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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.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.HistorySomoto was settled by Olmec and Aztec peoples from Mexico, and subsequently inhabited by Chorotegas and Nicaraguas. 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.Explore the family-friendly attractions of Somoto and add them to your vacation plans using our Nicaragua tour planner.
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