25 Fun And Interesting Facts About Nicaragua

Are you looking for some fun facts about Nicaragua?

Nicaragua is a popular country in Central America among travellers and it isn’t hard to see why. When we visited we learnt so many facts about Nicaragua and about this country’s culture and history.

We became completely fascinated by the stories it had to tell.

There was more struggle, more tension and more suffering in Nicaragua than in other Central American countries. But there was also more hope, more community and more resilience.

We decided to put together some of the most interesting and fun facts about Nicaragua that we learnt along the way so you too can share in the stories of this wonderful country.

25 Interesting & Fun Facts About Nicaragua

The majority of these facts we learnt from locals whilst on guided tours within Nicaragua. Others we researched to find the most interesting facts we could and these are our top 25;

Interesting Facts about Nicaragua’s Volcanos and Nature

When it comes to learning more about Nicaragua there is no better place to start than its volcanos. They play a huge part in the country’s identity, history and culture. Not to mention the rest of the country’s wildlife and nature.

1 – Nicaragua has 19 volcanos

There are 19 Volcanos throughout Nicaragua, some of which are still active. The largest volcano in Nicaragua is the San Cristobal volcano, which stands at a height of 1745 meters tall. You can read more about how to explore Nicaraguas Volcanos in our guide.

2 – Nicaragua has 7 active volcanos

Of the 19 volcanos, 7 of them are still currently active. As a matter of fact, the most active volcano in Nicaragua is Masaya volcano.

We visited Masaya volcano and despite it being active it is possible to go to the edge of the crater and look inside to see the red lava bubbling beneath you. Pretty cool right?

3 – Nicaragua has 78 national parks and protected areas

These 78 protected parks and reserves cover a total area of 22,422 km2 which is around 18% of the country’s total land mass.

Some of the most frequently visited parks in Nicaragua are Mombacho Reserve and Masaya National Park. We enjoyed our visits so both of these as they were both so different.

Masaya is dryer and feels more like an active volcano whereas Mombacho is covered in a thick cloud forest, including the crater.

4 – Nicaragua is home to the second-largest rainforest in the Americas

After the Amazon rainforest, Nicaragua has the second largest rainforest; the Bosawas Biosphere Reserve. Bosawas was named a UNESCO site in 1997 and it covers around 20,000 km2.

Located in the north of the country, this one site alone is home to hundreds of thousands of species of flora and fauna.

5 – Nicaragua is home to the largest lake in Central America

Lake Nicaragua, located in the south of the country, is the largest lake in all of Central America. The freshwater lake is also home to a large island with 2 volcanos on it, Ometepe Island. This is a popular spot for tourists to explore.

Lake Nicaragua is also the 19th largest lake in the world, by area.

6 – The last major volcanic eruption was in 2012

Masaya might be the most active right now but San Cristobal Volcano has definitely had the biggest impact in recent years.

After a devastating eruption in 1998 killed 1620 people, it erupted again in 2012 causing yet more disruption as 3000 people were evacuated from their homes. Luckily, this time no lives were lost.

volcano on an island on a lake in Nicaragua

Fun Facts about Nicaragua’s Culture

Next, let’s take a look at some of the fun facts we picked up along the way regarding Nicaragua and its culture.

7 – The National Sport of Nicaragua is Baseball

This one may come as a surprise, I know we didn’t see it coming. But the national sport of Nicaragua is Baseball.

It is the US that they have to thank for bringing this sport to the country. In the early 20th century, the US army was present in Nicaragua and this is when they introduced the nation to their beloved sport.

Nicaragua now has their very own professional league baseball team.

8 – Nicaragua has its own traditional dance

In fact, Nicaragua has many of its own traditional dances, depending on the area and the occasion.

One of the more popular traditional dances is the Toro Huaco, meaning men disguised in rags. This dance dates back over 100 years and is performed at the festival of Saint Sebastian.

There is also the Las Inditas dance from Masaya and the Toto Guaco from Leon.

9 – The main religion in Nicaragua is Christianity

Split between Catholics and Protestants with the majority being Catholic. This is evident as you explore Nicaragua and see the many cathedrals and churches.

One of the most famous is the White Cathedral in Leon which is now a UNESCO heritage site. This Cathedral is also the largest in all of Central America.

10 – The National dish of Nicaragua is Gallo Pinto

It’s basic but it’s fabulous. Gallo Pinto is the name for the traditional dish of rice and beans. Gallo Pinto translates to Spotted rooster, to describe the look of the dark beans against white rice.

This is a dish that you will find everywhere in Nicaragua and most of Central America. Locals will happily eat this for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Usually not on its own but accompanied by other foods as well.

11 – Nicaragua is home to Latin America’s longest festival

The festival is called San Jeronimo and is an 80-day-long celebration, making it the longest in all of Latin America.

The festival is celebrated in September and October in Masaya to honour Saint Jerome, the Patron Saint of Libraries. During the festivities, the locals take to the street in colourful costumes and dance in parades which are admired by all who see them.

12 – Nicaragua does not have any newspapers

Something we discovered during a waking tour we did in Leon was that there are no newspapers or major media outlets in Nicaragua. This is all due to the rather corrupt political situation the country is facing and the current president’s attempt to control all forms of media.

a plate of breakfast in Nicaragua with Gallo Pinto, fruit and toast

Interesting Facts about Nicaragua’s History

We love diving into the history of the different places that we visit, whether that be by visiting museums, or historical sites or taking guided tours. During our time in Nicaragua, we discovered a few interesting facts about the history of the country that we think you will find fun too.

13 – Nicaragua has been colonised by two different countries in the past

It’s no secret that the British and the Spanish did their fair share of colonising in the Americas and played a major part in shaping the way the countries look today.

But not many of the countries can say they were colonised by BOTH the Spanish and the British. Except for Nicaragua of course.

14 – Nicaragua has had an American President

America showed a keen interest in Nicaragua due to its location and during the 19th century, the US military has a strong presence in Nicaragua. During this time and one of the US Army officials named William Walker, took control and became President from 1855-1890.

15 – The City of Leon was moved

The city of Leon hasn’t always been where it is today. In fact, it was originally located on the edge of Lake Managua. In 1610 there was a catastrophic eruption of a nearby volcano causing the city to be abandoned and rebuilt where it is now.

Leon has also been the Capital city of Nicaragua in the past. For a long time Leon and Granada almost took turns to be the Captial and today is it Managua.

16 – Nicaragua was the first country in the Americas to have a Female President

Violeta Barrios Torres de Chamorro was the first and ONLY female to be President of Nicaragua. She was also the first woman to Lead any country in the Americas.

She ruled from 1990-1997 and was well-loved by the people who refer to her rule as ‘the time of peace’.

17 – Nicaragua is home to the oldest city in Central America

Granada is the oldest colonial city in Nicaragua and in Central America. Founded in 1524 the city marks the start of the colonial era for this part of the world.

You wouldn’t tell by looking at it though, as much of the city has been renovated and renewed over time to the charming city is it today.

a girl standing on the white roof of the cathedral in Leon, Nicaragua

General Interesting and Fun Facts about Nicaragua

Time for some more general interesting facts about Nicaragua to make sure we cover all our bases.

18 – Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America

Nicaragua is not a particularly large country but it is the largest country in Central America.

To give you an idea of the size of the country, it is around half the size of the UK.

19 – The population in Nicaragua is 7.037 million

The figures from 2023 show the population of Nicaragua to be over 7 million people.

Despite being the largest country in Central America it does not have the largest population size. That award goes to Guatemala with over double the population of Nicaragua.

20 – Nicaragua is the poorest country in Central America

Sadly, Nicaragua is the poorest country in Central America and the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere after Haiti.

The country’s lack of money reflects the lack of infrastructure and services available to the local people.

Despite its status as a poor country, they do have a free health care system in place for all citizens.

21 – Nicaragua plans to build a canal similar to the Panama Canal

There have been discussions for years regarding building a new canal through Nicaragua to rival the Panama Canal. Many countries have also shown an interest and this is a hot topic among politicians, private business owners and of course the local indigenous people whose lives would be seriously affected by the plans.

In theory, Nicaragua is the perfect place to build such a canal. There is already a river that runs from the east coast all the way through to Lake Nicaragua. The stretch of land between the lake and the west coast is only 17km wide.

There are no solid plans yet but it is very likely to happen one day.

22 – The streets in Nicaragua don’t have street names

A fascinating fact about Nicaragua is that they don’t use street names at all. Instead, they have their own system that can get pretty confusing for anyone who isn’t a local.

They will pick a well-known nearby landmark such as a church, school, business etc and then describe how far they are from it.

a volcano crater filled with lush green forest in Nicaragua

Interesting Facts about Nicaragua for Tourists

Finally, here are a few last facts that could be pretty useful for a tourist or traveller visiting Nicaragua.

23 – To Visit Nicaragua you get a 90 visa on arrival

You do not have to apply for a visa in advance for Nicaragua. Instead, they are part of a group of 4 countries that collectively allow you to stay among them for up to 90 days. The countries are Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.

24 – Nicaragua is one of only a handful of countries in the world where you can try the extreme sport of Volcano Boarding

Nicaragua is arguably the most well-known country to try the infamous activity known as volcano boarding. It is as crazy as it sounds.

You and your wooden board, hike to the top of the volcano and then slide all the way back down. People have been known to reach super fast speeds and of course, there are some risks involved.

We gave it a try and it was awesome! Even if I did make sure to go down as slowly as I could to avoid any injuries. Definitely worth a try if you visit. The best place to do this is Leon.

25 – Drones and Binoculars are Banned in Nicaragua

Many countries don’t allow drones but have you ever heard of a country not allowing binoculars? They also take these bans very seriously and do confiscate items at the borders and airports so it is best to leave them at home.

It is also worth checking for any updates before you go because the week that we visited they also banned ALL cameras, which was pretty stressful.

a view of Leon in Nicaragua from the roof of the cathedral with a large church in the distance and many volcanos

Facts About Nicaragua – FAQs

There are still a few frequently asked questions when it comes to Nicaragua that I wanted to quickly answer for you.

What is unique about Nicaragua?

It is arguably the history of Nicaragua that makes it so unique. The fact that it is the only country to have been colonised by both the British and the Spanish means it has a unique blend of these influences in its culture today.

What is Nicaragua famous for?

Nicaragua is most famous for its Volcanos and Lakes. It has a large number of volcanos and 7 still active today. It is also home to many lakes and even the largest freshwater lake in all of Central America.

What is the nickname of Nicaragua?

Nicaragua has the nickname; The land of lakes and volcanos. Thanks to its many active and inactive volcanos and lakes.

What are the main Nicaragua tourist attractions?

Tourists are drawn to Nicaragua for its volcanos, including the active volcano Masaya where you can see the lava inside. The Volcano boarding activity and many national parks. The Islands of Big Corn and Little Corn are also very popular among tourists to Nicaragua.

Interesting & Fun Facts About Nicaragua – Final Thoughts

So there are our 25 interesting and fun facts about Nicaragua, we hope you enjoyed them and learnt some new things about this incredible country.

We loved our time in Nicaragua and highly recommend a visit to explore for yourself if you can. If you need some inspiration for planning your trip, you can check out our full itinerary here.