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Nicaragua Flag

Country Profile

Capital City: Managua (pop. 1 million)

Other Cities: Granada, León, Jinotega, Matagalpa, Chinandega, Masaya.

Local Time: UTC -6h

Location: Central America
Area: 130 688 sq. km. (50 446 sq. mi.)
Terrain: Extensive Atlantic coastal plains rising to central interior mountains; narrow Pacific coastal plain interrupted by volcanoes.

Border countries
: Costa Rica, Honduras

Climate: Tropical in lowlands; cooler in highlands.

Type: Republic.
Independence: 1821 (from Spain).
Constitution: The 1987 Sandinista-era Constitution was changed in 1995 to provide for a more even distribution of power among the four branches of government and again in 2000 to increase the Supreme Court and the Controller General's Office and to make changes to the electoral laws.

Nationality: Nicaraguan(s)
Population: 5 million.
Ethnic groups: Mestizo (mixed European and indigenous) 69%, white 17%, black (Jamaican origin) 9%, indigenous 5%.
Religion: Predominantly Roman Catholic, with rapidly growing percentage of Evangelical Protestants.
Languages: Spanish (official), English and indigenous languages on Caribbean coast.
Literacy: 75%


Currency: Cordoba Oro (NIO)

Natural resources: Arable land, livestock, fisheries, gold, timber.

Agriculture products: Coffee, bananas, sugarcane, cotton, rice, corn, tobacco, sesame, soya, beans; beef, veal, pork, poultry, dairy products.

Industries: Food processing, chemicals, machinery and metal products, textiles, clothing, petroleum refining and distribution, beverages, footwear, wood.

Exports partners:
USA 35.9%, El Salvador 17.2%, Costa Rica 8.1%, Honduras 7.3%, Mexico 4.6%, Guatemala 4.3% (2003)

Imports partners: USA 24.9%, Venezuela 9.7%, Costa Rica 9%, Mexico 8.4%, Guatemala 7.3%, El Salvador 4.9%, Japan 4.3% (2003)

Internet Links

Official Sites of Nicaragua

Presidencia de la Republica de Nicaraguaa

Asamblea Nacional de Nicaragua

Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores

Permanent Mission of Nicaragua to the UN

Consulate of Nicaragua

Map of Nicaragua

Map of Central America and the Caribbean



Background:  Settled as a colony of Spain in the 1520s, Nicaragua
gained its independence in 1821.  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 again in 2001 saw the Sandinistas
defeated. The country has slowly rebuilt its economy during the 1990s,
but was hard hit by Hurricane Mitch in 1998.

Geography Nicaragua

Location:  Middle 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

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

Coastline:  910 km

Maritime claims:  continental shelf: natural prolongation territorial sea:
200 NM

Climate:  tropical in lowlands, cooler in highlands

Terrain:  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,

Land use:  arable land: 20% permanent crops: 2% other: 78% (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

Environment - international agreements:  party to: Biodiversity, Climate
Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered
Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone
Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands 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

Population:  5,023,818 (July 2002 est.)

Age structure:  0-14 years: 38.3% (male 980,621; female 945,386) 15-64
years: 58.7% (male 1,464,468; female 1,483,082) 65 years and over: 3%
(male 65,610; female 84,651) (2002 est.)

Population growth rate:  2.09% (2002 est.)

Birth rate:  26.98 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Death rate:  4.76 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Net migration rate:  -1.3 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 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 total population: 1 male(s)/female (2002 est.)

Infant mortality rate:  32.52 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:   71.44 years (2002 est.)  male: Total fertility
rate:  3.09 children born/woman (2002 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:  0.2% (2000/01 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:  4,800 (2000/01 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:  360 (1999 est.)

Nationality:  noun: Nicaraguan(s) adjective: Nicaraguan

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

Religions:  Roman Catholic 85%, Protestant

Languages:  Spanish (official) note: English and indigenous languages
on Atlantic coast

Literacy:  definition: age 15 and over can read and write total
population: 68.2% (1999) male: 67.1% female: 70.5% (2000 est.)

Government Nicaragua

Country name:   Republic of Nicaragua conventional short form:  Nicaragua

Government type:  republic

Capital:  Managua

Administrative divisions:  15 departments (departamentos, singular
- departamento) and 2 autonomous regions* (regiones autonomistas,
singular - region autonomista); Boaco, Carazo, Chinandega, Chontales,
Esteli, Granada, Jinotega, Leon, Madriz, Managua, Masaya, Matagalpa,
Nueva Segovia, Rio San Juan, Rivas, Atlantico Norte*, Atlantico Sur*

Independence:  15 September 1821 (from Spain)

National holiday:  Independence Day, 15 September (1821)

Constitution:  9 January 1987, with reforms in 1995 and 2000

Legal system:  civil law system; Supreme Court may review administrative

Suffrage:  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 - the 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
- the president is both chief of state and head of government 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 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 the 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 including 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 the 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 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:  BCIE, CACM, CCC, ECLAC,
ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO (correspondent), ITU, LAES, LAIA

Diplomatic representation in the US:   Ambassador Carlos J. ULVERT
consulate(s) general:  telephone: [1] (202) 939-6570 chancery: 1627 New
Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20009

Diplomatic representation from the US:  chief of mission: Ambassador
Oliver P. GARZA embassy: Apartado Postal 327, Kilometer 4.5 Carretera
Sur, Managua mailing address: APO AA 34021 telephone: [505] (2) 662298,
666010, 666012, 666013, 666015, 666018, 666026, 666027, 666032, 666033
FAX: [505] (2) 669074

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
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, one of the hemisphere's poorest countries,
faces low per capita income, flagging socio-economic indicators, and huge
external debt.  Distribution of income is extremely unequal. While the
country has made progress toward macroeconomic stabilization over the past
few years, a banking crisis and scandal has shaken the economy. Managua
will continue to be dependent on international aid and debt relief under
the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative. Donors have made
aid conditional on improving governability, the openness of government
financial operation, poverty alleviation, and human rights. Nicaragua
met the conditions for additional debt service relief in December
2000. Growth should move up in 2002 because of increased private
investment and recovery in the global economy.

GDP:  purchasing power parity - $12.3 billion (2001 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:  2.5% (2001 est.)

GDP - per capita:  purchasing power parity - $2,500 (2001 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:  agriculture: 33% industry: 23% services:
44% (2000)

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):  7.4% (2001 est.)

Labor force:  1.7 million (1999)

Labor force - by occupation:  services 43%, agriculture 42%, industry 15%
(1999 est.)

Unemployment rate:  23% plus considerable underemployment (2001 est.)

Budget:  revenues: $726 million expenditures: $908 million, including
capital expenditures of $NA (2000 est.)

Industries:  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:  2.233 billion kWh (2000)

Electricity - production by source:  fossil fuel: 81.68% hydro: 9.4%
other: 8.92% (2000) nuclear: 0%

Electricity - consumption:  2.176 billion kWh (2000)

Electricity - exports:  1 million kWh (2000)

Electricity - imports:  100 million kWh (2000)

Agriculture - products:  coffee, bananas, sugarcane, cotton, rice, corn,
tobacco, sesame, soya, beans; beef, veal, pork, poultry, dairy products

Exports:  $609.5 million (f.o.b., 2001 est.)

Exports - commodities:  coffee, shrimp and lobster, cotton, tobacco,
beef, sugar, bananas; gold

Exports - partners:  US 57.7%, Germany 5.3%, Canada 4.2%, Costa Rica 3.3%,
Honduras 3% (2000)

Imports:  $1.6 billion (f.o.b., 2001 est.)

Imports - commodities:  machinery and equipment, raw materials, petroleum
products, consumer goods

Imports - partners:  US 23.9%, Costa Rica 11.4%, Venezuela 9.9%, Guatemala
7.9%, Mexico 5.9% (2000)

Debt - external:  $6.1 billion (2001 est.)

Economic aid - recipient:  NA

Currency:  gold cordoba (NIO)

Currency code:  NIO

Exchange rates:  gold cordobas per US dollar - 13.88 (January 2002),
13.37 (2001), 12.69 (2000), 11.81 (1999), 10.58 (1998), 9.45 (1997)

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:  1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)

Radio broadcast stations:  AM 63, FM 32, shortwave 1 (1998)

Radios:  1.24 million (1997)

Television broadcast stations:  3 (plus seven low-power repeaters) (1997)

Televisions:  320,000 (1997)

Internet country code:  .ni

Internet Service Providers (ISPs):  3 (2000)

Internet users:  20,000 (2000)

Transportation Nicaragua

Railways:  total: 6 km narrow gauge: 6 km 1.067-m gauge note: carries
mostly passengers from Chichigalpa to Ingenio San Antonio (2001)

Highways:  total: 16,382 km paved: 1,818 km unpaved: 14,564 km (1998)

Waterways:  2,220 km (including 2 large lakes)

Pipelines:  crude oil 56 km

Ports and harbors:  Bluefields, Corinto, El Bluff, Puerto Cabezas,
Puerto Sandino, Rama, San Juan del Sur

Merchant marine:  none (2002 est.)

Airports:  182 (2001)

Airports - with paved runways:   3 914 to 1,523 m: Airports - with unpaved
runways:  total: 171 1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 914 to 1,523 m: 25 under 914 m:
145 (2001)

Military Nicaragua

Military branches:  Army, Navy, Air Force

Military manpower - military age:  18 years of age (2002 est.)

Military manpower - availability:  males age 15-49: 1,308,430 (2002 est.)

Military manpower - fit for military service:  males age 15-49: 802,779
(2002 est.)

Military manpower - reaching military age annually:  males: 58,232
(2002 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
the Archipelago de San Andres y Providencia and Quita Sueno Bank; with
respect to the maritime boundary question in the Golfo de Fonseca, the
ICJ referred to the line determined by the 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 the US and
transshipment point for arms-for-drugs dealing

This page was last updated on 1 January 2002

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