Ometepe? who or what is that?
Ometepe is the Indian name for an island in Lake Nicaragua in the south of Nicaragua, the largest freshwater lake in Central America. The island was formed from two volcanoes – Concepcíon (1610m) and Maderas (1394m). With 276 km² it is the largest of several islands in the lake.
The island’s approximately 40,000 inhabitants are descendants of the Nahua Indians, who settled there more than two thousand years ago.
Situation on the island
Unemployment is high on the predominantly rural island. More than half of the population is under 20 years old. Not all people still have access to clean drinking water and electricity. Medical care is also often still insufficient.
Most campesinos work in agriculture for their own use. Mainly rice, corn, beans, plantains, coffee, tobacco and fruits are grown on the island. Families who own a boat can earn a little extra from fishing (sardines, mojarras, tilapias, guapote). An important source of income is increasing tourism.
Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America. Of the 5 million inhabitants of Nicaragua, 70% are mestizos, 14% whites, 10% blacks and approx. 4% Indians. The national language is Spanish. 80% of Nicaraguans are Roman Catholic, with Protestant free churches increasingly gaining influence. More than half of Nicaragua’s population is under the age of 18.
With an average of 4 children per woman, Nicaragua is one of the countries with the highest population growth on earth. 30% of the population are illiterate. Unemployment is high, around 50% of Nicaraguans live below the poverty line.
The history of Nicaragua, like the history of all of Central America, is shaped by colonial rule. Even after independence, Nicaragua was repeatedly subject to claims to power and rule by other states, particularly the United States, due to its strategically favorable location. This also applies to the Somoza family’s reign of more than forty years, whose brutal methods of oppression in 1960 triggered the foundation of the liberation movement Frente Sandinista de Liberacion Nacional (FSLN). After almost 20 years of guerrilla struggle against the dictators, the Sandinista won in 1979 with a revolution. The Sandinista government did improve the social situation for a large part of the population, including literacy campaigns, free schooling and health care, and a fairer distribution of the country, but the nearly ten-year civil war led by the Contras (and supported by the United States, among others) since 1980, and the U.S. boycott and isolation policies plunged the country into a deep economic crisis and social crisis. Since the Sandinista election defeat in 1990, Nicaragua has been officially a democracy. After 16 years of liberal-conservative politics, the country has been governed again by the Daniel Ortega and the FSLN since 2007.
Nicaragua’s economy is largely based on agriculture, the products of which are particularly affected by fluctuations in world market prices and extreme natural phenomena (drought, hurricane, earthquake). In addition to coffee, bananas, sugar cane and cotton are mainly grown. Mining, the timber and fish industries as well as textile, leather and metal processing companies are also important. About 75% of the population still live in poverty, 43% of them in extreme poverty. The open and covert unemployment of the adult population is 50-70%, with differences between town and country. 85% of employees do not earn enough to survive. Often all members of a family, including children, have to contribute to income. 60% of the population work in the informal sector, including 75% women.
The biggest ecological problems in Nicaragua include deforestation of the rainforest, the use of firewood for cooking, the waste disposal, the precarious living situation and the insufficient supply of sanitary facilities.