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Basic Info

Population: almost 6 million.

Languages: Spanish everywhere, English on the Caribbean coast (like most of life on the Caribbe, the actual number of English speakers is undocumented). A small percentage of people still speak an indigenous language; Miskito is the most common.

Race: Mestizo almost 70%. White 17% and higher wherever the money or power is. Black 9% and indigenous 5%, both higher wherever the money and power isn’t, i.e. the Caribbean coast.

Religion: Statistically Catholicism only claims about 60% of Nicas. Its cultural pervasion is squarely at 100% though. Other forms of Christianity claim 25% of the market; this number is rising fast.

Government: somewhat corrupt republic. Daniel Ortega was in charge during the original Sandinista government, and has been desperate to get back into power ever since. After two failed attempts he was elected president in 2006 with less than 40% of votes. During his first stint he instituted genuinely revolutionary reforms, nowadays he will do pretty much anything for a few shreds of power, such as choosing an ex-Contra (i.e. someone who waged a bloody guerrilla war on his government) as his vice president.

Planning a coup? Planning a week on the beach? Either way, the CIA has your back Visas for Nicaragua

Citizens of most ‘developed’ countries just need to turn up and receive a 1-month tourist card. A $5 tax upon arrival pays for this. For ‘developing’ nations it’s the usual story; apply for a visa before you arrive. Visa extensions can be arranged once you’re in the country.

When to travel

The northern summer is the rainy season; it rains daily, flooding the streets and slowing everything down. This is also hurricane season. The temperature doesn’t drop much in ‘winter’ but it does get drier and thus easier. This is high season for tourists, though. Just like virtually everywhere else in the world, the shoulder seasons are the best time to travel.

Phil Johnson

Phil Johnson is an editor at Road Junky and more of his work can be read atHe keeps a his blog. You can also enjoy his bountiful wit via Twitter.