Managua is the capital and also the largest city of Nicaragua. The city has a rapidly growing population of roughly 2,200,000, composed predominantly of mestizos and whites; making it the second most populous city in Central America after Guatemala City.
Managua is the undisputed commercial, political, cultural and religious center of the country and many new trends originate from here before they affect the rest of the country.
Located on the southwestern shore of Lake Xolotlán or Lake Managua, the city was declared the national capital in 1852.
Managua's location between the rival cities of León and Granada made it a logical and ideal compromise site in determining the nation's capital. While this decision seemed genius at the time, geology today indicates otherwise, as there is an active fault line right where downtown Managua used to be (before the 1972 earthquake knocked it down, that is). Managua's economy is based mainly on trade. The city is Nicaragua's chief trading center for coffee, cotton, and other crops. It is also an important industrial center. Its chief products for trade include beer, coffee, matches, textiles, and shoes.
The city has been witness to the rise and fall of political powers throughout Nicaragua's history and suffered devastating earthquakes in 1931 and 1972. Managua is the economic, political, cultural, commercial and industrial center of Nicaragua. Since the 1972 earthquake, residential and business areas have been built on the outskirts of Managua. Managua has been dubbed the Venice of Central America because of its escalating use of makeshift canals that can be found throughout the city.
|POPULATION :||City: 2,223,375 / Metro: 2,408,000|
|FOUNDED :||1819 / Capital:1852|
|TIME ZONE :|
|LANGUAGE :||Spanish 97.5% (official), Miskito 1.7%, other 0.8%|
|RELIGION :||Roman Catholic 58.5%, Evangelical 21.6%, Moravian 1.6%, Jehovah's Witness 0.9%, other 1.7%, none 15.7%|
|AREA :||City: 544 km2 (210 sq mi) / Urban: 173.7 km2 (67.1 sq mi)|
|ELEVATION :||9 m (30 ft)|
|COORDINATES :||12°8′11″N 86°15′5″W|
|SEX RATIO :||• Male: 49.45% |
• Female: 50.55%
|ETHNIC :||mestizo (mixed Amerindian and white) 69%, white 17%, black 9%, Amerindian 5%|
|AREA CODE :||2|
|POSTAL CODE :|
|DIALING CODE :||+505 2|
Managua is located on the southern shores of Lake Xolotlán, also known as Lake Managua. Lake Xolotlán contains the same fish species as larger Lake Cocibolca in southeastern Nicaragua, except for the freshwater sharks found exclusively in the latter. Once a Managuan scenic highlight, the lake has been polluted from the dumping of chemical and waste water since 1927. A new sewer system and the redirecting of waste water to a new waste water treatment plant at Las Mercedes funded by the German government to decontaminate the lake is expected to be the largest in Central America and was inaugurated in 2009.
These works of progress have relieved old concerns over water pollution and the endangering of native wildlife have brought some residents closer to the old city center and the rest of the mainland.
Managua's city area extends about 544 square kilometres (210 square miles), essentially south from the south shore of Lake Managua. The lakeshore is at an altitude of 55 metres (180 ft) above sea level, and the city climbs as it gets towards the Sierras de Managua further south where it is over 700 metres (2,297 feet) above sea level.
Geologically, the city lies on fault lines, thus seismologists predict that Managua will experience a severe earthquake every 50 years or less.
Managua is the economic center and a generator of services for the majority of the nation. The city, with a population exceeding two million inhabitants, houses many large national and international businesses. It is home to many factories which produce diverse products.Multinational companies such as Wal-Mart, Telefonica, Union Fenosa, and Parmalat have offices and operations in Managua. The city's chief products include beer, coffee, pharmaceuticals, textiles, shoes, matches, construction products, etc. Her main trading products are beef, coffee, cotton, and other crops. Managua is also Nicaragua's main political, social, cultural, educational and economic hub. At the same time, the city is served by the Augusto C. Sandino International Airport, the country's primary international gateway, and regional Los Brasiles airport and Punta Huete military air base, recently renewed.
Managua is also home to all of the major banks of the nation, Banco de la Producción (BANPRO), Banco de América Central (BAC), Banco de Finanzas (BDF), Banco de Crédito Centroamericano (Bancentro) and its parent company the Lafise Group. Several new hotels including Crowne Plaza, Best Western, InterContinental, Holiday Inn, and Hilton currently have facilities in Managua. As well as many hotels, Managua has opened four western style shopping centers or malls, such as Plaza Inter, Centro Comercial Metrocentro, Galerias Santo Domingo and Multicentro Las Americas, with many more being constructed.
There is a large established local market system that caters to the majority of Nicaraguans. In Mercado Roberto Huembes, Mercado Oriental, Mercado Israel Lewites and other locations one can find anything from household amenities, food, clothing, electronics, construction materials, and other contracting supplies. The markets enjoy a substantial amount of popularity, as many of the backpacking, ecotourism-focused tourists and tourists on-a-budget use these markets for their supplies and souvenirs.
Managua is also currently experiencing an upsurge in real estate prices and as well as a housing shortage. Foreigners, mainly from Anglo-America and Europe, are becoming interested in considering post-retirement life in Nicaragua, as the country has been mentioned by various media outlets due to its safety performance on major indexes and inexpensive lifestyle for tourists.
Nicaragua was inhabited by Paleo-Americans as far back as 6,000 years ago. The ancient footprints of Acahualinca are 2,100-year-old fossils discovered along the shores of Lake Managua. Other archaeological evidence, mainly in the form of ceramics and statues made of volcanic stone, like the ones found on the island of Zapatera, and petroglyphs found in Ometepe island, contribute to the increasing knowledge of Nicaragua's ancient history.
Founded by a pre-Columbian fishing town, the city was incorporated in 1819 and given the name Leal Villa de Santiago de Managua. Efforts to make Managua the capital of Nicaragua began in 1824, after the Central American nations formally attained their independence from Spain. Managua's location between the rival cities of León and Granada made it a logical compromise site.
After Granada was destroyed by a mercenary army led by William Walker in 1857, the capital was firmly established in Managua. Between 1852 and 1930, Managua underwent extensive urbanization; becoming a base of governance, infrastructure and services. The city was hampered by major floods in 1876 and 1885. A disastrous earthquake in 1931 and large fire in 1936 destroyed much of the city. Under the rule of dictator Anastasio Somoza García and his family (1936–1979), the city was rebuilt and began to grow rapidly.
Managua's progress came to a sudden halt after it suffered a second major earthquake on December 23, 1972, which destroyed 90% of the city's downtown and killed more than 19,120 people. Infrastructure was severely damaged and rehabilitation or restoration of buildings was nearly impossible. At the time, Managua's limited resources had to be directed to other disaster relief purposes. Managua's ability to cope with the disaster was also limited. Surviving fire squadrons and ambulance companies were not able to handle the skyrocketing demand for their services. Some buildings burned to the ground, while the foundations of others simply gave way. Not able to rebuild quickly, the city directed emergency workers to clear away much of the city's ruins quickly while burying the deceased in mass graves. Residences, government buildings and entire avenues were demolished. Escaping the city center, earthquake victims found refuge in the outskirts of the city. To add insult to injury, corruption within the Somoza regime which allocated part of the relief funds hindered the reconstruction of the city's center which remains somewhat isolated from the rest of the capital.
The Nicaraguan Civil War of 1979 to overthrow the Somoza regime and the 11-year-long Contra War of the 1980s further devastated the city and its economy. To make matters worse, a series of natural disasters, including Hurricane Mitch in 1998, made economic recovery more difficult. After winning the elections of 1990, UNO the reconstruction of Managua began in earnest. More than 300.000 Nicaraguans returned from abroad bringing their expertise and needed capital, businesses mushroomed, new housing projects and schools constructed, the airport expanded and modernized, streets widened, older malls repaired and new ones built, buildings cleaned up, etc. In 2006, after the FSLN came back into power, literacy, health and reconstruction programs were expanded.
Downtown has been partially rebuilt and new governmental buildings, galleries, museums, apartment buildings, squares, promenades, monuments, boat tours in Lake Xolotlan, restaurants, night entertainment, and broad avenues have resurrected part of Managua's downtown former vitality. Commercial activity, however, remains low. Residential and commercial buildings have been constructed on the outskirts of the city, in the same locales that were once used as refuge camps for those who were homeless after the earthquake. These booming locales have been of concern to the government because of their close proximity to Lake Xolotlan. The construction of a new sewer system and the redirecting of waste water to a new water treatment plant at Las Mercedes in Eastern Managua in may of 2009 (US$36.000.000), have relieved old concerns over water pollution and native wildlife have brought some residents closer to the old city center and the rest of the mainland.