Intro to Nicaragua


Nicaragua has rightly been described as a tropical paradise. Its eastern shores look out on the clear, turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea. Its western coast is washed by waves rolling in from the mighty Pacific Ocean. Viewed from above, the land is a mosaic of forests, farms, and rivers, with many lakes set like jewels in the craters of ancient volcanoes. Yet, these lakes seem like tiny blue pools when compared with the two giants—Lakes Nicaragua and Managua. With an area of 3,100 square miles [8,200 sq km], Lake Nicaragua alone covers over 6 percent of the entire country!

The capital city, Managua, lies on the southern shore of Lake Managua, which has an area of about 400 square miles [1,000 sq km]. Fittingly, “Managua” in one of the indigenous tongues means “place where there is an extension of water.” The center of government and business, Managua has a population of about one million—20 percent of the country’s five million inhabitants. It is situated in the narrow confines of the Pacific lowlands, home to about 60 percent of Nicaraguans. Another 30 percent live in the central highlands, and the rest—just under 10 percent—live farther east in two sparsely populated, politically autonomous regions that make up half the national territory.

At the southern border of Nicaragua, the Central American isthmus narrows, with the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean only 137 miles [220 km] apart. But because the San Juan River flows from Lake Nicaragua into the Caribbean, only the 11-mile [18 km] Isthmus of Rivas separates the lake from the Pacific. Prior to the construction of the Panama Canal, the San Juan River-Lake Nicaragua waterway was a popular route for travelers, making the region highly desirable. Indeed, history reveals that it has come under the influence of many peoples, including Maya, Aztecs, Toltecs, and Chibcha, besides foreign powers—Spain, France, Great Britain, the Netherlands, the United States, and the Soviet Union.

The influence of the many tribes and nationalities is evident in Nicaragua’s multilingual and multicultural society. While the Pacific populace comprises mainly Spanish-speaking mestizos, descendants of Spanish and indigenous peoples, the Caribbean region is decidedly multiethnic. Miskito, Creoles, and mestizos predominate alongside smaller populations of Sumo, Rama, and Garifuna—an Afro-Carib group. Although many of these communities have retained their traditional language and culture, the people are unpretentious, open, and friendly. They are also deeply religious, and many have love for the Bible.

As we will see in this account, the Nicaraguan character has also been shaped by adversity, both natural and man-made. For instance, twice in the last century, Managua was leveled by earthquakes originating on the Pacific side of the isthmus. Eastern Nicaragua has suffered a different kind of natural disaster—destructive hurricanes spawned in the Atlantic. On top of that, civil war, political revolutions, and harsh dictatorships have brought additional woes.

Yet, the pure waters of Bible truth have found their way into this beautiful land of lakes and rivers, bringing comfort and hope to thousands of honesthearted people. (Rev. 22:17) Yes, the torrent of spiritual provisions flowing in Nicaragua today attests to Jehovah’s rich blessing on the Kingdom-preaching work in this land, especially considering that just six decades ago, the good news was a mere trickle.

Taken from 2003 Yearbook published by Jehovah's Witnesses.