The Republic of Nicaragua is a representative democratic republic. It is the largest country in Central America with an area of 130,373 km2. The country is bordered by Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. The Pacific Ocean lies to the west of the country, the Caribbean Sea to the east.
The Spanish Empire conquered the region in the 16th century and the territory became associated with the Viceroyalty of New Spain and later the Captaincy General of Guatemala. In 1821, Nicaragua achieved its independence from Spain and joined the Federal Republic of Central America in 1823, later leaving the Federal Republic in 1838. Since its independence, Nicaragua has undergone periods of political unrest and fiscal crisis as well as periods of relative economic, social and economic maturity and development.
Nicaragua was seen by most of the world as strategic because its isthmus was so narrow that a canal connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans could be dug fairly easily across it. This would have eliminated the need for ships to sail all the way down to the southern tip of South America. The Confederate States sought to dig such a canal at the end of the 19th century, but were prevented from doing so under threat of war from the United States.