Known as the "land of lakes and volcanoes", Nicaragua is also home to the Bosawás Biosphere Reserve, the second-largest rainforest of the Americas. Volcanic features, freshwater and marine habitats, tropical rainforests, cloud forests, mangroves...Nicaragua has it all!
WHAT IS SO SPECIAL ABOUT NICARAGUA?
> Nicaragua is the second-poorest country in the Americas, next to only Haiti.
> The largest lake in Central America is in Nicaragua! Called Mar Dulce or the “sweet sea” by the Spanish, Lake Nicaragua is 8,264 square kilometers, and is one of the biggest attractions in the country.
> Famous natural wonders include Isla Ometepe in the middle of Lake Nicaragua with two volcanos (Maderas is the volcano in the south of Ometepe, and it is less active than the Concepcion volcano), Masaya Volcano, and Big & Little Corn Islands.
> Nicaragua is home to the oldest city in all of Central America. The Ruins of Leon Viego date back over 500 years, and it's another big dra for tourists. It's located near the famous Momotombo volcano.
> STARS! Of the 88 constellations that exist in the night sky, 86 constellations can be seen vividly if you’re in Nicaragua.
> Violeta Chamorro is a Nicaraguan politician who served as the president of the country from April 25, 1990, to January 10, 1997. She is credited with ending the Contra War that was the final chapter of the Nicaraguan Revolution. She is known for her contribution in bringing peace to the country after years of deadly internal conflicts and violence. After winning the elections on February 25, 1990, she became the first elected female head of state in the entire Americas.
> LEARN MORE about the beautiful country of Nicaragua and see maps at World Atlas!
> For a delicious recipe of the traditional Indio Viejo stew, keep scrolling!
(All Nicaragua photos by Cherita Rice)
THE HISTORY OF COFFEE & CONFLICT IN NICARAGUA
Coffee is one of the most important exports of Nicaragua and it was first cultivated in the country at scale in 1850. Then just 20 years later, in 1870, it was largest export crop in Nicaragua!
It continued growing into the 1900s as an important export, influenced by increasing global demand and diminished supply from other origins. The Nicaraguan government decided to get more involved, and encouraged immigrants from Italy and Germany to buy land for coffee. So for a long time the majority of the coffee was controlled by white landowners who exploited local labor with very low wages and poor conditions.
While Costa Rica, El Salvador, and even Guatemala began emerging as specialty-coffee origins in the 1980s, "Nicaragua’s political and economic instability through the long Nicaraguan Revolution period (roughly 1974–1990), as well as the destruction of Hurricane Mitch in 1998, are among the contributing factors that kept the country out of the specialty spotlight" (read more from Cafe Imports).
Here's a closer look at how the political climate in Nicaragua has affected coffee production, from Perfect Daily Grind.
(Coffee photos from Caravela Coffee)
The larger estates were broken into smallholder plots in the 80s and 90s and created some confusion and disjointedness. USAID and Fair Trade work in-country as well as folks like Caravela Coffee Importers more recently has been huge for unifying small farmers and increasing quality.
William Ortiz, Caravela Coffee’s Country Manager for Nicaragua, says that the average Nicaraguan coffee farm is roughly 5 hectares in size. While poor infrastructure has historically made life difficult for producers, things are changing.
“When we first arrived, producers had very few ways to sell their coffees,” William says. “Washing and drying stations and mills were limited, and producers had little access to education [to learn more about their coffee]. However, since our time here, we are proud to have become a part of the growth of a more quality-sensitive Nicaraguan coffee community.” Read more from William here.
Indio Viejo (Nicaraguan Beef Stew)
Indio Viejo (meaning old Indian) is one of the oldest native dishes in Nicaraguan cuisine. The ingredients are native to the region, like corn and beef. It is said that the name of this dish comes from the lie of an indigenous leader to two Spaniards who passed through a tribe located in Ometepe (Read the full story here!).
For the tortillas
- 15 corn tortillas, cut into smaller pieces
- 4 cups water
For the beef
- 1 ½ - 2 lbs beef eye of round roast
- 5 cups water
- 1 onion, quartered
For the stew
- ¼ cup lard or vegetable oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 garlic head, peeled and minced
- 1 green pepper, diced
- 3 tomatoes, diced
- ½ cilantro bunch, chopped
- 1 mint bunch, chopped
- 1 bitter orange or lemon, juiced
- 1 tsp ground achiote (annatto) or paprika
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt, or to taste