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the people constituting the bulk of the population (about 85 percent) of the Republic of Nicaragua and numbering about 1.7 million persons (1972, estimate). They speak Spanish. The majority are Roman Catholics, and the remainder are Protestants. Most Nicaraguans are mestizos (ladinos)—descendants of Spanish settlers from the 16th through the 20th centuries who intermarried with the indigenous Indians (Miskito, Sumu, and other tribes) and with the Negroes who came to Nicaragua as fugitive slaves in the 17th century. The Nicaraguans also include Creoles and descendants of immigrants from the USA and various European countries. Most Nicaraguans live along the Pacific coast. Their principal occupations are farming (corn, rice, beans, sorghum, and bananas), animal husbandry, fishing, plantation work (cotton, coffee, and bananas), and, to a lesser extent, industrial work. (For the history, economy, and culture of the Nicaraguans, see.)