Lake of Nicaragua, known as the "Great Lake", is the region's largest, covering about 8,000 sq km (3,100 sq mi). It is dotted with more than 350 islands, including Ometepe, the site of two volcanoes; Zapatera a national park which contains archeological sites pre-columbian native cultures; and the Solentiname Archipealago, site of well-known artists' colony.
The lake's southeast corner lies only 19 km (12 mi) form the Pacific Ocean, and it is connected to the Caribean by the San Juan River. Because of this, Nicaragua was an important route for travel between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans and has been considered as a possible site for a canal across the Central America isthmus.
All of Nicaragua's major rivers run into the Caribbean. The Rio Grande and its tributaries are the most extensive river system, while the Escondido provides a major transportation route between the Pacific and Caribbean coasts. The Coco runs along the border with Honduras, and the San Juan begins in Lake Nicaragua and forms part of the border with Costa Rica. But this river belongs completely to Nicaragua. There has been limited hydroelectric development on smaller rivers.
The Tipitapa River links lake Nicaragua to Lake Managua, which covers 8,000 sq km (3,100 sq mi).
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