Nicaragua, NIHK uh RAH gwuh, is the largest country of Central America in area. Nicaragua borders on Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. It is slightly larger than New York State. Nicaragua is mountainous in the west, with fertile valleys. Two big lakes, Nicaragua and Managua, are connected by the Tipitapa River. The Pacific coast is volcanic and very fertile. The Caribbean coast, swampy and indented, is aptly called the “Mosquito Coast.”
Nicaragua, which derives its name from the chief of the area's leading Indian tribe at the time of the Spanish Conquest, was first settled by the Spanish in 1522. The country won independence in 1838. For the next century, Nicaragua's politics were dominated by the competition for power between the Liberals, who were centered in the city of León, and the Conservatives, centered in Granada. The country is divided into three geographic regions: the Pacific Lowlands on the west, the mountainous Central Region and the Atlantic Lowlands on the east.
* Taken from The World Book Encyclopedia. (Chicago: World Book, Inc.), pg 396-398.