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About Managua

Casa de los Pueblos,  Managua. Foto PrebenMultiMedia.com
Casa de los Pueblos, Managua. Foto PrebenMultiMedia.com

Managua is the capital city of Nicaragua as well as the department and municipality by the same name. It is the largest city in Nicaragua in terms of population and geographic size. Located on the southwestern shore of Lake Xolotlán or Lake Managua, the city was declared the national capital in 1852. Prior to its inception as the capital city, the title had alternated between the cities of León and Granada. The city has a population of about 2,200,000, composed predominantly of mestizos.

Founded in 1819, the city was given the name: Leal Villa de Santiago de Managua. Its original purpose was to serve as a rural fishing village. 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 and ideal compromise site. Modern-day Managua was built in the 1850s on the site of an indigenous community. The city occupies an area on a fault. Seismologists predict that Managua will continue to experience a severe earthquake every 50 years or less. The city's economy is based mainly on trade and industry. Managua is Nicaragua's chief trading center for coffee, cotton, other crops and industry. It serves as an important industrial, commercial, political and cultural center. Its chief products include beer, coffee, matches, textiles, and shoes. Today, Managua is Nicaragua's main political, social, cultural, educational and economic hub. The city is served by the Augusto C. Sandino International Airport, the country's primary international airport.

The city has been witness to the rise and fall of political powers throughout Nicaragua's history and has suffered devastating earthquakes in 1931 and 1972, with the latter having lasting effects on the city's development. In 2007, after a successful literacy campaign, Managua was declared by the Mayor of Managua and the Sandinista party newspaper to be the first capital city in Central America to be rid of illiteracy. Since the 1972 earthquake, residential and business areas have developed on the outskirts of Managua. 

Etymology
The name Managua originates from the term Mana-ahuac, which in the indigenous Nahuatl language translates to "adjacent to the water" or site "surrounded by water". The city stands today on an area inhabited by varying cultures of Indigenous peoples for thousands of years.


HISTORY
Prehistorical
Nicaragua was inhabited by Paleo-Indians 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.

The Old Managua
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. New government buildings were erected, industry developed, and universities were established. The city's development caught the attention of Irving Fields and Albert Gamse, who composed a musical piece about the city that became popular in the 1940s. Managua had become Central America's most developed city. Today's references differentiate the pre-1970s Managua by labeling it as La Antigua Ciudad, which in English translates to "The Old City".
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 and killed more than 19,120 people. Infrastructure was severely damaged and rehabilitation or restoration of buildings was nearly impossible. 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. The migration of residents away from the city center allowed for it to go undeveloped. The addition of corruption within the Somoza regime also hindered the center's development. Today, the city center remains somewhat isolated from the rest of the capital.
The Nicaraguan Civil War of 1979 to overthrow the Somoza regime and the 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, have made economic recovery more difficult. After winning the elections of 1990, UNO began the reconstruction of Managua in earnest. In 2006, after the FSLN came back into power, literacy, health and reconstruction programs were expanded.

Present day
Downtown has been partially rebuilt and new governmental buildings, galleries, museums, apartment buildings, squares, promenades, monuments, boat tours on Xolotlan Lake, restaurants, night entertainment, and new 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 refugee 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 Nicaragua.


Geography
Managua is located on the southern shores of Lake Managua (also known as Lake Xolotlán). Lake Managua contains the same fish species as Lake Cocibolca, 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 waste water treatment funded by the German government to decontaminate the lake is expected to be the largest in Central America and was inaugurated in 2009. Managua extends about 544 kilometres (338 miles) along Lake Managua at an altitude of 55 metres (180 ft) above sea level.


Lagoons within city limits
Managua features four smaller lagoons in the city limits.
• The Laguna de Tiscapa (Tiscapa Lagoon) is south of the old downtown. Tiscapa Lagoon is of volcanic origin and was formed approximately 10,000 years ago.
• Asososca lagoon, to the west, is Managua's most important source of drinking water. Asososca is at the beginning of Carretera al Sur (Southern Highway), close to the connection with the Carretera Nueva a León (New Highway Via León).
• Nejapa lagoon, south of the Asososca lagoon, is also along the Southern Highway.
• The fourth is Acahualinca lagoon, which is located to the northwest. This lagoon, which gives its name to a nearby district to the east, is located on the shores of Lake Managua. This lagoon is mostly noted for having shallow waters.


Climate
Managua, like much of Western Nicaragua except for the Sierras, has a tropical climate with constant temperatures averaging between 28 and 32 °C (82 and 90 °F. A distinct dry season exists between November and April, while most of the rainfall is received between May and October. Temperatures are highest in March and April, when the sun lies directly overhead and the summer rainfall has yet to begin.


Education
Managua is the national education center, with most of the nation's prestigious universities and higher education institutions based there. Nicaragua's higher education system consists of 48 universities and 113 colleges.


Economy
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.
Managua is also home to all of the major banks of the nation. 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 the Nicaraguan population. The Mercado Roberto Huembes, Mercado Oriental, Mercado Israel Lewites and other locations are where one can find anything from household amenities, food, clothing and electrical 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 North 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.

Landmarks
Plaza de la Revolución (Plaza of the Revolution), which was formerly known as Plaza de la República (Plaza of the Republic) is home to Managua's Historical Center. Managua's Center was destroyed by the 1972 earthquake. Managua, to date, has not rebuilt its center. The now historical center is located near the Lago de Managua and many buildings are partially intact, however, some are now abandoned. Some of the more important buildings which managed to survive include the Catedral de Santiago, known colloquially as the old cathedral, the Rubén Dario National Theater and the National Palace of Culture. Within the Plaza of the Revolution is the Parque Central (Central Park) which contains many historical monuments, many dedicated to national heroes and poets. Some of these include the Tomb of Comandante Carlos Fonseca, founder of the FSLN, which is guarded by an eternal flame. Near Central Park is the Rubén Darío park, dedicated to Nicaragua's national poet. There is also a park dedicated to the Guatemalan writer Miguel Ángel Asturias. Monuments include the monument of El Guerrillero sin Nombre (The Nameless Guerrilla Soldier) and Monumento à la Paz (Monument for Peace).

Old Cathedral of Managua
The Old St James Cathedral was designed and shipped from Belgium in 1920 by Belgian architect residing in Managua Pablo Dambach who got the inspiration from St Sulspice in Paris. Santiago became the first cathedral in the Western Hemisphere to be built entirely of concrete on a metal frame. Santiago survived the 1931 earthquake, but was extremely damaged during the1972 Earthquake, which led to the construction of the new Cathedral of the Conception to the southeast.

Rubén Dario National Theater
The Rubén Dario National Theater is Nicaragua's most important theater, and is one of the most modern theaters in Central America. Both national and international artists present shows, concerts, exhibitions, and cultural performances such as El Güegüense among many others.

National Palace of Culture
The National Palace is one of Managua's oldest buildings undamaged by the 1972 Nicaragua earthquake. It was commissioned by President Juan Bautista Sacasa in 1935. For more than 50 years, the National Palace housed the Congress; today it houses the National Archive, the National Library, as well as the National Museum which is open to the public. The museum features pre-Columbian paintings, statues, ceramics, etc. Also part of the exhibit is the hall of National History and the hall of National Symbols. The National Palace was one of the few building that survived the 1972 earthquake.

Tiscapa Lagoon
The Tiscapa Lagoon, located inside the Tiscapa Lagoon Natural Reserve is just south of the Managua's Historical Center. Leading up to the Lagoon is Calle del Comercio, which leads to the Monumento al Liberalismo, built in the late 1930s by the Liberal party in honor to President Anastasio Somoza-Garcia. Nearby is the Monument to Sandino which is a silhouette of Augusto C. Sandino, one of Nicaragua's national heroes. The monument stands 59 feet tall. The monument was proposed by Ernesto Cardenal and is protected by the Nicaraguan military. The Sandino monument was constructed on top of the wreckage of the old Mozarab style Presidential palace commissioned by President Sacasa in the late 1920s but long used by the Somoza Family as their personal residence. Also on the crater lip of Tiscapa are the Mazmorras, a prison where current President Daniel Ortega and many other political prisoners were tortured during the Somoza regime.
The reserve is located within city limits of the capital, Managua, and is a popular tourist attraction. Restaurants and stores line the walls of the lagoon. Canopy rides provide a panoramic view of the old downtown where only a few buildings survived the 1972 earthquake. However, encouraged by the country's improved economy, Managua's downtown began reconstruction since the mid-1990s. Thus, many new governmental buildings, apartment complexes, shopping malls, green squares, leafy promenades, lake tours, restaurants, entertainment venues, broadened avenues, monuments, and fountains, have sprung up; awakening the metropolis' heart after a long subreal dream since 1972. Also, many pre-Columbian artifacts have been found in and around Tiscapa, adding to Managua's pre-Columbian legacy.

Museum of Acahualinca

Managua is also home to the Museum of Acahualinca, where the Ancient footprints of Acahualinca, fossilized Paleo-Indian footprints made some 6,000 years ago, are engraved in volcanic ash. The Museo Sitio Huellas de Acahualinca is located in west Managua in the Acahualinca neighborhood. In addition to the footprints, the museum also displays artifacts found in other localities around the country. Artifacts such as mammoth footprints, pre-Columbian tools, a skull from León Viejo, and a small collection of pottery among other archaeological objects.
Dennis Martínez National Stadium
The Dennis Martínez National Stadium was built in 1948 and was the largest stadium in Central America at the end of its construction, it survived the 1972 earthquake. The stadium was named in honor of Nicaragua first baseball player to play in Major League Baseball, it serves as a venue for baseball and soccer games, as well as concerts and religious events. The Dennis Martínez National Stadium has a capacity for 40,000 making it the largest stadium in Nicaragua.

Catedral de la Concepción
The Metropolitan Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, more commonly referred to as the New Cathedral, was designed by architect Ricardo Legorreta and inaugurated in 1993. The New Cathedral was built to replace the Old Cathedral downtown that had been damaged during the earthquake of 1972. Upon the completion of its construction, the Cathedral generated controversy among tourists and locals because of its bland and dull appearance. Eventually, the church's original concrete and gray surface became accepted and Catholic pilgrims began to embrace the church as it was.


Culture
Managua is Nicaragua's cultural capital, boasting several restaurants, theaters, museums, and a few shopping centers. The city is also home to many communities of immigrants and ex-pats from countries including but not limited to Taiwan, China, Germany, the United States, Palestine, and Latin American countries.

Festivals

Managua's most famous festival is that of its patron saint Santo Domingo de Guzmán. It starts on the morning of August 1, when the "Bajada del Santo" (walk down of the saint) involves many joyful people walking and carrying the old statue of Santo Domingo from Las Sierritas Church in south Managua to another church across the city to the north, in the area destroyed by the 1972 earthquake. It remains here for ten days until the morning of August 10, when the "Subida del Santo" (walking up of the saint) returns the statue to Las Sierritas Church where it remains for the rest of the year. Thousands of people attend this event which involves dancing, eating, drinking and the marching of musical bands, mainly for traditions that date back to pre-colonial times, or to ask for personal miracles, make promises, or give thanks to the saint. During the parade many people dress up in typical costumes, masks and painted bodies. Among other participants are "carrosas" (art cars and trucks) from local business companies, horseriders coming from Nicaragua and other Central American neighbouring countries to show off their horses, skills, and horserider costumes.
Another festival taking place since 2003 is the Alegria por la Vida (Happiness for Life) Carnaval is celebrated in Managua at the beginning of the month of March. There's a different slogan or theme every year. This event is celebrated with parades, floats, live music, food and dancing as well as the march of the Carnival Queen.

Museums, libraries and cultural centers
The National Library holds a great amount of volumes and affords abundant bibliographic information about the discovery and independence of Nicaragua. The National Palace of Culture has an exhibition of Nicaraguan art from the time previous to its independence. Inside the National Palace of Culture is the National Museum, containing archaeological finds with some examples of pre-Columbian pottery, statues, and other findings.
Managua is home to an array of art galleries which feature pieces by both national and international artists. Managua is home to many types of museums, some art museums include the Julio Cortázar Museum and the Archivo Fílmico de la Cinemateca Nacional. Natural history museums include the Museo del Departamento de Malacología UCA, Museo Gemológico de la Concha y el Caracol, and Museo Paleontológico "El Hato". The Santo Domingo de Guzmán Museum is an anthropology museum. History museums include the Museo de la Revolución, Museo Casa Hacienda San Jacinto and Museo Parque Loma de Tiscapa.

Entertainment

Managua features many bars, nightclubs, casinos, theaters and cinemas. Compared to western prices, alcoholic beverages, theatre visits and cinema tickets are relatively inexpensive. There are cinemas in all major shopping centers; screening both English- and Spanish-language films. Foreign embassies in Managua also sponsor film festivals.
Since the late 1990s and early 2000, many casinos and karaoke bars opened and have remained popular attractions for Nicaraguans and foreign visitors. Popular music includes the Palo de Mayo, Merengue, Cumbia and Latin pop among other Latin music genres, as well as American pop and rock. Salsa dancing is a national pastime. Managua boasts a vibrant night life. Nightclubs and bars are abound in Managua, particularly, in the popular areas called "Zona Hippos" behind the Hilton hotel near Metrocentro and "Zona Rosa". In these areas, Bachata music has been gradually gaining popularity.
Aside from these activities, Managua has a wide selection to offer in luxurious shopping malls, boutiques and department stores as well as local markets. In the Mercado Roberto Huembes shoppers can find everything from furniture, national arts and crafts, to fruits and vegetables, and clothing. 

Sports
Baseball is, by far, Nicaragua's most popular sport followed by soccer and boxing. The Dennis Martínez National Stadium is home to many baseball games of Managua's Boer team. At the time of its construction in the late 1960s, it was the most modern stadium in Central America.the baseball league has 34 baseball teams.
There has been growing amateur interest in little football or "futbolin" among teens and adults. New private courts have played a big role in the promotion of amateur games and tournaments.

Transportation
Transportation-wise, Managua is one of Nicaragua's best positioned cities. All of Nicaragua's main roads lead to Managua, and there are good public transportation connections to and from the capital. There are four main highways that lead into Managua. The Pan-American Highway enters the city from the north, connecting Managua to Nicaragua's northern and central departments. This highway is commonly referred to as the Northern Highway.
The Southern Highway, the southern part of the Pan-American highway, connects Managua to southern departments Carazo, Rivas and others.
The Carretera a Masaya connects Managua to the departments of Masaya and Granada.
The Carretera a León connects Managua with León.
All of these highways are in good condition, with little traffic congestion. Infrastructure on the highways is well maintained. This also tends to be true for cities and towns that are served or are in close distance with the freeways. However, this does not yield truthfully for cities and towns who tend to be considerably further from the main highway roads. Nicaraguan bus companies serve both urban and rural areas to remedy the lack of sufficient infrastructure.
Transportation infrastructure has grown outside of Managua and other Pacific coast cities and departments in recent years. A road from the river port city of El Rama to Pearl Lagoon, located in the Autonomous Region of the Southern Atlantic, was completed in 2007. El Rama is connected by highway to Managua. Managua and Puerto Cabezas, located in the Autonomous Region of the Northern Atlantic are also connected via road. A third road, currently under construction, will connect Bluefields, Autonomous Region of the Southern Atlantic with Managua via Nueva Guinea. Traveling by airplane is more efficient than traveling by these roads due to the poor conditions, especially in the rainy season. Domestic flights are operated by La Costeña from the international airport.

Buses
Managua is served by countless bus lines and services. Its prime location between the Northern Pan-American Highway and the Southern Highway make it an ideal hub for local, national and international bus services.
The purchase of 450 new buses marks the first significant investment in public transportation in Managua in post-revolution Nicaragua. Each bus line for local Managua and national Nicaraguan routes tend to be operated by an individual company. Buses are the most economical way to get around the city and thus contributes to high numbers of ridership. Managua also has express (Expresso) and Local (Local) routes. Express buses tend to be rather expensive compared to their local counterparts. Local buses are also used frequently to transport goods and large items to central markets, such as the mayoreo, particularly during the morning hours. Recently, with the assistance of the Japanese government, Managua has commenced operating new modern Mercedes-Benz buses on several bus routes with the intention of modernizing the city's transport system. Typical Nicaraguan buses are older school buses from the United States. Additionally some buses are painted with religious artwork of Catholic saints, religious texts or messages of inspiration.
130 buses were donated by the Russian Federation. Drivers servicing city routes will also be wearing blue uniforms. One out of every ten buses now grants access to wheelchair passengers, granting disabeled passengers for the first time the ability to utilize public transportation resources.
International bus services
TransNica is a Nicaraguan bus company that operates international bus services throughout Central America. It competes extensively with its counterpart, TicaBus, a Costa Rican bus company. Managua serves as the company's hub, with buses departing from Managua to San José, Costa Rica, Tegucigalpa, San Salvador and Choluteca.

Taxi
In Managua, those who commute to and from work generally travel by bus or taxi. Taxi tends to be the transportation method of choice for tourists. Taxi cabs may be hailed or called over by radio dispatch. Street cabs, those that can be hailed without calling a dispatcher, are widely available and cost somewhat less than their counterparts. However, some taxi cabs operate as collectives, and do pick up passengers as the first customer goes on their journey. Usually, passengers that wish to opt-out of such practice do so by advising the driver not to pick up additional passengers. This is usually done as a safety precaution, as there have been robberies committed due to this practice of "cab sharing." Taxi cabs do not have meters. By custom, many Nicaraguans and tourists alike agree on a fare before embarking on the vehicle.

Airport
The Augusto C. Sandino International Airport (formerly Managua International Airport) is the largest and only international airport,main land in Nicaragua. It recently inaugurated its over US$52 . The airport has now been converted into one of the region's most modern airports. The airport used to serve as the hub for the Nicaragüenses de Aviación airline, which was bought by TACA Airlines the El Salvador national airline that bought all of the airlines in Central America.
The airport, known as Aeropuerto Sandino or MGA to locals, serves as the primary hub for connections at both domestic and international levels. TACA Regional member La Costeña operates flights to local destinations like Bluefields, the Corn Islands and San Carlos among others. The airport is located near the northern highway and is about 11 kilometers (6.8 mi) east of the city's downtown. Hotels, restaurants, and commercial centers are all accessible by car, taxi, or bus. Out of the country's one hundred and forty airports, it is the only one with the appropriate infrastructure and capacity to handle international flights.
Eleven airlines operate international flights at MGA. Popular destinations include Miami and Atlanta. Other regional destinations such as San José and San Salvador are also popular layover stops due to Nicaragüense de Aviación's membership in Grupo TACA.

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