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The Nicas are friendly, tourists do not know the locals for their warmth, hospitality and openness, but more so because of the history of exploitation and meddling in internal affairs. There remains a strong taste of distrust for foreign governments among the countrymen. The Nicas are proud, they love their country and will have no problems spinning a tale or two to entertain and educate. That being said, the East, historically remote from the centers of political and economic decisions on the Pacific side of the mountains, includes large indigenous groups who do not identify themselves as Nationalist’s.

The country is multi-ethnic with no official religion, but Roman Catholic Christianity dominates. Mestizos of mixed Indian and Spanish blood make up the majority of the population and they are the predominant founders of Nicaragua’s folklore, art, music and much of its religious customs. On the Atlantic Coast there is a prevalent African presence. A population largely brought in by the British to work on plantations. Another major ethnic group are the Miskito Indians.

Nicaraguan culture is distinctive because of the diverse history. The west of the country, met with Spanish colonization, has similar cultural elements to other Spanish-speaking countries. Western Nicaraguan’s are mostly mestizos, and Spanish is customarily their first language. The poet Rubén Darío, a well-known writer in Spanish language, is one of the more famous authors from Nicaragua.

The eastern half of the country was once a British territory. English is still the first language of most people in this region, and its Caribbean culture marks it unique feel.

Of the cultures that were present before European colonization, the Nahuatl-speaking peoples who populated the west of the country have essentially been assimilated into Latino culture thus their language is largely extinct. In the east, however, several indigenous groups have maintained their identity. The Sumos and Ramas people still use their original languages but do speak Spanish.

Most people in Nicaragua are poor farmers. Many of those in the Pacific Region are peasants who work on their own farms, cooperatives, state farms or large private farms. In warmer regions, farmers live in metal roofed houses. In the Central Highlands where it is colder, workers live in adobe style houses with tile roofs but these are giving way to the cheaper and more easily constructed cinder brick materials.

City life has its typical urban problems and opportunities. Large expanding sprawls, people from the rural migrating to the urban centre trying to find work have caused an increase in shantytowns. Managua in particular cannot cope with the increase in urban migration because the government does not see urban infrastructure as a priority. With a growing population in most large cities, and the government considers a built up area of more than 1,000 people a city,  standard cities overshadow the once small quaint villages or towns.

Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Nicaragua : When to go, Photography in Nicaragua, When to Go to Big Corn Island, La Ruta del Cafe, Safety, Border Crossing, When to go to RĂ­o San Juan, Safety, When to go and Social and Environmental Issues in Nicaragua.

By Simon Gauci
I am freelance writer and researcher who resides in Quito *sept to June and Kilbride Ontario Canada *June to Aug*. I write fiction and...
20 Aug 2008

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