Nicaragua is in the heart of Central America. It has borders with Costa Rica on the South and Honduras on the North. Its Eastern shores are bathed by the Caribbean Sea. The Western coast is on the Pacific Ocean. This gives Nicaragua a privileged geographical position.
Most of the southern border with Costa Rica is marked by the mighty San Juan River, undisputedly the Central American river with the largest continuous flow of water. It is interesting to note that Nicaragua’s border with Costa Rica is not the river itself, but its southern bank, which means that the entire river belongs to Nicaragua; quite different to normal international borders where the river is shared by both countries!
Although not the narrowest part of the Central American Isthmus, Nicaragua does have the shortest
land distance across the isthmus. The San Juan River is mostly navigable between the Caribbean Sea and Lake Nicaragua. The lake is of course also navigable. This makes the very narrow Isthmus of Rivas, which is less than 20 km wide (12 miles) the shortest land distance between the two oceans!
Also interesting to note, is that almost 10% of Nicaragua’s total territory is made up of lakes. The huge Lake Nicaragua (Also known as Lake Cocibolca) boasts almost 10,000 square kilometres. Lake Managua (also known as lake Xolotlan) adding over 1,000 square kilometres!
Nicaragua is divided into 17 departments. The two largest are on the Caribbean coast have a semi autonomous government status. These two large regions, are known as the RAAN (in Spanish initials for Semi Autonomous North Atlantic Region); and RAAS (Semi Autonomous South Atlantic Region). Both the RAAN and RAAS have less institutional presence of the central government. Historically, the area was under the control of the British crown during colonial days. Therefore English is widely spoken by natives in the area. The Corn Islands are part of the RAAS department.