The Republic of Nicaragua is a republic in Central America. Although it is the largest nation in the region, it is also the least densely populated per km². The country is bordered on the north by Honduras and on south by Costa Rica. Its western coastline is on the Pacific Ocean, while the east side of the country is on the Caribbean Sea.
The country's name is a portmanteau of Nicarao, the name of the Nahuatl-speaking tribe which inhabited the shores of Lago Nicaragua before the Spanish conquest of the Americas, and the Spanish word Agua, meaning water, due to the presence of the large lakes Lago Nicaragua and Lago Managua in the region.
At the time of the Spanish conquest, Nicaragua was the name given to the narrow strip of land between Lake Nicaragua and the Pacific Ocean. Chief Nicarao ruled over that land when the first conquerors arrived. The term was eventually applied, by extension, to the group that inhabited that region: the Nicaraos or Niquiranos.
The pre-columbian Nicarao came to the area from northern regions after the fall of Teotihuacán, on the advice of their priests or religious leaders. According to tradition, they were to travel south until they encountered a lake with two volcanoes rising out of the waters, and stopped when they reached Ometepe, the largest fresh-water volcanic island in the world.