Brief Nicaragua History
Nicaragua was discovered in 1502 by Christopher Columbus himself during his 4th and last voyage. It quickly became a strategic site to the growing Spanish Empire. Spanish Emperor Charles V ordered exploration of the San Juan River to find a route that would allow passage of goods from the Pacific Ocean to the Caribbean Sea. That was the beginning of a dream to build a canal across Central America. This dream has not come true, but it is to this day a top government priority! Currently the government of Nicaragua has given a concession to a Chinese firm to build the Nicaragua Inter oceanic canal.
Iconic figures, like Cornelius Vanderbilt, invested in Nicaragua over 150 years ago. Cornelius Vanderbilt did his best to use Nicaragua’s natural geographic resources to transport people and goods between New York City and San Francisco during California’s gold rush.
Nicaragua is probably the least understood country in Central America. When people are asked about the country, most envision civil wars, cold war confrontation between the USSR and the USA, and a land of poverty. These visions are far from the reality. Today Nicaragua boasts the lowest crime rate in Central America. As a matter of fact; it is probably the lowest in all of Latin America!
Although it’s true that the last dictator in Central America was Anastasio Somoza from Nicaragua. It’s also true that he and his family ruled the country like their own hacienda for over 40 years. But many things have changed for the better over the last 30 years, since the revolution that toppled his regime.
As a result of the Sandinista Revolution in 1979, Nicaragua’s society has a higher degree of social conscience than its neighboring states. Its efforts to reduce poverty have had a positive impact on society. The number of people who can not read or write has gone down in recent years. Tourism has jumped to become a major player in the nation’s economy, with most of the visitors concentrating in the Pacific coast as well as in the colonial cities of Granada and Leon.
Since the revolution and return to civil government, there have been a total of 5 elections in the country. Each with a peaceful transfer of powers each time. Nicaragua’s government is a republic with 3 powers, executive, legislative and judicial. The president is the head of the executive power. He is democratically elected every 5 years. The legislative power is held by single chamber with a total of 92 congressmen. These are also elected for 5 year terms. The judicial power is lead by a Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has a total of 16 members that are elected by congress.