About Nicaragua

From Wikipedia:

Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America with an area of 130,373 km2. The country is bordered by Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. The population in Nicaragua, hovering at approximately 6 million, is multiethnic. The capital city of Nicaragua is Managua. Roughly one quarter of the nation’s population lives in the Nicaraguan capital, making it the second largest city and metropolitan area in Central America (following Guatemala City).

The Spanish Empire conquered the region in the 16th century. In 1821, Nicaragua achieved its independence from Spain and joined the Federal Republic of Central America in 1823, later leaving the Federal Republic in 1838. Since its independence, Nicaragua has undergone periods of political unrest, military intervention on behalf of the United States, dictatorship and fiscal crisis—the most notable causes that lead to the Nicaraguan Revolution. U.S. Marines occupied Nicaragua from 1912 to 1933. The Somoza family came to power as part of a US-engineered pact in 1927 that stipulated the formation of the Guardia Nacional, or the National Guard, to replace the U.S. marines that had long reigned in the country.

From 1927 until 1933, Gen. Augusto César Sandino led a sustained guerrilla war first against the Conservative regime and subsequently against the U.S. Marines, who withdrew upon the establishment of a new Liberal government. The Somoza family ruled the country in the form of a dictatorship for forty years. The Sandinista National Liberation Front was formed in 1961. Prior to the revolution, Nicaragua was one of Central America’s wealthiest and most developed countries. The revolutionary conflict, paired with Nicaragua’s 1972 earthquake reversed the country’s prior economic standing. The Sandinistas, supported by some of the populace, elements of the Catholic Church, and regional governments, took power in July 1979.

In 1981, the Reagan Doctrine authorized the CIA to have their paramilitary officers begin financing, arming and training rebels as anti-Sandinista guerrillas that were branded “counter-revolutionary” by leftists (contrarrevolucionarios in Spanish). This was shortened to Contras, a label the anti-socialist forces chose to embrace. Reagan was also concerned about the growing Soviet and Cuban presence in Nicaragua. As the Sandinistas moved further in the direction of creating a Marxist state and repressing political opposition, opposition to the regime increased. After the U.S. Congress prohibited federal funding of the Contras in 1983, the Reagan administration continued to back the Contras by covertly selling arms to Iran and channeling the proceeds to the Contras (the Iran–Contra affair). Investigators unearthed a number of documents showing that White House officials knew about and supported using money raised via drug trafficking to fund the Contras.

Multi-party democratic elections were held in 1990, which saw the defeat of the Sandinistas by a coalition of anti-Sandinista parties. Violeta Chamorro was the first female President of Nicaragua, and also the first woman to be popularly elected for this position in any American nation. The per capita income of Nicaragua had been reduced by over 80% during the 1980s, and a huge government debt had ascended to US$12 billion, primarily due to the financial and social costs of the Contra war with the Sandinista-led government. Daniel Ortega returned to the presidency on November 5, 2006 with 37.99% of the vote.

Post-revolution Nicaragua has maintained democratic practices and has experienced economic growth and political stability. Nicaragua has earned recognition and various colloquial names in reference to its geographic location, cultural achievements and recent economic development. The Central American Volcanic Arc runs through the spine of the country, earning Nicaragua the nickname : La Tierra de Lagos y Volcanes, which translates to: The Land of Lakes and Volcanoes. Nicaragua’s biological diversity, warm tropical climate, and active volcanoes make it an increasingly popular destination for tourists, surfers, biologists, and volcanologists.


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