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Culture & Identity of Nicaragua

Introduction

For many Nicaraguans, life works around farming and agriculture, which occupies much of their time. However, for most of the people jobs are found in the industrial and services sectors. No matter the occupation, life is about much more than work, although work tends to give people a routine and income that is much needed.

Nearly a third of the working population in Nicaragua is employed in agriculture today. For the farmers in this group life is based on the sun, seasons, and weather. During busy times this is a family affair as all the help that can be gathered is needed. Life in these more rural areas also means people live further apart and most of the people's free time is spent with family. However, local shops and churches do tend to be gathering points for the community to catch up and socialize.

Just over half the people live in the cities though and for these people life can be much different. Jobs tend to be based on a clock, not the sun, and people live much closer together as many modern amenities are more readily available, public transportation is a way of life, and schools are generally close by. However, secondary schools are difficult to get into or afford so many young people enter the work force at a very young age.

Since wages are generally low, particularly for the farmers in the country, further education is rarely undertaken and few people can afford extensive entertainment options. Only in some cities is there enough discretionary income made to have multiple entertainment options available to the people and even in these places only a small minority can afford to enjoy them.

Identity

Nicaraguan identity is loosely based on ethnicity, but also has a heavy reliance on citizenship as it is a somewhat exclusive. Due to colonialism and the brief takeover by an American, the people tend to be wary of outsiders and their definition of being Nicaraguan reflects this fear and distrust of outsiders. The definition therefore has both a nationalistic angle as well as an ethnic stance in that it seems to imply a citizen is a mix of Spanish, Native American, and perhaps also African descent. The definition is also partially based on the local dialect of Spanish they speak, their unified history, and their foods among other things.

Many people also cling to a second identity of being "Hispanic" or "Latin American." People who identify as Hispanic (in the Americas) are generally a mix of Spanish and Native American ancestry who speak Spanish. It is this ethnic and linguistic link that is the true definition of the term, although today the foods, music, religion, and dress of the people are also closely associated with the term. Although the word "Hispanic" can refer to anyone with a historic tie to Spain or Portugal, in the Americas it tends to be an inclusive identity only referring to Spanish-speaking people from the Americas. Latin American is more inclusive as it refers to anyone from Latin America, no matter a person's ethnicity or linguistic affiliation.

This page was last updated: December, 2013