Mariah Zittergruen

The People of Nicaragua


Most of Nicaraguan’s follow the Roman Catholic religion. Catholicism arrived along with the Spanish conquers during the 16th century. It isn’t the official religion of Nicaragua, but it is close with the country’s government. It is a big part in their lives. Many go to church weekly. Elderly women attend mass daily. When couples are making future plans they have god’s will in it. Yearly there are festivals to honor the patron saints, and other religious celebrations. Other smaller religions are Protestant and Jehovah’s Witness.


Along the Caribbean coast they live in wood houses. Any other place are one to two story houses made of concrete. Their roofs are made of zinc and they have ceramic tile floors. Their windows are also equipped with security bars for safety. Not all houses have running water, so they have their bathrooms and showers outside near their houses.


All families in Nicaragua follow the spanish-american lifestyle. For families that live in rural areas, they tend to live as extended families. They may build several houses together, share a patio, well, and outhouse, or just live in one big house. The oldest male is head of the family. Aunts, uncles and grandparents tend to care for the children while parents work. Adults also care for the elderly relatives when they need it. For being a parent, both men and women gain social status. Rural families tend to have four to six children, middle and lower class have three to four, and high class has two to three. In Ncieragua, it is common to have a big family.


Many Nicaraguans are allowed to date around age 15. Group dating is common. Many places they take their dates are fairs, school events, the beach and the movies. Engagement is a super big event in the upper-class families. The boy has to ask the girl’s parents before he can propose. They celebrate with dinner and drinks. The boy also gives a ring to his special girl. Urban couples wait until they are done with college or stable with their money before they get married. Women marry between ages 20 through 25 and men marry between 25 and 28. Unexpected pregnancies end up with the couple having a quick marriage. Civil marriages are common in Nicaragua. After the ceremony they bride and groom have a walking procession. If they get married in a small town they walk around town, and if it is in a big city they go straight to the brides house. A toast of champagne kicks off the celebration. The newlyweds have a first dance, and guests join later. Nice meals are served and the celebration lasts long into the night. In most cases the bride’s family is responsible for funding the wedding and celebration afterwards.


Nicaraguans have a few important holidays. One is Lent and Easter. Catholics in the United Sates tend to do this also. They don’t eat red meat during this time, so instead they eat iguanas, any seafood, and soup. During holy week they attend mass. Everyone gets the week off to visit relatives. Another unique holiday is Griteria. It is part of Novena or the nine days of prayer. It is one of the most important holidays in the country. Families set up altars of the Virgin Mary in gateways of their homes. They also carol door-to-door and set fireworks off in the evening. They eat traditional food, candies made of corn, papaya, coconut and other tropical fruit. They also celebrate Christmas. They have parties, put up decorative lights; eat special foods (including the special hen), exchange presents and set fireworks off in the streets. Last but not least they celebrate Patron Saint Holidays. They honor local saints and it lasts one to two weeks. They have horse parades and bullfighting. During the bullfights they do not harm the bulls.


School is required for ages six through thirteen, but attendance is not enforced. Many begin school but don’t finish. Those who do finish school go on and attend secondary public schools. Public schools don’t charge tuition, and they don’t need uniforms. They are responsible for their own supplies though. There are private schools for the wealthy. They have computer labs, and offer sports while public do not. In public schools parents are not very involved with their child or children’s education. After secondary school, they are many universities that they can attend. To get in they have to take an exam. Usually teachers write letters to the university that the child wants to attend.


In Nicaragua there is very limited health. Community volunteers help a lot. Many infants don’t get the shots they need and women do not get any prenatal care. When Nicaraguans go to the hospital they must provide their own medications and clothing. The doctors have low wages, which has made a few medical professionals go on strike. The main reason people are sick is because they have a problem with access to safe water and sanitation.


Nicaraguans are very big farmers. They plant and harvest; bananas, coffee, sugarcane, beans, rice, corn, tobacco, sesame, soya, beef, veal, pork, poultry, dairy products, shrimp, lobster and cotton. The only fertile land is along rivers.



Lake Nicaragua is one of the only fresh water lakes in the world with freshwater sharks. They are believed to now be extinct. The Cordillera Isabella Mountains are in the central highlands with a range that rises to 8,000 feet which is the highest point in the country. Volcanoes spread out all over the country. The only fertile farmland is along rivers. There are also rain forests and pine forests.


The climate is cool in the central high lands due to the mountains in that area. In the Caribbean region, the average temperature in 80 degrees Fahrenheit and they get and average of 165 inches of rain each year. This region is also called Mosquito Coast. Nicaragua has a high humidity. November through May is their dry season, which is when they have no rain. The country is near the equator so they have hot temperatures.


There are three regions in Nicaragua; the Western Pacific Lowlands, Eastern Caribbean Lowlands which is also called Mosquito Coast, and the Central Highlands. In the Caribbean there are the only Indian groups in Nicaragua. The languages they speak are English or another ethnic language. In the Caribbean the black people speak English and Spanish, as well as Creole and Garifuna. In the western Pacific lowlands, the land is great for farming from volcanic ash; so many people live in this area. The majority of them are Mestizos, which means they have indian and european ancestors. Many here work on farms. Many here speak Spanish, as it is the official language for Nicaragua. The main cities in this region are Leon, Managua, and Granada. In the central highlands, there are many mountains and dense rain forests. There is an annual rainfall of 70 to 100 inches a year. In the northern mountains, there is a rich mining district called Nueva Segovia. It has silver and gold there. Not many live in this area because of the landforms and there is not very good farming soil.


Unitary State

In Nicaragua they elect a president and the legislature also known as the Nation Assembly. The president appoints the cabinet to help run the government. The president at the moment is Daniel Ortega. It is a lot like the United States government.


Nicaraguans that work with manufacturing industry tend to make processed foods, chemicals, machinery and metal products, knit/woven clothing, petroleum refining, beverages, footwear, wood, electric wire harness manufacturing, and mining.

They export coffee, beef, gold, silver, peanuts, shrimp, lobster, tobacco cigars, vehicle wiring harness, textiles, clothing and cotton.


43% of the people in Nicaragua live in poverty. It is one of the poorest countries in Central America. The country relies on agricultural exports, and one third of the labor force works with agriculture. Underemployment is widespread.



The national musical instrument is the marimba. It is a lot like a xylophone. Guitars, flutes, and maracas usually accompany it. Salsa music is very popular. Folk music is popular at festivals. African culture music is common on the Caribbean coast.

Home Goods

Nicaraguans make lots of things that deal with art. They make ceramics, hammocks, woven straw hats, embroidered shrits, and wood carvings.

Fun Facts

The population is 6,209,344.

Nicaragua is similar in area size to North Carolina or New York.

Christopher Columbus arrived on the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua in 1502.

They declared independence from Spain in 1821.

Lake Nicaragua is the biggest lake is Central America.

Baseball is played by almost every culture in Nicaragua.

There are no street names in Nicaragua. A person's address is given by whatever major landmark they live near.

The country is boarded by Honduras to the north and Costa Rica in the south.


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