Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America. It is bordered by Honduras to the north, the Caribbean Sea to the east, Costa Rica to the south and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Nicaragua has three distinct geographical areas: the Pacific lowlands, the north-central mountains, and the Caribbean lowlands (also called the Mosquito Coast). 

Most Nicaraguans live in the Pacific lowlands on the west coast. Some are farmers and live in rural areas; the rest live in one of the region's three major cities, Managua, León or Granada. The weather in this region is hot all year round. The land is fertile, and this is the country's most productive agricultural area. There are also 11 major volcanoes in this area. Volcanic ash has enriched the soil for farming.

There are two large lakes in the Pacific lowlands: Lake Nicaragua and Lake Managua. Lake Nicaragua, also called Colcibolca or the Sweet Sea, is the largest lake in Central America and the world's tenth-largest freshwater lake. It contains more than 400 islands. It is linked to the Caribbean Sea by the San Juan River.

 In the north-central mountain region, the weather is cooler. This area is more sparsely populated than the Pacific lowlands. The highest point in Nicaragua, Pico Mogotón (2,103 metres), is in this region. Lake Apan s, which provides hydroelectricity for much of the country, is also located here.

  Did you know?
Volcán Masaya is an important national park. It is home to Crater Santiago, the only Central American crater where you can see molten lava. Even though the crater emits strong sulphuric fumes, green parakeets nest and roost on its walls.
The Caribbean lowlands on the east coast consist mostly of tropical rainforest and pine savanna. The region is the widest lowland plain in Central America. It takes up about half of the area in Nicaragua. The region receives more rain than other areas of the country.

 Temperatures seldom go below 20°C in Nicaragua. The dry season runs from December to May and the rainy season from June to November. Even during the dry season, it may rain heavily. Nicaragua experiences earthquakes, hurricanes and volcanic eruptions. A severe earthquake in 1972 almost destroyed Managua. Hurricane Mitch in 1998 seriously affected the northern regions of the country. Only 70 kilometres from Managua, Cerro Negro, one of the most dangerous volcanoes in Central America, spewed lava and ash from three new openings in 1999.

  Did you know?
The only freshwater sharks in the world live in Lake Nicaragua. They are thought to be the descendants of saltwater sharks that were trapped there when the lake separated from the ocean, and that evolved to survive in a freshwater environment.