Nicaragua 1999Nicaragua

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Nicaragua - Introduction 1999
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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 and again in 1996 saw the Sandinistas defeated. The country has slowly rebuilt its economy during the 1990s but was hard hit by Hurricane Mitch in 1998.

Nicaragua - Geography 1999
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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 referenceCentral America and the Caribbean

Total: 129,494 km²
Land: 120,254 km²
Water: 9,240 km²
Comparative: slightly smaller than the state of New York

Land boundaries
Total: 1,231 km
Border countries: (2) Costa Rica 309 km; , Honduras 922 km

Coastline: 910 km

Maritime claims
Contiguous zone: 25-nm security zone
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

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

Natural resources: gold, silver, copper, tungsten, lead, zinc, timber, fish
Land use

Land use
Arable land: 9%
Permanent crops: 1%
Permanent pastures: 46%
Forests and woodland: 27%
Other: 17% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: 880 km² (1993 est.)

Major rivers

Major watersheds area km²

Total water withdrawal

Total renewable water resources

Natural hazards: destructive earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, and occasionally severe hurricanes


Nicaragua - People 1999
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Population: 4,717,132 (July 1999 est.)
Growth rate: 2.84% (1999 est.)
Below poverty line: 50.3% (1993 est.)

Noun: Nicaraguan(s)
Adjective: Nicaraguan

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

Languages: Spanish (official)
Note: English- and Amerindian-speaking minorities on Atlantic coast

Religions: Roman Catholic 95%, Protestant 5%

Demographic profile
Age structure

Age structure
0-14 years: 44% (male 1,037,269; female 1,018,909)
15-64 years: 54% (male 1,236,326; female 1,297,356)
65 years and over: 2% (male 54,706; female 72,566) (1999 est.)

Dependency ratios

Median age

Population growth rate: 2.84% (1999 est.)

Birth rate: 35.04 births/1000 population (1999 est.)

Death rate: 5.6 deaths/1000 population (1999 est.)

Net migration rate: -1.06 migrant(s)/1000 population (1999 est.)

Population distribution


Major urban areas

Current issues: deforestation; soil erosion; water pollution; Hurricane Mitch damage
International agreements party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands
International agreements signed but not ratified: Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Environmental Modification, Law of the Sea

Air pollutants

Sex ratio
At birth: 1.04 male(s)/female
Under 15 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.95 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.75 male(s)/female
Total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (1999 est.)

Mothers mean age at first birth

Maternal mortality ratio

Infant mortality rate: 40.47 deaths/1000 live births (1999 est.)

Life expectancy at birth
Total population: 67.08 years
Male: 64.7 years
Female: 69.56 years (1999 est.)

Total fertility rate: 4.14 children born/woman (1999 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

Drinking water source

Current health expenditure

Physicians density

Hospital bed density

Sanitation facility access


Major infectious diseases

Obesity adult prevalence rate

Alcohol consumption

Tobacco use

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

Education expenditures

Definition: age 15 and over can read and write
Total population: 65.7%
Male: 64.6%
Female: 66.6% (1995 est.)

School life expectancy primary to tertiary education

Youth unemployment

Nicaragua - Government 1999
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Country name
Conventional long form: Republic of Nicaragua
Conventional short form: Nicaragua
Local long form: Republica de Nicaragua
Local short form: Nicaragua

Government type: republic

Capital: Managua

Administrative divisions: 15 departments (departamentos, singular_departamento), 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*

Dependent areas

Independence: 15 September 1821 (from Spain)

National holiday: Independence Day, 15 September (1821)

Constitution: 9 January 1987

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

International law organization participation


Suffrage: 16 years of age; universal

Executive branch
Chief of state: President Arnoldo ALEMAN Lacayo (10 January 1997); Vice President Enrique BOLANOS Geyer (10 January 1997); note_the president is both chief of state and head of government
Head of government: President Arnoldo ALEMAN Lacayo (10 January 1997); Vice President Enrique BOLANOS Geyer (10 January 1997); note_the president is both chief of state and head of government
Cabinet: Cabinet
Elections: president and vice president elected on the same ticket by popular vote for a five-year term; election last held 20 October 1996 (next to be held NA 2001); note_in July 1995 the term of the office of the president was amended to five years
Election results: Arnoldo ALEMAN Lacayo (Liberal Alliance [ruling party]_includes PLC, PALI, PLIUN, and PUCA) 51.03%, Daniel ORTEGA Saavedra (FSLN) 37.75%, Guillermo OSORNO (PCCN) 4.10%, Noel VIDAURRE (PCN) 2.26%, Benjamin LANZAS (PRONAL) 0.53%, other (18 other candidates) remaining 4.33%

Legislative branch: unicameral National Assembly or Asamblea Nacional (93 seats; members are elected by proportional representation to serve five-year terms)
Elections: last held 20 October 1996 (next to be held NA 2001)
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, PNC 1, PLI 1, AU 1, UNO-96 Alliance 1

Judicial branch: Supreme Court (Corte Suprema), 12 judges elected for seven-year terms by the National Assembly

Political parties and leaders

International organization participation: BCIE, CACM, ECLAC, FAO, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ITU, LAES, LAIA (observer), NAM, OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO

Diplomatic representation
In the us chief of mission: Ambassador Francisco AGUIRRE Sacasa
In the us chancery: 1627 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20,009
In the us telephone: [1] (202) 939-6,570
In the us consulates general: Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York
From the us chief of mission: Ambassador Lino GUTIERREZ
From the us embassy: Kilometer 4.5 Carretera Sur, Managua
From the us mailing address: APO AA 34,021
From the us telephone: [505] (2) 662,298, 666,010, 666,012, 666,013, 666,015, 666,018, 666,026, 666,027, 666,032, 666,033
From the us FAX: [505] (2) 669,074

Flag descriptionflag of Nicaragua: 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

National symbols

National anthem

National heritage

Nicaragua - Economy 1999
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Economy overview: Prior to Hurricane Mitch in the fall of 1998, Nicaragua had been pursuing a number of impressive economic reforms and had begun to shed the legacy of a decade of civil war and economic mismanagement by posting strong annual growth numbers. The storm has put the reform effort on hold and has changed economic forecasts for the foreseeable future_Nicaragua, the poorest country in Central America was one of the hardest hit by the hurricane. Nicaragua sustained approximately $1 billion in damages and will probably see GDP growth slow by at least one percentage point in 1999. Hardest hit was the all-important agriculture sector, which is responsible for the majority of exports. As a result, the trade deficit is likely to balloon in 1999 to roughly $900 million. Significant aid and relief have helped to stabilize the country. In addition, the Paris Club and other creditors have offered substantial debt relief. Nevertheless, additional financing will be needed to restore the economy to its pre-Mitch condition.

Real gdp purchasing power parity

Real gdp growth rate: 4% (1998 est.)

Real gdp per capita ppp

Gross national saving
Gdp composition by sector of origin

Gdp composition by end use

Gdp composition by sector of origin
Agriculture: 32%
Industry: 24%
Services: 44% (1997)

Agriculture products: coffee, bananas, sugarcane, cotton, rice, corn, cassava (tapioca), citrus, beans; beef, veal, pork, poultry, dairy products

Industries: food processing, chemicals, metal products, textiles, clothing, petroleum refining and distribution, beverages, footwear

Industrial production growth rate: 1.4% (1994 est.)

Labor force: 1.5 million
By occupation services: 54%
By occupation agriculture: 31%
By occupation industry: 15% (1995 est.)
Labor force

Unemployment rate: 14%; underemployment 36% (1997 est.)

Youth unemployment

Population below poverty line: 50.3% (1993 est.)

Gini index

Household income or consumption by percentage share

Distribution of family income gini index

Revenues: $389 million
Expenditures: $551 million, including capital expenditures of $N/A (1996 est.)

Public debt

Taxes and other revenues


Fiscal year: calendar year

Current account balance

Inflation rate consumer prices

Central bank discount rate

Commercial bank prime lending rate

Stock of narrow money

Stock of broad money

Stock of domestic credit

Market value of publicly traded shares

Current account balance

Exports: $704 million (f.o.b., 1997)
Commodities: coffee, seafood, meat, sugar, gold, bananas
Partners: US, Central America, Germany, Canada

Imports: $1.45 billion (c.i.f., 1997)
Commodities: consumer goods, machinery and equipment, petroleum products
Partners: Central America, US, Venezuela, Japan

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

Debt external: $6 billion (1996 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment at home

Stock of direct foreign investment abroad

Exchange rates: gold cordobas (C$) per US$1_11.14 (December 1998), 10.58 (1998), 9.45 (1997), 8.44 (1996), 7.55 (1995), 6.72 (1994)

Nicaragua - Energy 1999
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Electricity access

Electricity production: 1.665 billion kWh (1996)
By source fossil fuel: 48.95%
By source hydro: 21.02%
By source nuclear: 0%
By source other: 30.03% (1996)

Electricity consumption: 1.665 billion kWh (1996)

Electricity exports: 0 kWh (1996)

Electricity imports: 0 kWh (1996)

Electricity installed generating capacity

Electricity transmission distribution losses

Electricity generation sources


Refined petroleum

Natural gas

Carbon dioxide emissions

Energy consumption per capita

Nicaragua - Communication 1999
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Telephones fixed lines

Telephones mobile cellular

Telephone system: low-capacity microwave radio relay and wire system being expanded; connected to Central American Microwave System
Domestic: wire and microwave radio relay
International: satellite earth stations_1 Intersputnik (Atlantic Ocean region) and 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)

Broadcast media

Internet country code

Internet users

Broadband fixed subscriptions

Nicaragua - Military 1999
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Military expenditures
Dollar figure: $26 million (1998)
Percent of gdp: 1.2% (1998)

Military and security forces

Military service age and obligation

Terrorist groups

Nicaragua - Transportation 1999
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National air transport system

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

Airports: 184 (1998 est.)
With paved runways total: 13
With paved runways over 3047 m: 1
With paved runways 2438 to 3047 m: 1
With paved runways 15-24 to 2437 m: 3
With paved runways 914 to 1523 m: 3
With paved runways under 914 m: 5 (1998 est.)
With unpaved runways total: 171
With unpaved runways 15-24 to 2437 m: 1
With unpaved runways 914 to 1523 m: 27
With unpaved runways under 914 m: 143 (1998 est.)

Airports with paved runways
Total: 13
Over 3047 m: 1
2438 to 3047 m: 1
15-24 to 2437 m: 3
914 to 1523 m: 3
Under 914 m: 5 (1998 est.)

Airports with unpaved runways
Total: 171
15-24 to 2437 m: 1
914 to 1523 m: 27
Under 914 m: 143 (1998 est.)


Pipelines: crude oil 56 km



Waterways: 2,220 km, including 2 large lakes

Merchant marine: none

Ports and terminals

Nicaragua - Transnational issues 1999
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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 International Court of Justice (ICJ) referred the disputants to an earlier agreement in this century and advised that some tripartite resolution among El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua likely would be required; maritime boundary dispute with Honduras

Refugees and internally displaced persons

Illicit drugs: transshipment point for cocaine destined for the US

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