Nicaragua has become an increasingly popular tourist destination for many reasons - including its warm tropical climate, majestic views and remarkable biological diversity. Still, many people don't know much about this Central American country, which lies just between Honduras and Costa Rica.

Whether you're simply curious or considering planning a trip there, these are some fun facts about Nicaragua you should know.

History

  • The name Nicaragua is a fusion of the Spanish words nicarao and agua. The Nicarao is the name of the Indian tribe that resided on the shores of Lake Nicaragua when Spanish settlers first went there in the 1500s, while agua means water.
  • According to ExploreNicaragua.com, the Nicarao tribe originated in Mexico, and eventually immigrated to Nicaragua after the decline of the Aztec empire. Legends say that these people were told to travel south, and eventually they found an island with a lake and two volcanoes in the center - known as Ometepe Island. They deemed this discovery the promised land and settled on the shores there.

Culture

  • A large portion of the Nicaraguan population is very young. In fact, ExploreNicaragua.com reported that roughly 5.5 million people reside in this country, and a surprising 26 percent are under the age of 14. The average age of a Nicaraguan is just 21 years old.
  • Although Spanish is the official language of Nicaragua and is spoken by the majority of residents, many people can also speak some English. Additionally, the Odysen blog noted that some tribes along the eastern coast still speak their native languages, including Rama, Sumo, Miskito, Garifuna and Creole.
  • While the cuisine in Nicaragua varies due to a diverse array of cultures, common ingredients include beans, chili peppers, cassave and corn. The national dish is gallopinto, or rice and beans. Cactus Worldwide reported that another popular dish is nacatamales, which are cornflower dumplings stuffed with vegetables and boiled inside plantain leaves.
  • Interestingly, Cactus Worldwide revealed that baseball is the national sport of Nicaragua, and is more widely played than football.

Geography

  • Did you know that Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America? The Nicaragua Tourism Board reported that it's 50,451 square miles - or just slightly bigger than the state of New York.
  • Additionally, Lake Nicaragua is the largest freshwater lake in Central America. According to Cactus Worldwide, it covers 8,264 square kilometers and contains more than 430 volcanic islands. Many of the fish that call this lake home can't be found anywhere else in the world. In fact, the only freshwater sharks in existence live here.
  • Not only are there a whopping 20 volcanoes in Nicaragua, but the Odysen blog revealed that many of them are still active.

Etc.

  • You might be surprised to know that many of your favorite foods come from Nicaragua. National Geographic explained that the country's top exports include shrimp, lobster and bananas. Not to mention, Nicaragua is also a major producer of coffee.
  • The capital of Nicargua is Managua. However, Cactus Worldwide noted that the city of Granada, the oldest city on continental Latin America, attracts more tourists.
  • Each year, 1.1 million tourists flock to Nicaragua to discover its natural wonders, the Odysen blog reported.