Fun Facts About Nicaragua For Kids

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Last Updated on December 1, 2021 by worldoftravelswithkids

Enjoy our fun facts about Nicaragua with kids!   As the World Of Travels family is half Nicaraguan, it follows that we have had various extended stays in the country, and been able to discover these interesting facts about Nicaragua!

Due to its frequent political instability, it is less touristed than some of its Central American neighbors.  However, Nicaragua is most definitely a tropical paradise, overflowing with palm-fringed beaches, lakes, mountains, and some very picturesque volcanoes.  Combined with the naturally friendly Nicaraguan people, who are fond of a joke, you will find yourself falling in love with Nicaragua in a heartbeat.

Nicaragua Itinerary For Families
Tourist boats visiting El Castillo at Granada


Why are we sharing these fun facts about Nicaragua?

Before arriving in Nicaragua it was such an exotic, mysterious place, tinged the idea that they’d suffered a dreadful and controversial war in the 1980s.  My first view of Nica was lush green grass and a cow grazing on the airport runway.  Little was I to know that my life was to become inextricably entwined with this fascinating and contradictory country.  Over a decade later I’ve loved a Nicaraguan and lost one to cancer.  Together we had 3 gorgeous half Nicaraguan children who make up the World Of Travels With Kids family.   We hope you enjoy our photos and our favorite fun Nicaragua facts.

Fun Facts About Nicaragua For Kids – History

Fun Facts About Nicaragua For Kids
Calle Calzada, Granada

Granada Is The Oldest City In The Americas

Established in 1524, Granada (also Papa’s home town), is the oldest colonial city in the Americas that continues in the same place as when it was founded.

Stunningly, the street layout of the city remains the same as from the early days of the Spanish conquest.  Despite being plundered by Caribbean pirates, and then burnt to the ground by an American filibuster, Granada has retained its character with cobblestone streets, baroque churches, and many colonial houses.  With Lake Cocibolca on one side and the view of the extinct Mombacho Volcano present from many places in the city, Granada is one of the most captivating cities in Central America.

Nicaragua Itinerary For Families
My daughter visiting La Merced Church

Nicaragua Is Home To Some Of The Oldest Churches In The Americas

When you visit Nicaragua, the sound of church bells is a constant reminder that you are in a country where religion is a vital part of most people’s lives.  An interesting fact about Nicaragua is that Iglesia la Merced (the La Merced Church) is one of the oldest churches in the AmericasBuilt in 1534, it was burned and rebuilt again in 1670.  As a tourist, the views from the bell tower are the most complete in the entire city.  You can have a 360-degree view of Granada’s terra-cotta rooftops, the stunning lake, and the volcano.

Nicaragua Itinerary For Families
The Cathedral of Granada was destroyed when William Walker left

Nicaragua Has Had An American President

In 1855 an American filibuster (some would say pirate or profiteer) William Walker led an army to capture the city of Granada.  After capturing it he named himself president of Nicaragua.  He was later recognized by the United States as the legitimate president of Nicaragua!  However, by making English the official language and overturning the anti-slavery laws of Nicaragua, William Walker was extremely unpopular!

By 1857 neighboring Central American nations like Honduras and Costa Rica, worried by William Walker’s intentions to expand into their territory drove him out.  However, he set fire to Granada before leaving, causing much damage to the city’s precious colonial buildings and churches.

I think one of the most fun facts about Nicaragua is that they had English as the official language.  Even for a short time!

What is a Filibuster?

A filibuster is a private American (from the United States) citizen who decided to conquer parts of Latin American and the Caribbean.  They did this without any permission of the government of the United States meaning they were essentially pirates, adventurers, and profiteers eager to make their fortune.

Nicaragua Itinerary For Families
Beautiful Lake Cocibolca

The First Location For The Panama Canal Was Through Nicaragua

I think that one of the more interesting facts about Nicaragua is that if history had been different there would be a Nicaragua Canal, not a Panama Canal!

Lake Nicaragua (Cocibolca) offers the perfect natural place for a canal.  The land here between the Pacific Ocean and Lake Nicaragua is no more than 30 miles wide.  Another of the Nicaragua fun facts is that the Pacific Ocean is near enough to be seen from the mountains of Ometepe (an island in the lake).

Early discussions to build a Nicaragua Canal connecting the Caribbean Sea and thus the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean go back at least to 1825. Unfortunately for Nicaragua, Panama’s Canal bid was more successful and the Panama Canal opened in 1914, despite the new Panama Canal Extension project, there would be some ships too big for the Canal and Nicaragua remained enthusiastic about the development of their own canal across the American Land Bridge.

Nicaragua Itinerary For Families
The ferry on Ometepe

Nicaragua May Still Build A Nicaragua Canal

In 2013, Nicaragua’s government gave approval to a Chinese backed company to build a Nicaragua canal.  In that same year Norman’s father, a farmer in the San Carlos area on the Atlantic side of the lake, was arrested for protesting against compulsory land acquisition for the canal.  He was later released, and by May 2017, no advances had occurred in the construction of the canal.  There was substantial doubt about its financing and the project now seems to be on the back shelf.

Nicaragua fun facts
Remnants of a war torn past.

What Was The Nicaraguan Revolution

We can’t make a list of fun facts about Nicaragua without mention of the Nicaraguan Revolution.  Or, as it is known within Nica, the Sandinista Revolution.  The Somoza regime of the mid to late 1900s saw much suffering.  During the 1960s and 1970s, there was growing unhappiness amongst the people who struggled while the rich lived like kings.

The Sandinista guerrilla group mobilized their people during the revolution of 1978 and saw the overthrow of the Somoza family dictatorship in 1979.  Being more of a guerrilla movement than an organized political party, the communist Sandinistas never had a chance of taking over the country’s government.  By 1981 the United States had already begun to support armed opponents of the Sandinista government due to fears of the expansion of communism and Marxism.

Nicaragua fun facts
Much of the fighting during the Contra war was in the mountains in the North.

What Was The ‘Contra’ War

The Nicaraguan people were the unfortunate pawns in another phase of the Cold War.  As the revolution was a communist movement, the United States was afraid that it would lead to the spread of communism.  The communist Sandinistas were backed by the Soviet Union and other communist countries, while the Contras were backed by the United States.  If you are into history, the United States backing of the Contras was part of the Regan Doctrine.  While about 10,000 Nicaraguans died in the actual revolutionary period up to 1979, a further 30,000 are estimated to have died during the ‘Contra War’ which finally ended in 1989.

Every time I visit Nicaragua I am struck how Norman’s barrio (neighborhood) is filled with stories of the war.  They tell of the Sandinista uncle who was lost in the jungles.  Also stories of the other uncles who fled the communist rulers to live overseas.


Interesting Facts About Nicaragua – Geography

Nicaragua is known as “the land of lakes and volcanoes” due to the numerous lakes, lagoons, and volcanoes in the country.  Nicaragua has 50 volcanoes!  However, only 7 are believed to be active.   As a tourist you can visit Masaya Volcano.  I’m not sure if it is a fun fact about Nicaragua, but it last erupted in 2016.

Adrenaline Filled Activities In Nicaragua For Active Families
Kayaking on Lake Nicaragua

The Largest Lake In Central America

Lake Nicaragua is known locally as Cocibolca, meaning ‘Sweet Sea’ in the local indigenous language.

With an area of 8,264 square km, it is Central America’s largest lake and the 19th largest globally by area.  As it is so large, it has some characteristics with a sea.  Sharks, tarpon, and sawfish live in it.  The lake also has over 400 volcanic islands.  The most recognizable being Ometepe Island was formed by two volcanoes rising out of the lake.

Interesting Facts About Nicaragua
On a Volcano Surfing tour

You Can Surf Down A Black Mountain (Cerro Negro)

Not only is Nicaragua a wicked place to surf a wave, but it has also pioneered the art of volcano surfing!  That’s right, at Central America’s youngest volcano, Cerro Negro, you can strap a board to your feet and literally fly down a very steep hill of volcanic black sand.  If you want to get your Nicaragua fun facts right, it is also called ash boarding, volcano boarding, or sandboarding.

Volcano surfing is not for the faint-hearted.  First up they have to hike up the rocky side of the still active volcano.  Then, from the top, it’ll take you less than a minute to reach the bottom. Volcano boarders on this extremely steep slope have been known to hit speeds of over 30 miles per hour.

Interesting Facts About Nicaragua
One of Nicaraguan’s favourite foods is the Hot Dog!

Facts About Nicaragua – People

One of the most common facts about Nicaragua is that it is the poorest country in Central America and the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.  I read that 80% of the population lives on less than $2 a day. On the other hand, one of the biggest sources of income (about 15% of the GDP) is remittances sent from the family of Nicaraguans living abroad.

What is a remittance?

A remittance is a transfer of money, often by a foreign worker to an individual in their home country. Money sent home by migrants competes with international aid as one of the largest financial inflows to developing countries. 

The Most Popular Sport In Nicaragua Is Baseball

The most popular Nicaraguan baseball player would have to be Dennis Martinez.  He was a pitcher and the first Nicaraguan to play in the major leagues!  His nickname was “El Presidente”.  In 1991 he became the first Latin American born pitcher to pitch a perfect game!  How is that for interesting facts about Nicaragua?

Besides baseball, Nicaraguans love boxing!  There are many world-class Nicaraguan born boxers such as Ricardo Mayorga, Alexis Argüello, and Roman González.

Interesting Facts About Nicaragua
Enjoying a traditional breakfast

What is Nicaraguans Favorite Food?

I will share two of Papa Nica’s favourite foods: Vigaron and Baho.

The best vigaron is found prepared by vigaron vendors in the parks and plazas of Nicaragua.  It is made up of boiled yucca, chopped cabbage, onions, tomatoes, chile peppers, and fried pork rinds known as chicharrones. This is all served in green banana leaves and is delicious!

Baho (pronounced BA-hoh) is a combination of beef, yucca, and green bananas (Plantains) steamed in a banana leave.  The Spanish word for steam is ‘vaho’, which is pronounced by the Nicas as the name of his dish. This dish takes a long time to prepare and often eaten over the weekend, alongside curtido.

What is Nicaraguan Breakfast like?

In the tropical heat of Nicaragua,  I found their traditional breakfast quite unusual at first, but the more I ate it, the more I enjoyed it.

The most typical breakfast is “Gallo Pinto” which is a mix of red beans and rice, and served with an egg separately, with plantains, a corn tortilla,  some Nicaraguan cheese (which is quite salty) and natilla (which is like sour cream).  I always ate the Gallo Pinto on the Tortilla

For drinks, Nica’s do have coffee, but the most typical drink is pinolillo which  is a powdered cornmeal and cacao mixed in water or milk.  Pinolero is actually a colloquial term for a Nicaraguan,  and linked to pinol, from which pinolillo is made.

On the weekend the most special breakfast treat is the Nacatamale,  a very rich mix of cornmeal, vegetable, potato, and meat, especially pork) wrapped in a banana leaf and boiled. You untie the leaf and eat the filling only, not the leaf. These are a lot bigger than the tamales you get in Mexico or Peru.  In fact,  I’d always share a Nactamale with someone else!

Interesting Facts About Nicaragua

Street Names Do Exist In Nicaragua

Now that I know Nicaragua it’s easy for me to find my way around.  Also, their directions giving system seems friendlier than simply a number.

They choose a popular place – say the Cathedral and then will say – the hotel is located 2 blocks toward the lake.  I read on the internet that no one uses street names in Nicaragua.  However, I don’t believe that is true.  They do use the street names in combination with the reference points.

Within the local culture, all sorts of places become reference points.  I feel like no one gets lost easily if you speak some Spanish and have learned the system.  However, for visitors to Nicaragua, it is impossible to find your way!

Nicaragua Has A Mosquito Coast That Is Not Named After Mosquitos

Yes, there is a place in Nicaragua known as the Mosquito.  BUT, it is not called that because of a nasty mosquito problem.  The Mosquito Coast lies on the eastern coast of Nicaragua.  It was actually named after the indigenous people of the region, the Miskito Amerindians.

The Miskito’s territory actually covered was is parts of present-day Nicaragua and Honduras.  However, in 1894 the Mosquito Coast was incorporated for Nicaragua.  Then, in 1960 the Nicaraguan government gave a tiny part of the territory back to Honduras.

nicaragua for kids
Sebaco fruit stalls

A “Manzana” In Nicaragua Does Not Mean Apple

Usually, the Spanish word “manzana” means apple in English.  However, not in Nicaragua.  In Nicaragua, a manzana is actually a unit of measurement.  It is an area roughly the equivalent of 10,0000 square varas.

I thought that the Nicaraguans were referring to ‘a manzana’  but they were actually referring to an official measurement!

Nicaragua Itinerary For Families
Sunset on the coast at San Juan del Sur

Our Conclusion – Fun Facts About Nicaragua For Kids

We hope you enjoyed our fun facts about Nicaragua with kids.  Nicaragua is a country that is very near and dear to our hearts here at World Of Travels With Kids.  We have so many stories and interesting facts about Nicaragua to share.  We also have a lot of Nicaragua with kid’s travel tips and information as well.

If you want more information about the amazing country of Nicaragua, start with our Nicaragua Destination Guide page.

And for more information and fun facts about Nicaragua, check out our favorite guidebooks.  Click each one for current prices.


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Fun Facts About Nicaragua For Kids

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