Nicaragua is a republic in Central America. It is the largest nation on the isthmus, but also the least densely populated, thus being similar in size to its smaller neighbors. The country is bordered to the north by Honduras and to the south by Costa Rica. Its western coast is on the Pacific Ocean, while the east of the country borders the Caribbean Sea. Nicaragua is one of three countries in the world where abortion is illegal with no exceptions, along with El Salvador and Chile.
Nicaragua was recently ravaged by a civil war, which killed tens of thousands of civilians, destroyed virtually all of the country's already fragile infrastructure, and left 20% of the country's population homeless , between the Contra guerrillas and the Sandinista Front for National Liberation (español: Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional, or FSLN), a revolutionary socialist movement that overthrew the dictatorship of Antonio Somoza Debayle in the Nicaraguan Revolution of 1979, and proceeded to win a democratic election with overwhelming popular support. This was revealed, in the case Nicaragua v. the United States, heard before the International Court of Justice, to be instigated by the Reagan administration, which was worried as a result of a left-wing country within its sphere of influence. The United States government, as a result of this, refused to pay the $12 billion in reparations to Nicaragua that the court deemed appropriate, despite a UN General Assembly mandating this, and announced that it did not recognise the court.  
The United States government also controversially armed the Contra guerrillas using money earned from weapons sold to Iran, which, as a supporter of the terrorist group Hezbollah, was strongly opposed in public by the Reagan government. 
Popular support for the Sandinista government declined dramatically as a result of the government's programme of mandatory military service to prepare for what it viewed as an imminent U.S. invasion. At the nadir of that support, the Sandinistas lost power to the National Opposition Union (español: Unión Nacional Opositora, or UNO) in the democratic election of 1990. They returned to power after having won the 2006 elections. Having become staunchly corrupt and conservative, the party threw its support behind the law against abortion in all circumstances. Pro-choice activists and medics who aided a nine-year-old Nicaraguan girl who was impregnated by her stepfather having an abortion when it was still legal are currently being persecuted by the government. President Daniel Ortega, himself being accused of having sexually abused his stepdaughter (the only reason he can't be prosecuted being his judicial immunity), has described human rights activists and feminists as "fascists". Ortega called the economic crisis a "punishment from God".
Another "interesting" political figure in Nicaraguan recent history is former Managua mayor and President Arnoldo Aleman, who entered politics as a used car salesman with some US$10,000 to his name and after one term (1990-1995) as mayor of the capital and one term (1997-2002) as president exited the presidential mansion with some US$100 000 000 in his possession and corruption charges being brought forth against him. (Go figure). His immediate successor and former vice-president tried to push the prosecution forward, which ended up splitting his liberal bloc and undermining the President. Ortega seized the opportunity and agreed to change the 20-year jail term into house arrest in exchange for some political horse-trading. This deal, simply known as "el pacto" may very well have paved the way for the Sandinista electoral triumph of 2006, where the Liberals split the vote, whereas a Sandinista challenger to Ortega died days before the election.
In 2011 Ortega was reelected with an unprecedented 63% of the vote with the opposition candidates highly corrupt ex-president Arnoldo Aleman and eighty-something Fabio Gadea Mantilla as well as purported voter fraud making it easier for him to win the election. While the general economic outlook is better than it has ever been since the Contra war, corruption and cronyism plague the Ortega-administration and he in turn picks a fight (usually with Costa Rica, the US or "the West" in general) whenever his political fortunes seem to be sinking. That being said, Ortega has still a strain of economic populism left in him as evidenced by a gift of new satellite dishes during the 2006 campaign season, highly subsidized public transport (which In Nicaragua means buses and taxis) or "plan techo" whereby poor families can apply for a government paid roof for their house.
An important step you can take to establish your politically correct bona fides is to always pronounce it "Nee-ka-HA-gwah"
Notas al pie
- To tell the whole truth though, the 1984 election was boycotted by parts of the right wing opposition and denounced as unfair by Reagan, while Carter said it was fair.
- In Nicaragua "liberal" has been the right wing ever since 1990. In fact, the governing party under Somoza was called the "Liberal Nationalist Party" and some early allies of the Sandinistas were self-identifying conservatives. While there still is a conservative party, it is very minor and usually allied with one of the major liberal blocks
- which was changed into "you can't leave Nicaragua" and has been broken by a trip of Aleman to China Cuba and Russia (carefully avoiding countries where Interpol is looking for him on corruption charges)
- Look for his name on this list