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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Madriz (Spanish pronunciation: [maˈðɾis]) is a department in Nicaragua. It covers an area of 1,602 km² and has a population of 133,300 (2005 census). The capital is Somoto.

Madriz was created from Nueva Segovia department in August 1936, and named after José Madriz.

Somoto is a city and municipality located in the hills of northern Nicaragua, and capital of the department of Madriz. It is around 20 km (12 miles) south-west of Ocotal and 51 km (32 miles) north-west of Estelí. It sits on the Pan-American Highway around 16 km (10 miles) from the Honduran border crossing at El Espino.


Founded in pre-Hispanic times by Olmec and Aztec immigrants from modern Mexico, Somoto is the economic and cultural heart of Madriz. It has also become a growing tourist centre since the discovery of Somoto Canyon, located 13 km (8 miles) west of the city. Somoto has a total population of approximately 40,000, with 15,000 people living in the urban area and 25,000 in 48 nearby communities.[1]

It is known as La Flor de Henequén (the Flower of Henequen) as a result of the cultivation of this crop in the city's environs. It is also renowned for its production of rosquillas somoteñas, crispy corn biscuits with a variety of flavours.



Somoto was settled by Olmec and Aztec peoples from Mexico, and subsequently inhabited by Chorotegas andNicaraguas. The name Somoto originates from the Nahuatl Tépecxomotl, meaning 'Valley of Geese', while Spanish royal decrees of 1591 give the city's name as Santiago de Tepesomoto. Although the city is now universally known as Somoto, the name Tepesomoto is retained by the volcano overlooking the city to the south and its surrounding Tepesomoto-La Patasta Nature Reserve.[3]


Somoto was granted town status in January 1867 and city status in March 1895. It has been the capital city of Madriz since that department's separation from Nueva Segovia in November 1936.[4]


Somoto's adobe parrochial church, formally the Temple of Saint James the Apostle (Templo Santiago Apostól), was established in the heart of Somoto in 1661 opposite the city's parque central (central park); it is therefore one of Nicaragua's oldest surviving church buildings, pre-dating the Cathedral of León by 86 years. However the present façade and bell tower were constructed as recently as 1875.[5] Somoto is also located near the Cacaulí Sanctuary, a site for religious pilgrimage since a boy claimed to have seen the Virgin Mary while collecting firewood in 1990.[6]


The famous Nicaraguan singer-songwriters and brothers Carlos Mejía Godoy and Luís Enrique Mejía Godoy were born in Somoto, as was their nephew Luis Enrique.



  1. Las Sabanas

  2. Palacagüina

  3. San José de Cusmapa

  4. San Juan del Río Coco

  5. San Lucas

  6. Somoto

  7. Telpaneca

  8. Totogalpa

  9. Yalagüina


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