In 1979, the Marxist Sandinista National Liberation Front
(FSLN), which had been fighting a guerrilla war since
1962, succeeded in taking control of the government.
Somoza fled, complaining that the United States had let
The elections of 1984 brought Sandinista leader Daniel
Ortega Saavedra to power.
In February 1990, elections took place and Ortega was
defeated by Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, wife of the
assassinated newspaper editor Pedro Joaquin
The official language is Spanish, although Garifuna is
spoken among the black population, Nicaragua's
Amerindians speak a number of Indian languages, and
English is often spoken along the Atlantic coast.
There is no official religion. Approximately 85 percent of
the population belongs to the Roman Catholic
Nicaragua's population of 4 million (1992 estimates) is
69 percent mestizo (a mix of European and Indian), 17
percent European, 9 percent black, and 5 percent
Business hours are 8:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M., Monday
trough Friday, and 8:00 A.M. to noon on Saturday.
Business is discussed at an office or over a meal in a
restaurant. It is not discussed in a home or around family.
If you are invited to a Nicaraguan home, this is a social
event, not a business opportunity.
Personal honor and “saving face” are very important to
people in Nicaragua. Therefore, never criticize someone,
pull rank, or do anything that will embarrass another in
The main meal of the day is at noon. This
traditionally includes black beans, tortillas or
meat, and fruits and vegetables.
Business breakfasts or lunches are preferred
Local time is six hours behind
Greenwich Mean Time (G. T. M. -6).
Men shake hands in greeting. Women will often pat
each other on the right forearm or shoulder instead
of shaking hands. Women who are close friends
may hug or kiss each other on the cheek.
Titles - Forms of Address
Only children, family members, and close friends
address each other by their first names.
Making a fist with the thumb between the index and the
middle fingers is considered obscene.
The “come here” gesture is done with the palm down,
making a scooping gesture with the fingers or the entire hand.
You will see people waving good-bye as is done in the
United States, palm facing out, or with the palm facing in,
which looks almost like a person fanning himself or herself.
Do not photograph individuals or religious ceremonies
without prior approval; some people object to having their
pictures taken. Keep in mind that transportation depots and
bridges have military significance, so photographing them may
Business gifts are generally not given on the first trip to
Nicaragua. At the end of your trip, ask if there is anything
you can bring from the United States on your next visit.
Secretaries and receptionists can be very influential, so
always bring something from the United States. Perfume or
a scarf is usually the best choice.
If you are invited to a home, bring a small gift of flowers or
Ask a local florist which types of flowers are appropriate.
In general white flowers are reserved for funerals.
Business men should wear a conservative dark suit
and tie, although a jacket is not required in the
hottest season; women should wear a dress or skirt