The country in which the Nicaraguan National Literacy Crusade took place is a small Central American nation of considerable economic potential, the approximate size of the state of Iowa. Some 57,000 square miles in area, Nicaragua is an agricultural nation of great diversity, producing coffee, cotton, lumber, cattle, and basic grains such as com, rice, and beans. Part of the "chain of fire" that extends from South America to Alaska, Nicaragua is divided by an impressive range of active volcanoes, which, over time, have enriched the soil base and productivity of the western section of the country. For that reason, agronomists refer to the land as the future food basket of Central America, and geologists praise its geothermal potential for electricity, but these positive aspects have their negative side. Severe earthquakes are common to Nicaragua. Managua, the capital city, has been destroyed twice in the last century, the most recent quake occurring in 1972 and killing some 10,000 to 15,000 people.