In this year’s happy planet index Nicaragua ranks #7 and is among the happiest countries on the planet. The research suggests that Nicaragua hailed as making the greatest gains in overall happiness in 2017. However, Nicaragua probably isn’t in your top ten of countries to visit. We believe it should be. In our blog ‘happiness in Nicaragua is increasing‘ we share the happiness secrets the Nicas shared with us. In this blog facts on happiness in Nicaragua, 8 reasons we believe Nicaragua is among the happiest countries on the planet.
At first sight, Nicaragua is probably less appealing than its more famous brother Costa Rica. It is the largest country in Central Amerika and it still has challenges like a high percentage of Nicas living in poverty and high rates of unemployment. The Nicas are strong and resilient people who place great value on family and family life. They have shown a great deal of perseverance through times of adversity and have tremendous national pride. But there are more facts on happiness in Nicaragua.
Years of political and civil unrest coupled with hugely destructive earthquakes have caused it to be one of the least visited countries in this region. That has been changing in the past years and it is now slowly becoming the new hotspot in Latin Amerika. The country has the lowest crime rate in any Central American country and is considered to be the safest country in which to travel.
Our travels took us from strolling around the beautiful town of Granada and ‘Las Isletas’ via the exotic Ometepe island to the amazing surf spot Costa Dulce near San Juan del Sur. The country still isn’t overloaded by tourists and the Nicas are optimistic, friendly and inspiring. And ow yes…It has this great Latin American vibe that will make you smile 24/7! At least that’s what it makes us do.
In our other blog on Nicaragua we give our view on the happiness of the Nicas, but first our 8 reasons we believe that Nicaragua is among the happiest countries on the planet and should be on your bucket list.
- The Nica’s have the greatest looking busses on the planet and they play latin vibes in them all day – They treat them better than their wife and kids and wash and polish it all day. We could have spent all our time in Nicaragua on a bus and would have been smiling all day.
- We call ourselves the ‘Dutch’ or ‘Dutchies’, the Nicaraguan people refer to themselves as Nicas – After a day or two in Nicaragua, you will catch yourself using it continuously. That isn’t surprising as you will read it on every shirt, cap, car, and building!
- The most frequently used local expression in Nicaragua is ‘Dale Pues’ – It means “okay then!”, but it also works when saying “Come on!” or “Let’s do this!” or “Go for it”. Shall we go surfing this afternoon? “Dale Pues!”
- Nicaragua has declared 70 areas as protected regions of water and land in order to protect their endangered species – These include different species of monkeys, boa constrictors, jaguars, sloths, green turtles and sea turtles. We went to ‘las Isletas’ near Granada and to the Charco Verde park on the island of Ometepe. All the greenness and beautiful animals around are amazing. We saw many howling monkeys above us in the trees!
- Lake Nicaragua is the largest naturally formed lake in the entire Central America with the total area of 2,264 sq kilometres – After lake Titicaca it is the largest lake of South and Central America. It provides the water supply for much of Nicaragua and is the country’s largest tourist attraction. This lake is enormous and contains the largest lake island in the world. We spend three days on the island of Ometepe in ‘Casa del Bosque‘. The Casa is about 400 metres away from the road on the edge of the village of Balgue in a very peaceful location and adjacent to Project Bona Fide, a permaculture farm.
- The national dish of Nicaragua is “gallo pinto” – It is a combination of cooked red beans and white rice. The Nicas take any opportunity to eat it: for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and as an afternoon and late night snack….and so did we. It tastes great every moment of the day :-). The Ticos claim to have invented this dish as well. We don’t care if the genius chef came from Costa Rica or Nicaragua. We just love it!
- Although Nicaragua’s capital is Managua, the city of Granada is probably the most popular amongst tourists, and in fact is the oldest city on continental Latin America – It was founded in 1524 by Hernandez de Cordoba, who gave his name to the national currency – the Cordoba. As said earlier, Nicaragua is still a low-budget destination so you do not need a lot of Cordoba’s to experience this great country.
- Baseball is the national sport and many professional baseball leagues exists – They enjoy both playing and watching baseball. Soccer (football) comes in second. We saw kids playing it with nothing more than a twig of a tree and some stones!