Nicaragua, officially the Republic of Nicaragua (Spanish: República de Nicaragua), is a representative democratic republic. It is the largest country in Central America with an area of 130,000 km2, and the second poorest in the Western Hemisphere. The country is bordered by Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. The Pacific Ocean lies to the west of the country, the Caribbean Sea to the east. Falling within the tropics, Nicaragua sits between 11 degrees and 14 degrees north of the Equator, in the Northern Hemisphere. Nicaragua's capital city is Managua, with approximately one-fifth of Nicaraguans living there.
The origin of the name "Nicaragua" is unclear; one theory is that it was coined by Spanish colonists based upon the name of the local chief at that time, Nicarao; another is that it may have meant "surrounded by water" in an indigenous language (this could either be a reference to its two large freshwater lakes, Lake Nicaragua and Lake Managua, or to the fact that it is bounded on the east and the west by oceans).
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For much of the twentieth century the country was ruled by the brutal Somoza family dictatorship, which was supported by the United States. In the late 1970s, a successful revolution was launched by the FSLN (Sandinista National Liberation Front), which resulted in Daniel Ortega becoming president. This `Sandinista' government was essentially hounded to death by the Unites States, which embargod the country and waged a proxy war against it by funding the `Contra' counterrevolutionary, terrorist army which operated out of neighbouring Honduras. Tired of being under attack, Nicaraguans voted in the early 1980s for a U.S.-approved presidential candidate, Violetta Chamorro. Since then Ortega has been re-elected, but he is no longer very revolutionary.
A valuable source on the Sandinista revolutionary period is The Agony of a Dictatorship, formerly available from leninist.biz (unfortunately now a defunct site -- 2014) and now, luckily enough, saved at archive.org