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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. Free elections in 1990, 1996, and 2001, saw the Sandinistas defeated, but voting in 2006 announced the return of former Sandinista President Daniel ORTEGA Saavedra. Nicaraguas infrastructure and economy - hard hit by the earlier civil war and by Hurricane Mitch in 1998 - are slowly being rebuilt.

Location - Nicaragua:


Central America, bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean, between Costa Rica and Honduras

Geographic coordinates

13 00 N, 85 00 W

Map references

Central America and the Caribbean


total: 129,494 sq km
land: 120,254 sq km
water: 9,240 sq km

Area comparative

slightly smaller than the state of New York

Land boundaries

total: 1,231 km
border countries: Costa Rica 309 km, Honduras 922 km


910 km

Maritime claims

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

Elevation extremes

lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mogoton 2,438 m

Natural resources

gold, silver, copper, tungsten, lead, zinc, timber, fish

Land use

arable land: 14.81%
permanent crops: 1.82%
other: 83.37% (2005)

Irrigated land

610 sq km (2003)

Natural hazards

destructive earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides; extremely susceptible to hurricanes

Environment current issues

deforestation; soil erosion; water pollution

Environment international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification

Geography note

largest country in Central America; contains the largest freshwater body in Central America, Lago de Nicaragua

People - Nicaragua:


5,675,356 (July 2007 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 35.5% (male 1,025,426/female 988,148)
15-64 years: 61.3% (male 1,734,153/female 1,746,574)
65 years and over: 3.2% (male 79,589/female 101,466) (2007 est.)

Median age

total: 21.3 years
male: 20.9 years
female: 21.7 years (2007 est.)

Population growth rate

1.855% (2007 est.)

Birth rate

24.12 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)

Death rate

4.42 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)

Net migration rate

-1.15 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.038 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.993 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.784 male(s)/female
total population: 1.001 male(s)/female (2007 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 27.14 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 30.45 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 23.67 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 70.92 years
male: 68.82 years
female: 73.13 years (2007 est.)

Total fertility rate

2.69 children born/woman (2007 est.)

Hiv aids adult prevalence rate

0.2% (2003 est.)

Hiv aids people living with hiv aids

6,400 (2003 est.)

Hiv aids deaths

less than 500 (2003 est.)


noun: Nicaraguan(s)
adjective: Nicaraguan

Ethnic groups

mestizo (mixed Amerindian and white) 69%, white 17%, black 9%, Amerindian 5%


Roman Catholic 72.9%, Evangelical 15.1%, Moravian 1.5%, Episcopal 0.1%, other 1.9%, none 8.5% (1995 census)


Spanish 97.5% (official), Miskito 1.7%, other 0.8% (1995 census)
note: English and indigenous languages on Atlantic coast


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 67.5%
male: 67.2%
female: 67.8% (2003 est.)

Government - Nicaragua:

Country name

conventional long form: Republic of Nicaragua
conventional short form: Nicaragua
local long form: Republica de Nicaragua
local short form: Nicaragua

Government type



name: Managua
geographic coordinates: 12 09 N, 86 17 W
time difference: UTC-6 (1 hour behind Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Administrative divisions

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)

National holiday

Independence Day, 15 September (1821)


9 January 1987; reforms in 1995, 2000, and 2005

Legal system

civil law system; Supreme Court may review administrative acts; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction


16 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Daniel ORTEGA Saavedra (since 10 January 2007); Vice President Jaime MORALES Carazo (since 10 January 2007); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Daniel ORTEGA Saavedra (since 10 January 2007); Vice President Jaime MORALES Carazo (since 10 January 2007)
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 (eligible for a second term so long as it is not consecutive); election last held 5 November 2006 (next to be held by November 2011)
election results: Daniel ORTEGA Saavedra elected president - 38.07%, Eduardo MONTEALEGRE 29%, Jose RIZO 26.21%, Edmundo JARQUIN 6.44%

Legislative branch

unicameral National Assembly or Asamblea Nacional (92 seats; 90 members are elected by proportional representation and party lists to serve five-year terms; 1 seat for the previous president, 1 seat for the runner-up in previous presidential election)
elections: last held 5 November 2006 (next to be held by November 2011)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - FSLN 38, PLC 25, ALN 23 (22 plus one for presidential candidate Eduardo MONTEALEGRE, runner-up in the 2006 presidential election), MRS 5, APRE 1 (outgoing President Enrique BOLANOS)

Judicial branch

Supreme Court or Corte Suprema (16 judges elected for five-year terms by the National Assembly)

Political parties and leaders

Alliance for the Republic or APRE [Miguel LOPEZ Baldizon]; Central American Unionist Party or PUCA [Blanca ROJAS]; Christian Alternative Party or AC [Orlando TARDENCILLA Espinoza]; Conservative Party or PC [Azalia AVILES Salmeron]; Independent Liberal Party or PLI [Anibal MARTINEZ Nunez, Pedro REYES Vallejos]; Independent Liberal Party for National Unity or PLIUN [Carlos GUERRA Gallardo]; Liberal Constitutional Party or PLC [Jorge CASTILLO Quant]; Liberal Salvation Movement or MSL [Eliseo NUNEZ Hernandez]; New Liberal Party or PALI [Adolfo GARCIA Esquivel]; Nicaraguan Liberal Alliance or ALN [Eduardo MONTEALEGRE]; Nicaraguan Party of the Christian Path or PCCN [Guillermo OSORNO Molina]; Nicaraguan Resistance Party or PRN [Salvador TALAVERA]; Sandinista National Liberation Front or FSLN [Daniel ORTEGA Saavedra]; Sandinista Renovation Movement or MRS [Dora Maria TELLEZ]; Unity Alliance or AU

Political pressure groups and leaders

National Workers Front or FNT is 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; Permanent Congress of Workers or CPT is 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; Nicaraguan Workers Central or CTN is an independent labor union; Superior Council of Private Enterprise or COSEP is a confederation of business groups

International organization participation


Diplomatic representation in the us

chief of mission: Ambassador Arturo CRUZ Sequeira, Jr.
chancery: 1627 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20009
telephone: [1] (202) 939-6570, [1] (202) 939-6573
FAX: [1] (202) 939-6545
consulate(s) general: Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco

Diplomatic representation from the us

chief of mission: Ambassador Paul A. TRIVELLI
embassy: Kilometer 4.5 Carretera Sur, Managua
mailing address: P.O. Box 327
telephone: [505] 266-6010
FAX: [505] 266-3861

Flag description

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; 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

Economy - Nicaragua:

Economy overview

Nicaragua has widespread underemployment and the third lowest per capita income in the Western Hemisphere. Distribution of income is one of the most unequal on the globe. While the country has progressed toward macroeconomic stability in the past few years, GDP annual growth has been far too low to meet the countrys needs, forcing the country to rely on international economic assistance to meet fiscal and debt financing obligations. Nicaragua qualified in early 2004 for some $4.5 billion in foreign debt reduction under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative and in November 2006 obtained over $800 million in debt relief from the Inter-American Development Bank. In October 2005, Nicaragua ratified the US-Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), which will provide an opportunity for Nicaragua to attract investment, create jobs, and deepen economic development. Energy shortages, however, are a serious bottleneck to growth.

Gdp purchasing power parity

$17.33 billion (2006 est.)

Gdp official exchange rate

$4.871 billion (2006 est.)

Gdp real growth rate

3.7% (2006 est.)

Gdp per capita ppp

$3,100 (2006 est.)

Gdp composition by sector

agriculture: 17.3%
industry: 25.8%
services: 56.8% (2006 est.)

Labor force

2.261 million (2006 est.)

Labor force by occupation

agriculture: 29%
industry: 19%
services: 52% (2006 est.)

Unemployment rate

3.8% plus underemployment of 46.5% (2006 est.)

Population below poverty line

48% (2005)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 1.2%
highest 10%: 45% (2001)

Distribution of family income gini index

55.1 (2001)

Inflation rate consumer prices

9.4% (2006 est.)

Investment gross fixed

29.8% of GDP (2006 est.)


revenues: $1.1 billion
expenditures: $1.3 billion; including capital expenditures of $NA (2006 est.)

Public debt

82.7% of GDP (2006 est.)

Agriculture products

coffee, bananas, sugarcane, cotton, rice, corn, tobacco, sesame, soya, beans; beef, veal, pork, poultry, dairy products; shrimp, lobsters


food processing, chemicals, machinery and metal products, textiles, clothing, petroleum refining and distribution, beverages, footwear, wood

Industrial production growth rate

2.4% (2005 est.)

Electricity production

2.778 billion kWh (2006)

Electricity consumption

2.929 billion kWh (2006)

Electricity exports

0 kWh (2006)

Electricity imports

69.34 million kWh (2006)

Oil production

14,300 bbl/day (2005 est.)

Oil consumption

25,200 bbl/day (2005 est.)

Oil exports

1,397 bbl/day (2004)

Oil imports

15,560 bbl/day (2005 est.)

Oil proved reserves

0 bbl

Natural gas production

0 cu m (2004 est.)

Natural gas consumption

0 cu m (2004 est.)

Current account balance

-$883 million (2006 est.)


$1.714 billion f.o.b.; note - includes free trade zones (2006 est.)

Exports commodities

coffee, beef, shrimp and lobster, tobacco, sugar, gold, peanuts

Exports partners

US 66.1%, El Salvador 7%, Honduras 3.9% (2006)


$3.202 billion f.o.b. (2006 est.)

Imports commodities

consumer goods, machinery and equipment, raw materials, petroleum products

Imports partners

US 22.6%, Venezuela 10.6%, Costa Rica 7.8%, Mexico 7.3%, Guatemala 6.1%, China 4.9%, El Salvador 4.4% (2006)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$903.5 million (January 2007 est.)

Debt external

$3.763 billion (2006 est.)

Economic aid recipient

$471 million (2006 est.)

Currency code

gold cordoba (NIO)

Exchange rates

gold cordobas per US dollar - 17.582 (2006), 16.733 (2005), 15.937 (2004), 15.105 (2003), 14.251 (2002)

Communications - Nicaragua:

Fiscal year

calendar year

Telephones main lines in use

247,900 (2006)

Telephones mobile cellular

1.83 million (2006)

Telephone system

general assessment: inadequate system being upgraded by foreign investment
domestic: low-capacity microwave radio relay and wire system being expanded; connected to Central American Microwave System
international: country code - 505; satellite earth stations - 1 Intersputnik (Atlantic Ocean region) and 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)

Radio broadcast stations

AM 63, FM 32, shortwave 1 (1998)

Television broadcast stations

3 (plus 7 repeaters) (1997)

Internet country code


Internet hosts

24,452 (2006)

Internet users

155,000 (2006)

Transportation - Nicaragua:


176 (2006)

Airports with paved runways

total: 11
2,438 to 3,047 m: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 3
under 914 m: 3 (2006)

Airports with unpaved runways

total: 165
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 23
under 914 m: 141 (2006)


oil 54 km (2006)


total: 6 km
narrow gauge: 6 km 1.067-m gauge (2006)


total: 19,036 km
paved: 2,299 km
unpaved: 16,737 km (2005)


2,220 km (including lakes Managua and Nicaragua) (2007)

Ports and terminals

Bluefields, Corinto, El Bluff

Military - Nicaragua:

Military branches

National Army of Nicaragua (ENN; includes Navy, Air Force) (2007)

Military service age and obligation

17 years of age for voluntary military service; tour of duty 18-36 months (2007)

Manpower available for military service

males age 17-49: 1,309,970
females age 17-49: 1,315,186 (2005 est.)

Manpower fit for military service

males age 17-49: 1,051,425
females age 17-49: 1,129,649 (2005 est.)

Manpower reaching military service age annually

males age 18-49: 65,170
females age 17-49: 63,133 (2005 est.)

Military expenditures percent of gdp

0.6% (2006)

Disputes international

memorials and countermemorials were filed by the parties in Nicaraguas 1999 and 2001 proceedings against Honduras and Colombia at the ICJ over the maritime boundary and territorial claims in the western Caribbean Sea, final public hearings are scheduled for 2007; the 1992 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; legal dispute over navigational rights of San Juan River on border with Costa Rica

This page was last updated on 16 September, 2007
Source: CIA >>>

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