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name is a combination of two words; the first part being named after an indigenous
leader, Nicarao, who ruled in the early 1500s on the shores of what is today known
as Lake Nicaragua. The last part of the name is the Spanish word for water, agua,
perhaps referring to the nearby lake.
Nicaragua is a fairly mountainous and elevated country, which has actually encouraged
settlement and population growth over time. Along the Pacific Ocean coast the elevation
provides cooler weather, great water sources, and fertile lands, which was enough
for many prehistoric settlers to call the lands home. Much of the rest of the country
is covered in forests or mountains, which makes these areas less ideal for human
development and hence more sparsely populated.
When the Spanish arrived to Nicaragua the people were somewhat isolated due to the
forests and mountains, however in more accessible areas transportation was developed.
Due to this situation, the indigenous people in the region shared many cultural
commonalities with people from neighboring areas, but there were also many differences,
giving these people unique and individual cultures.
The flag of Nicaragua is based on
the flag of the former Federal Republic of Central America. The blue strips represent
the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea, while the white band symbolizes the lands of
Central America between these two bodies of water. In the middle of Nicaragua's
flag is their coat of arms, which includes the words Republica de Nicaragua
and America Central, which are simply the translated from the Spanish as
name of the country and its location, Central America, respectively.
Name: Republic of Nicaragua
Independence: September 15, 1821
Population: 5,788,531 (2013 estimate)
Ethnicity: Mestizo, European, & Others
These local cultures were forever changed when the Spanish arrived from the west,
where the land is more accessible, and later overtook all the people in the region.
Prior to ever seeing the Spanish, many indigenous people died from European diseases
and later many more people died from wars while others were enslaved to work for
the Spanish. This destroyed most of the historic cultural aspects the people clung
to, while Spanish culture and influence took over the region and people.
Most of the Spanish settled in the western part of the region, where they continued
on the path of a developing Spanish-American culture. However others intermarried
the locals, creating the country's majority today, the "mestizos."
This mix of people resulted in Spanish being the primarily language of communication
and most people converting to Catholicism. However, people on both sides of this
group maintained traditional dress, languages, and cultures as nearly 20% of Nicaragua's
population is entirely European descent and a smaller percentage is entirely descended
from indigenous groups, both of which cling to cultural aspects from their past.
More than just introducing their own cultural traits and tendencies, the Spanish
also introduced African cultures through the slave trade. As a people focused on
economic growth and increasing wealth, the Spanish at the time required labor so
brought in Africans to serve as slaves. While these people only made up a small
percentage of the population and most of them later intermarried the people from
the region, they also introduced some cultural aspects and a more diverse ethnicity.
Despite the diversity of the people and their culture, today most of the people
of Nicaragua still live simple lives based off the land as agriculture is the dominant
force driving the economy. Like the past, the people tend to live in agricultural
zones or in the cities in the country's west as the eastern part of the country
is more difficult to settle or remains too hot to live comfortably.
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