Nicaragua (Nikarah'giva), an independent state of Central America, stretching right across the isthmus from the Caribbean Sea to the Pacific, between Costa Rica and Honduras, with an area of 47,S37 sq. m. The Central American Cordilleras (4000-5000 ft.) form the backbone of the country. On the west the surface sinks rapidly to a longitudinal depression (110 feet), the southern two-thirds of which are filled by the large lakes of Nicaragua (115 miles long, 45 broad, and 140 feet deep) and Managua (35 miles long, 20 broad, 30 feet deep). This depression is studded with a chain of volcanic cones, mostly quiescent, from 3800 to 6800 feet high. The western districts are the chief seats of the population; there stand the towns Managua (the capital), Leon, Granada, Chinandega, Rivas. Rivers flowing eastward are the Coco or Wanks (350 miles long), the northern boundary ; the San Juan (125 miles), which drains Lake Nicaragua and separates Nicaragua from Costa Rica; the Bluefields and the Rio Grande (230 miles). The low coast-belt, called the Mosquito Territory (q.v.), is lined with salt lagoons. The mountain-spurs east of the main chain are rich in minerals - gold, silver, coal, copper, tin, iron, lead, zinc, antimony, quicksilver, marble, etc. The forests include mahogany, rosewood, logwood, fustic, sandalwood, india-rubber, medicinal plants, gums, and dye-woods. The rich soil of the cultivated western region yields maize (the staple food), coffee, cocoa, sugar, cotton, rice, tobacco, indigo, and a great variety of tropical fruits. Of the population of 480,000, one-third are Indians, and one-half mulattoes and negroes. The country is governed by a president (elected for four years), a legislative assembly of eleven members, and a senate of ten. A ship-canal from sea to sea, 170 miles long, by way of the San Juan River and Lake Nicaragua, was begun by a U.S. company in 1889; but, though some authorities held this route preferable on various grounds, the works were soon suspended, and ultimately the Panami Canal (see Panama) was taken up by the U.S. government. During the Spanish supremacy (after 1550) Nicaragua was a province of Guatemala. In 1821 it asserted its independence, and its history down to 1865 is a record of war and dissension; there was a revolution and a counter-revolution in 1893. See works by Squier (1852), Belt (1873), Leoy (Paris, 1873), Bancroft (1882), and Bonvallius (Stockholm, 1886).