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Nicaragua :: Central America and Caribbean



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, and most recently in 2016. Municipal, regional, and national-level elections since 2008 have been marred by widespread irregularities. Democratic institutions have weakened under the ORTEGA administration as the president has garnered full control over all branches of government, especially after cracking down on a nationwide antigovernment protest movement in 2018.



Central 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


total: 130,370 sq km
land: 119,990 sq km
water: 10,380 sq km
country comparison to the world: 98

Area - comparative:

slightly larger than Pennsylvania; slightly smaller than New York state

Land boundaries:

total: 1,253 km
border countries (2): Costa Rica 313 km, Honduras 940 km


910 km

Maritime claims:

territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
continental shelf: natural prolongation


tropical in lowlands, cooler in highlands


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


mean elevation: 298 m
lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mogoton 2,085 m

Natural resources:

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

Land use:

agricultural land: 42.2% (2011 est.)
arable land: 12.5% (2011 est.) / permanent crops: 2.5% (2011 est.) / permanent pasture: 27.2% (2011 est.)
forest: 25.3% (2011 est.)
other: 32.5% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land:

1,990 sq km (2012)

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

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

Environment - current issues:

deforestation; soil erosion; water pollution; drought

Environment - international agreements:

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography - note:

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

People and Society


6,203,441 (July 2020 est.)
country comparison to the world: 111


noun: Nicaraguan(s)
adjective: Nicaraguan

Ethnic groups:

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


Spanish (official) 95.3%, Miskito 2.2%, Mestizo of the Caribbean coast 2%, other 0.5% (2005 est.)
note: English and indigenous languages found on the Caribbean coast


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

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.

Age structure:

0-14 years: 25.63% (male 811,731/female 777,984)
15-24 years: 19.51% (male 609,962/female 600,567)
25-54 years: 42.41% (male 1,254,683/female 1,376,052)
55-64 years: 6.63% (male 188,591/female 222,766)
65 years and over: 5.82% (male 159,140/female 201,965) (2020 est.)

Dependency ratios:

total dependency ratio: 54.3
youth dependency ratio: 45.5
elderly dependency ratio: 8.8
potential support ratio: 11.4 (2020 est.)

Median age:

total: 27.3 years
male: 26.4 years
female: 28.2 years (2020 est.)
country comparison to the world: 148

Population growth rate:

0.96% (2020 est.)
country comparison to the world: 110

Birth rate:

17.1 births/1,000 population (2020 est.)
country comparison to the world: 96

Death rate:

5.2 deaths/1,000 population (2020 est.)
country comparison to the world: 195

Net migration rate:

-2.4 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2020 est.)
country comparison to the world: 169

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


urban population: 59% of total population (2020)
rate of urbanization: 1.45% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)

Major urban areas - population:

1.064 million MANAGUA (capital) (2020)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 0.91 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.85 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.79 male(s)/female
total population: 0.95 male(s)/female (2020 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth:

19.2 years (2011/12 est.)
note: median age at first birth among women 25-29

Maternal mortality rate:

198 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 47

Infant mortality rate:

total: 16.5 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 19 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 13.9 deaths/1,000 live births (2020 est.)
country comparison to the world: 90

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 74.2 years
male: 72 years
female: 76.6 years (2020 est.)
country comparison to the world: 134

Total fertility rate:

1.82 children born/woman (2020 est.)
country comparison to the world: 148

Contraceptive prevalence rate:

80.4% (2011/12)

Drinking water source:

improved: urban: 97.6% of population
rural: 62.6% of population
total: 83.1% of population
unimproved: urban: 2.4% of population
rural: 37.4% of population
total: 16.9% of population (2017 est.)

Current Health Expenditure:

8.6% (2017)

Physicians density:

1.01 physicians/1,000 population (2018)

Hospital bed density:

0.9 beds/1,000 population (2017)

Sanitation facility access:

improved: urban: 89.8% of population
rural: 66.5% of population
total: 80.1% of population
unimproved: urban: 10.2% of population
rural: 33.5% of population
total: 19.9% of population (2017 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

0.2% (2019 est.)
country comparison to the world: 108

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:

9,600 (2019 est.)
country comparison to the world: 105

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

<200 (2019 est.)

Major infectious diseases:

degree of risk: high (2020)
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: dengue fever and malaria

Obesity - adult prevalence rate:

23.7% (2016)
country comparison to the world: 63

Children under the age of 5 years underweight:

4.6% (2012)
country comparison to the world: 86

Education expenditures:

4.4% of GDP (2017)
country comparison to the world: 83


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 82.6%
male: 82.4%
female: 82.8% (2015)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24:

total: 8.5%
male: 6.4%
female: 12.9% (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 141


Country name:

conventional long form: Republic of Nicaragua
conventional short form: Nicaragua
local long form: Republica 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)

Government type:

presidential republic


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

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


15 September 1821 (from Spain)

National holiday:

Independence Day, 15 September (1821)


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 2014

Legal system:

civil law system; Supreme Court may review administrative acts

International law organization participation:

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


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


16 years of age; universal

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 as of 2014); election last held on 6 November 2016 (next to be held on 7 November 2021)
election results: Jose Daniel ORTEGA Saavedra reelected president; 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%

Legislative branch:

description: unicameral National Assembly or Asamblea Nacional (92 seats; 70 members in multi-seat constituencies and 20 members in a single nationwide constituency directly elected by proportional representation vote; 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 6 November 2016 (next to be held on 7 November 2021)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - FSLN 71, PLC 14, ALN 2, PLI 2, APRE 1, PC 1, YATAMA 1; composition - men 50, women 42, percent of women 45.7%

Judicial branch:

highest courts: 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

Political parties and leaders:

Alliance for the Republic or APRE [Carlos CANALES] ++ Conservative Party or PC [Alfredo CESAR] ++ Independent Liberal Party or PLI [Jose del Carmen ALVARADO] ++ Liberal Constitutionalist Party or PLC [Maria Haydee OSUNA] ++ Nicaraguan Liberal Alliance or ALN [Alejandro MEJIA Ferreti] ++ Sandinista National Liberation Front or FSLN [Jose Daniel ORTEGA Saavedra] ++ Sandinista Renovation Movement or MRS [Suyen BARAHONA] ++ Sons of Mother Earth or YATAMA [Brooklyn RIVERA]

International organization participation:


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, 6573
FAX: [1] (202) 939-6545
consulate(s) general: Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco

Diplomatic representation from the US:

chief of mission: Ambassador Kevin K. SULLIVAN (since 18 December 2018)
telephone: [505] 2252-7100, 2252-7888; 2252-7100 or 8767-7100 (after hours)
embassy: Kilometer 5.5 Carretera Sur, Managua
mailing address: American Embassy Managua, APO AA 34021
FAX: [505] 2252-7250

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

National symbol(s):

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

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


Economic overview:

Nicaragua, the poorest country in Central America and the second poorest in the Western Hemisphere, has widespread underemployment and poverty. GDP growth of 4.5% in 2017 was insufficient to make a significant difference. Textiles and agriculture combined account for nearly 50% of Nicaragua's exports. Beef, coffee, and gold are Nicaragua's top three export commodities. ++ The Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement has been in effect since April 2006 and has expanded export opportunities for many Nicaraguan agricultural and manufactured goods. ++ In 2013, the government granted a 50-year concession with the option for an additional 50 years to a newly formed Chinese-run company to finance and build an inter-oceanic canal and related projects, at an estimated cost of $50 billion. The canal construction has not started.

GDP real growth rate:

4.9% (2017 est.)
4.7% (2016 est.)
4.8% (2015 est.)
country comparison to the world: 50

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

5.3% (2019 est.)
4.9% (2018 est.)
3.8% (2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 186

Credit ratings:

Fitch rating: B- (2018)
Moody's rating: B3 (2020)
Standard & Poors rating: B- (2018)

GDP (purchasing power parity) - real:

$36.4 billion (2017 est.)
$34.71 billion (2016 est.)
$33.17 billion (2015 est.)
note: data are in 2017 dollars

GDP (official exchange rate):

$12.57 billion (2019 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$5,900 (2017 est.)
$5,600 (2016 est.)
$5,500 (2015 est.)
note: data are in 2017 dollars
country comparison to the world: 148

Gross national saving:

24% of GDP (2017 est.)
23.2% of GDP (2016 est.)
23.6% of GDP (2015 est.)
country comparison to the world: 69

GDP - composition, by sector of origin:

agriculture: 15.5% (2017 est.)
industry: 24.4% (2017 est.)
services: 60% (2017 est.)

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.)

Ease of Doing Business Index scores:

79.6 (2020)

Agriculture - products:

coffee, bananas, sugarcane, rice, corn, tobacco, cotton, sesame, soya, beans, beef, veal, pork, poultry, dairy products, shrimp, lobsters, peanuts


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

Industrial production growth rate:

3.5% (2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 88

Labor force:

3.046 million (2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 103

Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture: 31%
industry: 18%
services: 50% (2011 est.)

Unemployment rate:

6.4% (2017 est.)
6.2% (2016 est.)
note: underemployment was 46.5% in 2008
country comparison to the world: 101

Population below poverty line:

29.6% (2015 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:

lowest 10%: 1.8%
highest 10%: 47.1% (2014)


revenues: 3.871 billion (2017 est.)
expenditures: 4.15 billion (2017 est.)

Taxes and other revenues:

28% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 97

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-):

-2% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 106

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
country comparison to the world: 157

Fiscal year:

calendar year

Current account balance:

-$694 million (2017 est.)
-$989 million (2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 131


$3.819 billion (2017 est.)
$3.772 billion (2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 126

Exports - partners:

US 44.2%, El Salvador 6.4%, Venezuela 5.5%, Costa Rica 5.5% (2017)

Exports - commodities:

coffee, beef, gold, sugar, peanuts, shrimp and lobster, tobacco, cigars, automobile wiring harnesses, textiles, apparel


$6.613 billion (2017 est.)
$6.384 billion (2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 126

Imports - commodities:

consumer goods, machinery and equipment, raw materials, petroleum products

Imports - partners:

US 20.8%, China 14.3%, Mexico 11.1%, Costa Rica 7.9%, Guatemala 7%, El Salvador 5.6% (2017)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:

$2.758 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$2.448 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 113

Debt - external:

$11.31 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$10.87 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 109

Exchange rates:

cordobas (NIO) per US dollar -
30.11 (2017 est.)
28.678 (2016 est.)
28.678 (2015 est.)
27.257 (2014 est.)
26.01 (2013 est.)


Electricity access:

electrification - total population: 97% (2019)
electrification - urban areas: 99.2% (2019)
electrification - rural areas: 92% (2019)

Electricity - production:

4.454 billion kWh (2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 124

Electricity - consumption:

3.59 billion kWh (2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 132

Electricity - exports:

17.87 million kWh (2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 91

Electricity - imports:

205 million kWh (2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 93

Electricity - installed generating capacity:

1.551 million kW (2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 123

Electricity - from fossil fuels:

56% of total installed capacity (2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 138

Electricity - from nuclear fuels:

0% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 155

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants:

9% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 120

Electricity - from other renewable sources:

35% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 9

Crude oil - production:

0 bbl/day (2018 est.)
country comparison to the world: 183

Crude oil - exports:

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
country comparison to the world: 175

Crude oil - imports:

16,180 bbl/day (2015 est.)
country comparison to the world: 69

Crude oil - proved reserves:

0 bbl (1 January 2018 est.)
country comparison to the world: 178

Refined petroleum products - production:

14,720 bbl/day (2015 est.)
country comparison to the world: 95

Refined petroleum products - consumption:

37,000 bbl/day (2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 115

Refined petroleum products - exports:

460 bbl/day (2015 est.)
country comparison to the world: 111

Refined petroleum products - imports:

20,120 bbl/day (2015 est.)
country comparison to the world: 121

Natural gas - production:

0 cu m (2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 179

Natural gas - consumption:

0 cu m (2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 183

Natural gas - exports:

0 cu m (2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 162

Natural gas - imports:

0 cu m (2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 167

Natural gas - proved reserves:

0 cu m (1 January 2015 est.)
country comparison to the world: 177

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy:

5.405 million Mt (2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 132


Telephones - fixed lines:

total subscriptions: 215,055
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 3.5 (2019 est.)
country comparison to the world: 121

Telephones - mobile cellular:

total subscriptions: 5,433,530
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 88.43 (2019 est.)
country comparison to the world: 116

Telecommunication systems:

general assessment: system being upgraded by foreign investment; new canal being built between Pacific and Caribbean with Chinese funding; nearly all installed telecommunications capacity now uses digital technology, owing to investments since privatization of the formerly state-owned telecommunications company; lowest fixed-line teledensity and mobile penetration in Central America; Internet cafe's provide access to Internet and email services; telecom is bigger in the cities and marginal in rural area; liberalization slow; a Russian state corporation is operating in the area; LTE service in 60 towns and cities (2020)
domestic: since privatization, access to fixed-line and mobile-cellular services has improved; fixed-line teledensity roughly 4 per 100 persons; mobile-cellular telephone subscribership has increased to 88 per 100 persons (2019)
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)
note: the COVID-19 outbreak is negatively impacting telecommunications production and supply chains globally; consumer spending on telecom devices and services has also slowed due to the pandemic's effect on economies worldwide; overall progress towards improvements in all facets of the telecom industry - mobile, fixed-line, broadband, submarine cable and satellite - has moderated

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)

Internet country code:


Internet users:

total: 1,695,340
percent of population: 27.86% (July 2018 est.)
country comparison to the world: 126

Broadband - fixed subscriptions:

total: 192,413
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 3 (2018 est.)
country comparison to the world: 109


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 (2016)


147 (2013)
country comparison to the world: 38

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 12 (2017)
2,438 to 3,047 m: 3 (2017)
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2 (2017)
914 to 1,523 m: 3 (2017)
under 914 m: 4 (2017)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 135 (2013)
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2013)
914 to 1,523 m: 15 (2013)
under 914 m: 119 (2013)


54 km oil (2013)


total: 23,897 km (2014)
paved: 3,346 km (2014)
unpaved: 20,551 km (2014)
country comparison to the world: 107


2,220 km (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) (2011)
country comparison to the world: 39

Merchant marine:

total: 6
by type: general cargo 2, oil tanker 1, other 3 (2019)
country comparison to the world: 164

Ports and terminals:

major seaport(s): Bluefields, Corinto

Military and Security

Military and security forces:

Army of Nicaragua (Ejercito de Nicaragua, EN; includes Navy, Air Force) (2020)

Military expenditures:

0.7% of GDP (2019)
0.6% of GDP (2018)
0.6% of GDP (2017)
0.6% of GDP (2016)
0.8% of GDP (2015)
country comparison to the world: 139

Military and security service personnel strengths:

the Army of Nicaragua has approximately 12,000 active personnel (10,000 Army; 800 Navy; 1,200 Air Force) (2019 est.)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions:

the Nicaraguan military's inventory includes mostly Russian/Soviet-era equipment; since 2010, Russia is the leading arms supplier to Nicaragua (2019 est.)

Military service age and obligation:

18-30 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription; tour of duty 18-36 months; requires Nicaraguan nationality and 6th-grade education (2017)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international:

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; Nicaragua and Costa Rica regularly file border dispute cases over the delimitations of the San Juan River and the northern tip of Calero Island to the ICJ; 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; Nicaragua filed a case 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

Illicit drugs:

transshipment point for cocaine destined for the US and transshipment point for arms-for-drugs dealing