Panoramic view of Masaya.

The department of Masaya is located in the Central-Pacific region of Nicaragua, between Lake Xolotlán and Lake Cocibolca.

Its departmental capital Masaya is located 29 kilometers from the city of Managua. It is made up of the municipalities of: Tisma, Nindirí, Masaya, Catarina, San Juan de Oriente, Niquinohomo, Nandasmo, Masatepe and La Concepción.

With 610.78 km2 surface area, a population projected to 2015 of 364,168 inhabitants, is the smallest of the country's departments and the most densely populated. It limits to the northwest with the department of Managua, to the southeast with Granada and to the southwest with Carazo.

It is also a territory with numerous and important communication routes and means of transport, with excellent accessibility, diverse agricultural production, and artisanal and tourist activity.

The department of Masaya is crossed from northwest to southeast by the Cordillera de Los Maribios tectonic fault, which divides it into three geographical zones.

The northern area, made up of the Tipitapa plain and the Tisma plain, located between lakes Xolotlán and Cocibolca, has great biodiversity and is one of the seven Ramsar sites, as it is a resting place for migratory birds.

The central area, crossed by the Cordillera de Los Maribios, contains the Masaya lagoon and the Support loophole that are of volcanic origin. This area formed by lava from the Masaya volcano, is surrounded by the El Coyotepe, La Barranca and Santiago volcano hills.

The heights of the flattest parts vary from 300 m asl to 100 m asl towards the Tipitapa plain, where the municipalities of Masaya and Nindirí are located, as well as part of the municipality of Catarina.

Traditional dance El Solar de Monimbó.

The southern zone, located on the geological formation "Las Sierras", with abrupt relief, crossed by streams that drain towards the Laguna de Masaya and its culminating point is the Masaya volcano. Here the municipalities of La Concepción, Masatepe, Nandasmo, Niquinohomo, San Juan de Oriente and part of Catarina are located on the so-called "Plateau of the Peoples", with its origin in the extinct volcanic calderas of the Masaya volcanic complex. The heights of the plateau vary from 300 m asl to 600 m asl

Masaya derives from Mazalt and Yan, from the Nahuatl dialect, which means deer and place, that is, "place of the deer". The department of Masaya was one of the Pacific territories of Nicaragua with the highest concentration of indigenous populations, descendants of the Chorotega ethnic group, from Mexico, between the years 800 and 1200 after Christ. It was the main linguistic group in Nicaragua upon the arrival of the Europeans.

Its most important towns were Masaya and Nindirí (residence of the chief Tenderí), as well as Nacatime, Mombazina (Monimbó), Namotiva (Catarina), Marinalte (San Juan de Oriente), Niquinohomo and Matapalete (Masatepe).

Masaya handicrafts.

Belonging to the dirianes denomination, they inhabited the plains around the Masaya lagoon and organized in manors marked by social stratification. They developed and inherited from us the industry of pottery, lithics, basketry, gastronomy, religious practices, knowledge and agricultural practices, which are still preserved in the daily lives of the Masayas.

Marimbas roundabout.

The department of Masaya is an inexhaustible reserve of living culture, expressed in its traditions and socio-cultural manifestations that preserve elements of pre-Hispanic and colonial culture in their essence. Of Masaya the architecture stands out and in particular the religious one, the artisan production, the dance, the music of marimba, its patron and traditional festivals, its gastronomy and of course its people, people with a high degree of sensitivity and artistic creativity, industrious, creators and also makers of cultural knowledge and practices.

The Masayas have known how to preserve their ancestral culture and keep them alive, recreating it with current cultural forms. All these expressions are developed mainly within families, it is here where the true sociocultural richness of their pre-Hispanic traditions occurs.

As for nature, Masaya has a great variety of resources where the only National Park in the country, two natural reserves and a protected area stand out.

Masaya volcano.

El Masaya Volcano National Park It is a volcanic complex, an oblong caldera, 6.5 kilometers wide and 11.5 kilometers long, it is composed of five craters and two volcanoes, Masaya and Santiago, the latter still active. Eight of the nine municipalities of Masaya are located on the margins of the Masaya caldera, just seven kilometers from the Santiago volcano.

According to the Nicaraguan Institute for Territorial Studies, Ineter, since 1529 the Masaya volcanic system has had at least 19 eruptions, several of them explosive; and from 1965 to 1979 it maintained a lake of lava. Since December 2015, the Santiago volcano began eruptive activity creating an impressive lava lake, which can be seen to this day.

Support Lagoon.

La Natu ReserveRal Laguna de Apoyo has about 21,10 km2 surface and 200 meters deep, it is a body of water of great importance for the municipalities of Catarina, Masaya and San Juan de Oriente for being a natural attraction with great tourist visitation.

La Laguna de Tisma Nature Reserve Seasonal ecosystem that during winter functions as a refuge for migratory waterfowl, is comprised of the reservoir in the middle course of the Tipitapa River, known as Charco de Tisma, plus the surrounding wetlands, including the lagoons to the El Genízaro swamps.

The department has patches of forests with the presence of species of flora typical of the seasonal tropical dry forest that covers part of the territory. Its vegetation is of the wooded savanna type, with the presence of species such as: quebracho, guayacán, ceiba, guanacaste, pochote, genízaro and approximately 50 varieties of fruit trees. Sacuanjoche (national flower) and sardinillo flowers also grow.


It also has a great variety of animals, including squirrels, armadillos, deer, monkeys, chocoyos, pigeons, magpies, woodpeckers, iguanas, among others. In the Masaya volcano there is a colony of chocoyos known as the Pacific green parrot that nest in the steep cliffs. The chocoyo species is the only documented population that has had to adapt to inhalation of volcanic gases.

Masaya is par excellence the cradle of folk dances, that is why it was named by the National Assembly the Capital of National Folklore on October 23, 2000.

We highlight in this city its colors Black Dances, which can be seen on Sundays in November, its traditional torovenados, street theaters, where mockery and irony characterize them, another expression is the agüizotes, the Creole frights that represent our myths and legends, who take to the streets the last Friday in October.

Currently, the Mayguemas traditional group is rescuing the tradition of El Güegüense in the municipality, which according to historians paraded through the streets of Masaya to cheer up the procession of the patron saint, Nuestra Señora de la Asunción.

Masaya preserves his nobility, his courage, his Darian verses written by Rubén on December 7, 1907, when he visited the city for the second time, accompanied by the people and representatives of the president of the time, who was traveling on a train to the hacienda. Saratoga, to which Rubén said "I'm going with a ladies' bouquet, in a flower car", was already known as the "City of Flowers".

The indigenous community of Monimbó is the cradle of the Popular Insurrection, on February 26, 1978 it rebelled against the Somoza dictatorial regime, impacting the world with this revolutionary action and turning Nicaragua into a free and sovereign homeland.

Municipalities of Masaya

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