Spain was the first to colonize Nicaragua and Spanish explorers and traders focused their attention to the western parts of the country. The product was a powerful infusion of Spanish philosophy and civilization to the native Indians. A new population erupted from the settlers who intermarried with the native Indians.
The mixed race came to be known as Mestizos. As time progressed, Spain's influence expanded to other Latin American countries along the coastal area of the Caribbean and Atlantic, resulting in a diverse Nicaraguan culture.
With Spaniard colonization came Catholicism. Monks and priests spread Spain's chief religion throughout its settlements and to native people. Monasteries and churches were built according to 17th century designs. Traditional Catholic beliefs were combined with local superstitions. Spanish became the predominant language.
Conversely, English settlers focused on the eastern side of Nicaragua. British colonization brought Protestant belief systems to the natives. English was widely used as the predominant language. The population influx and growth on the eastern coast of Nicaragua developed faster than the western coast. Consequently, Catholicism dominated and still is the major religion of the Latin American countries.
Industry & Trade
Early traders found a multitude of valuable commodities in Nicaragua that could be traded all over the world. Stories of gold, wealth and paradisiac pleasures lured traders from all over the world to the country. These traders also brought slaves from Africa and Caribbean islands, all of which conveyed vestiges of their homeland cultures with them.
The combination of Catholicism, Protestantism, and native traditions have resulted in a powerful culture deeply shaped by these belief systems. Fiestas, holy days and events are held throughout the Nicaragua based on the veneration of saints. Many towns have patron saints that the population believes blesses their way of life. Celebrations honoring these saints are generally happy occasions where the statue of the saint is paraded throughout the town and returned to the church. Various ceremonies, dances and customs are included in each celebration.
A Dip Into Culture in Nicaragua
Many of the artistic and musical achievements of Nicaragua are steeped in its cultural history. Artists from the country often reflect the strong integration of multicultural beliefs and color schemes and paintings and sculptures of several mainstream Nicaraguan artists have native and Christian overtones. Many potters and painters are drawn to native Mayan-based themes and styles while musicians mostly take after local themes and styles based on cultural themes and traditional dances.
Click here for additional ideas on what to do while visiting Nicaragua and indulging in the diverse culture.