Nicaragua is a Central American republic. It covers an area of
53,938 square miles and is bordered by Honduras in the north and by
Costa Rica in the south. There are three main regions: the forested,
hot, rainy Caribbean lowlands; the high, cool Central highlands; and
the Pacific lowlands.
Most of the 5,785,846 (July 2008 estimate) people live in the
fertile Pacific coastlands. The chief crops include coffee, cotton
and sugar. The capital and largest city, Managua, is located in the
Pacific region. The Central highlands are the second most important
farming region. Managua is the main industrial center and leading
products include processed foods and clothing.
The area that is now Nicaragua was discovered by Christopher
Columbus in 1502. For about 300 years, control of the area passed
from Spain to England and other European powers. Nicaragua became
completely independent in 1838.