Nicaragua - NI - NIC - NCA - Central America and the Caribbean

Last updated: February 20, 2024
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Nicaragua Factbook Data

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Chargé d’Affaires Kevin Michael O'REILLY (since 28 June 2023)

embassy: Kilometer 5.5 Carretera Sur, Managua

mailing address: 3240 Managua Place, Washington DC  20521-3240

telephone: [505] 2252-7100,

FAX: [505] 2252-7250

email address and website:
ACS.Managua@state.gov

https://ni.usembassy.gov/

Age structure

0-14 years: 24.16% (male 784,847/female 751,616)

15-64 years: 69.36% (male 2,134,871/female 2,276,522)

65 years and over: 6.48% (2023 est.) (male 180,441/female 231,392)
2023 population pyramid
This is the population pyramid for Nicaragua. A population pyramid illustrates the age and sex structure of a country's population and may provide insights about political and social stability, as well as economic development. The population is distributed along the horizontal axis, with males shown on the left and females on the right. The male and female populations are broken down into 5-year age groups represented as horizontal bars along the vertical axis, with the youngest age groups at the bottom and the oldest at the top. The shape of the population pyramid gradually evolves over time based on fertility, mortality, and international migration trends.

For additional information, please see the entry for Population pyramid on the Definitions and Notes page.

Geographic coordinates

13 00 N, 85 00 W

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.04 male(s)/female

15-64 years: 0.94 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.78 male(s)/female

total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (2023 est.)

Natural hazards

destructive earthquakes; volcanoes; landslides; extremely susceptible to hurricanes

volcanism: significant volcanic activity; Cerro Negro (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


Area - comparative

slightly larger than Pennsylvania; slightly smaller than New York state
Area comparison map

slightly larger than Pennsylvania; slightly smaller than New York state


Military service age and obligation

18-30 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription; tour of duty 18-36 months (2024)

Background

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 a civic-military coalition, spearheaded by the Marxist Sandinista guerrillas led by Daniel ORTEGA Saavedra to power in 1979. Nicaraguan aid to leftist rebels in El Salvador prompted 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 was elected president in 2006, 2011, 2016, and most recently in 2021. Municipal, regional, and national-level elections since 2008 have been marred by widespread irregularities. Democratic institutions have weakened under the ORTEGA regime as the president has garnered full control over all branches of government, especially after cracking down on a nationwide pro-democracy protest movement in 2018. In the lead-up to the 2021 presidential election, authorities arrested over 40 individuals linked to the political opposition, including presidential candidates, private sector leaders, NGO workers, human rights defenders, and journalists. Only five lesser-known presidential candidates of mostly small parties allied to ORTEGA's Sandinistas were allowed to run against ORTEGA in the November 2021 election.

Environment - current issues

deforestation; soil erosion; water pollution; drought

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Climate Change-Paris Agreement, Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Population below poverty line

24.9% (2016 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 1.8%

highest 10%: 47.1% (2014)

Exports - commodities

clothing and apparel, gold, insulated wiring, coffee, beef, cigars (2021)

Exports - partners

United States 60%, El Salvador 5%, Mexico 5% (2019)

Administrative divisions

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

Agricultural products

sugar cane, milk, rice, maize, plantains, groundnuts, cassava, beans, coffee, poultry

Military and security forces

Armed Forces of Nicaragua (formal name is Army of Nicaragua or Ejercito de Nicaragua, EN): Land Forces (Fuerza Terrestre); Naval Forces (Fuerza Naval); Air Forces (Fuerza Aérea) (2024)

note: both the military and the Nicaraguan National Police (Policía Nacional de Nicaragua or PNN) report directly to the president; Parapolice, which are non-uniformed, armed, and masked units with marginal tactical training and loose hierarchical organization, act in coordination with government security forces and report directly to the National Police; they have been used to suppress anti-government protesters

Budget

revenues: $3.452 billion (2019 est.)

expenditures: $3.511 billion (2019 est.)

Capital

name: Managua

geographic coordinates: 12 08 N, 86 15 W

time difference: UTC-6 (1 hour behind Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

etymology: may derive from the indigenous Nahuatl term "mana-ahuac," which translates as "adjacent to the water" or a site "surrounded by water"; the city is situated on the southwestern shore of Lake Managua

Imports - commodities

refined petroleum, clothing and apparel, crude petroleum, packaged medicines, insulated wiring (2019)

Climate

tropical in lowlands, cooler in highlands

Coastline

910 km

Constitution

history: several previous; latest adopted 19 November 1986, effective 9 January 1987

amendments: proposed by the president of the republic or assent of at least half of the National Assembly membership; passage requires approval by 60% of the membership of the next elected Assembly and promulgation by the president of the republic; amended several times, last in 2021

Exchange rates

cordobas (NIO) per US dollar -

Exchange rates:
35.171 (2021 est.)
34.342 (2020 est.)
33.122 (2019 est.)
31.553 (2018 est.)
30.051 (2017 est.)

Executive branch

chief of state: President Jose Daniel ORTEGA Saavedra (since 10 January 2007); Vice President Rosario MURILLO Zambrana (since 10 January 2017); 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 Rosario MURILLO Zambrana (since 10 January 2017)

cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president

elections/appointments: president and vice president directly elected on the same ballot by qualified plurality vote for a 5-year term (no term limits); election last held on 7 November 2021 (next to be held on 1 November 2026)

election results:
2021: Jose Daniel ORTEGA Saavedra reelected president for a fourth consecutive term; percent of vote - Jose Daniel ORTEGA Saavedra (FSLN) 75.9%, Walter ESPINOZA (PLC) 14.3%, Guillermo OSORNO (CCN) 3.3%, Marcelo MONTIEL (ALN) 3.1%, other 3.4%

2016:
Jose Daniel ORTEGA Saavedra reelected president for a third consecutive term; percent of vote - Jose Daniel ORTEGA Saavedra (FSLN) 72.4%, Maximino RODRIGUEZ (PLC) 15%, Jose del Carmen ALVARADO (PLI) 4.5%, Saturnino CERRATO Hodgson (ALN) 4.3%, other 3.7%

Fiscal year

calendar year

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; 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

Illicit drugs


transit route for illicit drugs originating from South America destined for the United States

 


Independence

15 September 1821 (from Spain)

Industries

food processing, chemicals, machinery and metal products, knit and woven apparel, petroleum refining and distribution, beverages, footwear, wood, electric wire harness manufacturing, mining

Judicial branch

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 labor courts; military courts are independent of the Supreme Court

Land boundaries

total: 1,253 km

border countries (2): Costa Rica 313 km; Honduras 940 km

Land use

agricultural land: 42.2% (2018 est.)

arable land: 12.5% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 2.5% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 27.2% (2018 est.)

forest: 25.3% (2018 est.)

other: 32.5% (2018 est.)

Legal system

civil law system; Supreme Court may review administrative acts

Legislative branch

description: unicameral National Assembly or Asamblea Nacional (92 statutory seats, current 91; 70 members in multi-seat constituencies, representing the country's 15 departments and 2 autonomous regions, and 20 members in a single nationwide constituency directly elected by party-list proportional representation vote; up to 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 7 November 2021 (next to be held on 1 November 2026)

election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - FSLN 75, PLC 10, ALN 2, APRE 1, PLI 2, YATAMA 1; composition - men 45, women 46, percent of women 50.6%

Literacy

definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 82.6%

male: 82.4%

female: 82.8% (2015)

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

contiguous zone: 24 nm

continental shelf: natural prolongation

International organization participation

BCIE, CACM, CD, CELAC, FAO, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO (correspondent), ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), LAES, LAIA (observer), MIGA, NAM, OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, PCA, Petrocaribe, SICA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, Union Latina, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

National holiday

Independence Day, 15 September (1821)

Nationality

noun: Nicaraguan(s)

adjective: Nicaraguan

Natural resources

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

Geography - note

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

Economic overview

low-income Central American economy; until 2018, nearly 20 years of sustained GDP growth; recent struggles due to COVID-19, political instability, and hurricanes; significant remittances; increasing poverty and food scarcity since 2005; sanctions limit investment

Pipelines

54 km oil (2013)

Political parties and leaders

Alliance for the Republic or APRE [Carlos CANALES]
Alternative for Change or AC (operates in a political alliance with the FSLN) [Orlando Jose TARDENCILLA]
Autonomous Liberal Party or PAL [Rene Margarito BELLO ROMERO]
Caribbean Unity Movement or PAMUC [Armando Francisco ARISTA FLORES]
Christian Unity Party or PUC (operates in a political alliance with the FSLN) [Guillermo Daniel ORTEGA REYES]
Citizens for Liberty or CxL [Carmella ROGERS AUMBURN]; note - barred from participating in the presidential election by the Supreme Electoral Council on 6 August 2021
Conservative Party or PC [Alfredo CESAR Aguirre]
Democratic Restoration Party or PRD [Saturnino CERRATO]; note - canceled by the Supreme Electoral Council on 18 May 2021
Independent Liberal Party or PLI [Mario ASENSIO]
Liberal Constitutionalist Party or PLC [Maria Haydee OSUNA]
Moskitia Indigenous Progressive Movement or MOSKITIA PAWANKA (operates in a political alliance with the FSLN) [Wycliff Diego BLANDON]
Multiethnic Indigenous Party or PIM (operates in a political alliance with the FSLN) [Carla Elvis WHITE HODGSON]
Nationalist Liberal Party or PLN (operates in a political alliance with the FSLN) [Constantino Raul VELASQUEZ]
Nicaraguan Liberal Alliance or ALN [Alejandro MEJIA Ferreti]
Nicaraguan Party of the Christian Path or CCN [Guillermo OSORNO]
Nicaraguan Resistance Party or PRN (operates in a political alliance with the FSLN) [Julio Cesar BLANDON SANCHEZ]
Sandinista National Liberation Front or FSLN [Jose Daniel ORTEGA Saavedra]
Sandinista Renovation Movement or MRS [Suyen BARAHONA Cuan]; note - canceled by the Supreme Electoral Council on 21 June 2008; in January 2021, they rebranded and now call themselves Democratic Renovation Union or UNAMOS
Sons of Mother Earth or YATAMA [Brooklyn RIVERA]
The New Sons of Mother Earth Movement or MYATAMARAN (operates in a political alliance with the FSLN) [Osorno Salomon COLEMAN]

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Bluefields, Corinto

Suffrage

16 years of age; universal

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: Nicaragua’s telecoms market has mirrored the country’s poor economic achievements, with fixed-line teledensity and mobile penetration also being the lowest in Central America; the fixed line broadband market remains nascent, with population penetration below 4%; most internet users are concentrated in the largest cities, given that rural and marginal areas lack access to the most basic telecom infrastructure; internet cafés provide public access to internet and email services, but these also tend to be restricted to the larger population centers; to address poor infrastructure, the World Bank has funded a project aimed at improving connectivity via a national fiber broadband network; there are separate schemes to improve broadband in eastern regions and provide links to Caribbean submarine cables; the number of mobile subscribers overtook the number of fixed lines in early 2002, and the mobile sector now accounts for most lines in service (2021)

domestic: fixed-line teledensity is 3 per 100 persons; mobile-cellular telephone subscribership is 91 per 100 persons (2021)

international: country code - 505; landing point for the ARCOS fiber-optic submarine cable which 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) (2019)

Terrain

extensive Atlantic coastal plains rising to central interior mountains; narrow Pacific coastal plain interrupted by volcanoes

Government type

presidential republic

Country name

conventional long form: Republic of Nicaragua

conventional short form: Nicaragua

local long form: República de Nicaragua

local short form: Nicaragua

etymology: Nicarao was the name of the largest indigenous settlement at the time of Spanish arrival; conquistador Gil GONZALEZ Davila, who explored the area (1622-23), combined the name of the community with the Spanish word "agua" (water), referring to the two large lakes in the west of the country (Lake Managua and Lake Nicaragua)

Location

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

Map references

Central America and the Caribbean

Irrigated land

1,990 sq km (2012)

Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Francisco Obadiah CAMPBELL Hooker (since 28 June 2010)

chancery: 1627 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20009

telephone: [1] (202) 939-6570

FAX: [1] (202) 939-6545

email address and website:
mperalta@cancilleria.gob.ni

consulate(s) general: Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco

Internet country code

.ni

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: high (2023)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever

vectorborne diseases: dengue fever and malaria

GDP (official exchange rate)

$12.57 billion (2019 est.)

Credit ratings

Fitch rating: B- (2018)

Moody's rating: B3 (2020)

Standard & Poors rating: B- (2018)

note: The year refers to the year in which the current credit rating was first obtained.

Total renewable water resources

164.52 billion cubic meters (2020 est.)

Urbanization

urban population: 59.8% of total population (2023)

rate of urbanization: 1.45% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Broadcast media

multiple terrestrial TV stations, supplemented by cable TV in most urban areas; nearly all are government-owned or affiliated; more than 300 radio stations, both government-affiliated and privately owned (2019)

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 97.5% of population

rural: 62.6% of population

total: 83.2% of population

unimproved: urban: 2.5% of population

rural: 37.4% of population

total: 16.8% of population (2020 est.)

National anthem

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
This is an audio of the National Anthem for Nicaragua. The national anthem is generally a patriotic musical composition - usually in the form of a song or hymn of praise - that evokes and eulogizes the history, traditions, or struggles of a nation or its people. National anthems can be officially recognized as a national song by a country's constitution or by an enacted law, or simply by tradition. Although most anthems contain lyrics, some do not.

Major urban areas - population

1.095 million MANAGUA (capital) (2023)

International law organization participation

accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; non-party state to the ICCt

Physicians density

1.67 physicians/1,000 population (2018)

Hospital bed density

0.9 beds/1,000 population (2017)

National symbol(s)

turquoise-browed motmot (bird); national colors: blue, white

Mother's mean age at first birth

19.2 years (2011/12 est.)

note: data represents median age at first birth among women 25-29

Demographic profile

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 below 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.


Contraceptive prevalence rate

80.4% (2011/12)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 69.9% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 15.3% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 28.1% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: 1.7% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 41.2% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -55.4% (2017 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 54.4

youth dependency ratio: 46.4

elderly dependency ratio: 8

potential support ratio: 12.6 (2021 est.)

Citizenship

citizenship by birth: yes

citizenship by descent only: yes

dual citizenship recognized: no, except in cases where bilateral agreements exist

residency requirement for naturalization: 4 years

Population distribution

the overwhelming majority of the population resides in the western half of the country, with much of the urban growth centered in the capital city of Managua; coastal areas also show large population clusters

Electricity access

population without electricity: (2020) less than 1 million

electrification - total population: 86.2% (2021)

electrification - urban areas: 100% (2021)

electrification - rural areas: 66.3% (2021)

National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 1 (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 7

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

YN

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 89.9% of population

rural: 66.5% of population

total: 80.3% of population

unimproved: urban: 10.1% of population

rural: 33.5% of population

total: 19.7% of population (2020 est.)

Ethnic groups

Mestizo (mixed Amerindian and White) 69%, White 17%, Black 9%, Amerindian 5%

Religions

Roman Catholic 50%, Evangelical 33.2%, other 2.9%, none 0.7%, unspecified 13.2% (2017 est.)

Languages

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.)

major-language sample(s):
La Libreta Informativa del Mundo, la fuente indispensable de información básica. (Spanish)

The World Factbook, the indispensable source for basic information.
Spanish audio sample

Imports - partners

United States 27%, Mexico 12%, China 11%, Guatemala 9%, Costa Rica 7%, El Salvador 6%, Honduras 6% (2019)

Disputes - international

Nicaragua-El Salvador-Honduras: 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; the court ruled, rather, that the Gulf of Fonseca represents a condominium, with control being shared by El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua; the decision allowed for the possibility that the three nations could divide the waters at a later date if they wished to do so

Nicaragua-Costa Rica: Nicaragua and Costa Rica regularly file border dispute cases with the ICJ over the delimitations of the San Juan River and the northern tip of Calero Island, virtually uninhabited areas claimed by both countries; there is an ongoing case in the ICJ to determine Pacific and Atlantic ocean maritime borders as well as land borders; 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; in 2018, the ICJ ruled that Nicaragua must remove a military base from a contested coastal area near the San Juan River, and that Costa Rica had sovereignty over the northern part of Isla Portillos, including the coast, but excluding Harbour Head Lagoon; additionally, Honduras was required to pay reparations for environmental damage to part of the wetlands at the mouth of the San Juan River

Nicaragua-Colombia: Nicaragua filed a case with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against Colombia in 2013 over the delimitation of the Continental shelf beyond the 200 nautical miles from the Nicaraguan coast, as well as over the alleged violation by Colombia of Nicaraguan maritime space in the Caribbean Sea, which contains rich oil and fish resources; as of September 2021, Colombia refuses to abide by the ICJ ruling

 


Elevation

highest point: Mogoton 2,085 m

lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m

mean elevation: 298 m

Trafficking in persons

tier rating: Tier 3 — Nicaragua does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so, therefore, Nicaragua remained on Tier 3; the government took some steps to address trafficking, including passing a new National Action Plan; however, the government continued to minimize the severity of the trafficking problem, did not have shelters, and did not allocate funding for victim services; authorities made negligible efforts to address labor trafficking—which remained a serious concern—and victim identification efforts remained inadequate; officials did not convict any traffickers and did not support Nicaraguan trafficking victims identified in foreign countries; the government did not cooperate with civil society to fund their work or refer victims to them for support (2023)

trafficking profile: human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Nicaragua, as well as Nicaraguans abroad; women, children, and migrants in Nicaragua are most at risk; women and children are subject to sex trafficking within the country and in other Central American countries, Mexico, Spain, and the US; victims’ families are often complicit; Nicaraguans who migrate or are forcibly displaced to other Central American countries and Europe risk sex and labor trafficking, both in transit and after reaching their destinations; traffickers use social media and other means to recruit victims with promises of higher-paying jobs in restaurants, hotels, domestic service, construction, and security outside of Nicaragua, where they are subjected to sex or labor trafficking; victims often are recruited from rural areas or border regions, and children whose parents leave to work abroad often are exploited in sex and labor trafficking; Nicaraguan women and children are subjected to sex and labor trafficking in the two Caribbean autonomous regions, where the lack of strong law enforcement, rampant poverty, high crime rates, and the impacts of past natural disasters increase the vulnerability of the local population; traffickers force children to participate in illegal drug production and trafficking, while others are forced to work in artisanal mines and quarries; children and persons with disabilities are subjected to forced begging; Cuban nationals working in Nicaragua may have been forced to work there by the Cuban Government; Nicaragua is a destination for child sex tourists from Canada, the US, and Western Europe (2023)

Current health expenditure

8.6% of GDP (2020)

Military - note

the military is responsible for defending Nicaragua’s independence, sovereignty, and territory, but also has some domestic security responsibilities; key tasks include border security, assisting the police, protecting natural resources, and providing disaster relief and humanitarian assistance; it has ties with the militaries of Cuba, Venezuela, and Russia; Russia has provided training support and equipment 

the military’s Land Forces have a mechanized brigade and approximately eight regional commands or detachments, each with one or more light infantry battalions; there is also a small special operations command; the Naval Forces operate patrol boats and have a naval infantry battalion; the Air Forces do not possess any combat aircraft 

the modern Army of Nicaragua was created in 1979 as the Sandinista Popular Army (1979-1984); prior to 1979, the military was known as the National Guard, which was organized and trained by the US in the 1920s and 1930s; the first commander of the National Guard, Anastasio SOMOZA GARCIA, seized power in 1937 and ran the country as a military dictator until his assassination in 1956; his sons ran the country either directly or through figureheads until the Sandinistas came to power in 1979; the defeated National Guard was disbanded by the Sandinistas (2024)

Military and security service personnel strengths

approximately 12,000 active personnel (10,000 Army; 800 Navy; 1,200 Air Force) (2023)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the military's inventory includes mostly secondhand Russian/Soviet-era equipment; in recent years, Russia has been the leading arms supplier to Nicaragua (2023)

Total water withdrawal

municipal: 286 million cubic meters (2020 est.)

industrial: 50 million cubic meters (2020 est.)

agricultural: 1.08 billion cubic meters (2020 est.)

Waste and recycling

municipal solid waste generated annually: 1,528,816 tons (2010 est.)

Air pollutants

particulate matter emissions: 16 micrograms per cubic meter (2019 est.)

carbon dioxide emissions: 5.59 megatons (2016 est.)

methane emissions: 6.46 megatons (2020 est.)

Major lakes (area sq km)

fresh water lake(s): Lago de Nicaragua - 8,150 sq km; Lago de Managua - 1,040 sq km

National heritage

total World Heritage Sites: 2 (both cultural)

selected World Heritage Site locales: Ruins of León Viejo; León Cathedral

Coal

production: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

consumption: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

exports: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

imports: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

proven reserves: 0 metric tons (2019 est.)

Electricity generation sources

fossil fuels: 37.8% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

nuclear: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

solar: 0.5% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

wind: 15.7% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

hydroelectricity: 12.2% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

tide and wave: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

geothermal: 16.7% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

biomass and waste: 17.2% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

Natural gas

production: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

consumption: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

exports: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

imports: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

proven reserves: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

Petroleum

total petroleum production: 200 bbl/day (2021 est.)

refined petroleum consumption: 35,100 bbl/day (2019 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate exports: 0 bbl/day (2018 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate imports: 13,000 bbl/day (2018 est.)

crude oil estimated reserves: 0 barrels (2021 est.)

Gross reproduction rate

0.9 (2023 est.)

Currently married women (ages 15-49)

56% (2023 est.)

Remittances

15.35% of GDP (2021 est.)
14.74% of GDP (2020 est.)
13.39% of GDP (2019 est.)

Space program overview

stated mission of the space agency is to promote the development of space activities with the aim of broadening the country’s capacities in the fields of education, industry, science, and technology; has cooperated with China and Russia; is a signatory of the convention establishing the Latin American and Caribbean Space Agency (ALCE) (2023)

note: further details about the key activities, programs, and milestones of the country’s space program, as well as government spending estimates on the space sector, appear in Appendix S

Space agency/agencies

National Secretariat for Extraterrestrial Space Affairs, The Moon and Other Celestial Bodies (Secretaría Nacional para Asuntos del Espacio Ultraterrestre, la Luna y otros Cuerpos Celestes, established 2021; operates under the military’s control) (2023)

Geoparks

total global geoparks and regional networks: 1

global geoparks and regional networks: Rio Coco (2023)

Labor force

3.042 million (2021 est.)

Youth unemployment rate (ages 15-24)

total: 11.6% (2021 est.)

male: 10.2%

female: 15.5%

Net migration rate

-1.8 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2023 est.)

Median age

total: 28.5 years (2023 est.)

male: 27.6 years

female: 29.4 years

Debt - external

$11.674 billion (2019 est.)
$11.771 billion (2018 est.)

Maternal mortality ratio

78 deaths/100,000 live births (2020 est.)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$4.047 billion (31 December 2021 est.)
$3.212 billion (31 December 2020 est.)
$2.397 billion (31 December 2019 est.)

Waterways

2,220 km (2011) (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)

Refined petroleum products - imports

20,120 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Public debt

33.3% of GDP (2017 est.)
31.2% of GDP (2016 est.)

note: official data; data cover general government debt and include debt instruments issued (or owned) by Government entities other than the treasury; the data include treasury debt held by foreign entities, as well as intragovernmental debt; intragovernmental 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

Total fertility rate

1.85 children born/woman (2023 est.)

Military expenditures

0.6% of GDP (2022 est.)
0.6% of GDP (2021 est.)
0.6% of GDP (2020 est.)
0.6% of GDP (2019 est.)
0.6% of GDP (2018 est.)

Unemployment rate

5.96% (2021 est.)
6.08% (2020 est.)
5.21% (2019 est.)

note: underemployment was 46.5% in 2008

Population

6,359,689 (2023 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-2% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

Internet users

total: 3.933 million (2021 est.)

percent of population: 57% (2021 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions

4.851 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from coal and metallurgical coke: 0 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from petroleum and other liquids: 4.851 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from consumed natural gas: 0 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

Area

total: 130,370 sq km

land: 119,990 sq km

water: 10,380 sq km

Taxes and other revenues

17.2% (of GDP) (2020 est.)

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$38.628 billion (2021 est.)
$35.007 billion (2020 est.)
$35.645 billion (2019 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

Roadways

total: 24,033 km (2013)

paved: 3,447 km (2013)

unpaved: 20,586 km (2013)

Infant mortality rate

total: 14.7 deaths/1,000 live births (2023 est.)

male: 16.2 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 13 deaths/1,000 live births

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 6,233,864 (2021 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 91 (2021 est.)

Gini Index coefficient - distribution of family income

46.2 (2014 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

4.93% (2021 est.)
3.68% (2020 est.)
5.38% (2019 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports

460 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Current account balance

-$316.6 million (2021 est.)
$496.7 million (2020 est.)
$754.1 million (2019 est.)

Real GDP per capita

$5,600 (2021 est.)
$5,200 (2020 est.)
$5,300 (2019 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 290,351 (2020 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 4 (2020 est.)

Obesity - adult prevalence rate

23.7% (2016)

Energy consumption per capita

14.916 million Btu/person (2019 est.)

Death rate

5.1 deaths/1,000 population (2023 est.)

Birth rate

16.6 births/1,000 population (2023 est.)

Electricity

installed generating capacity: 1.837 million kW (2020 est.)

consumption: 3,182,620,000 kWh (2019 est.)

exports: 0 kWh (2019 est.)

imports: 434 million kWh (2019 est.)

transmission/distribution losses: 1.89 billion kWh (2019 est.)

Merchant marine

total: 5 (2023)

by type: general cargo 1, oil tanker 1, other 3

Imports

$8.306 billion (2021 est.) note: data are in current year dollars
$5.939 billion (2020 est.) note: data are in current year dollars
$6.252 billion (2019 est.) note: data are in current year dollars

Exports

$6.617 billion (2021 est.) note: data are in current year dollars
$5.342 billion (2020 est.) note: data are in current year dollars
$5.714 billion (2019 est.) note: data are in current year dollars

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 215,729 (2022 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 3 (2021 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production

14,720 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Alcohol consumption per capita

total: 3.69 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

beer: 1.57 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

wine: 0.02 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

spirits: 2.1 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

other alcohols: 0 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 74.5 years (2023 est.)

male: 73 years

female: 76.2 years

Real GDP growth rate

10.34% (2021 est.)
-1.79% (2020 est.)
-3.78% (2019 est.)

Industrial production growth rate

21.28% (2021 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 15.5% (2017 est.)

industry: 24.4% (2017 est.)

services: 60% (2017 est.)

Revenue from forest resources

1.26% of GDP (2018 est.)

Revenue from coal

0% of GDP (2018 est.)

Education expenditures

4.6% of GDP (2020 est.)

Population growth rate

0.97% (2023 est.)

Airports

39 (2024)