Estelí, officially Villa de San Antonio de Pavia de Estelí is a city 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." Estelí is a fast growing and progressive city of about 119,000 people. It enjoys a pleasant climate throughout most of the year due to its location in the north central highlands. The city is 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 city was totally rebuilt but some structures still show bulletholes as a sad remainder of the destruction.