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Nicaragua

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 Geography & Topography

Capital: Managua

Area: 130,000 km²

Population: 6,100,000

Language: Spanish, English, indigenous languages

Religion: Roman Catholic, Protestant

Currency: Gold Cordoba

 

History

It’s the largest country in the Central America isthmus. Discovered by the Spanish during the 16th century, the country obtained its independence in 1821. Since, it has experienced many political troubles like a dictatorship and fiscal crises that led to civil war and the Nicaraguan Revolution in the 1960’s and 1970’s.  Since the 1990’s the country has been facing political stability and economic growth.

The beautiful landscapes, the diverse fauna and flora, the tropical weather and the large number of active volcanoes make Nicaragua a famous tourist destination.

The population that represents about 6 million people has multiple origins with people coming from local tribes, Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

The Nicaraguan culture was strongly influenced by European Culture over its history. We can find two main trends on the Pacific coast and the Caribbean coast. The Pacific coast, colonized by Spain, has a strong Europeans influence and a similar culture to Spanish-speaking Latin American countries. The Caribbean coast that was colonized by England is similar to Caribbean islands such as Jamaica or the Cayman Islands. Nevertheless Indigenous people have kept their cultural identities.

 

Performing Arts

Music

nicaragua guitaritasThe local music represents a mix of indigenous and European music, mostly Spanish, inspirations. The sounds and rhythms are very varied and groovy and are reminiscent of Latin music that can be found in South and Central America. The different forms of music are mainly dance music such as Pop, Bachata, Merengue, Salsa, Cumbia, Reggae, Soca, Chicheros, Punta, played by the Afro-Indian community, and Palo de Mayo, mainly played on the Caribbean coast of the country.

 

 

The most recognizable instruments in traditional Nicaraguan music are:

The marimba: The Nicaraguan marimba is different from the other marimba that is found in Central America. The performer is seated and holds it on his knee. The marimba is made with hardwood plates placed over bamboo or metal tubes of varying lengths and played with two or four hammers. It’s generally followed by bass fiddle, guitar and guitarrilla.

Dance

 

Dance forms in Nicaragua are as diverse as music in the country. Latin dances like Cumbia, Salsa, Bachata and Tango are the most common. Other local dances include the lively and sensual Palo de Mayo or the traditional Mestizaje dance. The ways of dancing differ according to the region, in rural areas the emphasis is on the movement of the hips and turns whereas in urbanized areas the emphasis is more on the footwork.

 

 

 

 

Examples of traditional Nicaraguan dance

 

Palo de Mayo: The women are dancing around the maypole, a tall wooden pole draped with long and colorful ribbons, while two men try to accompany them only to find themselves rejected at the end. The dance is very sensual with strong rhythms and is an electric reworking of ‘Mento’ an acoustic Creole folk music.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some interesting facts:

  •  It was the first country in Central America and the second in Western Hemisphere to designate a female President.
  •  The two largest lakes in central America are to be found in Nicaragua, they are called Lake Managua and Lake Nicaragua
  •  The Etymology of the name could come from Nicarao, chief of the most populous indigenous tribe and agua which means water in Spanish.
  •  The longest dictatorship was the Somoza family’s dictatorship who ruled the country for 43 years.

Nicaraguan Community in Australia:

More information on the Nicaraguan community