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  • Introduction :: NICARAGUA

  • The Pacific coast of Nicaragua was settled as a Spanish colony from Panama in the early 16th century. Independence from Spain was declared in 1821 and the country became an independent republic in 1838. Britain occupied the Caribbean Coast in the first half of the 19th century, but gradually ceded control of the region in subsequent decades. Violent opposition to governmental manipulation and corruption spread to all classes by 1978 and resulted in a short-lived civil war that brought the Marxist Sandinista guerrillas to power in 1979. Nicaraguan aid to leftist rebels in El Salvador caused the US to sponsor anti-Sandinista contra guerrillas through much of the 1980s. After losing free and fair elections in 1990, 1996, and 2001, former Sandinista President Daniel ORTEGA Saavedra was elected president in 2006 and reelected in 2011. The 2008 municipal elections, 2010 regional elections, 2011 presidential elections, 2012 municipal elections, and 2013 regional elections were marred by widespread irregularities. Nicaragua's infrastructure and economy - hard hit by the earlier civil war and by Hurricane Mitch in 1998 - are slowly being rebuilt, but democratic institutions have been weakened under the ORTEGA administration.
  • Geography :: NICARAGUA

  • Central America, bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean, between Costa Rica and Honduras
    13 00 N, 85 00 W
    Central America and the Caribbean
    total: 130,370 sq km
    land: 119,990 sq km
    water: 10,380 sq km
    slightly larger than Pennsylvania; slightly smaller than New York state
    Area comparison map:
    total: 1,253 km
    border countries (2): Costa Rica 313 km, Honduras 940 km
    910 km
    territorial sea: 12 nm
    contiguous zone: 24 nm
    continental shelf: natural prolongation
    tropical in lowlands, cooler in highlands
    extensive Atlantic coastal plains rising to central interior mountains; narrow Pacific coastal plain interrupted by volcanoes
    lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
    highest point: Mogoton 2,438 m
    gold, silver, copper, tungsten, lead, zinc, timber, fish
    agricultural land: 42.2%
    arable land 12.5%; permanent crops 2.5%; permanent pasture 27.2%
    forest: 25.3%
    other: 32.5% (2011 est.)
    942.4 sq km (2003)
    196.6 cu km (2011)
    total: 1.39 cu km/yr (23%/4%/73%)
    per capita: 265.9 cu m/yr (2008)
    destructive earthquakes; volcanoes; landslides; extremely susceptible to hurricanes
    volcanism: significant volcanic activity; Cerro Negro (elev. 728 m), which last erupted in 1999, is one of Nicaragua's most active volcanoes; its lava flows and ash have been known to cause significant damage to farmland and buildings; other historically active volcanoes include Concepcion, Cosiguina, Las Pilas, Masaya, Momotombo, San Cristobal, and Telica
    deforestation; soil erosion; water pollution
    party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling
    signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
    largest country in Central America; contains the largest freshwater body in Central America, Lago de Nicaragua
  • People and Society :: NICARAGUA

  • noun: Nicaraguan(s)
    adjective: Nicaraguan
    mestizo (mixed Amerindian and white) 69%, white 17%, black 9%, Amerindian 5%
    Spanish (official) 95.3%, Miskito 2.2%, Mestizo of the Caribbean coast 2%, other 0.5%
    note: English and indigenous languages found on the Caribbean coast (2005 est.)
    Roman Catholic 58.5%, Protestant 23.2% (Evangelical 21.6%, Moravian 1.6%), Jehovah's Witnesses 0.9%, other 1.6%, none 15.7% (2005 est.)
    Despite being one of the poorest countries in Latin America, Nicaragua has improved its access to potable water and sanitation and has ameliorated its life expectancy, infant and child mortality, and immunization rates. However, income distribution is very uneven, and the poor, agriculturalists, and indigenous people continue to have less access to healthcare services. Nicaragua's total fertility rate has fallen from around 6 children per woman in 1980 to just above replacement level today, but the high birth rate among adolescents perpetuates a cycle of poverty and low educational attainment.
    Nicaraguans emigrate primarily to Costa Rica and to a lesser extent the United States. Nicaraguan men have been migrating seasonally to Costa Rica to harvest bananas and coffee since the early 20th century. Political turmoil, civil war, and natural disasters from the 1970s through the 1990s dramatically increased the flow of refugees and permanent migrants seeking jobs, higher wages, and better social and healthcare benefits. Since 2000, Nicaraguan emigration to Costa Rica has slowed and stabilized. Today roughly 300,000 Nicaraguans are permanent residents of Costa Rica - about 75% of the foreign population - and thousands more migrate seasonally for work, many illegally.
    5,848,641 (July 2014 est.)
    0-14 years: 29.3% (male 873,545/female 839,853)
    15-24 years: 22.4% (male 657,076/female 652,856)
    25-54 years: 38% (male 1,051,656/female 1,173,084)
    55-64 years: 5.4% (male 147,405/female 169,618)
    65 years and over: 4.8% (male 127,699/female 155,849) (2014 est.)
    population pyramid:
    total dependency ratio: 58.8%
    youth dependency ratio: 51.4%
    elderly dependency ratio: 7.4%
    potential support ratio: 13.4% (2014 est.)
    total: 24.2 years
    male: 23.3 years
    female: 25.1 years (2014 est.)
    1.02% (2014 est.)
    18.41 births/1,000 population (2014 est.)
    5.07 deaths/1,000 population (2014 est.)
    -3.13 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2014 est.)
    urban population: 58.5% of total population (2014)
    rate of urbanization: 1.96% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
    MANAGUA (capital) 951,000 (2014)
    at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
    0-14 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
    15-24 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
    25-54 years: 0.9 male(s)/female
    55-64 years: 0.96 male(s)/female
    65 years and over: 0.83 male(s)/female
    total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (2014 est.)
    note: median age at first birth among women 20-24 (2006/07 est.)
    100 deaths/100,000 live births (2013 est.)
    total: 20.36 deaths/1,000 live births
    male: 23.36 deaths/1,000 live births
    female: 17.2 deaths/1,000 live births (2014 est.)
    total population: 72.72 years
    male: 70.57 years
    female: 74.98 years (2014 est.)
    1.99 children born/woman (2014 est.)
    80.4% (2011/12)
    8.4% of GDP (2013)
    0.9 physicians/1,000 population (2014)
    0.9 beds/1,000 population (2012)
    urban: 97.6% of population
    rural: 67.8% of population
    total: 85% of population
    urban: 2.4% of population
    rural: 32.2% of population
    total: 15% of population (2012 est.)
    urban: 63.2% of population
    rural: 37% of population
    total: 52.1% of population
    urban: 36.8% of population
    rural: 63% of population
    total: 47.9% of population (2012 est.)
    0.19% (2013 est.)
    6,600 (2013 est.)
    100 (2013 est.)
    degree of risk: high
    food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
    vectorborne disease: dengue fever and malaria (2013)
    15.5% (2014)
    5.7% (2007)
    4.4% of GDP (2010)
    definition: age 15 and over can read and write
    total population: 82.8%
    male: 82.4%
    female: 83.2% (2015 est.)
    total number: 223,992
    percentage: 14%
    note: data represents children ages 5-17 (2005 est.)
    total: 8.6%
    male: 8.1%
    female: 9.7% (2006 est.)
  • Government :: NICARAGUA

  • conventional long form: Republic of Nicaragua
    conventional short form: Nicaragua
    local long form: Republica de Nicaragua
    local short form: Nicaragua
    name: Managua
    geographic coordinates: 12 08 N, 86 15 W
    time difference: UTC-6 (1 hour behind Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
    15 departments (departamentos, singular - departamento) and 2 autonomous regions* (regiones autonomistas, singular - region autonoma); Atlantico Norte*, Atlantico Sur*, Boaco, Carazo, Chinandega, Chontales, Esteli, Granada, Jinotega, Leon, Madriz, Managua, Masaya, Matagalpa, Nueva Segovia, Rio San Juan, Rivas
    15 September 1821 (from Spain)
    Independence Day, 15 September (1821)
    several previous; latest adopted 19 November 1986, effective 9 January 1987; amended several times, last in 2014 (2014)
    civil law system; Supreme Court may review administrative acts
    accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; non-party state to the ICCt
    16 years of age; universal
    chief of state: President Jose Daniel ORTEGA Saavedra (since 10 January 2007); Vice President Moises Omar HALLESLEVENS Acevedo (since 10 January 2012); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government
    head of government: President Jose Daniel ORTEGA Saavedra (since 10 January 2007); Vice President Moises Omar HALLESLEVENS Acevedo (since 10 January 2012)
    cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president
    elections: president and vice president elected on the same ticket by popular vote for a five-year term; election last held on 6 November 2011 (next to be held by November 2016)
    election results: Jose Daniel ORTEGA Saavedra reelected president; percent of vote - Jose Daniel ORTEGA Saavedra 62.5%, Fabio GADEA 31%, Arnoldo ALEMAN 5.9%, other 0.6%
    description: unicameral National Assembly or Asamblea Nacional (92 seats; 70 members in multi-seat constituencies and 20 members in a single nationwide constituency directly elected by proportional representation vote; 2 seats reserved for the previous president and the runner-up candidate in the previous presidential election; members serve 5-year terms;)
    elections: last held on 6 November 2011 (next to be held by November 2016)
    election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - FSLN 62, PLI/MRS 26, PLC 2
    highest court(s): Supreme Court or Corte Suprema de Justicia (consists of 16 judges organized into administrative, civil, criminal, and constitutional chambers)
    judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court judges elected by the National Assembly to serve 5-year staggered terms
    subordinate courts: Appeals Court; first instance civil, criminal, and military courts
    Alliance for the Republic or APRE [Carlos CANALES]
    Conservative Party or PC [Alejandro BOLANOS Davis]
    Independent Liberal Party or PLI [Indalecio RODRIGUEZ]
    Liberal Constitutionalist Party or PLC [Maria Haydee OSUNA]
    Nicaraguan Liberal Alliance or ALN [Alejandro MEJIA Ferreti]
    Sandinista National Liberation Front or FSLN [Jose Daniel ORTEGA Saavedra]
    Sandinista Renovation Movement or MRS [Ana Margarita VIJIL]
    National Workers Front or FNT (a Sandinista umbrella group of eight labor unions including: Farm Workers Association or ATC, Health Workers Federation or FETASALUD, Heroes and Martyrs Confederation of Professional Associations or CONAPRO, National Association of Educators of Nicaragua or ANDEN, National Union of Employees or UNE, National Union of Farmers and Ranchers or UNAG, Sandinista Workers Central or CST, and Union of Journalists of Nicaragua or UPN)
    Nicaraguan Workers' Central or CTN (an independent labor union)
    Permanent Congress of Workers or CPT (an umbrella group of four non-Sandinista labor unions including: Autonomous Nicaraguan Workers Central or CTN-A, Confederation of Labor Unification or CUS, Independent General Confederation of Labor or CGT-I, and Labor Action and Unity Central or CAUS)
    Superior Council of Private Enterprise or COSEP (a confederation of business groups)
    chief of mission: Ambassador Francisco Obadiah CAMPBELL Hooker (since 23 June 2010)
    chancery: 1627 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20009
    telephone: [1] (202) 939-6570, 6573
    FAX: [1] (202) 939-6545
    consulate(s) general: Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco
    chief of mission: Ambassador Phyllis M. POWERS (since 24 April 2012)
    embassy: Kilometer 5.5 Carretera Sur, Managua
    mailing address: American Embassy Managua, APO AA 34021
    telephone: [505] 2252-7100, 2252-7888; 2252-7634 (after hours)
    FAX: [505] 2252-7250
    three equal horizontal bands of blue (top), white, and blue with the national coat of arms centered in the white band; the coat of arms features a triangle encircled by the words REPUBLICA DE NICARAGUA on the top and AMERICA CENTRAL on the bottom; the banner is based on the former blue-white-blue flag of the Federal Republic of Central America; the blue bands symbolize the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, while the white band represents the land between the two bodies of water
    note: similar to the flag of El Salvador, which features a round emblem encircled by the words REPUBLICA DE EL SALVADOR EN LA AMERICA CENTRAL centered in the white band; also similar to the flag of Honduras, which has five blue stars arranged in an X pattern centered in the white band
    turquoise-browed motmot (bird); national colors: blue, white
    name: "Salve a ti, Nicaragua" (Hail to Thee, Nicaragua)
    lyrics/music: Salomon Ibarra MAYORGA/traditional, arranged by Luis Abraham DELGADILLO
    note: although only officially adopted in 1971, the music was approved in 1918 and the lyrics in 1939; the tune, originally from Spain, was used as an anthem for Nicaragua from the 1830s until 1876
  • Economy :: NICARAGUA

  • Nicaragua, the poorest country in Central America and the second poorest in the Western Hemisphere, has widespread underemployment and poverty. The Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) has been in effect since April 2006 and has expanded export opportunities for many agricultural and manufactured goods. Textiles and agriculture combined account for nearly 50% of Nicaragua's exports. In 2013, the government granted a 50-year concession to a newly formed Chinese-run company to finance and build an inter-oceanic canal and related projects, at an estimated cost of $50 billion. The economy grew 4.7% in 2014, despite a steep decline in coffee export revenues due to a coffee rust fungus.
    $30.05 billion (2014 est.)
    $28.7 billion (2013 est.)
    $27.44 billion (2012 est.)
    note: data are in 2014 US dollars
    $11.85 billion (2014 est.)
    4.7% (2014 est.)
    4.6% (2013 est.)
    5% (2012 est.)
    $4,800 (2014 est.)
    $4,700 (2013 est.)
    $4,500 (2012 est.)
    note: data are in 2013 US dollars
    country comparison to the world: 172
    7.7% of GDP (2014 est.)
    9.1% of GDP (2013 est.)
    10.6% of GDP (2012 est.)
    household consumption: 84.4%
    government consumption: 5.6%
    investment in fixed capital: 21%
    investment in inventories: -0.1%
    exports of goods and services: 41%
    imports of goods and services: -51.9%
    (2014 est.)
    agriculture: 14.9%
    industry: 28.8%
    services: 56.4% (2014 est.)
    coffee, bananas, sugarcane, rice, corn, tobacco, sesame, soya, beans; beef, veal, pork, poultry, dairy products; shrimp, lobsters, cotton
    food processing, chemicals, machinery and metal products, knit and woven apparel, petroleum refining and distribution, beverages, footwear, wood, electric wire harness manufacturing, mining
    9% (2014 est.)
    2.953 million (2014 est.)
    agriculture: 31%
    industry: 18%
    services: 50% (2011 est.)
    7.4% (2014 est.)
    6.1% (2013 est.)
    note: underemployment was 46.5% in 2008
    42.5% (2009)
    lowest 10%: 1.4%
    highest 10%: 41.8% (2005)
    40.5 (2010)
    60.3 (1998)
    revenues: $2.903 billion
    expenditures: $3.131 billion (2014 est.)
    24.5% of GDP (2014 est.)
    -1.9% of GDP (2014 est.)
    40.6% of GDP (2014 est.)
    41.8% of GDP (2013 est.)
    note: official data; data cover general Government Debt, and includes debt instruments issued (or owned) by Government entities other than the treasury; the data include treasury debt held by foreign entities, as well as intra-governmental debt; intra-governmental debt consists of treasury borrowings from surpluses in the social funds, such as retirement, medical care, and unemployment, debt instruments for the social funds are not sold at public auctions; Nicaragua rebased its GDP figures in 2012, which reduced the figures for debt as a percentage of GDP
    calendar year
    6.1% (2014 est.)
    7.1% (2013 est.)
    3% (31 December 2010)
    14.8% (31 December 2014 est.)
    14.98% (31 December 2013 est.)
    $919.6 million (31 December 2014 est.)
    $846.7 million (31 December 2013 est.)
    $4.453 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
    $4.136 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    $5.215 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
    $4.977 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
    $-1.378 billion (2014 est.)
    $-1.263 billion (2013 est.)
    $3.997 billion (2014 est.)
    $4.123 billion (2013 est.)
    coffee, beef, gold, sugar, peanuts, shrimp and lobster, tobacco, cigars, automobile wiring harnesses, textiles, apparel, cotton
    US 50.1%, Mexico 12.2%, Canada 7.6%, Venezuela 7.4% (2013)
    $6.43 billion (2014 est.)
    $6.402 billion (2013 est.)
    consumer goods, machinery and equipment, raw materials, petroleum products
    US 17.6%, Venezuela 14.7%, Mexico 13%, Costa Rica 8.8%, China 8.7%, Guatemala 8.3%, El Salvador 5.6% (2013)
    $2.08 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
    $1.993 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
    $10.25 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
    $9.709 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
    cordobas (NIO) per US dollar -
    26.01 (2014 est.)
    24.72 (2013 est.)
    23.55 (2012 est.)
    22.42 (2011 est.)
    21.36 (2010 est.)
  • Energy :: NICARAGUA

  • 4.159 billion kWh (2013 est.)
    2.777 billion kWh (2011 est.)
    16.23 million kWh (2013 est.)
    51.97 million kWh (2013 est.)
    1.275 million kW (2013 est.)
    57.6% of total installed capacity (2013 est.)
    0% of total installed capacity (2013 est.)
    8.3% of total installed capacity (2013 est.)
    34.1% of total installed capacity (2013 est.)
    200 bbl/day (2013 est.)
    0 bbl/day (2011 est.)
    12,910 bbl/day (2013 est.)
    0 bbl (1 January 2014 est.)
    15,870 bbl/day (2010 est.)
    34,070 bbl/day (2013 est.)
    1,000 bbl/day (2011 est.)
    15,830 bbl/day (2011 est.)
    0 cu m (2013 est.)
    0 cu m (2012 est.)
    0 cu m (2012 est.)
    0 cu m (2012 est.)
    0 cu m (1 January 2014 est.)
    5.285 million Mt (2012 est.)
  • Communications :: NICARAGUA

  • 320,000 (2012)
    5.346 million (2012)
    general assessment: system being upgraded by foreign investment; nearly all installed telecommunications capacity now uses digital technology, owing to investments since privatization of the formerly state-owned telecommunications company
    domestic: since privatization, access to fixed-line and mobile-cellular services has improved; fixed-line teledensity roughly 5 per 100 persons; mobile-cellular telephone subscribership has increased to roughly 85 per 100 persons
    international: country code - 505; the Americas Region Caribbean Ring System (ARCOS-1) fiber optic submarine cable provides connectivity to South and Central America, parts of the Caribbean, and the US; satellite earth stations - 1 Intersputnik (Atlantic Ocean region) and 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2011)
    multiple privately owned terrestrial TV networks, supplemented by cable TV in most urban areas; of more than 100 radio stations, nearly all are privately owned; Radio Nicaragua is government-owned and Radio Sandino is controlled by the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) (2007)
    AM 63, FM 32, shortwave 1 (1998)
    16 (2009)
    296,068 (2012)
    199,800 (2009)
  • Transportation :: NICARAGUA

  • 147 (2013)
    total: 12
    2,438 to 3,047 m: 3
    1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
    914 to 1,523 m: 3
    under 914 m: 4 (2013)
    total: 135
    1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
    914 to 1,523 m: 15
    under 914 m:
    119 (2013)
    oil 54 km (2013)
    total: 23,897 km
    paved: 3,282 km
    unpaved: 20,615 km (2012)
    2,220 km (navigable waterways as well as the use of the large Lake Managua and Lake Nicaragua; rivers serve only the sparsely populated eastern part of the country) (2011)
    major seaport(s): Bluefields, Corinto
  • Military :: NICARAGUA

  • National Army of Nicaragua (Ejercito Nacional de Nicaragua, ENN; includes Navy, Air Force) (2013)
    18-30 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription; tour of duty 18-36 months; requires Nicaraguan nationality and 6th-grade education (2012)
    males age 16-49: 1,452,107
    females age 16-49: 1,552,698 (2010 est.)
    males age 16-49: 1,227,757
    females age 16-49: 1,335,653 (2010 est.)
    male: 69,093
    female: 67,522 (2010 est.)
    0.63% of GDP (2012)
    0.53% of GDP (2011)
    0.63% of GDP (2010)
  • Transnational Issues :: NICARAGUA

  • the 1992 (International Court of Justice) ICJ ruling for El Salvador and Honduras advised a tripartite resolution to establish a maritime boundary in the Gulf of Fonseca, which considers Honduran access to the Pacific; Nicaragua and Costa Rica regularly file border dispute cases over the delimitations of the San Juan River and the northern tip of Calero Island to the ICJ; in 2009, the ICJ ruled that Costa Rican vessels carrying out police activities could not use the river, but official Costa Rican vessels providing essential services to riverside inhabitants and Costa Rican tourists could travel freely on the river; in 2011, the ICJ provisionally ruled that both countries must remove personnel from the disputed area; in 2013, the ICJ rejected Nicaragua's 2012 suit to halt Costa Rica's construction of a highway paralleling the river on the grounds of irreparable environmental damage; in 2013, the ICJ, regarding the disputed territory, ordered that Nicaragua should refrain from dredging or canal construction and refill and repair damage caused by trenches connecting the river to the Caribbean and upheld its 2010 ruling that Nicaragua must remove all personnel; in early 2014, Costa Rica brought Nicaragua to the ICJ over offshore oil concessions in the disputed region
    transshipment point for cocaine destined for the US and transshipment point for arms-for-drugs dealing