People and ethnic groups

Nicaraguans are joyful,  kind and sincere.  We are said to be good hostesses.  We like to speak out loud.  We are poets.  We are friendly, take care of the others, and we have tend to be very sentimental and nostalgic. 

Picture provided by Jennifer Herrin

We are people of traditions, especially religious traditions, transmitted by our ancestors.  An example of this are the Religious Festivals in each town or community, honoring the "holy protector or saint", these festivals are celebrated every year.  A Nicaraguan's faith is linked to a multitude of expressions and gatherings, not to an individual act.

Butcher in Catarina, Nicaragua (Picture provided by Jennifer Herrin)       

Ethnic Groups

Nicaragua has a diverse ethnic mix.  The majority, 69 percent, are mestizos, of mixed European and Native American ancestry; 17 percent are classified as white; 9 percent are of African descent; and 5 percent are Native American.  The African and Native American populations are concentrated in the thinly settled eastern lowlands, where they are the dominant group.

Bamd in San Juan de Oriente. Picture provided by Jennifer Herrin

The major Native American Group is the Miskitos. Concentrated in the northeast, they live on both sides of the border with Honduras.  While many Miskitos have some Africans ancestry, they have preserved their language and much of their culture.  Many Miskitos speak English, because they were under British influence from the late 17th until the late 19th century.  Most are Protestants, due to the activity of the Moravian Church Missionaries.  There are much smaller  Native American groups of Sumo and Rama, and a very small group of mixed African-indigenous ancestry know as Garifuna.

Nicaraguans of African descent, known as Creoles, populate the towns along the Caribbean coast.  Coming from the British West Indies, notably Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, they speak English and are largely Protestants. While relations between Creoles and Miskitos have been strained, they share a common dislike of the mestizo population of western Nicaragua, which is predominantly Spanish-speaking and Roman Catholic.  In response to rising discontent among ethnic groups, the Nicaraguan  constitution established two autonomous zones on the east coast in 1987, giving greater powers and freedom to local governments.  Reversing a history of exploitation and discrimination, Nicaraguan goverments have begun efforts to recognize and strengthen indigenous cultures.


Spanish is the official language.  Creole English is widely spoken in the Caribbean as well as Miskito and other Amerindian Languages.

For more information about Nicaragua, contact us at [email protected]

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