After Nicaragua became independent from the Spanish Empire in 1821, a dispute erupted between these two colonial capitals, bringing times of foreign interventions. The most famous of these involved the U.S. soldier’s of fortune, William Walker, who proclaimed himself President and then caused a civil war, which lasted from 1855 to 1857.
At the end of the conflict, Managua was established as the capital for its central location. At the beginning of this century, US Marines were invited to Nicaragua to provide political and economic stability. As they were leaving, General Anastasio Somoza Garcia was left in power of the military, beginning a dictatorship of more than forty years by the Somoza family.
In 1972, a catastrophic earthquake destroyed Managua leaving 10,000 dead and hundreds of thousands homeless. Somoza took the millions of dollars in foreign relief funds to make himself even richer. This was the beginning of the end for the Somoza dynasty, as a student based revolutionary group, the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), organized the populace and overthrew Somoza in 1979.
The Sandinistas took their name from Augusto Sandino, an anti-imperialist revolutionary who staged an underground resistance to US Marine occupation in the 1920s. After an eleven year war against the Contras, a coalition government headed by Violeta Barrios de Chamorro took presidential power in 1990. Since then, Nicaragua has been substantially more peaceful, stable, and prosperous.
In October 1996, the Nicaraguan people chose to follow the democratic process of the 1990 elections, and elected the Liberal Party candidate Arnoldo Alemán as president. Once again in 2001 the Nicaraguan people voted as they did in the elections of 1990 and 1996 and Enrique Bolaños from the Liberal party was elected. The last free elections were conducted in 2006 and the Sandinista candidate Daniel Ortega Saavedra elected for a term of 5 years.