Nicaragua Geography and Population

Nicaragua – Geography

The central parts of the country contain two volcanic mountain ranges; the eastern has heights up to 2200 m and is of older origin, the western is somewhat lower and characterized by younger volcanoes, several of which are active. Between the two lies a valley depression with the great lakes Managua and Nicaragua. Although frequent volcanic eruptions and earthquakes have been devastating, a powerful earthquake thus left Managuain ruins in 1972, the area is the most densely populated in the country. Volcanic ash has formed a fertile soil, and here is found most of the modern infrastructure, the country’s only major port in Corinto, and here lies the capital and the few other major cities. East of the mountains lies the province of Zelaya, a vast lowland gently sloping down towards the Mosquito coast and drained by numerous rivers. Zelaya makes up half of the country’s land area, but holds only 4% of the population. Estuaries, deltas and large lagoons characterize the coast itself; next to this are sandbanks, coral reefs and a few small islands.

The climate is tropical with gnsntl. year-round temperatures between 25 °C and 30 °C. The sparsely populated eastern regions receive abundant rain all year round from the northeastern trade route, and the natural vegetation here is rainforest. On the western side of the mountains, there is a marked dry season from January to April.


69% of the residents are mestizos (of Spanish-Native American descent), 17% are white, while 9% are black. The Indians, who count less than 5%, live mainly on the Mosquito coast facing the Caribbean Sea; the largest group is the miskito. They live in small and often isolated communities, each with its own language or dialect and culture. Further south lives a black, English-speaking population, descendants of African slaves and Caribbean Indians.

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The population growth is large, approximately 3% per year and 45% of the population is under 15 years of age. Falling child mortality and a baby boom after the long civil war are among the reasons for the great growth. It is estimated that up to 400,000 Nicaraguans have emigrated, especially to the United States. During the war, there was also great migration from the countryside to the cities, especially to Managua.


Nicaragua is a distinctly agricultural country. In 1950-75, the country experienced economic growth, which especially benefited export agriculture. In particular, coffee, cotton (and cottonseed oil), meat and sugar are exported. Two thirds of the industry is linked to agriculture either as suppliers or as processors of agricultural production. 40% of the population lives in rural areas and 30% of the labor force is employed in agriculture itself. Large areas are very fertile, but only 11% of the area is actually arable; 45% is permanent grass, and 28% forest. The most systematic cultivation takes place in the western part with large export farms; grasslands dominate to the SW, where there is a significant livestock population between the lakes and the Pacific coast. The mountain areas are characterized by small farms with self-sufficiency,

As in other Central American states, land distribution is extremely skewed in Nicaragua, and this skew has been a major factor in the country’s troubled history. When the Sandinistas came to power in 1979, they embarked on an agricultural reform to create a modern, export-oriented agriculture based on economies of scale and modern technology. The land was not to be subdivided into small farms. Until 1984-85, much was invested in state farms and cooperatives, while small and medium-sized farms were downgraded. The venture failed, and in the mid-1980’s the course changed and many large farms were privatized. The strategy has meant that Nicaragua, formerly self-sufficient in food, now has to import food to the growing population. Banana plantations are found on the Pacific coast and on the southern part of the east coast,

The forest area has declined sharply. Felling and clearing for agricultural purposes reduced the forest area from 42% to 28% in just 15 years until 1991.

Nicaragua – language

Spanish is the official language and mother tongue of the majority of the population. In addition, a few Native American languages ​​are spoken, miskito and sumo, both belonging to the misumalpan language family. Along the Caribbean coast, Western Caribbean Creole English is spoken. For culture and traditions of Nicaragua, please check calculatorinc.

Nicaragua – religion

The residents belong mainly to the Roman Catholic Church. There are smaller groups of Protestants, especially on the east coast, and the Pentecostal movement in particular is gaining ground. In the past there were also smaller groups of Jews, but today there are hardly more than approximately 50 Jews left in the country due to persecution by the Propalestinist Sandinista government 1979-90.

There is religious freedom; state and church separated in 1893.

Ernesto Cardenal has reshaped and reinterpreted the Old Testament hymns so that they point into the current political reality (da. Sønderbrudt barbed wire, 1970). The Catholic Church has sought to adapt to the changing regimes.