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Map of Nicaragua
Introduction Nicaragua
Pacific Coast of Nicaragua previously settled as a Spanish colony from Panama in early 16th century. Independence from Spain previously declared in 1821 and country became an independent republic in 1838. Britain occupied Caribbean Coast in first half of 19th century, but gradually ceded control of 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 Marxist Sandinista guerrillas to power in 1979. Nicaraguan aid to leftist rebels in El Salvador caused US to sponsor anti-Sandinista contra guerrillas through much of 1980s. Free elections in 1990, 1996, and again in 2001 saw Sandinistas defeated. country has slowly rebuilt its economy during 1990s, but previously hard hit by Hurricane Mitch in 1998.
Geography Nicaragua
Middle America, bordering both Caribbean Sea and North Pacific Ocean, between Costa Rica and Honduras
Geographic coordinates:
13 00 N, 85 00 W
Map references:
Central America and Caribbean
total: 129,494 sq km
water: 9,240 sq km
land: 120,254 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly smaller than state of New York
Land boundaries:
total: 1,231 km
border countries: Costa Rica 309 km, Honduras 922 km
910 km
Maritime claims:
continental shelf: natural prolongation
territorial sea: 200 NM
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: 20.24%
permanent crops: 2.38%
other: 77.38% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
880 sq km (1998 est.)
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 Sea, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification
Geography - note:
largest country in Central America; contains largest freshwater body in Central America, Lago de Nicaragua
People Nicaragua
Total Population:
5,128,517 (July 2003 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 37.7% (male 984,719; female 949,282)
15-64 years: 59.2% (male 1,510,352; female 1,527,991)
65 years and over: 3% (male 68,332; female 87,841) (2003 est.)
Median age:
total: 20.4 years
male: 20 years
female: 20.8 years (2002)
Population growth rate:
2.03% (2003 est.)
Birth rate:
26.29 births/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Death rate:
4.69 deaths/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Net migration rate:
-1.27 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.78 male(s)/female
Population: 1 male(s)/female (2003 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 31.39 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 27.51 deaths/1,000 live births (2003 est.)
male: 35.08 deaths/1,000 live births
Life Expectancy:
Population: 69.68 years
male: 67.68 years
female: 71.79 years (2003 est.)
Total fertility rate:
3 children born/woman (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.2% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
5,800 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
400 (2001 est.)
noun: Nicaraguan(s)
adjective: Nicaraguan
Ethnic groups:
mestizo (mixed Amerindian and white) 69%, white 17%, black 9%, Amerindian 5%
Roman Catholic 85%, Protestant
Spanish (official)
note: English and indigenous languages on Atlantic coast
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
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 short form: Nicaragua
local long form: Republica de Nicaragua
Government type:
Administrative divisions:
15 departments (departamentos, singular - departamento) and 2 autonomous regions* (regiones autonomistas, singular - region autonomista); 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, with reforms in 1995 and 2000
Legal system:
civil law system; Supreme Court may review administrative acts
16 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Enrique BOLANOS Geyer (since 10 January 2002); Vice President Jose RIZO Castellon (since 10 January 2002); note - president is both chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Enrique BOLANOS Geyer (since 10 January 2002); Vice President Jose RIZO Castellon (since 10 January 2002); note - president is both chief of state and head of government
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by president
elections: president and vice president elected on same ticket by popular vote for a five-year term; election last held 4 November 2001 (next to be held by November 2006)
election results: Enrique BOLANOS Geyer (PLC) elected president - 56.3%, Daniel ORTEGA Saavedra (FSLN) 42.3%, Alberto SABORIO (PC) 1.4%; Jose RIZO Castellon elected vice president
Legislative branch:
unicameral National Assembly or Asamblea Nacional (93 seats; members are elected by proportional representation to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held 4 November 2001 (next to be held by November 2006)
election results: percent of vote by party - Liberal Alliance (ruling party - includes PLC, PALI, PLIUN, and PUCA) 46.03%, FSLN 36.55%, PCCN 3.73%, PCN 2.12%, MRS 1.33%; seats by party - Liberal Alliance 42, FSLN 36, PCCN 4, PCN 3, PRONAL 2, MRS 1, PRN 1, PC 1, PLI 1, AU 1, UNO-96 1
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court or Corte Suprema (16 judges elected for five-year terms by National Assembly)
Political parties and leaders:
Conservative Party of Nicaragua or PCN [Dr. Fernando AGUERO Rocha]; Independent Liberal Party or PLI [Virgilio GODOY]; Liberal Alliance (ruling alliance includes Liberal Constitutional Party or PLC, New Liberal Party or PALI, Independent Liberal Party for National Unity or PLIUN, and Central American Unionist Party or PUCA) [leader NA]; National Conservative Party or PC [Pedro SOLARZANO, Noel VIDAURRE]; National Project or PRONAL [Benjamin LANZAS]; Nicaraguan Party of Christian Path or PCCN [Guillermo OSORNO, Roberto RODRIGUEZ]; Nicaraguan Resistance Party or PRN [Salvador TALAVERA]; Sandinista National Liberation Front or FSLN [Daniel ORTEGA Saavedra]; Sandinista Renovation Movement or MRS [Sergio RAMIREZ]; Unity Alliance or AU [Alejandro SERRANO]; Union Nacional Opositora 96 or UNO-96 [Alfredo CESAR Aguirre]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
National Workers Front or FNT is a Sandinista umbrella group of eight labor unions includes - 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 includes - 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 US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Salvador STADTHAGEN (since 5 December 2003)
consulate(s) general: Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York
FAX: [1] (202) 939-6542
telephone: [1] (202) 939-6570
chancery: 1627 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20009
Diplomatic representation from US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Barbara Calandra MOORE
embassy: Apartado Postal 327, Kilometer 4.5 Carretera Sur, Managua
mailing address: APO AA 34021
telephone: [505] 266-6010, 266-2298, 266-6013
FAX: [505] 266-9074
Flag description:
three equal horizontal bands of blue (top), white, and blue with national coat of arms centered in white band; coat of arms features a triangle encircled by words REPUBLICA DE NICARAGUA on top and AMERICA CENTRAL on bottom; similar to flag of El Salvador, which features a round emblem encircled by words REPUBLICA DE EL SALVADOR EN LA AMERICA CENTRAL centered in white band; also similar to flag of Honduras, which has five blue stars arranged in an X pattern centered in white band
Economy Nicaragua
Economy - overview:
Nicaragua, one of hemisphere's poorest countries, faces low per capita income, flagging socio-economic indicators, and huge external debt. Distribution of income is one of most unequal on globe. While country has made progress toward macroeconomic stability over past few years, a banking crisis and scandal has shaken economy. Nicaragua will continue to be dependent on international aid and debt relief under Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative. Donors have made aid conditional on openness of government financial operation, poverty alleviation, and human rights. Nicaragua met conditions for additional debt service relief in December 2000. Growth should move up moderately in 2003 because of increased private investment and exports.
buying power parity - $11.16 billion (2002 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
1.1% (2002 est.)
GDP - per capita:
buying power parity - $2,200 (2002 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 30%
industry: 26%
services: 44% (2002 est.)
Population below poverty line:
50% (2001 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 0.7%
highest 10%: 48.8% (1998)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
60.3 (1998)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
3.7% (2002 est.)
Labor force:
1.7 million (1999)
Labor force - by occupation:
services 43%, agriculture 42%, industry 15% (1999 est.)
Unemployment rate:
24% plus considerable underemployment (2002 est.)
revenues: $726 million
expenditures: $908 million, includes capital expenditures of $NA (2000 est.)
food processing, chemicals, machinery and metal products, textiles, clothing, petroleum refining and distribution, beverages, footwear, wood
Industrial production growth rate:
4.4% (2000 est.)
Electricity - production:
2.549 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 83.9%
hydro: 7.7%
other: 8.4% (2001)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
2.388 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2001)
Electricity - imports:
17 million kWh (2001)
Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - consumption:
24,500 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports:
NA (2001)
Oil - imports:
NA (2001)
Agriculture - products:
coffee, bananas, sugarcane, cotton, rice, corn, tobacco, sesame, soya, beans; beef, veal, pork, poultry, dairy products
$637 million f.o.b. (2002 est.)
Exports - commodities:
coffee, shrimp and lobster, cotton, tobacco, bananas, beef, sugar, gold
Exports - partners:
US 59.4%, El Salvador 7.5%, Honduras 4.8% (2002)
$1.7 billion f.o.b. (2002 est.)
Imports - commodities:
machinery and equipment, raw materials, petroleum products, consumer goods
Imports - partners:
US 23.7%, Costa Rica 10.3%, Venezuela 10.1%, Guatemala 7.8%, Mexico 6.7%, El Salvador 6%, South Korea 4.6% (2002)
Debt - external:
$5.8 billion (2002 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
Substantial foreign support
gold cordoba (NIO)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
gold cordobas per US dollar - 14.25 (2002), 13.37 (2001), 12.68 (2000), 11.81 (1999), 10.58 (1998)
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications Nicaragua
Telephones - main lines in use:
140,000 (1996)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
7,911 (1997)
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: satellite earth stations - 1 Intersputnik (Atlantic Ocean region) and 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 63, FM 32, shortwave 1 (1998)
1.24 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
3 (plus seven low-power repeaters) (1997)
320,000 (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
3 (2000)
Internet users:
20,000 (2000)
Transportation Nicaragua
total: 6 km
narrow gauge: 6 km 1.067-m gauge (2002)
total: 19,032 km
paved: 2,094 km
unpaved: 16,938 km (2000)
2,220 km (including 2 large lakes)
oil 54 km (2003)
Ports and harbors:
Bluefields, Corinto, El Bluff, Puerto Cabezas, Puerto Sandino, Rama, San Juan del Sur
Merchant marine:
none (2002 est.)
176 (2002)
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 (2002)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 165
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 23
under 914 m: 141 (2002)
Military Nicaragua
Military branches:
Army, Navy, Air Force
Military manpower - military age:
18 years of age (2003 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 1,347,033 (2003 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 825,906 (2003 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males: 59,903 (2003 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$26 million (FY98)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
1.2% (FY98)
Transnational Issues Nicaragua
Disputes - international:
territorial disputes with Colombia over Archipelago de San Andres y Providencia and Quita Sueno Bank region; with respect to maritime boundary question in Golfo de Fonseca, ICJ referred to line determined by 1900 Honduras-Nicaragua Mixed Boundary Commission and advised that some tripartite resolution among El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua likely would be required; legal dispute over navigational rights of San Juan River on border with Costa Rica
Illicit drugs:
transshipment point for cocaine destined for US and transshipment point for arms-for-drugs dealing