Matagalpa was declared a department in 1838, after 200 years of adjustments in its political division and three centuries of being discovered by the Spanish in 1542.

Monument to Carlos Fonseca and Tomás Borge

Monument to Carlos Fonseca and Tomás Borge

It is currently organized into 13 municipalities, which have ethnohistorical homogeneity and which define their ancestral and colonial cultural identity and the evolutionary development of their indigenous and mestizo society. 9% of the department's inhabitants are indigenous people who are concentrated in Matagalpa, San Dionisio, San Ramón, Rancho Grande, El Tuma-La Dalia, part of Terrabona and Matiguás, which are still governed by a Council of Elders.

The municipalities of the department are: Ciudad Darío, Esquipulas, Matagalpa, Matiguás, Muy Muy, Rancho Grande, Río Blanco, San Dionisio, San Isidro, San Ramón, Sébaco, Terrabona and El Tuma-La Dalia.

The term Matagalpa, comes from the Matagalpa language "Maika-calp tea", Maika-Head Mayor and Calpul-Poblado. I mean “big town”, just as the historian Jerónimo Pérez said in 1855. This coincides with historical reality, since Matagalpa has been the largest town in the center-north of Nicaragua since pre-Columbian times. These first settlers interacted with Mayagnas, Miskitos, Maribios and Chorotegas, before the arrival of the Spanish.

Apante Hill

Apante Hill

With the arrival of Europeans in the XNUMXth and early XNUMXth centuries, coffee growing and its derivatives represent an important source of work for the development of the department, but it is also the source of the conservation of some forms of crafts such as the elaboration of baskets, palm hats and black pottery, a hallmark of Matagalpa's artisan work and trades related to coffee production.

The musical rhythms that European immigrants carried as part of their culture have been assimilated and integrated into the life and culture of the Matagalpinos, so that among their main expressions are the polkas, mazurcas and jamaquellos, performed with guitar, talalate violins and accordion.

The gastronomy of the department is based on corn foods, present in the traditional gastronomic fairs called "atoleras".

Among its festivities, the one on February 14 stands out, the date of its founding anniversary, celebrated with large and varied activities along the main avenue.

The department of Matagalpa is the birthplace of the poet Rubén Darío, the revolutionary hero Carlos Fonseca Amador and Tomás Borge, and also the residence of President Bartolomé Martínez (1923-1925), the only president in the history of Nicaragua of indigenous descent.

The varied landscape of the department of Matagalpa has to its credit mountains, rivers, waterfalls and nebliselva forests, where a rich diversity of flora and fauna develops.

Cerro Musun, Rio Blanco

Cerro Musun, Rio Blanco

The natural reserves Fila cerro Frío-La Cumplida, Yasica waterfall, Apante hill, Guabule, Pancasán hill, Quirragua mountain range, Musún hill, Kuskawás hill and the Yucul Genetic Reserve, belong to the department and represent 45% of the existing reserves in the entire northern part of the country, promoting adventure, scientific, ecotourism and agrotourism tourism activities.  

The department presents the most mountainous relief of the country; the Cordillera Dariense crosses it in an east-west direction. The predominant basin is that of the Río Grande de Matagalpa, which offers abundant natural potential in surface water resources, and whose main slope crosses the entire landscape of the department until the river with the same name emerges towards the Caribbean Sea. Its tributaries are the Guabule, Upá, Tapasle, Olama and Paiwas rivers.

Another very important river is the Tuma, which joins the Río Grande de Matagalpa, the Río Viejo and the Santa Bárbara dam in Ciudad Darío. Likewise, there are several important water reservoirs such as La Virgen, of artificial formation, the Laguneta de Tecomapa, Las Playitas and the Laguna de Moyuá.

Municipalities of Matagalpa

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