Most Nicaraguans are mestizos. That is that they have white and
Indian ancestors. There way of life is somewhat similar to that of Spanish
Americans in other Central American countries. Most people belong to the
Roman Catholic Church and speak Spanish. Most of Nicaragua's people are
Many of those in the Pacific Region are peasants who work on
their own farms, cooperatives, state farms, or large private farms. In
warmer areas, agriculture workers live in metal roofed houses. In the
colder areas of the Central Highlands, they live in adobe houses with tile
The only Indian groups in Nicaragua that follow their own languages
and their old ways of life are in the thinly populated Caribbean Region.
In the early 1980's some of these Indians became involved in
anti-government things. Because of this, the government moved some Indian
groups from their homes near the border to areas in the interior of
Nicaragua has a law that requires children to go to school from the
age of six through twelve. Before 1980, only about half the children did
so because they were poor and couldn't afford to be sent or it was that
there weren't many schools around where they lived. Nicaragua did not have
enough schools, and many rural areas had no schools at all.
But since then
the new government has built hundreds of schools. The government also held
a successful literacy campaign headed mainly by young volunteer teachers.
Nicaragua has two universities. The national University of Nicaragua,
in Leon and Managua, is the older and larger one.
It was founded in 1812
and has more than seven thousand students. The Central American University
is a Roman Catholic institution in Managua.
A president heads the government of Nicaragua. The people elect the
president and a legislature called the National Assembly. The president
appoints a Cabinet to help carry out the operations of the government.
This government is very similar to our own government.
The president, most of the Cabinet members, and the majority of the
National Assembly members belong to a political party called the Sandinista
National Liberation Front. In 1979, the Sandinistas led a revolution that
overthrew the government of the Somoza family, which had long ruled
Nicaragua. From 1979 to 1984 the Sandinistas controlled the government
largely through a three-member junta, or a ruling body. The president and
the national assembly were elected in 1984.
In 1502 Christopher Columbus claimed Nicaragua for Spain.
Spaniards did not really settle in Nicaragua. Many pirates set up hideouts
and Dutch as well as others went to Nicaragua instead.
On September 15, 1821 Nicaragua and other Central American states
declared their independence. They later became part of the Mexican Empire
but broke away in 1823. They formed the United Provinces of Central
This union generally followed liberal economic and political
policies. The union began to fall apart because of conservative landowners
and the clergy to regain their old privileges. In 1838 Nicaragua left the
In 1979 there was a civil war which drove the Somoza family out of
government office. They had ruled from 1937 to 1979.
assassinated in 1980 while leaving the country as an order by the rebels
who fought and won.