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  Transnational Issues

In general, information available as of 1 January 2002
was used in the preparation of The World Factbook 2002.

This page was last updated on 19 March 2003

Map of Nicaragua

Legend: Definition Definition Field Listing Field Listing
   Introduction    Nicaragua
Definition Field Listing
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 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
Definition Field Listing
Middle America, bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean, between Costa Rica and Honduras
Geographic coordinates:
Definition Field Listing
13 00 N, 85 00 W
Map references:
Definition Field Listing
Central America and the Caribbean
Definition Field Listing
total: 129,494 sq km
water: 9,240 sq km
land: 120,254 sq km
Area - comparative:
Definition Field Listing
slightly smaller than the state of New York
Land boundaries:
Definition Field Listing
total: 1,231 km
border countries: Costa Rica 309 km, Honduras 922 km
Definition Field Listing
910 km
Maritime claims:
Definition Field Listing
continental shelf: natural prolongation
territorial sea: 200 NM
Definition Field Listing
tropical in lowlands, cooler in highlands
Definition Field Listing
extensive Atlantic coastal plains rising to central interior mountains; narrow Pacific coastal plain interrupted by volcanoes
Elevation extremes:
Definition Field Listing
lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mogoton 2,438 m
Natural resources:
Definition Field Listing
gold, silver, copper, tungsten, lead, zinc, timber, fish
Land use:
Definition Field Listing
arable land: 20.24%
permanent crops: 2.38%
other: 77.38% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
Definition Field Listing
880 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:
Definition Field Listing
destructive earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides; extremely susceptible to hurricanes
Environment - current issues:
Definition Field Listing
deforestation; soil erosion; water pollution
Environment - international agreements:
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
largest country in Central America; contains the largest freshwater body in Central America, Lago de Nicaragua
   People    Nicaragua
Definition Field Listing
5,023,818 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure:
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
2.09% (2002 est.)
Birth rate:
Definition Field Listing
26.98 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate:
Definition Field Listing
4.76 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate:
Definition Field Listing
-1.3 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio:
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
32.52 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
Definition Field Listing
total population: 69.37 years
female: 71.44 years (2002 est.)
male: 67.39 years
Total fertility rate:
Definition Field Listing
3.09 children born/woman (2002 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
Definition Field Listing
0.2% (2000/01 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
Definition Field Listing
4,800 (2000/01 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
Definition Field Listing
360 (1999 est.)
Definition Field Listing
noun: Nicaraguan(s)
adjective: Nicaraguan
Ethnic groups:
Definition Field Listing
mestizo (mixed Amerindian and white) 69%, white 17%, black 9%, Amerindian 5%
Definition Field Listing
Roman Catholic 85%, Protestant
Definition Field Listing
Spanish (official)
note: English and indigenous languages on Atlantic coast
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
conventional long form: Republic of Nicaragua
conventional short form: Nicaragua
local short form: Nicaragua
local long form: Republica de Nicaragua
Government type:
Definition Field Listing
Definition Field Listing
Administrative divisions:
Definition Field Listing
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*
Definition Field Listing
15 September 1821 (from Spain)
National holiday:
Definition Field Listing
Independence Day, 15 September (1821)
Definition Field Listing
9 January 1987, with reforms in 1995 and 2000
Legal system:
Definition Field Listing
civil law system; Supreme Court may review administrative acts
Definition Field Listing
16 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
Supreme Court or Corte Suprema (16 judges elected for five-year terms by the National Assembly)
Political parties and leaders:
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
Diplomatic representation in the US:
Definition Field Listing
chief of mission: Ambassador Carlos J. ULVERT
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 the US:
Definition Field Listing
chief of mission: Ambassador Barbara Calandra MOORE
embassy: Apartado Postal 327, Kilometer 4.5 Carretera Sur, Managua
mailing address: APO AA 34021
telephone: [505] 268-0123
FAX: [505] 266-9943
Flag description:
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
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.
Definition Field Listing
purchasing power parity - $12.3 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
Definition Field Listing
2.5% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita:
Definition Field Listing
purchasing power parity - $2,500 (2001 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
Definition Field Listing
agriculture: 33%
industry: 23%
services: 44% (2000) (2000)
Population below poverty line:
Definition Field Listing
50% (2001 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
Definition Field Listing
lowest 10%: 1%
highest 10%: 49% (1998) (1998)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
Definition Field Listing
60 (1998)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
Definition Field Listing
7.4% (2001 est.)
Labor force:
Definition Field Listing
1.7 million (1999) (1999)
Labor force - by occupation:
Definition Field Listing
services 43%, agriculture 42%, industry 15% (1999 est.)
Unemployment rate:
Definition Field Listing
23% plus considerable underemployment (2001 est.)
Definition Field Listing
revenues: $726 million
expenditures: $908 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (2000 est.)
Definition Field Listing
food processing, chemicals, machinery and metal products, textiles, clothing, petroleum refining and distribution, beverages, footwear, wood
Industrial production growth rate:
Definition Field Listing
4.4% (2000 est.)
Electricity - production:
Definition Field Listing
2.233 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - production by source:
Definition Field Listing
fossil fuel: 82%
hydro: 9%
other: 9% (2000)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
Definition Field Listing
2.176 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports:
Definition Field Listing
1 million kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports:
Definition Field Listing
100 million kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products:
Definition Field Listing
coffee, bananas, sugarcane, cotton, rice, corn, tobacco, sesame, soya, beans; beef, veal, pork, poultry, dairy products
Definition Field Listing
$609.5 million f.o.b. (2001 est.)
Exports - commodities:
Definition Field Listing
coffee, shrimp and lobster, cotton, tobacco, beef, sugar, bananas; gold
Exports - partners:
Definition Field Listing
US 57.7%, Germany 5.3%, Canada 4.2%, Costa Rica 3.3%, Honduras 3% (2000)
Definition Field Listing
$1.6 billion f.o.b. (2001 est.)
Imports - commodities:
Definition Field Listing
machinery and equipment, raw materials, petroleum products, consumer goods
Imports - partners:
Definition Field Listing
US 23.9%, Costa Rica 11.4%, Venezuela 9.9%, Guatemala 7.9%, Mexico 5.9% (2000)
Debt - external:
Definition Field Listing
$6.1 billion (2001 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
Definition Field Listing
Definition Field Listing
gold cordoba (NIO)
Currency code:
Definition Field Listing
Exchange rates:
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
calendar year
   Communications    Nicaragua
Telephones - main lines in use:
Definition Field Listing
140,000 (1996)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
Definition Field Listing
7,911 (1997)
Telephone system:
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
AM 63, FM 32, shortwave 1 (1998)
Definition Field Listing
1.24 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
Definition Field Listing
3 (plus seven low-power repeaters) (1997)
Definition Field Listing
320,000 (1997)
Internet country code:
Definition Field Listing
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
Definition Field Listing
3 (2000)
Internet users:
Definition Field Listing
20,000 (2000)
   Transportation    Nicaragua
Definition Field Listing
total: 6 km
narrow gauge: 6 km 1.067-m gauge
note: carries mostly passengers from Chichigalpa to Ingenio San Antonio (2001)
Definition Field Listing
total: 16,382 km
paved: 1,818 km
unpaved: 14,564 km (1998)
Definition Field Listing
2,220 km (including 2 large lakes)
Definition Field Listing
crude oil 56 km
Ports and harbors:
Definition Field Listing
Bluefields, Corinto, El Bluff, Puerto Cabezas, Puerto Sandino, Rama, San Juan del Sur
Merchant marine:
Definition Field Listing
none (2002 est.)
Definition Field Listing
182 (2001)
Airports - with paved runways:
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
total: 165
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 23
under 914 m: 141 (2002)
   Military    Nicaragua
Military branches:
Definition Field Listing
Army, Navy, Air Force
Military manpower - military age:
Definition Field Listing
18 years of age (2002 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
Definition Field Listing
males age 15-49: 1,308,430 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
Definition Field Listing
males age 15-49: 802,779 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
Definition Field Listing
males: 58,232 (2002 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
Definition Field Listing
$26 million (FY98)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
Definition Field Listing
1.2% (FY98)
   Transnational Issues    Nicaragua
Disputes - international:
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
transshipment point for cocaine destined for the US and transshipment point for arms-for-drugs dealing

This page was last updated on 19 March 2003

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