Nicaragua-flagNicaragua <<NIHK uh RAH gwuh>> is the largest country of Central America. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean, on the east by the Caribbean Sea, on the north by Honduras, and on the south by Costa Rica. Managua <<mah NAH gwah>> is the capital and largest city.

Nicaragua has lowlands along the Pacific coast, highlands in the center, and thick rain forests along the Caribbean coast. Only one-tenth of Nicaragua’s land is farmland.

Most of Nicaragua’s people are mestizos—a mixture of Spanish and Indian peoples. Most people speak Spanish. Small groups of American Indians near the Caribbean Sea speak Indian languages. Most people live in cities and towns.

Although Nicaragua has little farmland, farming is the nation’s biggest business. The best farmland is near the Pacific Ocean. Managua has many factories.

Nicaragua mapChristopher Columbus was the first European to visit the land. In 1502, he claimed it for Spain. Later in the 1500′s, the Spaniards settled in western Nicaragua and made the area part of a larger Spanish colony.

Nicaragua declared its independence in 1821, along with other Central American countries. During the 1800′s and 1900′s, various groups within Nicaragua fought for control of the government. Nicaragua held free elections in 1990. But the country has been badly damaged by years of fighting.

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