Nicaragua was entered by Spanish conquistadors in the early 16th century. The pre-Colombian Indian civilization was almost completely destroyed by population losses due to infectious diseases, enslavement and deportation. Spain made Nicaragua a colony; Granada was founded as one of the oldest colonial cities in the American continent. During the colonial period, Nicaragua was part of the Capitania General based in Guatemala.
Nicaragua declared independence from Spain in 1821; by 1838, the country became an independent republic. Britain occupied the Caribbean Coast in the first half of the 19th century, but gradually ceded control of the region in subsequent decades. Consequently, many people on the Caribbean coast speak English.
One of the most colourful personalities of Nicaraguan history is William Walker. Walker, a US southerner, came to Nicaragua as an opportunist. Nicaragua was on the verge of a civil war; Walker sided with one of the factions and was able to gain control of the country, hoping that the US would annex Nicaragua as a southern slave state. With designs on conquering the rest of Central America, Walker and his filibustero army marched on Costa Rica before he was turned back at the battle of Santa Rosa. Eventually Walker left Nicaragua; he was executed after arriving in Honduras at a later date.
The large US banana companies held great sway in Nicaragua in the early 20th century, both economically and politically. During this period one of the heroes of the country, Augusto C. Sandino rose to lead resistant to the United States and the dictatorial Somoza government of Nicaragua.
The twentieth century was characterized by the rise and fall of the Somoza dynasty. Anastasio Somoza Garcia came to power as the head of the National Guard. After being assassinated, he was succeeded by his sons, Luis and Anastasio Jr (“Tachito”). By 1978, opposition to governmental manipulation and corruption spread to all classes and resulted in a short-lived civil war that led to the fall of Somoza in July, 1979. The armed part of the insurgence was named the Sandinistas, after the liberator of Nicaragua, Augusto César Sandino. The United States supported guerrilla forces (Contras) who fought a war with the Sandinistas throughout most of the 1980s. Peace was brokered in 1987 by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, and led to new elections in 1990. In a stunning development and a repudiation of the Sandinista polices , Violeta Chamorro of the UNO coalition surprisingly beat out the incumbent leader Daniel Ortega, in a major repudiation of his policies and leadership.
Elections in 1996, and again in 2001 saw the Sandinistas defeated by the Liberal party. The Sandinistas, led by Daniel Ortega, were returned to power in elections in 2006 and won again in 2011 after Ortega unilaterally change the Nicaraguan constitution to permit a second term. Presently the country enjoys a period of relative political calm and the situation does not hamper industry and tourism.
Nicaragua has suffered from natural disasters in recent decades. Managua’s downtown area was vastly damaged by an earthquake in 1972, which killed more than 10,000 people, and in 1998, Nicaragua was hard hit by Hurricane Mitch. Nicaragua remains the second poorest country in the western hemisphere after Haiti.
Hot in the lowlands, cooler in highlands, with occasional rainbow features. The weather during the dry months (November-April) can be very hot in the Pacific lowlands. Torrential downpours in the rainy season (May-October) can leave you soaked and chilly, even in the Pacific lowlands when it’s cloudy, so be prepared if you’re travelling during those months. Also be prepared for cooler, cloudier weather in mountainous regions. The Atlantic coast sees an occasional hurricane each season. In the past, these hurricanes have inflicted a lot of damage.
Time & Date: GMT -6
The córdoba (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈkordoβa], sign: C$; code: NIO) is the currency of Nicaragua. It is divided into 100 centavos.
The official language of Nicaragua is Spanish; however, Nicaraguans on the Caribbean coast speak indigenous languages and also English. The communities located on the Caribbean coast also have access to education in their native languages. Additionally, Nicaragua has four extinct indigenous languages.
When buying your travel insurance, always check the small print – some policies specifically exclude ‘dangerous activities’, which could be anything from scuba diving to horse riding. You should check whether the medical coverage is on a pay first, claim later basis and, more importantly, ensure that your medical coverage includes the cost of medical evacuation.
Visitors to Nicaragua must obtain a visa from one of the Nicaraguan diplomatic missions unless they come from one of the visa exempt countries or countries that can obtain a visa on arrival. All visitors must hold a passport valid for 6 months.
Visa is not required for a maximum stay of 90 days within 180 days for valid visa holders or residents of Canada, the European Union member states, or the United States. This does not apply to nationals of Afghanistan, Albania, Armenia, Bangladesh, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Cameroon, China, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Haiti, Iraq, Kenya, Laos, Liberia, Mali, Mongolia, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Timor-Leste, Vietnam and Yemen. Nationals of India are granted a visa on arrival for USD 50 provided the passport contains a valid USA, Canada or Schengen visa.
Visa on arrival
Citizens of the following 74 countries and territories can visit Nicaragua by obtaining a visa on arrival.
Augusto Cesar Sandino International Airport
Emerald Coast International (ECI)
Currency: Nicaraguan córdoba
Population: 6.08 million
Official languages: Spanish