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Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America. It's bordered to the north by Honduras, to the south by Costa Rica, to the east by the Caribbean Sea and to the west by the Pacific Ocean. The country has three distinct geographic regions: the Pacific lowlands, the north-central mountains and the Caribbean lowlands, also called the Mosquito Coast or Mosquitía. The fertile Pacific lowlands are interrupted by about 40 volcanoes, and dominated by Lago de Nicaragua, which is the largest lake in Central America. The Mosquito Coast is a sparsely populated rainforest area and the outlet for many of the large rivers originating in the central mountains. To date, 17% of the country has been given national-park status.

Lago de Nicaragua supports unusual fish, including the world's only freshwater sharks, as well as a huge variety of bird life. The cloud- and rainforests in the northwest contain abundant wildlife including ocelots, warthogs, pumas, jaguars, sloths and spider monkeys. Avian life in the forests is particularly rich: the cinnamon hummingbird, ruddy woodpecker, stripe-breasted wren, elegant trogon, shining hawk and even the quetzal, the holy bird of the Maya, can all be seen. The jungles on the Caribbean coast contain trees that grow up to almost 200ft (60m) high and are home to boas, anacondas, jaguars, deer and howler monkeys.

Background:The Pacific Coast of Nicaragua was settled as a Spanish colony from Panama in the early 16th century. Independence from Spain was declared in 1821 and the country became an independent republic in 1838. Britain occupied the Caribbean Coast in the first half of the 19th century, but gradually ceded control of the region in subsequent decades. Violent opposition to governmental manipulation and corruption spread to all classes by 1978 and resulted in a short-lived civil war that brought the Marxist Sandinista guerrillas to power in 1979. Nicaraguan aid to leftist rebels in El Salvador caused the US to sponsor anti-Sandinista contra guerrillas through much of the 1980s. Free elections in 1990, 1996, and again in 2001 saw the Sandinistas defeated.

In 2006, however, Ortega was elected as President (albeit without a majority of the votes). Both before and after the election, he has given investors assurances that he will honor private property rights, promote tourism and continue to encourage foreign direct investment in Nicaragua. His first 100 days in office give us no reason to doubt his promises. The Sandinistas, moreover, do not have majority in the national assembly.

Nicaragua understands that, in order to resolve its long standing problems with poverty, it will have to grow its economy at a rapid rate. That means it will need foreign direct investment from all sources as well as help from governments as different from each other as the U.S.A and Venezuela. We believe that Nicaragua's aspirations can be achieved through the energy and the spirit of its people with the help and participation of its friends across the globe.
Central America, bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean, between Costa Rica and Honduras

Geographic coordinates:
13 00 N, 85 00 W
Map references:
Central America and the CaribbeanArea:
total: 129,494 sq km
land: 120,254 sq km
water: 9,240 sq km

Area - comparative: slightly smaller than the state of New York

Land boundaries: total: 1,231 km

Border countries: Costa Rica 309 km, Honduras 922 km

Coastline: 910 km

Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 200 nm
continental shelf: natural prolongation
tropical in lowlands, cooler in highlands

Terrain: extensive Atlantic coastal plains rising to central interior mountains; narrow Pacific coastal plain interrupted by volcanoes

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mogoton 2,438 m

Natural resources: gold, silver, copper, tungsten, lead, zinc, timber, fish

Land use:
arable land: 15.94%
permanent crops: 1.94%
other: 82.12% (2001)
Irrigated land:
880 sq km (1998 est.)

Geography - note: largest country in Central America; contains the largest freshwater body in Central America, Lago de Nicaragua