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Unique Culture of Nicaragua

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Table of contents

  1. History
  2. Uniqueness of Culture
  3. Common Foods Used By The Culture
  4. Meal Patterns and Etiquette
  5. Major Religions of the Culture
  6. Health Beliefs
  7. History and Cultural Challenges in the US

Nicaragua is a beautiful tropical country that is located in between North and South America. Founded on September 15th, 1821, the small country is known for its ancient architecture and culture. Though it is not an island, its climate is still tropical due to its relative location to the Equator. Therefore Nicaragua attracts thousands of tourists every year to visit its crystal blue waters and beautiful rainforests. Nicaragua is also the largest country in South America, with a population of about 6 million and covering about 50,000 square miles. The size, population, and climate significantly contribute to the overall development of the culture that is known as Nicaraguan. Nicaragua’s overall culture as well as its connection to modern day Spanish influence has helped developed the country into what it is today without losing its original cultural practices.

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Nicaragua was discovered in 1502 by an explorer by the name of Christopher Columbus. Before, it consisted of a few small Indian tribes. The name Nicaragua comes from the head of the leading Indian tribe before being conquered by the Spanish. When first discovered, there were 3 main tribes that inhabited the area. They were very similar to Native Americans, having close extended families and sharing similar traditions. The names of the 3 tribes were the Niquirano, Chorotega, and Chontal.The official settlement of Nicaragua by Spain began in 1523 by two men named Gil Gonzalez Davila and Francisco Fernandez de Cordoba. They both forced the local tribes to convert to Christianity by threatening them with violence and enslavement. Many people still refused to convert, resulting in a massive population drop within a few short years.

Soon after Spain took over, two major cities emerged. These cities were called Granada and Leon. Though they were created by the same people, both cities belonged to different political parties. Granada belonged to the conservative party and Leon belonged to the Liberal party. These two cities were constantly conflicting with each other, arguing which political party was superior. 1838 was when Nicaragua declared independence as a republic, declaring Managua as its capital. The capital of Nicaragua is significant because it is located between the two conflicting cities, acting as if it were a peacemaker. Now, Nicaragua is known to be apart of the Independent Liberal Party.

The country is known for its exports of agriculture such as melons, nuts, and onions. The country as a whole depends on agriculture in order to support the economy. Its fertile soil due to being next to the sea as well as the tropical climate promotes the growth of plants such as Tobacco and Sesame. Tobacco was originally introduced by the Europeans and is now known as a cash crop, meaning it is produced for commercial value. The current population is 6.5 million and is gradually increasing due to the immigration of tourists. With a birth rate of 2 children per family and the main cause of death being heart disease, the population of the country has been labeled as stable.

Nicaragua has truly developed to be one of the most economically and geographically stable countries in South America thanks to its climate and history. Tourists come from all over in order to see ancient Nicaraguan pyramids, statues, and other artifacts. Also, due to its easy going government, the country is also a safe place to live and involves little to no violence. Though when it was conquered by Spain, the conquest not only helped Nicaraguans come into the real world, but also created one of the highest tropical agriculture producing countries currently.

Uniqueness of Culture

Though many people believe the native language of Nicaragua is called Nicaraguan, the people of this country actually speak Spanish. Though neighboring countries such as Costa Rica and Panama also speak Spanish, Nicaragua is different because it is known to have a more sophisticated output. Many people claim that Nicaragua is just a tropical version of Spain because it follows the similar Spanish culture.Having a blend of both Spanish and Nicaraguan, many people enjoy the both modern and historical feel of the culture.

Fashion in Nicaragua is unique because it resembles that of Old Spain with a South American flare. The women traditionally wear a colorful cotton dress the covers both shoulders and ankles. Their hair is often styled into a neat bun with a floral hairpiece. Men wear simple work clothes. The women in Nicaragua are expected to be the head of the household as well as fertile, meaning they are expected to have children. Men were expected to work and provide for the family. Unlike other countries, most actions were led by women as opposed to men. Though it appears to be a tropical paradise for tourists, many families in Nicaragua live in poverty. This forces the children out of school and into work at a young age. The elderly are also affected because they are viewed as either a burden or just another mouth to feed. The most unique aspect of Nicaraguan culture is their pride in being the only country that has a dual volcano. This alone attracts about 25% of the tourism, promoting the overall economy of the country.

The most unique aspect of Nicaraguan culture is their beautiful architecture. Before being colonized by Spain, Nicaragua was home to the first pyramids. The most famous is called Canta Gallo, which is a cluster of pyramids that are located deep in the Nicaraguan rainforest. These pyramids were most likely built as a shrine for ancient deities and used as a place for worship. Around the pyramids are clear signs of ancient religious rituals. Nicaragua is one of the few remaining countries that have pyramids that are still in tact.

Common Foods Used By The Culture

The main traditional foods of Nicaragua consist of corn, cheese, and beans. One of their most famous dishes is called Gallo Pinto, which is a mixture of onion, fried rice, a variety of peppers, and beans. Due to its Spanish revolved culture, it would be rare to find a restaurant that sells food such as hamburgers and sushi unless you are in a high tourism area.

Nicaragua is known for its immense amount of agriculture. Most families in Nicaragua rely off of farming in order to provide food and income for their families. Their culture also focuses on spending time for family, therefore most meals are eaten at home with the whole family in attendance. Due to the modernization of the country over the years, traditional family meals have become less common.

There are several world holidays that are celebrated in Nicaragua such as Christmas, New Year’s, and Easter. The country also celebrates a variety of its own holidays. Their most significant holiday is their Independence Day which takes place on September 15th every year. Another national holiday that is celebrated is the Sandinista Revolution. This was when Nicaragua fight back against a rising dictatorship and won. Foods that are eaten on these holidays include Vigoron, a variety of tortillas, and Quesadillas. All of these foods consist of relatively similar ingredients, beans, rice, and corn.

Meal Patterns and Etiquette

The meal pattern in Nicaragua varies with the city, but most of the country eats a small breakfast followed by the largest meal during midday. After this meal, it is time for a siesta, or nap that is done during the hottest part of the day. At night, there is a dinner but the meal is often times light. Beans and rice are eaten in almost all meals and their normal dish includes quesadillas, enchiladas, and tortillas. Corn is also a major part of the diet in Nicaragua.

Etiquette in Nicaraguan culture is very important. They care more about the company and conversation as opposed to the initial dining. Dining does not begin until everyone is present and nobody leaves until everyone is finished eating. It is considered as a major compliment if one were to ask for seconds, implying that the food was so good that they would like more. Finally, it is custom to only start the meal after the hosts says “buen provecho” which means “Bon Appetit”.

Major Religions of the Culture

Nicaragua’s government has a strong belief in religious freedom and tolerance. The majority of the population follows some form of Christianity. This is due to Spain conquering Nicaragua in 1523, forcing the population to “Convert to Christianity or else”. Along the coast, many people belong to the Protestant religion. There is also a strong following of the Roman Catholic religion, about 51% of the total population. 31% follow Evangelical, which is also a form of Christianity.

The Roman Catholic religion has an open diet, with meat being restricted on certain days such as Good Friday. They also fast for as long as 40 days and 40 nights. In modern day, it is rare for one to practice fasting but many still follow lent, where something that is important to them is given up for a certain amount of time. Drinking wine as well as eating bread is also used in communion, which is performed at every church service.

Health Beliefs

Before being colonized by Spain, Nicaraguan Natives relied on many different herbs for healing. A few of these herbs include Zorillo, Cola de Alacran, and Cashew. Zorrillo is the strongest, most common herb and is used to soothe any form of pain. Alacran is used for illness and Cashew is used for reducing inflammation and joint pain. To activate these herbs, they are crushed into a paste and either applied directly to the wound or consumed orally.

Traditional Nicaraguan medicine also includes herbs such as wormwood and orange tree leaves. These herbs are often boiled with other spices such as pepper and garlic in order to enhance the effect. Nicaraguans also had a strong belief for drinking tea in order to utilize its healing properties. Their tea was made by using simple herbs from the garden that were then mashed and mixed with hot water. Tea was served with almost every meal in order to promote good health. Most of the herbs Nicaraguans use are found in the deep rainforest or volcanic foothills. This is because the damp climate and rich volcanic soil promotes the rapid growth of the plants.

History and Cultural Challenges in the US

During a census that was taken in 2010, the population of Nicaraguans in the United states was 348,202. Most live in either Florida or California. Many lacked a basic American education after immigrating to the US in the early 1900’s. Due to this, many Nicaraguans struggled to obtain a stable job, many residing into the Agricultural employment.

Many South American Immigrants face discrimination every day as well, not just Nicaraguans. However, many still follow the American dream in order to make a better life for their children and future family members. The language barrier makes it difficult for one to communicate with someone who speaks English. Currently, almost all South American immigrants face deportation because they came illegally. Although several agencies are trying to assist with giving US citizenship, the overall population of South Americans, not just Nicaraguans, has dropped significantly in the past year and a half.

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Nicaraguan culture has the perfect blend of Spanish and the original countries practices. Though the countries original culture, before being colonized by Spain, is not as prominent as it once was, there are still many parts of the country that practice it. People from all over the world visit Nicaragua for a tropical vacation with a Spanish flare. Although the country is still developing into a more modern lifestyle, every year its culture grows and prospers.

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