Santiago de Managua


Nickname(s): Novia del Xolotlán
(English: The Bride of Xolotlán)[1]
Map of Nicaragua showing location of Managua.
Coordinates: 12°8′11″N 86°15′5″W / 12.13639°N 86.25139°W / 12.13639; -86.25139Coordinates: 12°8′11″N 86°15′5″W / 12.13639°N 86.25139°W / 12.13639; -86.25139
Country  Nicaragua
Department Managua
Municipality Managua
Founded 1819
Seat of the Government 1852
Capital of the Nation 1852[2]
 – Mayor Daisy Torres
 – Vice Mayor Reina J. Ruedas
 – City 544 km2 (210 sq mi)
 – Urban 173.7 km2 (67.1 sq mi)
 – City 2,201,000 (census 2,010)
 – Density 2,537/km2 (6,570.8/sq mi)
 – Metro 2,408,000 (census 2,010)
 – Metro density 2,000/km2 (4,000/sq mi)
 – Gentilic Managüense; Capitalino/a
  2,201,000 (census 2010)

Managua (Spanish pronunciation: [maˈnaɣwa]) 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.[2] 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 and whites. Managua is the second most populous city in Central America after Guatemala City.

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.[3] 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.[4] 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.[4] 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 and regional Brasiles Airport and Punta Huete, military airport, recently renewed.

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.[5] Since the 1972 earthquake, residential and business areas have developed on the outskirts of Managua. Other construction projects included schools, hospitals, and shopping centers. Such structures were specially constructed to withstand severe earthquakes. Managua also houses the only eternal flame in Central America and one out of the five in Latin America.

Residents of the city and of the department of Managua are called Managüenses.



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".[2] The city stands today on an area inhabited by varying cultures of Indigenous peoples for thousandsCentral America in the 16th century.


2100 year old human footprints preserved in volcanic mud near the lake in Managua, Nicaragua.


Nicaragua was inhabited by Paleo-Indians as far back as 6,000 years ago.[6] The ancient footprints of Acahualinca are 2,100 year-old fossils[7] 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.

Contemporary history

The Old Managua

After Granada was destroyed by a United States 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.[2] The city was hampered by major floods in 1876 and 1885. A disastrous earthquake in 1931 and large fire in 1936[8] 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, whom composed a musical piece about the city that became popular in the 1940s through the performances of Freddy Martin, Guy Lombardo and Kay Kyser.[9] 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 Ancient City" or "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.[10] 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. 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. The regime allocated small portions of funds for reconstruction. 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 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, have made economic recovery more difficult. After winning the free elections of 1990, the democratic opposition began the reconstruction of Managua in earnest.

La Antigua Ciudad de Managua—The Old City of Managua

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 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 Nicaragua. Concerns over water pollution and native wildlife have brought some residents closer to the old city center and the rest of the mainland.



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.[11][12]

View of Lake Managua from Tipitapa.

Managua extends about 544 km along Lake Managua at an altitude of 55 metres (180 ft) above sea level, gaining altitude toward the Sierras de Managua where it is over 970 metres (3,182 ft) above sea level.

Lagoons within city limits

Managua features four smaller lagoons in the city limits. The most centrally located is the Tiscapa Lagoon in the Tiscapa Lagoon Natural Reserve.

  • 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.


Managua, like much of Western Nicaragua except for the Sierras, has a tropical climate with constant temperatures averaging between 28 and 32 degrees Celsius (82 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit). Under Koppen's climate classification, the city has a tropical wet and dry climate. The months of December and January are warm; whereas March and April are humid and arid.

Climate data for Managua, Nicaragua
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 31
Average low °C (°F) 21
Precipitation mm (inches) 1.0
Source: Weatherbase;[13]


Managua, due to its tropical climate, varied topography, naturally fertile soils, and abundant rain and water sources, boasts a great variety of flora. Many different types of trees, some of which are not found in the rest of the world, include: chilamates, ceibos, pochotes, genízaros, tigüilotes, royal palms, piñuelas and the madroño, which is Nicaragua's national tree) surround the city. During the rainy season (May to November), Managua becomes a lavish city due to many palms, bushes, and other plants and trees which dominate much of the city's image.[14]


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, vocational and technical institutes which serve students in the areas of electronics, computer systems and sciences, agroforestry, construction and trade-related services.[15] The educational system includes 1 United States accredited English language university, 3 bilingual university programs, 5 bilingual secondary schools and dozens of English Language Institutes. In 2005, almost 400,000 (7%) of Nicaraguans held a university degree.[16] 18% of Nicaragua's total budget is invested in primary, secondary and higher education. University level institutions account for 6% of 18%.

Colleges and universities

National Autonomous University of Nicaragua

Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Nicaragua (UNAN) (National Autonomous University of Nicaragua) is the principal state-funded public university of Nicaragua. UNAN was established in 1812 and its main campus is located in Managua. The original campus, UNAN-Leon, is located in León and is now secondary, mainly utilized by students in medicinal studies.

Polytechnic University of Nicaragua

Universidad Politecnica de Nicaragua (UPOLI) (Polytechnic University of Nicaragua) is a university located in Managua, Nicaragua. It was founded in 1967. The university is divided into 6 schools: School of Administration, Commerce and Finance, School of Law, School of Design, School of Nursing, School of Engineering, Music Conservatory.

Instituto Centroamericano de Administracion de Empresas

Instituto Centroamericano de Administracion de Empresas (INCAE) (Central American Institute of Business Administration) is a private business school. INCAE was founded in 1964 with the support of the United States government and other Central American countries.[17] The institution has a close affiliation with Harvard University, as it had played a part in its foundation. The Francisco de Sola campus in Managua, Nicaragua was the first to be established (1964), the Walter Kissling Gam campus in Alajuela, Costa Rica was the second established in 1984. The latter was made the main campus following the lack of government support during the 1980s; in fact the Managua campus was actually closed for most of this time. It then reopened in 1990 after democracy was restored in Nicaragua; however, the main campus remained in Alajuela.

According to a study done by América Economía INCAE ranked as the number one business school in Latin America in 2004 and 2005[18] and ranked in the top ten international business schools by The Wall Street Journal in 2006.[19]

Other universities


Inter-Continental Hotel and Metrocentro Mall

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, it houses many large national and international businesses. It is home to many factories which produce diverse products.[24] Multinational companies such as Wal-Mart, Telefonica, Union Fenosa, and Parmalat have offices and operations in Managua.

Managua is also home to all of the major banks of the nation, Banco de la Produccion (BANPRO), Banco de America Central (BAC), Banco Uno, 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.[25] 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". ,[26] and Multicentro Las Americas,[27] with many more being constructed.

One of Managua's growing number of malls - Galerias Santo Domingo

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. The capital is also a need for modern office space in downtown Managua as the economy of Managua continues to grow. Economists predict that its demand for commercial real estate will increase. New office buildings are currently being constructed along the Carretera Masaya and in Villa Fontana. The most recent inauguration being the Edificio Invercasa.


Plaza de la Revolución

The Old Cathedral.
Monument of Rubén Darío, and in the background the Rubén Dario National Theatre.
National Palace in Managua
Statue of Sandino
Vista of Tiscapa Lagoon and the city of Managua.
The new Cathedral in Managua

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.[28] 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).[29]

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.[30] 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 the 1972 Earthquake, which led to the construction of the new Cathedral of the Conception to the southeast. Fortunately, in recent years, the restoration of the old cathedral of Santiago has appeared to be possible and is currently awaiting renovation.

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. The National Theater is one of the few buildings that survived the 1972 earthquake that destroyed 90% of Managua.[31]

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 and built by architect Pablo Dambach, who also built Santiago's Cathedral. 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.[32]

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.[33] 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.[29]

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 that destroyed 90% of the capital city.[34] 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.[35] Also, many pre-Columbian artifacts have been found in and around Tiscapa, adding to Managua's pre-Columbian legacy.[36]

Doctor Roberto Incer Barquero Library

The Doctor Roberto Incer Barquero Library, located in Managua, is designated to promote Nicaraguan culture. The library has 67,000 books, free internet, a newspaper archive, and economic information from the Central Bank. The library also has a gallery in the same building, where famous Nicaraguan paintings, as well as pieces from new promising artists, are exhibited. In the numismatic hall there is a permanent exhibition of Nicaraguan coins, bills, and memorial medals from throughout Nicaragua's history.[37]

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. [38]

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.[39]

Catedral de la Concepción

The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, more commonly referred to as the New Cathedral, was designed by architect Ricardo Legorreta and inaugurated in 1993.[40] 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. Critics pointed to the fact that buildings of particular importance, especially those of colonial heritage, were painted in bright colors. Such a building whose intention was to serve as a place of worship was expected to have some sort of vibrant color. Eventually, the church's original concrete and gray surface became accepted and Catholic pilgrims began to embrace the church as it was.


Xiomara Blandino, Miss Nicaragua 2007.

Managua is Nicaragua's cultural capital, boasting several restaurants, theaters, museums, and a few shopping centers.[41] 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.

Managua is home to the annual Miss Nicaragua pageant; it is the national beauty pageant of Nicaragua. The pageant is traditionally held at the Rubén Darío National Theater and has been held since 1955.[42] The Miss Nicaragua pageant is responsible for selecting the country's representatives to the Miss Universe, Miss World, and Miss International pageants (amongst others).


Central American Spanish is spoken by about 90% of the country's population. In Nicaragua, the voseo form of Spanish is dominant in both speech and publications. Nicaragua is one out of two Central American nations that uses voseo Spanish as its written and spoken form. The same Spanish form is also seen in Argentina, Uruguay, and coastal Colombia. The language and pronunciation varies depending on region and individuals. Some residents of Managua pronounce the word vos with a strong s sound at the end. Others, however, prounce vos without the s sound at the end. The result is vo, similar to vous in French and voi in Italian.


Due to the influence of immigrants and tourists, it is frequent to find food specialties of the diverse regions of Nicaragua jointly with international ones. The most common foods include rice, plantain, beans, varieties of cabbage and cheeses. There exists a local tradition of cheese-making and it is not unusual to encounter fried cheese as a side dish with many of the most popular dishes such as fried plantain medallions and "Gallopinto", a regional traditional rice and bean dish.

Managua enjoys an array of international cuisine including a some Italian and Spanish restaurants as well as French. Traces of traditional German cuisine can also be found in Selva Negra, an estate near the city of Matagalpa which is a prominent tourist attraction, as well as in the city of Granada. Many Asian restaurants (South Korean, Chinese, and Taiwanese) can be found in the area of the capital and other major cities.

The capital is also conspicuously dotted with many American restaurant chains such as Burger King, Pizza Hut, McDonald's, Domino's Pizza, Papa John's, and Subway which have sprung up within the last two decades. Local and regional fast food chains exist as well, for example Tip-top, RostiPollo, and Pollo Campero.

A strong tradition of preparing local sweets such as "Cajeta de leche", a sweet condensed milk as well as sugared coconut and nuts can be found. Some local varieties of chocolate can be found as well, usually prepared with pepper and other spices or nuts. A popular 'fast food' known as "quesillo" is popular throughout the country. Quesillo consists of locally produced cheese wrapped in a corn tortilla with cream, onions, and salt. Nacatamales, the Nicaraguan version of the tamale, is a local delicacy. Many fruits such as mangos, "jocotes", and "mamones" are a common snack. Mangoes and jocotes are often consumed while still unripe with salt and vinegar.

Steak preparation is one of the strong points of the local cuisine. It is often accompanied by a special sauce known as Chimichurri, composed of oil, garlic and herbs. There are many prominent steak restaurants throughout the country among them "Los Ranchos".[43] including, but not limited to, Argentine, Brazilian, Chinese, French, German, Indian, Italian, Japanese, Mexican, and Spanish restaurants, as well as Nicaraguan. These are accompanied by many U.S. fast food chains, as well as national fast food chains such as Tip-Top and Rostipollo. A new culinary school and restaurant called Culinario Santa Lucia offers fun courses in international and local cuisines.


During the Santo Domingo festival some people cover themselves in a mix of grease and motor oil to pay promises to the saints while others wear masks and costumes.[44]
Celebrating the annual "Alegria por la vida" Carnaval in 2007.

Managua's most famous festival is that of its patron saint Santo Domingo de Guzmán.[45] It starts on the morning of August the 1st, 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 the 10th, 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 various 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.[46]

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 various time periods previous to its independence. Also located 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 also home to an array of art galleries which feature pieces by both national and international artists.[45]

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.

Cultural centers in Managua include the Centro Cultural Nicaragüense Norteamericano (CCNN) (Nicaraguan-North American Culture Center), the Centro Cultural Chino Nicaragüense (Chinese Nicaraguan Culture Center), the Alliançe Française de Managua (French Alliance of Managua), among others.


Rotonda Rubén Darío, also known as Metrocentro, is the site of one of Managua's many shopping districts.
Pharaoh's Casino on Carretera Norte in Managua.
Matrixs club (bar and lounge) located near the Zona Rosa.

Managua features many bars, nightclubs, casinos, theaters and cinemas. Compared to western prices, alcoholic beverages, theatre visits and cinema tickets are relatively inexpensive.[14] 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.[14] In the Mercado Roberto Huembes shoppers can find everything from furniture, national arts and crafts, to fruits and vegetables, and clothing. There are several shopping centers with department stores such as Eclipse, Carrión, and SIMAN that carry all major Australian, American and European clothing and cosmetic brands for men and women. Pali, La Union, and La Colonia are conventional supermarkets, which are in several areas of the city and sell local and imported ingredients.

Although promoting or practicing homosexuality was illegal in Nicaragua,[47] there is a modest gay social scene in Managua.[48] As of March 2008, homosexuality is no longer illegal and no longer carries a prison sentence.

Nicaraguans have a strong interest in baseball and it has become a major sport in the country as well as a part of the nation's culture.


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 stadium hosted the Baseball World Cup in 1994.

Baseball was first introduced to Nicaragua in 1888 in the Caribbean coastal town of Bluefields, but it did not catch on in the towns on the Pacific coast region until 1891 when a group of mostly students originating from universities of the United States formed "La Sociedad de Recreo" (Society of Recreation) to play various sports. Baseball was the most popular among them.[49]

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. On the professional level, the National Nicaraguan Football team has still not had the public support nor the international exposure as the regional counterparts like the Costa Rican, Honduran or Salvadoran teams. However, with support of the FIFA, the first national soccer stadium in Managua is under construction.[50]

In Managua there are two golf courses, the better-known of which is Nejapa Golf & Country Club.


Nicaragua has been rated the safest country in Central America. INTERPOL, the United Nations, INCAE, the Inter-American Human Rights Institute and the Police Forces in the Americas are cited claiming that statistically, Nicaragua has the lowest crime rate in Central America and one of the second lowest in Latin America only to Uruguay.[51][52][53] The country has also been ranked as the sixth safest in Latin America and the third safest in Central America by the latest edition of the Global Peace Index.

Neither Nicaragua nor the city of Managua have major gang problems, in comparison to some of its regional neighbors.[54] However, in Nicaragua, as in all other Central American countries, as well as in the U.S., the Salvadoran-founded MS 13 gang has recruited members.[55] Despite their presence in the country, Nicaragua has the lowest number of MS 13 members in Central America.[56] The number of gang members was estimated at 4,500 throughout the country, lower than all of its Northern neighbors in the region (excluding Belize).[57] In 2003, the National Police of Nicaragua recognized gangs committed only 0.51% of all crimes. In 1991, there were 110 gangs in Managua, in 2001 the number of gangs reduced to 96 gangs with a total of 1,725 members. Over the next 3–4 years the number of gangs and gang members both decreased and increased. In late 2005 the number of gangs and members decreased significantly to 34 gangs and their 706 members in Managua, these represented 38% and 32% of the national total of gangs and its members.[58] Chief of Police, Aminta Granera, stated that vehicles robberies has reduced; as only 200 reports were filed in 2006.[59]

Urban planning

The German government funded the construction of a water treatment plant with plans to process the city's sewage and clean the Managua lake. Also pending is a mega-project to reconstruct the old center of Managua, and to introduce a monorail system, to alleviate future transportation problems in Managua.[60]

Media and communications

Managua is the home of most national broadcasting television channels as well as the major national newspapers. Some of the larger television channels include: Canal 2, Telenica, Canal 10, 100% Noticias, and several others. The three national Two newspapers are El Nuevo Diario, La Prensa, and HOY, which have offices based in Managua along with other smaller newspapers. There are numerous radio stations in Managua, some of which tend to have political, social, or religious affiliations.


Commuting and personal transport

Carretera a Masaya, with the Hilton Hotel on the left approaching Metrocentro, Managua. The building in the far center is the Intercontinental hotel.

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 newly reconstructed 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, often referred to as Chicken Buses, serve both urban and rural areas to remedy the lack of sufficient infrastructure that plagues these towns or villages.

Despite the growth of infrastructure in Managua and other cities and departments, there are no roads that lead to the Autonomous Region of the Northern Atlantic or the Autonomous Region of the Southern Atlantic. The lone transportation method is by airplane, which is operated by domestic airliner La Costeña from the international airport.


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.

Replacing the typical Central American "chicken bus", Managua is currently phasing out old school buses in favor of standard city buses.

The purchase of 450 new buses marks the first significant investment in public transportation in Managua in post-revolution Nicaragua. The project is still in its beginning phases, with more buses coming from the Russian Federation. Each bus line for local Managua and national Nicaraguan routes tend to be operated by an individual company. These bus companies operate with virtually no public financial support (other than the revenue generated from their patrons). Companies tend to dominate one specific route and own exclusive rights for operating their own line. These companies devise their own bus schedules along with their fare. 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.[61] 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.

The mass transportation system of Managua has announced structural changes forthcoming in the next coming years. The DINA group and Mercedez Benz have worked with the federal and national governments in a transaction regarding the purchase of 350 new buses to service city routes. Of these 350, 130 buses were donated by the Russian Federation. Drivers servicing city routes will also be wearing blue uniforms.[62] At this time, it is not known what will happen to the older school buses that previously served city routes. Currently, out of Managua's roughly 2 million citizens, 67,000 no longer use the older school buses as their method of transportation.[63] 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.[64] The total cost of this project is US$26.3 million, financed through the Central American Bank for Economic Integration, the banking institution that is a part of the Central American Integration System.

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.

Transportation via Bus


A typical non-radio dispatched taxi cab in Managua. Taxi cabs in Managua follow no standard uniform color. Decals can also be of a variety of colors as well.

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.


There are no railroads that operate in Managua nor in Nicaragua. The country's railroads fell into disrepair during the 1980s. The Chamorro government closed the system and sold the cars and rails for scrap.

However, the planned FERISTSA system would most likely bypass the capital and give Nicaragua its first ever international railway.


The President of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega, was presented with a plan to revitalize the city center. The project included the possibility of building a monorail that would cross over the old center of the capital that remains rather unchanged since the 1972 earthquake. The monorail would serve important locales, such as the Augusto C. Sandino International Airport and continue service to Ciudad Sandino. The project costs $100 million and has been considered as a possibility for the nation's capital.


After its renovation, Nicaragua's Augusto C. Sandino International Airport is widely considred the second most advanced airport in Central America after La Aurora International Airport in Guatemala City.[65]

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 million extensions and renovation partly financed by Spain.[66] The airport was remodeled by architect Roberto Sansón[67] and 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.

Ten airlines operate international flights at MGA. Popular destinations include Miami, Los Angeles 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. Air Madrid had intentions of having flights to Madrid, but following their bankruptcy and eventual dissolution, their plans for flights and having a hangar were ultimately erased.[68]

Photo Gallery of sites in Managua

International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

Managua is twinned with:


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