Nicaragua General Information
Region: South America & Central America
Almost 85% of the Nicaraguan population is Roman Catholic. The remaining 15% is made up of Protestant religions such as Baptists and Pentecostals.
The predominant language of Nicaragua is Spanish. Along the Mosquito Coast on the Caribbean Sea (Costa de Mosquito), there are English-speaking communities in which African or mixed African and indigenous Indians predominate. Nicaragua has a literacy rate of 66% to 74%.
Area (sq. km):
129,494 square meters
Nicaragua is 6 hours behind GMT.
When To Travel
Temperature varies little with the seasons in Nicaragua and is largely a function of elevation. The tierra caliente, or the "hot land," is characteristic of the foothills and lowlands from sea level to about 750 metres of elevation. Here, daytime temperatures average 30° C to 33° C, and night temperatures drop to 21° C to 24° C most of the year. The tierra templada, or the "temperate land," is characteristic of most of the central highlands, where elevations range between 750 and 1,600 metres. Here, daytime temperatures are mild (24° C to 27° C), and nights are cool (15° C to 21° C). Tierra fría, the "cold land," at elevations above 1,600 meters, is found only on and near the highest peaks of the central highlands. Daytime averages in this region are 22° C to 24° C, with night-time lows below 15° C. Rainfall varies greatly in Nicaragua. The Caribbean lowlands are the wettest section of Central America, receiving between 2,500 and 6,500 millimeters of rain annually. The western slopes of the central highlands and the Pacific lowlands receive considerably less annual rainfall, being protected from moisture laden Caribbean trade winds by the peaks of the central highlands. Mean annual precipitation for the rift valley and western slopes of the highlands ranges from 1,000 to 1,500 millimeters. Rainfall is seasonal--May through October is the rainy season, and December through April is the driest period.
There is really no good or bad time to visit Nicaragua, it will be hot and humid most of the year round, the higher you get into the mountainous regions, the cooler it will be. The most popular time to visit Nicaragua is December and January, however, anytime of year has its benefits to travel.
Useful Travel Facts
Augusto Cesar Sandino International Airport lies to the east of Managua.
IDD is available in Nicaragua and the country code is 505. Outgoing international calls may be made via the international operator or through direct dialling. Dial 116 to make reverse-charge calls. Card phones are being installed in many towns. Where card phones are unavailable, calls can be made from post offices and Enitel, the person behind the desk will make the call for you and will advise on which phone to pick up.
Nicaragua uses 120 volts AC, 60Hz.
Restaurants, particularly in Managua, serve a variety of cooking styles including Chinese, French, Italian, Latin American and Spanish. Local dishes include gallopinto (fried rice and pinto beans) and mondongo (tripe soup). Plantain is used in many dishes. Other specialities include nacatamal, indio viejo, quesillo, vigorón and roquillas. Food is often scooped up in tortillas instead of using cutlery. Roast corn on the cob is sold on the streets. Seafood is also available. There are a number of cheap but good restaurants/bars (coreders) where beer, often the cheap local brand, is available
Bus is the primary source of travel in Nicaragua and there is a small commercial air network. Nicaragua has about 19,032 km of roads, of which 11 per cent are paved. Some 384 km are part of the Pan-American Highway. The country’s railways were closed in 1994. Steamers operate on Lake Nicaragua.
Look out for local items such as goldwork, embroidery, shoes, cotton hammocks, basketry, ceramics, leatherwork, wood carving, textile arts and paintings. Traditional crafts are available, particularly in Masaya, at the handicrafts market. Masaya is located 29 kilometres from the capital Managua and is the Nicaragua’s principal artesan centre.
Passport must be valid for at least six months from the date of arrival for all visitors to Nicaragua. For Australians and New Zealanders, visas are required, they can be obtained upon arrival at a cost of USD$25.00. Canadians, Americans and Brits do not require a visa.
Australians, New Zealanders, Canadians, Americans and British citizens must all hold documents and tickets required for onward travel and at least USD$200.00. They must also buy a Tourist Card on arrival for a fee of USD$5.00
Useful Words & Phrases
Sandino’s Daughters: Testimonies of Nicaraguan Women in Struggle – Margaret Randall
Culture and Politics in Nicaragua – Steven White
The Naturalist in Nicaragua – Thomas Belt