Capital | Managua
Population | 5,666,301 (July 2011 est.)
Area | 129,494 SQ KM
Official Language | Spanish
Holidays | Independence Day, 15 September (1821)
Currency | Córdoba (NIO)
Time Zone | UTC -6
Best Time to Visit | June to March, to avoid the dusty end of the dry season
Connecting with the Culture | Watching the moon rise over the cathedral in colonial Granada. Climbing the volcanoes on Isla de Ometepe and cooling off by swimming in the Lago de Nicaragua. Kicking back in a beach hammock in San Juan del Sur. Spotting a quetzal at the Reserva Natural Miraflor. Buying handicrafts at Masaya’s Mercado Viejo. Enjoying perfect snorkeling off Little Corn Island.
Read | Rubén Dario’s Stories and Poems- masterpieces by the founder of Spanish modernism; Salman Rushdie’s The Jaguar Smile: A Nicaraguan Journey- revealing personal experiences of a visit.
Listen | to Duo Guardabaranco’s Antología of collected pop works; Los Mejía Godoy’s Loving in Times of War- legendary Nicaraguan brothers sing folk.
Watch | Nicaragua Was Our Home- a documentary about Miskito Indians and Sandinistas that purportedly influenced Reagan’s foreign policy; Alsino and the Condor- a boy’s struggle to escape the realities of his war-torn homeland.
Eat | baho- beef, yucca, plaintains and vegetables slowly simmered; sopa de albondiga- cornmeal- ball soup.
Drink | Flor de Caña rum; pinolio- dissolved ground corn (add sugar!)
In a Word | Va pue’ (all right)
Characteristics | Contras and Sandinistas; dusty farms and towns; rickety buses with chicken; earthquakes and hurricanes; US intervention in politics.
Surprises | Amazing biodiversity, there are no ruins, the unique Caribbean culture on the Atlantic coast, the friendliest people in Central America.