A country of Central America on the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Various Indian peoples, including the Miskito, inhabited the area when Columbus visited in 1502. Spanish settlement began in 1524. The colony was ruled as part of Guatemala until 1821, when the entire region gained independence. Since its designation as a republic in 1838, Nicaragua has had a turbulent history, with frequent intervention by foreign powers. Managua is the capital and the largest city.