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Life in Urban Nicaragua

Nicaraguan culture Managua was declared the national capital of Nicaragua in 1852. It is located on the southwestern shore of Lake Managua. It is also the largest city in Nicaragua. The city has a population of almost 2 million, composed predominantly of mixed race and whites.

Managua’s economy is based mainly on trade. It has suffered two devastating earthquakes over the course of the 20th century — in 1931 and again in 1972 — that destroyed the center of the city, which has not been rebuilt. Managua is the economic, political, cultural, commercial and industrial center of Nicaragua.

Spanish is the language spoken here, and the region has a colorful culture, delicious food, popular dances and Catholic tradition.

Typical Urban Home Life

Homes are made of concrete, half concrete and half wood, or wood and zinc. The sizes may vary depending how big the family plot is. Houses can be 5 x 7 meters² or 6 x 10 meters² with two or three divisions for the 5 to 10 family members living in the house. Out of that many people, two or three of them may have a job.

Local Issues

Almost every rainy season, many barrios in Managua are flooded. Escalating use of makeshift canals can be found throughout the city, but those are piled up with garbage that people living near them throw into them every day, which makes stagnant water and different sicknesses like respiratory illness, skin rash, diarrhea and malnutrition.

It is true for all urban regions of Nicaragua that although there is no famine, in some homes families only have one or two meals a day. This can be the result of very little income or no income at all.

The barrios, where child development centers are found, have very few job opportunities. Most women do factory work or domestic work, and men work as security staff and at factories too. The income in these homes ranges between 1,000 and 3,000 cordobas (U.S. $46 – $140) per month.

In the whole country there is a need for jobs. The risk is that many families are separated because one or two of their members leave the country looking for a better life and to support the family they just left. When parents leave to go to work, children are left with grandma, an aunt or neighbor.

Schools and Education

Examples of child development centers in the urban region include:

NI-101, 102, 104, 105, 107-109, 111, 114, 117-122, 124-128, 130-137, 140-145, 147, 148, 150, 151, 153, 154, 157, 158, 160, 162, 164-168, 170, 172-175, 179, 180, 182, 184-186, 188, 190-201, 205, 207, 209, 211-213, 216-220, 222, 223, 225, 226, 230-233, 235-237, 240, 241, 243-245, 247, 248 and 250-252.

Children at Lirio de los Valles (NI-168) child development center

Very few adults have finished high school; most of them reached only up to third year. Young people do not attend the university because of the cost or they don’t have good grades to enter. In that case parents send them to work at factories or they join a gang.

The school year starts the last week of January or the first week of February and it ends the last week of November. It has a one-week break between semesters in July.

All of the students have to wear a white and blue uniform, white socks and black shoes. The last two years children don’t need to wear uniforms to go to class in all of the country; however, many schools require it to distinguish between students and gang members.

There is a need for better school facilities (i.e., chairs, blackboards, adequate roof, classrooms, and others) and teachers. Some classrooms have up to 50 students and one teacher, in the case of elementary school. In high school it is about the same number of students but one teacher per subject.

The school day runs from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. In some cases elementary school operates in the morning and afternoon, but it operates normally only in the morning; high school operates in both schedules.

Church and Religion

Among the evangelical denominations there is no tension at all. They plan and have activities together throughout the year. Per year the church growth is about 20 percent.

The predominant religion in Nicaragua is Catholicism. A second religious group is Protestantism, with 30 percent of the population.

Local Dishes

Grilled meat with rice, beans and fried plantains. Vaho – a dish made of steamed plantains, spicy beef and yams. These two dishes can be made at home or bought at the market. Grilled meat is common to find at popular fried food stalls.

Commonly Used Phrases