A great variety of birds can be observed including eagles , toucans , parakeets and macaws. Other animal life in the area includes different species of monkeys , anteaters , white-tailed deer and tapirs. Nicaragua is home to a rich variety of plants and animals. Nicaragua is located in the middle of the Americas and this privileged location has enabled the country to serve as host to a great biodiversity.
This factor, along with the weather and light altitudinal variations, allows the country to harbor species of amphibians and reptiles, species of mammals, bird species, fish species, and about 5, species of plants. The region of great forests is located on the eastern side of the country. The Nicaraguan jungles, which represent about 2. These include wildlife refuges and nature reserves that shelter a wide range of ecosystems.
There are more than 1, animal species classified thus far in Nicaragua.
Some 12, species of plants have been classified thus far in Nicaragua, with an estimated 5, species not yet classified. The bull shark is a species of shark that can survive for an extended period of time in fresh water.
Politics of Nicaragua takes place in a framework of a presidential representative democratic republic, whereby the President of Nicaragua is both head of state and head of government , and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the national assembly.
The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. Between and , Nicaragua's major political parties discussed the possibility of going from a presidential system to a parliamentary system. Their reason: there would be a clear differentiation between the head of government prime minister and the head of state president. Nevertheless, it was later argued that the true reason behind this proposal was to find a legal way for President Ortega to stay in power after January , when his second and last government period was expected to end.
Ortega was reelected to a third term in November Nicaragua pursues an independent foreign policy. The armed forces of Nicaragua consists of various military contingents. Nicaragua has an army , navy and an air force. There are roughly 14, active duty personnel, which is much less compared to the numbers seen during the Nicaraguan Revolution. Although the army has had a rough military history, a portion of its forces, which were known as the national guard , became integrated with what is now the National Police of Nicaragua.
In essence, the police became a gendarmerie.
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The National Police of Nicaragua are rarely, if ever, labeled as a gendarmerie. The other elements and manpower that were not devoted to the national police were sent over to cultivate the new Army of Nicaragua. The age to serve in the armed forces is 17 and conscription is not imminent. As of [update] , the military budget was roughly 0. The force is in charge of regular police functions and, at times, works in conjunction with the Nicaraguan military, making it an indirect and rather subtle version of a gendarmerie.
Nicaragua is the safest country in Central America and one of the safest in Latin America, according to the United Nations Development Program , with a homicide rate of 8. Nicaragua is a unitary republic. For administrative purposes it is divided into 15 departments departamentos and two self-governing regions autonomous communities based on the Spanish model.
The departments are then subdivided into municipios municipalities. Nicaragua is among the poorest countries in the Americas. Close to one billion dollars are sent to the country by Nicaraguans living abroad. According to the World Bank, Nicaragua ranked as the rd out of best economy for starting a business. In March , Poland and Nicaragua signed an agreement to write off Yields and exports have both been declining since Cassava is also the main ingredient in tapioca pudding.
Some of the new export-oriented crops were peanuts, sesame , melons, and onions. Fishing boats on the Caribbean side bring shrimp as well as lobsters into processing plants at Puerto Cabezas, Bluefields, and Laguna de Perlas. Restrictions are being placed on lumbering due to increased environmental concerns about destruction of the rain forests. But lumbering continues despite these obstacles; indeed, a single hardwood tree may be worth thousands of dollars.
During the war between the US-backed Contras and the government of the Sandinistas in the s, much of the country's infrastructure was damaged or destroyed.
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For example, it was until recently impossible to travel all the way by highway from Managua to the Caribbean coast. A new road between Nueva Guinea and Bluefields is almost complete February , and already allows a regular bus service to the capital. Nicaragua's minimum wage is among the lowest in the Americas and in the world. Almost all of the upper class and nearly a quarter of the middle class are substantial landowners. A government study classified The defining standards for this study were very low; housing was considered substandard if it was constructed of discarded materials with dirt floors or if it was occupied by more than four persons per room.
Rural workers are dependent on agricultural wage labor, especially in coffee and cotton.
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Only a small fraction hold permanent jobs. Most are migrants who follow crops during the harvest period and find other work during the off-season. The "lower" peasants are typically smallholders without sufficient land to sustain a family; they also join the harvest labor force. The "upper" peasants have sufficient resources to be economically independent. They produce enough surplus, beyond their personal needs, to allow them to participate in the national and world markets.
The urban lower class is characterized by the informal sector of the economy. The informal sector consists of small-scale enterprises that utilize traditional technologies and operate outside the legal regime of labor protections and taxation. Workers in the informal sector are self-employed, unsalaried family workers or employees of small-enterprises, and they are generally poor. Nicaragua's informal sector workers include tinsmiths, mattress makers, seamstresses, bakers, shoemakers, and carpenters; people who take in laundry and ironing or prepare food for sale in the streets; and thousands of peddlers, owners of small businesses often operating out of their own homes , and market stall operators.
These families are oligarchical in nature and have ruled Nicaragua for generations and their wealth is politically and economically horizontally and vertically integrated. ALBA has proposed creating a new currency, the Sucre , for use among its members. Nicaragua is considering construction of a canal linking the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, which President Daniel Ortega has said will give Nicaragua its "economic independence.
By , tourism had become the second largest industry in Nicaragua. President Daniel Ortega has stated his intention to use tourism to combat poverty throughout the country. Every year about 60, U. The majority of tourists who visit Nicaragua are from the U. In addition, ecotourism , sport fishing and surfing attract many tourists to Nicaragua.
Nicaragua is referred to as "the land of lakes and volcanoes" due to the number of lagoons and lakes, and the chain of volcanoes that runs from the north to the south along the country's Pacific side. Many of these volcanoes offer some great possibilities for tourists with activities such as hiking , climbing , camping , and swimming in crater lakes. It is surrounded by the old crater wall. Besides exploring the forest around it, many water sports are practiced in the lagoon, most notably kayaking. Both dormant and active volcanoes can be climbed.
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Ecotourism aims to be ecologically and socially conscious; it focuses on local culture, wilderness, and adventure. Nicaragua's ecotourism is growing with every passing year.
Nicaragua has three eco-regions the Pacific, Central, and Atlantic which contain volcanoes, tropical rainforests, and agricultural land. While some are foreign-owned, such as the tropical permaculture lodge at Finca El Zopilote , others are owned by local families, like the small but well-acclaimed Finca Samaria.
The capital Managua is the biggest city, with an estimated population of 1,, in There is a growing expatriate community,  the majority of whom move for business, investment or retirement from across the world, such as from the US, Canada , Taiwan , and European countries; the majority have settled in Managua, Granada and San Juan del Sur. Nicaragua has a population growth rate of 1.
The black population is mostly composed of black English-speaking Creoles who are the descendants of escaped or shipwrecked slaves; many carry the name of Scottish settlers who brought slaves with them, such as Campbell , Gordon , Downs , and Hodgeson. Although many Creoles supported Somoza because of his close association with the US, they rallied to the Sandinista cause in July only to reject the revolution soon afterwards in response to a new phase of 'westernization' and imposition of central rule from Managua.
In the mids, the government divided the Zelaya Department — consisting of the eastern half of the country — into two autonomous regions and granted the black and indigenous people of this region limited self-rule within the republic. Nicaragua's pre-Columbian population consisted of many indigenous groups. In the western region, the Nahua Pipil-Nicarao people were present along with other groups such as the Chorotega people and the Subtiabas also known as Maribios or Hokan Xiu.
The central region and the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua were inhabited by indigenous peoples who were Macro-Chibchan language groups that had migrated to and from South America in ancient times, primarily what is now Colombia and Venezuela. These groups include the present-day Matagalpas , Miskitos , Ramas , as well as Mayangnas and Ulwas who are also known as Sumos. Nicaraguan Spanish has many indigenous influences and several distinguishing characteristics. On the Caribbean coast, indigenous languages, English-based creoles , and Spanish are spoken.
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The Miskito language , spoken by the Miskito people as a first language and some other indigenous and Afro-descendants people as a second, third, or fourth language, is the most commonly spoken indigenous language. The indigenous Misumalpan languages of Mayangna and Ulwa are spoken by the respective peoples of the same names. Fewer than three dozen of nearly 2, Rama people speak their Chibchan language fluently, with nearly all Ramas speaking Rama Cay Creole and the vast majority speaking Spanish. Linguists have attempted to document and revitalize the language over the past three decades.
The Garifuna people , descendants of indigenous and Afro-descendant people who came to Nicaragua from Honduras in the early twentieth century, have recently attempted to revitalize their Arawakan language. The majority speak Miskito Coast Creole as their first language and Spanish as their second. Religion plays a significant part of the culture of Nicaragua and is afforded special protections in the constitution.
Religious freedom, which has been guaranteed since , and religious tolerance are promoted by the government and the constitution. Nicaragua has no official religion. Catholic bishops are expected to lend their authority to important state occasions, and their pronouncements on national issues are closely followed.