Most of us are familiar with a variety of world currencies. However we suspect you have never heard of the cordoba. This is the currency used in Nicaragua and it has been around in one form or another for quite some time, as you are about to find out.
The currency is split into 100 centavos, and there are a number of coins for both centavos and cordobas. The centavo coins are denominated as 5, 10, 25 and 50 centavos. In contrast there are three cordoba coins, which are the 1, 5 and 10 cordoba coins. When you see the amount written down it will generally be with a dollar sign but with a C in front of it to denote that it is the Nicaraguan currency – as in C$.
The currency first came into use in 1912 to replace the peso. Since that time there have been three versions of the cordoba in circulation, the third one being the one that is currently used. The current version is known as the cordoba oro. In each case the reason for the re-issue of the currency was that inflation had devalued the old one. Indeed, when the third version of the currency was brought in, a single cordoba was worth 5 million of the second version of the currency! As you can see this is one of the most serious cases of inflation you could ever imagine.
The best way to get hold of the currency is to use the cash machines you will find dotted around. However you can exchange currency for the cordoba as well if you wish. The easiest currency to exchange is actually the US dollar, although they are very picky about the condition of the bills they will accept. Make sure none of the bills you take with you have any tears of any size in them. Even the smallest tear can result in your bills being rejected, leaving you unable to pay for anything or swap your US dollars for the local currency.
You should bear in mind the area you are visiting too, since getting cash and paying for things in Nicaragua is very different depending on where you are. For example you will find there are more ways to get hold of the cordoba in cities and large towns than there are in smaller and quieter places. This means you should never assume you can always pay with a credit card for example. While you can do this in large cities you may not be able to in smaller locations. In this situation you should only ever rely on cash because you just never know whether any other methods of payment will suffice.
Finally it is a good idea to make sure you’re not left with lots of the local currency when you leave the country. It is difficult to exchange it for your own currency when you get home, so the more you can change – even if only into US dollars – before you leave, the better.
Wherever you are in the world you only need access to a currency converter you can rely on to get the answer to this question. You can use the ISO code (NIO) to quickly find the currency when you need it, and then just find your own currency too. Generally you’d put your own one in first and then exchange it for the cordoba but you can do it the opposite way if you would prefer.
There isn’t an official website for the Nicaraguan Embassy in London but you can find out more information about its location and how to get in touch by visiting this link - http://www.rbkc.gov.uk/az/az.aspx?searchletter=E&orgid=5186. This leads you to the official website of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, where the embassy can be found.
This country isn’t one of the most frequently visited ones in this part of the world; however several thousand people do go there from the UK each year. For the most part they don’t experience any problems either. As is the case in many parts of the world it is street crime that is most prevalent and something to be aware of. You shouldn’t be frightened of visiting the country – after all you could experience crime anywhere – but it does make sense to take appropriate steps when you are going to visit the country.
The more you can do to protect yourself against pickpockets the better. Don’t carry everything in one purse, wallet or pocket; spreading your cash around means it doesn’t all go missing if you end up getting targeted. If someone does challenge you for cash don’t resist them – the worst situations occur when the victim resists and tries to fight back. It is worth noting that many criminals are armed, so do be very careful.
With that said most criminals will go for an easy target if they can. This means not carrying anything valuable in plain sight, such as an expensive camera for example. If they know you are wearing expensive jewellery this can also make you a target.
You should also be choosy when selecting a hotel to stay in. Make sure they offer a safe and keep everything in there that you don’t need to carry with you. Furthermore you should make sure there is always someone at the hotel to assist in case of problems. They should always be very secure – don’t be tempted to stay somewhere that doesn’t offer good security measures.
Nicaragua is in Central America, and is bordered by just two other countries. These are Honduras to the north-west and Costa Rica to the south. The eastern side of the country looks out onto the Caribbean Sea, while the western side looks onto the Pacific Ocean.
There are lots of things you can do in the country, but one thing you should be aware of is its seismic nature. Earthquakes can and do occur here, and it has the Masaya Volcano too. This is in a national park and it still erupts today, the most recent eruption occurring in 2008 when it was active for several months. It is not the only volcano in this area, but it does provide you with the rare opportunity to drive up very close to it if it is safe to do so while you are there.
Elsewhere – and actually not that far away – you can find the Apoyo Lagoon Nature Reserve. This is a great place to visit and many tourists do add it to their list of things to do. There are all kinds of animals here including Capuchin monkeys and green iguanas. The fact that there is a lake in the nature reserve – Lake Apoyo – means you can also enjoy some water-based activities. These include swimming and boating, so you can see there is plenty to entertain you on a visit here.
As you would imagine with two long coastlines, Nicaragua also offers some great beach locations to enjoy. One of these is Montelimar, which is on the Pacific coastline. There is a glorious white sandy beach here along with a resort that many people choose to stay at. Another option you could choose as somewhere to stay is the Selva Negra mountain resort. As the name suggests this is the opposite of a beach resort but it offers plenty of great sights and sounds and a lovely location for any Nicaraguan-based holiday.
As you can see there is plenty of nature on show when you visit this country. Another good example of this is the Los Guatuzos Wildlife Refuge. This is a great opportunity to get into the rainforest to see what life is like for the species that live there. It is recognised as a biosphere reserve, and you can book onto a guided tour through the area that will reveal much more about it. Indeed if you visit Nicaragua you can expect to enjoy plenty of natural sights and sounds no matter where you go.
It’s obvious that this is not a country to visit if you don’t like the natural world. From rainforests to volcanoes, it certainly has a lot to offer. You can opt for the ordinary beach-based holiday on one of its coasts, but with so many natural sights to see further inland it would be a shame not to try out a variety of other locations and destinations while you are there.
Clearly Nicaragua is not the safest place you could go to, but it does have a liveliness and vibrancy about it that is hard to replicate elsewhere. Would you pay a visit to take a closer look?