Known as the land of lakes and volcanoes Nicaragua is the largest democratic nation on the isthmus of Central America. The name Nicaragua comes from the Nicarao, the name of Nahuatl speaking tribe who inhabited the shores of Lake Nicaragua, prior to the Spanish conquest and the Spanish word agua, or water.
Nicaragua has a population of approximately 5.5 million of which 90% live near the Pacific coast. Nicaragua is roughly the size of the state of New York. Spanish is the official language of Nicaragua, but English and Native Indian languages are spoken on the Caribbean coast.
Nicaragua is home to the largest lake in Central America locally known as Cocibolca or Lake Nicaragua. Nearly 20% of the total landmass of Nicaragua is set aside in 78 different National Parks and protected areas. La Flor Wildlife Refuge is the closest national park to the town of San Juan del Sur. La Flor is a turtle nesting site which is visited by more that 30,000 olive ridley turtle annually. Turtle nesting season is from August to November with the peak months being October and November. La Flor is easily accessed from Playa Coco, South of San Juan del Sur.
Nicaragua shares a 922 km border with Honduras to the north and a 309 km border with Costa Rica to the south. Nicaragua's volcanic chain is one of the most impressive in Central America. There are 17 peaks in Nicaragua many of which can be hiked by vacationers.
The two most accessible volcanoes from San Juan del Sur are located on the island of Ometepe. Volcan Concepcion is an active cone on the western side of Ometepe and is thought by many to be the most beautiful in Nicaragua. Concepcion is the second tallest peak in Nicaragua at 1,610 meters above sea level. Volcan Maderas shares the Island of Ometepe with Concepcion. It is covered in tropical cloud forest and typically shrouded in mist. Maderas at 1,394 meters above sea level is a very popular volcano to hike. It is possible to hike down into the crater lake at the center of the volcano and swim in its frigid waters.