Global Brigades 2017



In the heart of Central America lies Nicaragua.  While it suffered from economic and political crises in the 1980s, it is now an increasingly popular travel destination. Not only does Nicaragua benefit from a rich biodiversity, but also a prominent cultural diversity.  Each region has a distinct culture that marks its music, literature, and art due to Nicaraguan’s diverse population. From this rich nature and culture derives its people’s love and pride of their country.

While not lacking in natural and cultural wonders, Nicaragua is still recovering economically from the 1980s.  While its GDP per capita is only $3,325, it has a low level of inequality for Latin America with a gini coefficient of 40.1.  Nicaragua has improved its educational system since the Somoza regime, especially by making elementary school free and compulsory.  In fact, Nicaragua won global recognition from UNESCO for its very successful literacy campaigns.  As Nicaragua has stabilized so have Nicaraguans opportunities and potential to improve their future.

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Roughly 50% of the Nicaragua population lives in poverty. Currently, more than 43% of the population lives in isolated, rural areas of the country. Of this population, 85% struggle to live on more than $1 daily. Communities are limited in their access to basic health services because of poor road infrastructure, also making transportation and trade extremely difficult. Historically, each step forward that Nicaragua has taken in the realm of development has been counteracted with a step back in the form of a revolution, natural disasters, repealing of funding for governmental projects or foreign aid.

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Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America, surrounded by Honduras to the north, the Pacific Ocean to the west, the Atlantic to the east, and Costa Rica to the south. Lined 14 degrees north of the equator, Nicaragua is at the center of the tropics. The diversity of Nicaragua and its unique geography sets the country apart from its neighbors. Home to the two largest fresh water lakes on the isthmus, Nicaragua is also a biodiversity hotspot. The only freshwater sharks on the entire planet, called the bull shark, live in Lake Nicaragua, located about 1 hour south of the capital city, Managua. Lake Nicaragua is also home to Ometepe Island, where two of the largest volcanoes reside,

Population: 5,890,000 inhabitants.

Capital city: Managua (pop 927,087)

Ethnicities: 69% Mestizo, 9% black, 17% white,

Languages: Spanish, Creole English and Indian dialects

Religions: Roman Catholic 59%, Protestant 24%, None 16%

Government: Constitutional democracy for the last 12 years

GDP: US$18.8 billion

GDP per head: US$3,205

Annual growth: 4.7%

Currency: the Córdoba, and typically trades between 23-24 for one USdollar.

Major industries: Coffee, tobacco, beef, sugar cane, beans, shrimp, banana, corn, forestry

Major trading partners: USA, El Salvador, Honduras

National Flag: The national flag has three equal horizontal bands: two blue, divided by one white. The 5 volcanoes represent the original 5 member states, the Cap of Liberty represents national freedom, and the rays of the sun and the rainbow represent the bright future.

Health risks: Chagas’ disease, cholera, dengue fever, hepatitis, HIV/AIDS, malaria

Time: GMT/UTC minus 6 hours

Climate: hot and humid in some areas, hot and dry in other areas, and cool temperatures in the north

Weather: Nicaragua only has 2 seasons the rainy season (May-Oct) and the dry season (Nov-April).

Fun Facts

There are no street names listed in the Nicaraguan address system. Instead, addresses are given by using reference points to major landmarks even if those landmarks have long since gone.

Nicaragua has 2 autonomous self governing regions on the Atlantic Coast, the RAAN and RAAS (Region Autónoma Atlántico Norte/Sur). In these regions, Spanish is not the official language, but rather a Creole that one might expect to hear in the Caribbean.

Nicaragua is known for its incredible surf. The World Surfing Tour of 2012 was held in Popoyo, Nicaragua, located two hours south of Managua.

All of the information above can be found at