Chontales, a district of Nicaragua, N. E. of Lakes Nicaragua and Managua, separated from Honduras by the district of Segovia. The chain of the Cordilleras called the Alto Grande mountains traverses the district in a N. W. and S. E. direction, making up the greater part of it. The mining region, which gives the principal importance to this portion of Nicaragua, lies along the slopes of the mountains, and in this are several towns, mostly occupied by the native Indians. One of the most important of these is Libertad, 35 m. N. E. of Lake Nicaragua. The gold mines in its vicinity, on the rivers Mica and Bola, branches of the Blue-fields, were worked by the early Spanish settlers, and are still worked by the Indians. The gold appears to be obtained from decomposed auriferous slates, which are ground by arrastres. In the same region are found veins of silver ores. Near Lake Nicaragua a bed of coal has been opened, which is probably of the nature of the tertiary coals of South America. Among the mountains are vast plains covered with grass, which gives support to immense herds of cattle and horses. Much good timber is found in the vicinity of the mines, among which are species of oak and pine.
Fruits of the tropics grow abundantly in close proximity to those of the temperate zones, and the articles necessary for subsistence are easily obtained in the greatest abundance. The district is easily accessible from the lakes.