• Basic Facts





    Country Name:

    • conventional long form: Republic of Nicaragua
    • conventional short form: Nicaragua

    Location: Central America

    Population: 5, 359, 759

    Ethnic Groups: Mestizo (mixed Amerindian and white) 69%, White 17%, Black  9%, &    Amerindian 5%

    Languages: Spanish (official)

    English and indigenous languages spoken on Atlantic Coast

    Economy: Defined as one of the hemisphere's poorest countries; Nicaragua is trying to rebuild economy after suffering catastrophic damage in 1998 from Hurricane Mitch. 

    Industries & Agriculture:  textiles, petroleum refining, coffee, sugarcane,



    The Pacific Coast of Nicaragua was settled as a Spanish colony from Panama in the early 16th century. Nicaragua gained independence from Spain in 1821 and became an independent republic in 1838. Britain occupied the Caribbean coast of the country in the beginning of the 19th century.

    In 1978, there was a short-lived civil war in the country, and in 1979, a Marxist Sandinista guerrila group assumed power. Throughout the 1980s the United States sponsored anti-Sandinista guerillas. In the years, 1990, 1996, and 2001, the Sandinista guerillas were defeated. The current government is defined as a republic; similar to the United States, there are three branches of government: a) Executive(i.e., President Enrique Bolanos Geyer), b) Legislative (i.e., only one assembly), and c) Judicial (i.e., a Supreme Court).


    Family Life

    • Family life is a high priority; large and extended families are common; individuals have a strong identification with and attachment to their nuclear and extended families. They value solidarity, loyalty, and reciprocity among family members.

    • The father is generally the authority figure; traditionally, the woman cares for the family. The woman's role is changing due to monetary needs. It is important to realize that the husband may make decisions without consulting his wife.

    • Many Hispanic children are taught to listen, obey, and not to challenge authority. Children are raised to value cooperation within the family unit more than individual achievement.

    • Many parents do not participate in their children's play activities and may view play as a distraction from household chores, etc. Children are expected to work toward goals that are viewed as survival.

    • Parents may be permissive with younger children and often do not push them towards achievement as compared to Anglo families. Physical closeness is a cultural norm (older children sitting on a parent's lap).


    School System

    In Nicaragua the structure of the schools is set up in this way.  It is compulsory for students to attend primary school.  They start at age 6 and finish at age 12.  When completed, the students receive a diploma.  If the students continue, they move into secondary education.  There are two different levels.  Basic secondary lasts for 3 years.  The students begin at age 12 and finish at age 15.  They receive a basic diploma.  Diversified secondary lasts for 2 years.  Students begin at 15 and finish at 17.  These students are awarded a diploma in the humanities or sciences.  This type of certificate is needed to attend universities.  There is also a technical secondary program.  The students need the basic secondary schooling to attend. It lasts for 3 years.  The students begin at age 15 and finish at age 18.  These students receive a technical certificate.

     Classroom Applications

    • Families hold school personnel in high regard and value education. Education is considered the route to upward mobility. 

    • Research indicates that many Hispanic children learn best in classroom environments with high levels of responsiveness and frequent attention from the teacher and classmates. 

    • Parents expect children to be responsible for their own learning; therefore, they do not provide assistance with homework unless they receive specific instructions.

    • Students who immigrate to the United States will have varied educational backgrounds; therefore, they may vary considerably in their literacy skills and school experiences.

    • When scheduling meetings, the best way to serve children is to include the family or one key family member and hold flexible meeting times to accommodate work schedules (e.g., nonstandard times or home visits). Additionally, if siblings need individual meetings, consecutive meeting times are strongly recommended.

Last Modified on January 4, 2013