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Nicaragua, officially the Republic of Nicaragua, is a socialist one-party republic. It was the largest country in Central America with an area of 130,373 sq km, however, the fighting against the anti-Sandinistan rebels has made its actual control over national territory smaller. Nicaragua's capital city is Managua, with approximately one-fourth of Nicaraguans living there.
Before Doomsday, Nicaragua had just experienced a successful overthrow of the Somoza dictatorship in 1979. The Revolution brought down the heavy burden Somocista regime had imposed upon Nicaraguan economy and that had seriously deform the country. Later, it dealt with the Contra insurgency, funded by the United States, which would continue to be a burden in the years to come.
After Doomsday, President Ortega was struggling, as he was temporarily cut of from his main partner in the region, Cuba. The government believed that the Contras, now cut off from US aid, would quickly crumble. However, this was not the case. The People's Front of Nicaragua (FPN), a large group of Contras, entered Costa Rica. Ortega, seeing a chance to cut them off, dispatched military forces into Costa Rica, seizing Guanacaste Province and Puntarenas, the main Costa Rican Pacific port. By 1985, the Nicaraguan government controlled the Central Valley. After two years of firm control over the region, the Sandinistans found themselves unable to control the region any longer, and in 1987 a ceasefire among the three sides was signed. The army withdrew from the Central Valley, but Nicaragua retained Guancaste Province and Puntarenas. The main problem for the Sandinistans was the FPN controlled Mosquito coast region, and plans were already drafted for its recapturing.The truce collapsed even sooner than expected as Contra forces stormed Sandinista positions in Guanacaste province on December 15, 1987, which came as a surprise for the Sandinistans. The three-way war resumed and things weren't looking good for general Cuadra. Cuadra, cut off from Nicaragua, began to recruit local Costa Ricans sympathetic to Marxism and the Sandinista cause. Over the course of several months, they regained control of the province and drove the bulk of the Contra rebels into the far end of the Nicoya Peninsula. The FPN started crumbling and by 1988, ceased to function as an organization. Now their were numerous Contra guerrilla organizations fighting amongst themselves, and the Sandinistans and Costa Ricans in Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Ortega was pleased by this victory and ordered Cuadra to officially hand over the territories conquered to the FSPN. However, Cuadra installed a three-person junta to consolidate his power. At first, it seemed that the two Sandinista governments could work together. But they disputed control of Guanacaste Province, which Ortega wanted to annex to Nicaragua. By 1991 the two sides were fighting, even while Cuadra's faction was once again losing control of the Central Valley.
The situation remained unstable throughout the 90's. President Óscar Arias sought out a political solution and began a new policy of intense diplomacy early in 1992. The great obstacle to his plan was the Sandinistans ongoing war with Nicaragua. Ortega was stubborn and believed that a final victory against, as he called them, "traitorous back-stabbers", could be achieved. As long as the fighting continued in Guanacaste, Cuadra's army would never be able to pacify the capital, which was crucial in stabilizing Costa Rica and the region. In October Arias orchestrated a peace summit in the town of Cañas, Guanacaste, near the border between Costa Rican and Nicaraguan zones of control. Arias asked only for a five-year truce in Guanacaste, so that the Costa Ricans could stabilize their government. Meanwhile, Nicaragua could continue to govern the province without fear of attack. Nicaraguans were as fatigued from the war as the Ticos, and Nicaragua still had fighting to do at home to retake the Miskito Coast, so Ortega agreed to a ceasefire. Ortega quickly organized an attack on remaining Contra forces on the Miskito Coast, which proved to have mixed success as he was unable to completely rout out the rebel forces.
The ceasefire was used to full affect and he re-established relations with Cuba, which agreed to help Nicaragua in staking their claims in the region. Supplies and volunteers arrived in the region and Nicaragua was relatively peaceful and even the people of Guanacaste province started accepting their new rulers. However, peace did not last long.
In 1997, Ortega, frustrated by the unification of Costa Rica, started demanding the entirety of Guanacaste province. Nicaragua, still led by President Ortega, would not let it go. Furthermore, Nicaragua insisted that Arias hand over all Nico officers that had defected to Costa Rica since 1984. Since those officers formed a major part of his governing coalition and ran a large part of the military, Arias could not agree to these terms. The Cañas CeaseFire deadline ended in 1997. By then the talks with Costa Rica had completely broken down. Skirmishing broke out in the disputed areas. Nicaragua also sent an expedition into Nicoya helped by Cuban volunteers, a peninsula still believed to house a band of Contra rebels; it failed miserably. Hampered by this turn of developments, Ortega could do nothing more than to fight minor battles along the border and his grip on power in Nicaragua was slipping. Luckily, an old ally came to mediate the situation: the USSR.
Costa Rican and Nicaraguan officials traveled to the Russian Pacific port town of Sovietskaya Gavan late in 2002. They agreed to hold a referendum in Guanacaste to determine its future. Both nations would be bound by the referendum's results. The vote was held in 2004; to the dismay of Merino and most Costa Ricans, Guanacaste voted to remain Nicaraguan. Almost two solid decades of Nicaraguan governance, and the overall bad news coming out of Costa Rica, had apparently eroded the people's nostalgic feelings about their former country.
The referendum of 2004 helped Ortega have a hold on power in Nicaragua and is still the president of the country. Nicaragua enjoys a permanent peace with Costa Rica and friendly relations with the country of Limón. Relations with Cuba and the USSR have remained friendly and the government is currently working on a deal with the South American Confederation on a free trade agreement.
Nicaragua is primarily an agricultural country; agriculture constitutes 60% of its total exports. In addition, Nicaragua's Flor de Caña rum is renowned as among the best in Latin America, and its tobacco and beef are also well regarded. Nicaragua's agrarian economy has historically been based on the export of cash crops such as bananas, coffee, sugar, beef and tobacco. Light industry (maquila), tourism, banking, mining, fisheries and general commerce are expanding.
Tourism in Nicaragua is currently the second largest industry in the nation, over the last seven years tourism has grown about 70% nationwide with rates of 10%-16% annually. The main problem, however, are the continuing involvement in the Costa Rican civil war, which has greatly hindered growth. Attractions in Nicaragua for tourists are the beaches, scenic routes, the architecture of cities such as León and Granada.
The majority of the Nicaraguan population, (86% or approximately 4.8 million people), is either Mestizo or White. 69% are Mestizos (mixed Amerindian and White) and 17% are White with the majority being of Spanish, German, Italian or French ancestry. Mestizos and Whites mainly reside in the western region of the country.
About 9% of Nicaragua's population is black, or Afro-Nicaragüense and mainly reside on the country's sparsely populated Caribbean or Atlantic coast. The black population is mostly composed of black English-speaking Creoles who are the descendents of escaped or shipwrecked slaves; many carry the name of Scottish settlers who brought slaves with them, such as Campbell, Gordon, Downs and Hodgeson. Although many Creoles supported Somoza because of his close association with the US, they rallied to the Sandinista cause in July 1979 only to reject the revolution soon afterwards in response to a new phase of 'mestizoisation' and imposition of central rule from Managua. Nicaragua has the largest African diaspora population in Central America. The remaining 5% of Nicaraguans are Amerindians, the unmixed descendants of the country's indigenous inhabitants. Nicaragua's pre-Columbian population consisted of many indigenous groups.
Currently, there is no conscription in Nicaragua and active personnel numbers around 30,000. Its allies, Cuba and Siberia are its chief military suppliers and also lend military advisors. Thus, it uses mostly ex-Soviet and new, Siberian equipment.
Nicaragua is a member of the League of Nations. Ever since re-establishing relations with Cuba in 1989 and Socialist Siberia in 1997, it has received aid and military advisors to stabilize the government's standing and is one of the principal members of the Socialist bloc and its military organization, the CSTO.