Nicaragua, set between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, is a Central American nation known for its dramatic terrain of lakes, volcanoes and beaches. The ”Land of Lakes and Volcanoes”, is the largest country in the Central American isthmus, bordered by Honduras to the northwest, the Caribbean to the east, Costa Rica to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the southwest. The mixture of cultural traditions has generated substantial diversity in folklore, cuisine, music, and literature, particularly the latter given the literary contributions of Nicaraguan poets and writers
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When the Spanish arrived in western Nicaragua in the early 16th century, they found three principal tribes, each with a different culture and language: the Niquirano, the Chorotegano, and the Chontal. Each one of these diverse groups occupied much of Nicaragua territory. In the west and highland areas where the Spanish settled, the indigenous population was almost completely wiped out by the rapid spread of new diseases brought by the Spaniards, for which the native population had no immunity. In the east where the Europeans did not settle most indigenous groups survived.
Nicaragua gained independence from Spain in 1821. Efforts to centralize power led to civil war between 1826 and 1829. It became an autonomous territory of Nicaragua in 1860 and the northernmost part of it was later transferred to Honduras in 1960. Since its independence, Nicaragua has undergone periods of political unrest, dictatorship, occupation and fiscal crisis, leading to the Nicaraguan Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s and the Contra Warof the 1980s.
Present-day Nicaragua is still recovering from its legacy of dictatorship and civil war. There are ongoing disputes over land ownership, and Nicaragua continues to be dependent on foreign aid, mainly from the United States.
Nicaragua occupies a landmass of 130,967 km2 (50,567 sq. mi). Nicaragua has three distinct geographical regions: The Pacific lowlands – fertile valleys which the Spanish colonists settled, the Amerrisque Mountains (North-central highlands), and the Mosquito Coast (Atlantic lowlands/Caribbean lowlands). Nicaragua’s abundance of biologically significant and unique ecosystems contributes to Mesoamerica‘s designation as a biodiversity hotspot. Nearly one fifth of Nicaragua is designated as protected areas like national parks, nature reserves, and biological reserves.