Country of the World Nicaragua

About the country Nicaragua, its location, size, population, leaders and rulers.

NATIONS AND THEIR RULERS

NICARAGUA

NITTY-GRITTY

Lay of the Land: Largest of the Central American countries, Nicaragua has three distinct geological areas--the Pacific coastal hills and lowlands, the central highlands rising to as much as 7,000 ft., and the wide Caribbean lowlands, swampy and mosquito-infested. Most of the people live and work on the Pacific coast or in the highlands. The Caribbean lowlands, hot and rainy, are nearly uninhabited, though they comprise nearly half the nation's territory.

Size: Nicaragua's exact size is unknown because of border disputes with Honduras and because of incomplete surveys. It is estimated to be about 50,000 sq. mi. (130,000 sq. km.).

Population: 2.3 million.

Who Rules: Like so many other Latin American countries, Nicaragua is a theoretical republic and an actual dictatorship. Nicaragua has been governed since 1936 by the Somoza family or its representatives. President today is Anastasio Somoza Debayle, who through various political manipulations has managed to stay in power since 1967, despite a constitutional provision limiting a president's tenure to five years.

Who REALLY Rules: The Somoza family, backed by the U.S.

In addition to their political power, the Somoza family controls a vast fortune worth many millions. They have interests in coffee, rice, beer, cattle, meat packing, banking, hotels, television, and newspapers. They own the country's only cement factory, only roofing outfit, the national airline, the only shipping line, plus 20-25% of Nicaragua's arable land!

The Jan. 10, 1978 assassination of opposition leader Pedro Joaquin Chamorro led to a general strike, nationwide demonstrations, and an anti-Somoza uprising. When Somoza attempted to reaffirm his power by speaking at an open-air rally in Managua, he took the added precaution of enclosing himself in a bullet-proof glass booth.

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