CAPITAL: Managua (2.2 million residents in the metro area)
POPULATION: about 5.9 million people
OFFICIAL LANGUAGES: Spanish, English, indigenous languages
MONEY: Gold cordoba
AREA: 49,998 square miles (129,494 square kilometers) or about the size of Iowa.
Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America, with Honduras to the north, Costa Rica to the south, the Pacific Ocean on the west, and the Caribbean Sea to the east.
Lake Managua is the only freshwater lake where sharks live. They are called Bull Sharks and enter the lake by traveling up the Rio San Juan river from the Atlantic Ocean.
A bull shark
The Barranquero is the national bird of Nicaragua.
There are many other types of exotic animals in Nicaragua, such as monkeys, jaguars, toucans, sloths, boa constrictors, manatees, sea turtles, and wild boars.
Nicaragua is the poorest country in Central America with widespread unemployment and poverty. According to the UN, about 80% of the population lives on less than $2 per day.
Nicaragua gained its independence from Spain in 1821 as part of the Mexican empire. A few years later, it joined a group of nearby countries as part of the Federal Republic of Central America with a central government in Guatemala City. Nicaragua became fully independent when it split from this group in 1838. Nicaraguans celebrate their Independence Day on September 15th each year, although July 19th is also celebrated nationally to commemorate the Nicaraguan Revolution.
Baseball is the most popular sport in Nicaragua, followed by boxing and soccer.