Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America, bordering Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. The country is situated between 11 and 14 degrees north of the Equator, which places it entirely within the tropics. The Pacific Ocean lies to the west, and the Caribbean Sea
to the east. The country's physical geography divides it into three
major zones: Pacific lowlands; wet, cooler central highlands; and the Caribbean lowlands. On the Pacific side of the country are the two largest fresh water lakes in Central America—Lake Managua and Lake Nicaragua. Surrounding these lakes are fertile lowland plains, with soil highly enriched by ash from nearby volcanoes.
The population of Nicaragua, approximately 6 million, is multiethnic. Roughly a quarter of the population lives in the capital city, Managua; it is the third-largest city in Central America. Segments of the population include indigenous native tribes from the Mosquito Coast, Europeans, Africans, Asians, and people of Middle Eastern origin. The main language is Spanish, although native tribes on the eastern coast speak their native languages, such as Miskito, Sumo, and Rama, as well as English Creole. The mixture of cultural traditions has generated substantial diversity in art and literature. The biological diversity, warm tropical climate, and active volcanoes make Nicaragua an increasingly popular tourist destination.