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a country study

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Momotombo volcano on the shore of Lake Managua

Second Edition, First Printing, 1982.

Copyright © 1982 United States Government as represented by the

Secretary of the Army. All rights reserved.

Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data

Main entry under title:

Nicaragua: a country study.

(Area handbook series)
Previous ed. published as: Area handbook for Nicaragua 1970.
“DA Pam 550–88.”
Bibliography: p.
Includes index.

1. Nicaragua. I. Rudolph, James D., 1947– II. Ryan, John Morris. Area handbook
for Nicaragua. III. Series.
F1523.N569 1982



Headquarters, Department of the Army
DA Pam 550–88
Supersedes 1970 Edition

For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office

Washington, D.C. 20402

GL Dipos US 3/25103


This volume is one of a continuing series of books prepared by Foreign Area Studies, The American University, under the Country Studies/ Area Handbook Program. The last page of this book provides a listing of other published studies. Each book in the series deals with a particular foreign country, describing and analyzing its economic, national security, political, and social systems and institutions and examining the interrelationships of those systems and institutions and the ways that they are shaped by cultural factors. Each study is written by a multidisciplinary team of social scientists. The authors seek to provide a basic insight and understanding of the society under observation, striving for a dynamic rather than a static portrayal of it. The study focuses on historical antecedents and on the cultural, political, and socioeconomic characteristics that contribute to cohesion and cleavage within the society. Particular attention is given to the origins and traditions of the people who make up the society, their dominant beliefs and values, their community of interests and the issues on which they are divided, the nature and extent of their involvement with the national institutions, and their attitudes toward each other and toward the social system and political order within which they live.

The contents of the book represent the views, opinions, and findings of Foreign Area Studies and should not be construed as an official Department of the Army position, policy, or decision, unless so designated by other official documentation. The authors have sought to adhere to accepted standards of scholarly objectivity. Such corrections, additions, and suggestions for factual or other changes that readers may have will be welcomed for use in future new editions.

William Evans-Smith
Director, Foreign Area Studies

The American University
Washington, D.C. 20016


The authors are grateful to numerous individuals who contributed their time, research materials, and special knowledge of Nicaraguan affairs to this study. Particular mention should be given to Eugene and Sheila Robertson, who contributed a variety of source materials; to Lisa Castleman, Laurie Greenberg, Charles Perkins, and Lorraine Ritacco, who contributed to the research for chapter 5, and to Dr. Thomas W. Walker, who made available the manuscripts of two forthcoming books. Special thanks are owed to Ann Roetzel, who designed the cover and the illustrations of the title page of each chapter. The inclusion of photographs in this study was made possible by the generosity of various individuals and private and public agencies.

The authors also wish to express their gratitude to members of the Foreign Area Studies staff who contributed directly to the preparation of the manuscript. These include Alison Raphael and Kathryn Stafford, who edited the manuscript, with the assistance of Janet B. Connors; Harriet R. Blood and Gustavo Arce, who prepared the graphics; Gilda V. Nimer, librarian; and Margaret Quinn, Eloise W. Brandt, and John Nuzzi, who typed the manuscript. The team appreciates as well the assistance provided by Ernest A. Will, publications manager.

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