Overview

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

Trips to Nicaragua:

8 Day Ecuador Multi-Sport

10 Day Galapagos Adventure

11 Day Best of Ecuador & Galapagos

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.

Entry Requirements

A valid passport is required for entry to Nicaragua and re-entry into the United States. Each passenger should be sure that his or her passport has at least six months of remaining validity from the date of return to the USA.

Currently, no advance visa is required for US citizens. Prior to arriving at your destination the airline flight attendants will give you an immigration form that must be completed and presented to a national immigration officer in order to be granted a tourist visa. You must save a copy of this stamped form, as you will have to surrender it to immigration officials when you check in for your flight home.

A customs declaration form for both the outbound and inbound international flights will also be handed out by the airline flight attendants and should be completed before landing. You only need to fill out one form per family.

Vaccines

No unusual immunizations are required for travel in Nicaragua, so long as you are not coming from a country with yellow fever risk. If you have questions regarding immunizations or a health concern, contact your personal physician or local County Health Department.

Climate

A tropical climate can be observed in Nicaragua. Just as in the other Central American countries, there are two seasons: the dry and the raining season. In August and September it often rains once a day. Fortunately, it just rains for a short period of time and these are often spectacular, tropical downpours. Rain is more common on the eastern part of the country than in the west. There are three temperature zones in Nicaragua. In the lowlands (Pacific and Atlantic coast) temperatures vary roughly between 72° F at night and 86° F at daytime (22° C – 30° C). Temperature can reach 100° F in May (38° C). The central part of the country is about 9° F (5° C) cooler, and in the mountains in the north it’s about 18° F (10° C) cooler.

Communication

The international access code for Nicaragua is +505, and the outgoing code is 00, followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 00505 for Nicaragua). City/area codes are in use, e.g. (00 505 2…) for Managua. A mobile phone operator provides a GSM 1900 network with coverage limited to major towns and cities. Internet connections are available in the majority of Nicaragua’s cities, unfortunately the connections are very slow. Nicaragua’s government subsidizes the country’s Internet cafés and therefore charges are inexpensive, many of them are set up with hi-tech computers, air-conditioning and coffee shops.

Currency

Nicaragua’s official currency is the Nicaraguan córdoba. The US dollar is also virtually everywhere accepted. Often prices are based on dollars but quoted in córdobas. If you pay in dollars, you will receive your change in córdobas.

You can get cash from the ATMs, located in banks and gas stations.

Credit cards are accepted in most stores, hotels, and restaurants throughout the country (not in little towns and off-road destinations). Please confirm your travel dates and destinations with your card issuers before you leave the USA.

Electricity

Electrical current is 120 volts, 60Hz. Plugs are typically the 2 pronged flat type so US travelers will not typically need a converter or adapter. Outlets not always have 3 holes so if your device has a third prong, bring an adapter.

Government

Nicaragua is a presidential representative democratic republic.

Religion

Over 90% of Nicaragua’s population are members of Christian denominations. Approximately 73% of Nicaraguans follow the Roman Catholic religion, other 12.3%, unspecified or none 14.7%. Religious freedom and tolerance is promoted by both the Nicaraguan government and the constitution.

Ethnic Groups

The blending of different cultures that took place in Nicaragua resulted in the birth of a creative, varied, happy, and humorous culture.

Pacific: the culture in this part of the country is considered to be a mixture of the indigenous and Spanish culture. 

In Masaya, the main cultural feature is known in Latin America as ‘mestizaje’, which is a real mixture of cultures. 

North / Central Nicaragua: In the mountainous region of the north and center of the country, the European heritage brought by Spanish and German descendants that inhabited the area can be easily recognized.

Caribbean: the Nicaraguan culture in this region is mainly expressed with African influence, but the contribution of native indigenous tribes can also be observed

Languages

The official language of Nicaragua is Spanish. English is spoken in certain areas of the country. Indigenous regional languages such as Miskito, Rama, Sumo, Miskito Costal Creole, Garifuna, Rama Cay Creole are some other languages spoken through out Nicaragua.

Economy

Nicaragua is among the poorest countries in the Americas. Nicaragua is primarily an agricultural country; agriculture constitutes 60% of its total exports which annually yield approximately US$300 million. Coffee, Tobacco and banana are some of the main goods exported.

The increase and growth led to the income from tourism to rise more than 300% over a period of 10 years. The growth in tourism has also positively affected the agricultural, commercial, and finance industries, as well as the construction industry. 

Safety

Panama is generally quite safe; however, common sense precautions are still important. As a general rule, you should not be out in the streets alone after dark. Stay in well-lit areas. Keep money out of sight and in a money belt. Keep your travel documents in the hotel safe or concealed in your money pouch. Please consult your tour guide for additional safety advice.

Travel Advisories

Make two photocopies of valuables such as your passport, tickets, visas and travelers’ cheques.  Keep one copy with you in a separate place to the original and leave another copy with someone at home.

Be sure to inform your credit card company as well as your bank you will travel internationally into Central America. This will eliminate any credit card holds for fraudulent activity.

Insurance

We strongly recommend travel insurance for each traveler. Travel insurance is not provided in your tour package.