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Nicaragua:
Geography

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Background
Definition
The Pacific coast of Nicaragua was settled as a Spanish colony from Panama in the early 16th century. Independence from Spain was declared in 1821 and the country became an independent republic in 1838. Britain occupied the Caribbean Coast in the first half of the 19th century, but gradually ceded control of the region in subsequent decades. Violent opposition to governmental manipulation and corruption spread to all classes by 1978 and resulted in a short-lived civil war that brought the Marxist Sandinista guerrillas to power in 1979. Nicaraguan aid to leftist rebels in El Salvador caused the US to sponsor anti-Sandinista contra guerrillas through much of the 1980s. Free elections in 1990, 1996, and 2001, saw the Sandinistas defeated, but voting in 2006 announced the return of former Sandinista President Daniel ORTEGA Saavedra. Nicaragua's infrastructure and economy - hard hit by the earlier civil war and by Hurricane Mitch in 1998 - are slowly being rebuilt.
Location
Definition
Central America, bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean, between Costa Rica and Honduras
Geographic coordinates
Definition
13 00 N, 85 00 W
Map references
Definition
Central America and the Caribbean
Area
Definition - World rank and map
total: 129,494 sq km
land: 120,254 sq km
water: 9,240 sq km
Area - comparative
Definition
slightly smaller than the state of New York
Land boundaries
Definition
total: 1,231 km
border countries: Costa Rica 309 km, Honduras 922 km
Coastline
Definition
910 km
Maritime claims
Definition
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
continental shelf: natural prolongation
Climate
Definition
tropical in lowlands, cooler in highlands
Terrain
Definition
extensive Atlantic coastal plains rising to central interior mountains; narrow Pacific coastal plain interrupted by volcanoes
Elevation extremes
Definition
lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mogoton 2,438 m
Natural resources
Definition
gold, silver, copper, tungsten, lead, zinc, timber, fish
Land use
Definition - World rank and map
arable land: 14.81%
permanent crops: 1.82%
other: 83.37% (2005)
Irrigated land
Definition
610 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources
Definition
196.7 cu km (2000)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)
Definition
total: 1.3 cu km/yr (15%/2%/83%)
per capita: 237 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards
Definition
destructive earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides; extremely susceptible to hurricanes
Environment - current issues
Definition
deforestation; soil erosion; water pollution
Environment - international agreements
Definition
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification
Geography - note
Definition
largest country in Central America; contains the largest freshwater body in Central America, Lago de Nicaragua


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