The city of Matagalpa is the capital and largest city of the department (county) of the same name. Its municipal population was reported in 2019 as 163,782. The town serves as a commercial center and transportation hub for the surrounding small towns and agricultural production areas, where crops include coffee, cocoa, cattle, fruits and vegetables. Located in the shadow of Nicaragua’s Dariense and Isabelia mountain ranges at elevations around 2,300 feet, Matagalpa enjoys spring-like temperatures, a rainy season from May through October, and an average annual rainfall of around 60 inches. This excellent climate and tropical mountain scenery has helped eco‐tourism become an important attraction and economic factor in the Matagalpa area.
Matagalpa was inhabited by indigenous people when the first Spanish settlers arrived around 1828. In the early 20th century, a wave of northern European immigrants brought coffee farming to the area. The most famous “son” of Matagalpa was Carlos Fonseca Amador (b.1936), founder of the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN). Susan Meiselas’ excellent photographs from the FSLN-led uprising in Matagalpa against the dictator Somoza can be seen at https://www.susanmeiselas.com/latin-america/nicaragua/. The extraordinary victory of these forces over the dictator in 1979 brought Nicaragua to the attention of the world, including Gainesville, and was therefore critical to establishing the Gainesville-Matagalpa Sister City relationship.
- Founding: Existed before Spanish settlers arrived in 1828 C.E.
- Population: 163,782 (2019)
- Ethnic groups: Predominantly Mestizos, with some Whites, Blacks, and Indigenous (Cacaopera) Peoples
- Religions: Catholic Christianity, Protestant Christianity
- Mayor: Sadrach Zeledón
- Province: Matagalpa
- Temperature averages: 28C/82F high, 26C/79F low
- Elevation: ~700m
- Currency: Nicaraguan Córdoba
- Airport: Augusto Sandino International (MGA)
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Animals & Wildlife
Enjoying an “eternal spring” due to its elevation and location, Matagalpa boasts an extraordinary diversity of wildlife in both plant and animal species.
Visit the official Matagalpa website at https://alcaldiadematagalpa.gob.ni/