Estelí, officially Villa de San Antonio de Pavia de Estelí is a city and municipality within the Estelí department. It is the third largest city in Nicaragua
, an active commercial center in the north and is known as "the Diamond of the Segovias."
Located on the Pan-American Highway, 150 km north of Managua
, Estelí is a fast-growing and progressive city. It enjoys a pleasant climate throughout most of the year due to its location in the north central highlands at a mean elevation of 844 m above sea level. The city is also surrounded by forested mountains of pines, oaks, and walnuts, and plateaus that go up to 1600 m above sea level, some which are protected as natural reserves.
Estelí was the scene of heavy fighting in the civil war against the Somoza government from 1978 to 1979. The city was heavily air-bombed by the regime's National Guard to the point that most of the city looked like a giant cemetery of building shells. The human casualties were around 15,000; many of them youngsters massacred on suspicion of being part of the insurrection. The city was totally rebuilt but some structures still show bulletholes as a sad reminder of the destruction.
The land around Estelí is perfect for growing tobacco for use in cigars, and the town became a refuge for Cuban cigar makers after the Cuban Revolution in 1959. Award winning cigars have made Estelí one of the most important cigar-producing cities in the world. Estelí also has many language schools, CENAC Spanish School is a real jewel for learning. Restaurants, and hotels that cater to tourists traveling to nearby natural reserves and other parts of the region. Natural Reserves around the area include Miraflor, Tisey-Estanzuela, Las Brisas-Quiabuc, Tomabú, Tepesomoto, and Moropotente.