Diverse landscapes, spectacular biodiversity

Nicaragua is one of the largest countries in Central America with a varied and beautiful landscape that encompasses volcanoes, unique freshwater habitats (including Lake Nicaragua – the region’s largest lake), and spectacular marine environments off the country’s two, very different, coastlines. The country is also blessed with seven different types of forest, from tropical rainforest, cloud forest and mangroves to tropical dry forest.

These diverse environments in turn support an incredible diversity of wildlife, many of which occur only in Nicaragua, including amphibians such as the Ometepe salamander, confined to the island of that name.

The country is also an important area for birds, particularly on Ometepe. This UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, situated in the middle of Lake Nicaragua, harbours the largest remaining population of the endangered yellow-naped parrot and is home to 170 bird species, 55 of them migratory.

What’s more, Nicaragua’s beaches also provide crucially important nesting habitat for hawksbill, leatherback and olive ridley turtles.

Sadly, much of Nicaragua’s biodiversity is in danger of disappearing. Despite the best efforts of the Nicaraguan government to protect its wildlife, habitat loss (driven by poverty and population growth), poaching and climate change are all putting pressure on the country’s habitats.

Nicaragua facts
Americas & Caribbean Country in Americas & Caribbean

Size (land & water):

130,370 km²

Population (2016 est.):


GDP per capita (2016 est.):



Nicaragua is located in Central America. It is bordered by Honduras and Costa Rica with coastlines along the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea. It also encloses two vast lakes: Lake Nicaragua and Lake Managua.


species are estimated to be found in Nicaragua.


of Nicaragua’s forest cover was lost between 1990 and 2005.

Our work to protect Nicaragua’s biodiversity

Fauna & Flora International (FFI) began working in Nicaragua in 1998, contributing to biodiversity conservation and strengthening local and national partners.

Most notably, we have had a major impact in reducing poaching of sea turtles and their eggs, through an innovative and comprehensive programme to protect sea turtle nests on key beaches. To do this, we work with local communities to turn poachers into protectors by providing education and alternative sustainable livelihood opportunities.

Meanwhile, a wider public education campaign is gradually changing public perceptions about eating turtle eggs, while research to monitor Nicaragua’s nesting turtle populations is helping us to address wider threats to the species (such as entanglement in fishing nets).

Together with our partners, we are also working to eliminate destructive fishing practices and protect marine habitat within an 80 km marine corridor along Nicaragua’s Pacific coast as a way to reduce the negative impacts of fishing activities on sea turtles.

As a result of this work, over 90% of Nicaragua’s nesting leatherbacks are now protected. FFI has also seen similar successes for critical nesting populations of hawksbill and olive ridley turtles in the East Pacific, providing a ray of hope for these beleaguered reptiles.

Elsewhere, we are also helping to ensure that the remarkable Ometepe Island is managed effectively to protect wildlife while also benefiting people. This work has included supporting research on the island’s bird populations, helping local farmers to respond to their changing climate in order to reduce impacts on the forest, and supporting ecotourism initiatives.