First Class Guided Tours of Nicaragua
Beaches, Volcanoes, Indian Markets,
Rainforest, Islands, Colonial Cities

12 Fun Facts about Nicaragua

nacaraguan girl1. The name Nicaragua

The name Nicaragua comes from a combination of two words, "nicarao" and "agua". The Nicarao are the Indian tribe that were occupying the shores of Lake Nicaragua when the Spaniards arrived in the 1500's. "Agua" is the Spanish word for water.

The Nicarao tribe originally immigrated to Nicaragua from Mexico, after the fall of the Aztec empire. According to legend, the Nicarao were directed to travel south until they found an island with two volcanoes in the middle of a lake. An interesting Nicaragua fact is that the Nicarao tribe found Ometepe Island with two volcanoes in the middle of Lake Nicaragua, realized they had found the promised land, and then setttled on the shores of Lake Nicaragua.

2. Population

The estimated population of Nicaragua is five and a half million people. An interesting fact about Nicaragua is that 36% of the population is under the age of 14, and the median age is 21 years. Literacy rate is 70%, and life expectancy is 70 years.

3. Size

Nicaragua geography include many volcanos, lakes, rivers. It has 50,193 square miles. A fun fact about Nicaragua is that it's similar in size to North Carolina or New York.

4. Regions (Departamentos)

Nicaragua does not have states or provinces, but has fifteen Nicaragua departamentos.  An interesting fact about Nicaragua is that it has two autonomous self-governing regions (similar to Indian tribal reservations) known as R.A.A.S. and R.A.A.N. on the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua.

5. Nicaragua Currency

The Nicaragua currency is called the Cordoba.  An interesting fact about Nicaragua currency is that it's named after the Spanish conquistador Francisco Hernandez de Cordoba. As of September 1, 2015, the currency exchange rate is 27 Nicaragua Cordobas to 1 U.S. Dollar.

6. Christopher Columbus in Nicaragua

Christopher Columbus arrived on the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua in 1502, in his fourth voyage to the Americas. The Spanish did not settle in Nicaragua until 1524, when Francisco Hernandez de Cordoba arrived with Soanish colonists. His mission was to settle Nicaraga and turn it into a colony of Spain, to become part of Spain's Mexican empire.

7. Independence

Nicaragua gained independence from Spain after the Mexican revolution ended in September 15, 1821.  September 15th is celebrated as Independence Day and is a national holiday in Nicaragua.  After Independence from Spain, Nicaragua first became part of the United Provinces of Central America, then evolved into the Independent Republic of Nicaragua in 1838.

8. An American who became President of Nicaragua

One of many interesting Nicaragua facts is that Nicaragua had an American president in the 1850s.  In 1856 William Walker, an American, declared himself President of Nicaragua and tried to turn Nicaragua into a slave state for the United States.   Walker was kicked out of Nicaragua in 1857 by Nicaraguans and fellow American Cornelius Vanderbilt.

9.  Sandino and the Sandinistas

Augusto Cesar Sandino was a Nicaragua general who led the resisitance to the U.S. Marines occupation of Nicaragua in the 1920s and 1930s.  An interesting fact about Nicaragua is that the Sandinista political party of Nicaragua is named for Sandino.  A huge statue of Sandino overlooks the city of Managua.

10. Religion

The majority of Nicaraguans (72%) are Roman Catholic, 16% are Evengelical Christians, and the remainder are a mixture of other religions and atheists. The Episcopalians, Baptists, and Seventh Day Adventists, are beginning to build churches in Nicaragua.  A small Jewish popularion also celebrates religious services in a house in Managua.

11. Largest cities in Nicaragua

Managua, Nicaragua is the capital of Nicaragua and is its largest city, with a population of 1 million people.  Leon is the second largest city in Nicaragua with an estimated population of 160,000 people.  Granada, Chinandega, and Masaya  each have a population of approximately 95,000 people.

12. Political system of Nicaragua

Nicaragua has democratic elections for president every 5 years.  The current president of Nicaragua is Daniel Ortega, who began his presidency on January 10, 2007. The president is elected for a 5 year term. The Nicaragua constitution was changed in 2011 to permit the president to run for a second consecutive term.

The National Assembly of Nicaragua is the "Congress" of Nicaragua, and has 90 seats for elected members, who serve 5 year terms.  The National Assembly of Nicaragua has 2 additional seats, one for the previous president of Nicaragua, and one for the losing candidate for President who scored the second highest numbers of votes in the presidential election.

There are 16 justices in the Supreme Court of Nicaragua. These justices are elected to five years terms by the National Assembly.

Please email us at, or please call us at 1-800-800-1132 if you have any questions about Nicaragua travel, or if you would like to reserve an Explore Nicaragua tour.

Small Group Tour Dates
Nov. 6, 2016
8 Day Tour $998*

*Per person, double occupancy
*Plus taxes and fees $174
*Single room supplement $320


Reserve Your Tour

Call 1-800-800-1132. You can reserve your space on tour for free, with no obligation, for up to 2 days, then $298 deposit is due. Balance of payment is due 60 days before start of tour.

Roundtrip Airport Transfers are included. Our airport greeter will meet you at the airport and transfer you roundtrip between your airport and hotel.

Airfare is not included. Airlines that fly to Nicaragua include American Airlines, Continental Airlines, Copa Airlines, Delta Airlines, Lacsa Airlines, Spirit Airlines, Taca Airlines, and United Airlines.

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Photo Credits

All photos are by Intur, staff of ExploreNicaraguaTours, Inc., Walter Burville, Stephen D. Stewart, and David Graetz.