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The low plains of the Atlantic Coast are {{convert|97|km|0|abbr=on}} wide in areas. They have long been exploited for their natural resources.
 
On the Pacific side of Nicaragua are the two largest fresh water lakes in Central America—[[Lake Managua]] and [[Lake Nicaragua]]. Surrounding these lakes and extending to their northwest along the [[rift valley]] of the [[Gulf of Fonseca]] are fertile lowland plains, with soil highly enriched by [[volcanic ash|ash]] from nearby [[volcano]]es of the central highlands. Nicaragua's abundance of biologically significant and unique [[ecosystem]]s contribute to [[Mesoamerica]]'s designation as a [[biodiversity hotspot]]. Nicaragua has made efforts to become less dependent on fossil fuels, and it expects to acquire 90% of its energy from renewable resources by the year 2020.<ref name="bbc">{{Cite news|title=Why isn't Nicaragua in the Paris agreement?|url=https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-40135819|newspaper=BBC News|access-date=October 27, 2017|date=June 3, 2017}}</ref><ref>{{cite web|title=Nicaragua: a renewable energy paradise in Central America|url=http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2013/10/25/energias-renovables-nicaragua|website=World Bank|access-date=October 27, 2017|language=en|date=October 25, 2013}}</ref> Nicaragua was one of the few countries that did not enter an [[Intended Nationally Determined Contributions|INDC]] at [[COP21]].<ref>{{cite web|url=https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-12-08/after-two-decades-of-stumbles-carbon-market-pioneers-revving-up#media-2|title=Carbon Markets Are Making a Slow, But Steady, Comeback|first1=Alex |last1=Nussbaum|first2=Ewa |last2=Krukowska|first3=Mathew |last3=Carr|date=8 December 2015|work=Bloomberg.com|access-date=17 February 2016}}</ref><ref>{{cite web|url=http://www4.unfccc.int/submissions/indc/Submission%20Pages/submissions.aspx|title=INDCs as communicated by Parties|publisher=unfccc.int}}</ref> Nicaragua initially chose not to join the Paris Climate Accord because it felt that "much more action is required" by individual countries on restricting global temperature rise.<ref name="bbc" /> However, in October 2017, Nicaragua made the decision to join the agreement.<ref>{{cite news|title=Nicaragua to join Paris climate accord, leaving US and Syria isolated|url=https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/oct/23/nicaragua-joins-paris-climate-accord-us-trump-syria|access-date=December 4, 2017|work=The Guardian|date=October 23, 2017}}</ref><ref>{{cite news|last1=Stack|first1=Liam|title=Only U.S. and Syria Now Oppose Paris Climate Deal, as Nicaragua Joins|url=https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/24/world/americas/nicaragua-paris-climate-agreement-us.html|access-date=December 4, 2017|work=The New York Times|date=October 24, 2017}}</ref><ref>{{cite news|last1=Noack|first1=Rick|title=Being outside the Paris climate deal: Something now only the U.S. and Syria agree on|url=https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/10/24/not-being-part-of-the-paris-climate-deal-something-only-the-u-s-and-syria-agree-on/|access-date=December 4, 2017|work=[[The Washington Post]]|date=October 24, 2017}}</ref> It ratified this agreement on November 22, 2017.<ref>{{cite web|title=Paris Agreement – Status of Ratification|url=http://unfccc.int/paris_agreement/items/9444.php|publisher=United Nations|access-date=13 January 2018}}</ref>
 
Nearly one fifth of Nicaragua is designated as [[Protected areas of Nicaragua|protected areas]] like national parks, nature reserves, and biological reserves. The country had a 2019 [[Forest Landscape Integrity Index]] mean score of 3.63/10, ranking it 146<sup>th</sup> globally out of 172 countries.<ref name="FLII-Supplementary">{{cite journal|last1=Grantham|first1=H. S.|last2=Duncan|first2=A.|last3=Evans|first3=T. D.|last4=Jones|first4=K. R.|last5=Beyer|first5=H. L.|last6=Schuster|first6=R.|last7=Walston|first7=J.|last8=Ray|first8=J. C.|last9=Robinson|first9=J. G.|last10=Callow|first10=M.|last11=Clements|first11=T.|last12=Costa|first12=H. M.|last13=DeGemmis|first13=A.|last14=Elsen|first14=P. R.|last15=Ervin|first15=J.|last16=Franco|first16=P.|last17=Goldman|first17=E.|last18=Goetz|first18=S.|last19=Hansen|first19=A.|last20=Hofsvang|first20=E.|last21=Jantz|first21=P.|last22=Jupiter|first22=S.|last23=Kang|first23=A.|last24=Langhammer|first24=P.|last25=Laurance|first25=W. F.|last26=Lieberman|first26=S.|last27=Linkie|first27=M.|last28=Malhi|first28=Y.|last29=Maxwell|first29=S.|last30=Mendez|first30=M.|last31=Mittermeier|first31=R.|last32=Murray|first32=N. J.|last33=Possingham|first33=H.|last34=Radachowsky|first34=J.|last35=Saatchi|first35=S.|last36=Samper|first36=C.|last37=Silverman|first37=J.|last38=Shapiro|first38=A.|last39=Strassburg|first39=B.|last40=Stevens|first40=T.|last41=Stokes|first41=E.|last42=Taylor|first42=R.|last43=Tear|first43=T.|last44=Tizard|first44=R.|last45=Venter|first45=O.|last46=Visconti|first46=P.|last47=Wang|first47=S.|last48=Watson|first48=J. E. M.|display-authors=1|title=Anthropogenic modification of forests means only 40% of remaining forests have high ecosystem integrity - Supplementary Material|journal=Nature Communications|volume=11|issue=1|year=2020|page=5978|issn=2041-1723|doi=10.1038/s41467-020-19493-3|pmid=33293507|pmc=7723057|doi-access=free}}</ref> [[Geophysical]]ly, Nicaragua is surrounded by the [[Caribbean Plate]], an [[oceanic crust|oceanic]] [[tectonic plate]] underlying Central America and the [[Cocos Plate]]. Since Central America is a major [[subduction]] zone, Nicaragua hosts most of the [[Central American Volcanic Arc]].
 
The [[bull shark]] is a species of shark that can survive for an extended period of time in fresh water. It can be found in [[Lake Nicaragua]] and the [[San Juan River (Nicaragua)|San Juan River]], where it is often referred to as the "Nicaragua shark".<ref>{{cite web|url=http://www.nature.org/wherewework/centralamerica/nicaragua/|title=Nicaragua|publisher=The Nature Conservancy|access-date=17 February 2016|archive-url=https://web.archive.org/web/20070405074947/http://www.nature.org/wherewework/centralamerica/nicaragua/|archive-date=5 April 2007|url-status=dead|df=dmy-all}}</ref> Nicaragua has recently banned freshwater fishing of the Nicaragua shark and the [[sawfish]] in response to the declining populations of these animals.<ref>{{cite web|url=http://www.underwatertimes.com/news.php?article_id=05437210968|title=Nicaragua bans freshwater shark fishing amid dwindling population numbers|work=UnderwaterTimes.com|access-date=17 February 2016}}</ref>
 
=== Climate change ===
Nicaragua was one of the few countries that did not enter an [[Intended Nationally Determined Contributions|INDC]] at [[COP21]].<ref>{{cite web|url=https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-12-08/after-two-decades-of-stumbles-carbon-market-pioneers-revving-up#media-2|title=Carbon Markets Are Making a Slow, But Steady, Comeback|first1=Alex |last1=Nussbaum|first2=Ewa |last2=Krukowska|first3=Mathew |last3=Carr|date=8 December 2015|work=Bloomberg.com|access-date=17 February 2016}}</ref><ref>{{cite web|url=http://www4.unfccc.int/submissions/indc/Submission%20Pages/submissions.aspx|title=INDCs as communicated by Parties|publisher=unfccc.int}}</ref> Nicaragua initially chose not to join the Paris Climate Accord because it felt that "much more action is required" by individual countries on restricting global temperature rise.<ref name="bbc" /> However, in October 2017, Nicaragua made the decision to join the agreement.<ref>{{cite news|title=Nicaragua to join Paris climate accord, leaving US and Syria isolated|url=https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/oct/23/nicaragua-joins-paris-climate-accord-us-trump-syria|access-date=December 4, 2017|work=The Guardian|date=October 23, 2017}}</ref><ref>{{cite news|last1=Stack|first1=Liam|title=Only U.S. and Syria Now Oppose Paris Climate Deal, as Nicaragua Joins|url=https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/24/world/americas/nicaragua-paris-climate-agreement-us.html|access-date=December 4, 2017|work=The New York Times|date=October 24, 2017}}</ref><ref>{{cite news|last1=Noack|first1=Rick|title=Being outside the Paris climate deal: Something now only the U.S. and Syria agree on|url=https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/10/24/not-being-part-of-the-paris-climate-deal-something-only-the-u-s-and-syria-agree-on/|access-date=December 4, 2017|work=[[The Washington Post]]|date=October 24, 2017}}</ref> It ratified this agreement on November 22, 2017.<ref>{{cite web|title=Paris Agreement – Status of Ratification|url=http://unfccc.int/paris_agreement/items/9444.php|publisher=United Nations|access-date=13 January 2018}}</ref>
 
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