Managua is the capital city of Nicaragua as well as of the department of the same name. Located on the southwestern shore of Lake Managua, it is Nicaragua's largest city, with a projected population in 2015 of 1,048,134 within the city limits and a population of 1,337,709 in the metropolitan area, which additionally includes the municipalities of Ciudad Sandino, El Crucero, Nindirí, Ticuantepe and Tipitapa.
The city was declared the national capital in 1852. Prior, the capital alternated between the cities of León and Granada. The 1972 Nicaragua earthquake and years of civil war in the 1980s severely disrupted and stunted Managua's growth. It was not until the mid-1990s that Managua began to see a resurgence.
Managua's population is composed predominantly of mestizos and whites who are mainly of Spanish descent, with a minority being of French, Jewish Nicaraguan, German Nicaraguan, Italian, Russian and Palestinian descent.
Managua is located on the southern shores of Lake Xolotlán, also known as Lake Managua. Lake Xolotlán contains the same fish species as larger Lake Cocibolca in southeastern Nicaragua, except for the freshwater sharks found exclusively in the latter. Once a Managuan scenic highlight, the lake has been polluted from the dumping of chemical and waste water since 1927. A new sewer system and the redirecting of waste water to a new waste water treatment plant at Las Mercedes funded by the German government to decontaminate the lake is expected to be the largest in Central America and was inaugurated in 2009.
These works of progress have relieved old concerns over water pollution and the endangering of native wildlife have brought some residents closer to the old city center and the rest of the mainland.
Managua's city area extends about 210 square miles (543.9 km2), essentially south from the south shore of Lake Managua. The lakeshore is at an altitude of 180 feet (54.86 meters) above sea level, and the city climbs as it gets towards the Sierras de Managua further south where it is over 2,297 feet (700.13 meters) above sea level.
Geologically, the city lies on fault lines, thus seismologists predict that Managua will experience a severe earthquake every 50 years or less.
Managua, due to its tropical climate, varied topography, naturally fertile soils, and abundant rain and water sources, boasts a great variety of flora. Many different types of trees, some of which are not found elsewhere in the world, appear, including chilamates, ceibos, pochotes, genízaros, tigüilotes, royal palms, piñuelas and madroños (Nicaragua's national tree) surround the city. During the rainy season (May to November), Managua becomes a lush city due to many palms, bushes, and other plants and trees which dominate the city's appearance.
Lagoons within Managua
Managua features four smaller crater lakes or lagoons within city limits. The most centrally located is the Tiscapa Lagoon in the Tiscapa Lagoon Natural Reserve.
- Tiscapa Lagoon is south of the old downtown and was formed approximately 10,000 years ago.
- Asososca Lagoon, to the west, is Managua's most important source of drinking water. Asososca is at the beginning of Southern Highway, close to the connection with the New Highway to León.
- Nejapa Lagoon, south of Asososca Lagoon, is also along the Southern Highway.
- The fourth is Acahualinca Lagoon, located to the northwest close to the shores of Lake Xolotlan, it gives its name to the nearby district to the east. Acahualinca is noted for having shallow waters.
Managua, like much of Western Nicaragua, except for the Sierras to the South, has a tropical climate with constant temperatures averaging between 28 and 32 °C (82 and 90 °F). Under Köppen's climate classification, the city has a tropical wet and dry climate. A distinct dry season exists between November and April, while most of the rainfall is received between May and October. Temperatures are highest in March and April, when the sun lies directly overhead and the summer rainfall has yet to begin.
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