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In recent years, Central America has become a major destination for adventure and ecotourism, beaches, and culture, and lately the star of its largest country Nicaragua, has been on the rise - the bad old days of post-earthquake trauma (1970s) and civil war (1980s) long behind it. These days stable and in fact considered by many the region's safest country, it offers a mostly tropical climate and extraordinary (not to mention wallet-friendly) menu of options appealing to a wide range of travelers.

Yes, word is increasingly getting out about Nicaraguan gems like colonial cities Granada, and León; beachy San Juan del Sur and Corn Island; its dramatic volcanoes; and cool, mountainous Matagalpa. Curiously, the country's own capital Managua doesn't usually make this list (a situation actually not unlike fellow Central American capitals Guatemala City and San José). The reasons for this are various - including the long years it took to recover from not one but two major 20th-century earthquakes. But instead of flying into MGA and heading right out to these other places, after having enjoyed two visits here, here's why I think visitors should consider staying a day or two in the capital.

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