are known around the world as “pinoleros”. Other noteworthy favorites are pork meatball soup, and tortillas. Beverages include fruit juices, beer, rum, and liqueurs.
Nicaragua was discovered and colonized during the sixteenth century by the Spanish. The first two cities to be founded were Leon and Granada. Leon became a center for intellectuals and liberal ideology, while Granada remained more conservative.
The nation achieved independence in 1821; however, a short time later, the territory became annexed to Mexico along with other Central American states. In 1823, they broke away and formed the United Provinces of Central America. Finally, in 1838, the country became fully independent. With the Spanish leaving, other civilizations began to show interest in the country. Both the English and the Americans wanted to establish communication between the Atlantic and the Pacific.
Under the pretext of mediating the conflict between the liberals and conservatives, an American, William Walker, seized control of the government in 1856. However, without the support of either side, the two groups united against him, and threw him out the following year.
Unfortunately, the American interference, both politically and economically, brought about internal conflicts. The fuse which sparked major internal strife was a pact signed by Chamorro that gave the right to the United States to construct a canal. A guerrilla movement arose led by General Augusto César Sandino; this movement only managed to be controlled when Sandino was murdered in 1934.
Over the years, the problems in the country were not resolved culminating in a political dictatorship under General Anastásio Somoza who established great power for himself and his family. Following his assassination, in 1956, his family still continued his style of leadership. Toward the end of the 1960’s, his brother, Anastásio Somoza Debayle, became president. The Somozas generally maintained friendly relations with the United States. Somoza remained president until the beginning of the 1980’s except for a two year break from 1972 – 1974. The Sandista National Liberation Front unleashed a military offensive against the president forcing the president to take refuge in the United States for a time. In 1984, a Sandista was elected to power; this led the country to the imposition of an American economic restraint which also influenced other nations to do the same.
Nicaragua received help from its neighboring countries, El Salvador, Guatemala e Honduras which, in 1988, signed a peace plan. The guerrillas, the conflicts, and the economic pressures continued to leave their mark; even today, the country continues to struggle to get out of its economic and political crises.
Nicaragua is replete with interracial cultures. As in other Latin American nations, Spanish influence is great due to Spanish colonization. However, unlike some of these other countries, the ancient people that populated the territory did not leave great architectural structures in their cities; their decorated ceramic pieces are among the few remaining traces of their artistic heritage.
Especially noteworthy are their musical instruments, including clarinets, maracas, and recorders that bring a lively note to the old-fashioned costumes of the people, the marimba being the most popular in the country. There still are some dances from the colonial days as well as some Spanish, colonial architecture especially seen in the cities of Granada and Leon.
The people are characterized by the kindness and happiness they communicate with their visitors. The colorful celebration of holy days and other religious events attract many to the magic and animation of the local population which quickly includes everyone.
Approximately 69 % of the Nicaraguan people are Mestizos, 17 % whites, 9 % Negroes, and 5 % indigenous. The majority of the populations is concentrated in the western part of the country, and almost 58% of the population live in urban areas. The crossing of races is a strong characteristic of the Spanish-American countries.
Due to the diverse geography represented, the climate varies significantly from region to region, as well as being affected by altitude. In general, the country has a tropical climate with two clearly-defined seasons: the dry season which goes from December until April, and the rainy season from April until November.
The differences are seen more clearly when you consider the specific regions. The average, annual temperature is 27o C on the Pacific coast. This area has hot temperatures, with a dry season and the other, humid. The rainfall index of this region reaches 1,900 mm annually. The Mosquito Coast, on the Atlantic side, is hot and humid with much more rainfall, often reaching 3,300 mm annually. The highland, mountainous area, however, has much chillier weather.
Belize has a subtropical climate with welcome winds and breezes. The variations in the climate and weather give us the interesting differences in elevation, geography, flora, and animal life. The average annual temperature is 29o C. In summer, the temperature almost never exceeds 35.6 o C., and in the winter, the lowest temperature is 22o C. The tropical rains bring 127cm in the north and 432cm in the south. Annual precipitation is approximately 1,295mm in the north and a humidity of 85%. The dry season goes from February to March and the rainy season in July and August.
The temperature of the sea varies between 27ºC and 30º C.
Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America with an area of 129,494 square kilometers. It is 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.
Nicaragua naturally divides itself into three main regions: the Pacific Region, the North Central Highlands, and the Caribbean Region (Mosquito Coast). The Pacific Region is largely a low-lying area with a hot climate and fertile lands. About forty volcanoes, some of them active, are scattered through this area. It is here that the main cities are located: Managua, Granada, and Leon. The lakes, heavy rains, and a fertile soil make agriculture the main economic strength in this area.
Nicaragua Lake has more than four hundred islands and is connected to the Caribbean Sea by the San Juan River. The north-central region has many mountains and valleys. The soil is also very fertile, favoring agriculture. The highest peak of the country is Mogoton peak, located very close to the Honduras Border. The Mosquito Coast represents almost half of the Nicaraguan territory and harbors the country¹s main rivers. This is the least populated region of the country, and has both savanna-like vegetation as well as forested areas.
The Mosquito Coast boasts turquoise waters, white sands, and palm trees. This region represents almost half of the Nicaraguan territory, and houses the country¹s main rivers. It is the least-populated area with a vegetation constituted of savannas and tropical forests. A trip along the St. John River will take you to the Castle of the Immaculate Conception, built by the Spanish during the thirteenth century to deter the pirates.
Nature lovers will delight in the amazing variety of tourist spots which include the virgin jungles of tropical rain forests, such as the Natural Mombacho Volcano Reserve in Granada, the Maderas Volcano area on the Isle of Ometepe, the Biosphere Indian Maíz Reserve on the San Juan River, and many spectacular volcanoes that offer the visitors an opportunity to marvel before the power of nature.
It is not necessary to have a visa for stays under ninety days. You need to have an up-to-date passport, and a tourist card which you will receive as you leave the airplane for a cost of U.S.$ 5.00.
There is an airline exit tax of US$ 32.00.
The official currency is the Córdoba (NIO). The American dollar is accepted in most locations. Most credit cards are accepted. Travelers’ checks can be easily exchanged at the bank. Check with the closest consulate as the current exchange values.
Water: In general, the water is safe, however it would be wise to drink only bottled mineral water. When you leave the large cities and go to smaller towns, be careful; for your own safety, we recommend that you only drink bottled water. As in all countries, the hygiene and cleaning of food depends on the establishment you are in. In general, serious problems do not exist.
It is wise before travel to Nicaragua that you have vaccinations against Cholera, Hepatitis, and Typhoid Fever, and take medication to protect you against Malaria,. Since Dengue Fever is present in the country, it is also wise to take insect repellent.
In Nicaragua, the tip is not obligatory, however, if the service was acceptable, it is recommended you leave a tip.
Spanish is the official language.
The only tax the visitor will need to pay in the interior of the country is the IGV, the general sales tax.
Religiously, most of the population is Catholic.
The electrical current is 110 volts at 60 Hz. Plugs are the American style.
Regulations and requirements are subject to change without prior notice. It is wise to have a check-up with your doctor before you leave on your trip.
Light clothing and comfortable shoes are recommended; for the higher altitude areas, jackets and warmer clothing will be necessary.
Be alert for thieves watching for unsuspecting tourists. Avoid going out alone at night. Do not take unnecessary risks.
Do not flash about valuable objects, cameras, jewelry, etc.
Leave large amounts of money, travelers¹ checks, credit cards, airline tickets, passports, etc, in the safe in your hotel, or carry them at your waist, or chest in a traveler’s safety wallet.
Always keep your eyes on your sacks and baggage; hold your purse and your packages in front of you.
Do not allow anyone to distract you in a crowd, or when you are entering or getting out of any form of transportation.
In cafes and restaurants do not hang your purse behind the chair, and never out of your reach.
Make a photocopy of your passport, and leave the original in a safe, place separate from your other documents.