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visited 1522 by Spanish conquistador Gil González Dávila, who is said to have named it for a local native chieftain, Nicarao. Related: Nicaraguan.
Republic in Central America, bordered by Honduras to the northwest and north, the Caribbean Sea to the east, Costa Rica to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the southwest. Its capital and largest city is Managua.
Note: General Anastasio Somoza established a military dictatorship in 1933. He was assassinated in 1956, but his sons continued the Somoza regime until 1979.
Note: After fifty years of guerrilla warfare, the Marxist Sandinistas launched a civil war and assumed power in 1979.
Note: During the 1980s, the United States backed anti-Sandinista guerrillas called Contras (see Iran-Contra Affair). In 1990, the Sandinistas were defeated in free elections. In 1995, and again in 2001, opponents of the Sandinistas won elections to the nation's presidency.