Before the conquistadors came from Spain, Nicaragua's indigenous peoples followed various traditional belief systems. Some cultures were similar to indigenous Mexican cultures and some were similar to indigenous South American cultures. Today, indigenous Nicaraguans tend to practise one form or another of the Christian faith.

 In 1524, Nicaragua's first Roman Catholic church was established in Granada. The most prominent religion in Nicaragua today is Roman Catholicism. Although there is no official religion in Nicaragua, the current government maintains close ties with the Vatican, and supports the Catholic church. Some religious leaders hold important positions in the Nicaraguan government.

The Jesuit priest Father Fernando Cardenal led the National Literacy Crusade during the Sandinista government. He took this action with the blessing of the pope. During the 1980s, however, Roman Catholic church leaders often opposed the government's policies concerning social and economic issues, while priests and nuns who worked in local communities continued to support the Sandinista government's attempts to improve the lives of Nicaraguans.

 Governments since 1990 have tended to uphold traditional Roman Catholic values. For example, the government has made attempts to restrict women's roles in the workplace and to focus on their roles as housewives and mothers. This has not been well received, even by many Catholic Nicaraguans.

  Did you know?
In 1993, the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception was built in Managua to replace the old cathedral, which had been damaged by the 1972 earthquake. Funding for the new cathedral was largely provided by an American pizza franchise owner.
Nicaragua is home to some beautiful examples of church architecture and religious art. The Black Christ of Esquipulas is a famous statue that is housed in the beautiful church in Jinotega, along with other important religious art. The largest church in Central America is the Roman Catholic Cathedral in León, built between 1746 and 1850. The cathedral houses huge paintings of the Stations of the Cross painted by Antonio Sarria.

 Protestantism is more common in eastern Nicaragua than elsewhere in the country because of the influence of Great Britain in the area. In the 1980s, Evangelical Protestant churches increased in popularity. The Moravians, the Assembly of God, and the Baptist Convention of Nicaragua are the most well-established non-Catholic denominations. Some indigenous people follow traditional spiritual practices, which focus on the natural world.