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Nicaragua Country Information — Historic Highlights

Nicaragua's name comes from the head (Casique) of the leading Indian tribe in the area in the years of the Spanish Conquest. Nicaragua was first settled by Spain in the year 1522. Nicaragua received independence in 1838. In 1900, Nicaragua was dominated by the struggle for power between the Conservatives, centered in Granada and the Liberals, which home base was centered in the city of León, Nicaragua.

The United States backed up the new Conservative government in the year 1909. The United States sent a small group of marines to Nicaragua from the year 1912 to 1925. The United States was given an option for a canal through naval bases and Nicaragua thanks to The Bryan-Chamorro Treaty of 1916. This treaty was terminated in the year 1970. The US marines were sent to calm the riots after elections in Nicaragua in the year 1924. The leader of the guerillas, General César Augusto Sandino, took stand against the troops from the United States from the year 1927 until they withdrew in the year 1933.

Flag of Nicaragua
Nicaragua Flag

After General Anastasio Somoza García ordered the assassination of Sandino, Somoza was dictator from the year 1936 until he was assassinated in the year 1956. His son Luis followed up his father, who got his post thanks to trusted friends of the family in the time he was president until he died in the year 1967. He was succeeded by Mayor General Anastasio Somoza Debayle, who was his brother. The family Somoza ruled Nicaragua in a way a true dictator rules. They reduced its dependence on exports like bananas, exiling political foes, and gathered a huge fortune for the family.

An offensive was launched in the year 1979 by the Sandinista guerrilla (they lend their name from General César Augusto Sandino). Somoza fled the country after 7 weeks of fighting on the 17th of July 1979. Two days later the Sandinistas took over power. The Reagan administration suspended aid from the United States on the 23rd of January in the year 1981. The reason for this was that the USA accused Nicaragua of supplying arms to guerillas in El Salvador with the aid of the Soviet Union and Cuba. These accusations have always been denied by the Sandinistas. The guerrillas that were called “Contras” where funded by the United States and started a war to overthrow the Sandinistas later that same year. On the 4th of November in the year 1984 Daniel Ortega, the Sandinista junta coordinator, won the presidency. The war got more tense in the year 1986–1987. Negotiations sponsored by Neutral Latin American nations started, but Costa Rican president and Nobel prize winner for piece, Oscar Arias presented a treaty signed by Central American leaders in August of the year 1987.

The owner of the opposition paper La Prensa, Violetta Barrios de Chamorro, led a broad anti-Sandinista campaign to win the 1990 elections. This ended 11 years of ruling for the Sandinistas. Chamorro’s popularity faded rapidly. The high class did not satisfy at all. Sandinistas threatened to take up arms again when they noticed that everything that was achieved before, was getting lost again. A lot of people were very disappointed about the corruption that was finding place in Nicaragua again.

The Conservative candidate and former mayor of Managua, Arnoldo Alemán, won the election in the year 1996. Daniel Ortega (former Sandinista leader) was his competitor, who was very close to winning the presidency.

In 1998, Hurricane Mitch caused a lot of devastation and more than 9,000 people lost their lives. Over 2 million people were homeless, and over $10 billion was caused in damages. The United States offered Nicaraguans an immigration amnesty program until July of the year 1999, and a lot of families went to the United States. Due to a lot of political unrest and natural disasters Nicaragua is one of the poorest countries in Central America.

The ruling Liberal Party leader Enrique Bolaños defeated Ortega who was attempting a comeback in the elections of the year 2001.

Arnoldo Aleman, the former president of Nicaragua was sent to prison for 20 years in 2003 after he was accused in August 2002 for fraud and embezzlement. Bolaños, the current president was very happy this happened and said that this was the “frying of the Big Fish”. Transparency International, the anticorruption organization, tells us that Alemán is ranked among the most corrupt dictators of the past 20 years.

Nicaragua has seen a lot of support from the international community in the year 2004. The IMF and World Bank for example forgave $4.5 billion of the debt that Nicaragua had with them. A free-trade agreement with the United States (CAFTA) has been signed in April 2006. This gives an enormous boost to the Nicaraguan economy.

Daniel Ortega (the former Sandinista president) won again the presidential election in November 2006 with 38% of the vote and in January 2007 he took office. Ceasar Chavez from Venezuela was one of many notables in attendance in Managua for the presidential inaguration of President Daniel Ortega.

Currently Nicaragua is experiencing improvements for the vast majority of poor people with improved infrastructure, health care and better employment opportunities. Real Estate in Nicaragua is showing signs of exploding due to the natural beauty and undeveloped nature of most of the countryside, not to mention the high price of real estate in Costa Rica just to the south of the border.