Ometepe Island, Nicaragua

The Island of Ometepe was formed by two volcanoes rising from Lake Nicaragua in the Republic of Nicaragua. Its name derives from the Nahuatl words Ome = two and Tepetl = mountain, meaning two mountains. The Volcanoes, Concepción and Maderas, are joined by a low isthmus to form one island, giving it the form of an hourglass. Ometepe has an area of 276 km². It is 31 km long and 5 to 10 km wide. The island has a population of 35,000, and an economy based on livestock, agriculture, and tourism. Plantains are the major crop.

Volcan Concepción (once named Ometepe volcano) is the northwest half of the island. Concepción is a symmetrical cone, and is still considered an active volcano (Baker, 2006). Concepción volcano rose in the early Holocene Epoch and, through continual eruptions, now reaches an altitude of 1 610 m. It is the world’s highest lake island. This volcano is considered the most perfectly formed volcano cone in Central America. The volcano went through a long quiet period, but on 8 December 1880 Concepción came back to life. This eruption was extensive, and the volcano remained active for a year. More eruptions followed in 1883, 1889, 1902, 1907, and 1924. The most recent eruption was in 1957. This eruption was extremely violent; however few of the island’s inhabitants heeded the order from the government in Managua to evacuate the island. Tourists visiting this volcano are accompanied by noisy howler monkeys and green parrots.

The southeast half of the island consists of Volcan Madera, which has a crater lake and supports a diverse rainforest environment. Maderas volcano, at the other end of the island, also arose in the Holocene Epoch, and rises 1 394 m above sea level. The last eruption occurred in the 13th century. It is considered extinct or dormant. A large lagoon formed in its crater, and was discovered on 15 April 1930 by the farmer Casimiro Murillo. It is covered with coffee and tobacco plantations and the remaining rain forest. This volcano is a perfect destination for the ecotourist. Much of this part of the island is now a nature reserve.

The volcanic ash has made the soil of this island extremely fertile, allowing continuous planting without fallowing. The volcanoes are visible from everywhere on the island, and life on Ometepe revolves closely around them. They also play an important part in the myths and legends of the island, which once served as an Indian burial ground.
[Source: Wikipedia]

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