The New Student's Reference Work/Nicaragua

Nicaragua (nē′ kȧ-rä′ gwȧ), a Central American republic, stretches across the isthmus from the Caribbean to the Pacific and lies between Honduras on the north and Costa Rica on the south.  It has an area of about 49,200 square miles.  The Central American Cordillera extends through the country from northwest to southeast, not far from the Pacific coast.  From these the surface sinks rapidly westward, and the country is studded with large lakes, the largest being Nicaragua (115 miles long and 45 broad) and Managua (35 miles long and 20 wide).  This tableland is also marked by isolated peaks and volcanic cones.  On the west lie Managua the capital (population 35,000); Leon, Granada, Chinandega, Rivas and the harbors of the Gulf of Fonseca, Salinas Bay and Corinto; and on the east the harbor of Greytown on San Juan River.  The principal rivers are the Coco (350 miles), San Juan, Bluefields and Rio Grande.  Minerals are found, but only of late have they begun to be worked.  In 1898 the shipment of gold-dust amounted to 16,242 ounces.  The rich soil yields corn, sugar, cocoa, rice, tobacco and indigo.  The natural products are mahogany, rosewood, logwood, fustic, sandalwood, india-rubber, dye woods, medicinal plants and gums.  The chief exports (besides gold) embrace coffee, rubber, bananas, timber, cattle and hides.

Nicaragua was a precolumbian center of civilization.  Columbus sailed along the coast in 1502, and in 1524 Granada was founded by Spaniards, who had entered two years before.  From 1560 to 1821 the state was a dependency of Guatemala, but in that year became independent and so remained for sixteen years.  Then until 1865 it had a troublesome and warlike time, but since then it has made great strides toward peace and prosperity.  In 1894 a new constitution was proclaimed, which was amended in December, 1896.  By this the legislative power is vested in a congress of one house.  Population, including uncivilized Indians, 500,000.  Consult Bancroft’s History of Pacific States.  See America, Central.