Nicaragua is close to the size of Alabama or Greece, with a surface area of 50,193 square miles. Nicaragua does not have states or provinces, but instead has 15 departments and two autonomous regions.
Nicaragua got its name from the words "Nicaro" and "agua." The Nicaro Indian tribe was settled on the shores of Lake Nicaragua when the Spaniards arrived in the 1500s, and "agua" is the Spanish word for "water." The currency of Nicaragua is the Cordoba, named after Francisco Hernandez de Cordoba, the Spanish conquistador.
Christopher Columbus arrived on the Nicaraguan shore on his fourth voyage to the Americas in 1502, before the Spanish had settled the land in 1524 with the arrival of Cordoba. After the Mexican Revolution ended, Nicaragua gained its independence from Spain in 1821. In 1856, an American named William Walker became president of Nicaragua in an attempt to acquire the land as a slave state of the United States.
Nicaragua is bordered by Honduras to the north, Costa Rica to the south, the Caribbean to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Lake Nicaragua is the largest freshwater lake in Central America and contains some of the world's rarest freshwater sharks. Western Nicaragua alone has over 40 volcanoes, and the majority of them are active.