The Republic of Nicaragua is the largest country in the Central American isthmus. It borders both the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean, between Costa Rica and Honduras
Nicaragua gained independence from Spain in 1821 and the country became an independent republic in 1838. Since then, Nicaragua has undergone periods of political unrest, dictatorship, and economic crisis. This led to the Nicaraguan Revolution of the 1960s and 70s. Today, Nicaragua is a representative democratic republic.
"It should look democratic - but we have to hold the reins," former East German communist head of state Walter Ulbricht once said. Venezuela and Nicaragua appear to function along those same lines, says DW's Uta Thofern.
A Chinese company is set to construct a canal across Nicaragua which will be three times longer and two times deeper than the Panama canal. Nicaragua's president hopes to boost the economy, but critics are wary of high costs, huge environmental damage and tens of thousands of displaced farmers and indigenous people. Protests continue, and some are ready to defend their land at gunpoint.