Nicaragua

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PAGE LAST UPDATED ON NOVEMBER 10, 2011
Flag of Nicaragua
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Location of Nicaragua
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Map of Nicaragua
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Photos of Nicaragua
 
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OF NICARAGUA
 

Introduction

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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. After losing free and fair elections in 1990, 1996, and 2001, former Sandinista President Daniel ORTEGA Saavedra was elected president in 2006. The 2008 municipal elections were marred by widespread irregularities. Nicaragua's infrastructure and economy - hard hit by the earlier civil war and by Hurricane Mitch in 1998 - are slowly being rebuilt, but democratic institutions have been weakened under the ORTEGA administration.
 
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Geography

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Central America, bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean, between Costa Rica and Honduras
 
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13 00 N, 85 00 W
 
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total: 130,370 sq km
country comparison to the world: 98
land: 119,990 sq km
water: 10,380 sq km
 
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slightly smaller than New York state
 
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total: 1,231 km
border countries: Costa Rica 309 km, Honduras 922 km
 
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910 km
 
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territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
continental shelf: natural prolongation
 
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tropical in lowlands, cooler in highlands
 
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extensive Atlantic coastal plains rising to central interior mountains; narrow Pacific coastal plain interrupted by volcanoes
 
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lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mogoton 2,438 m
 
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gold, silver, copper, tungsten, lead, zinc, timber, fish
 
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arable land: 14.81%
permanent crops: 1.82%
other: 83.37% (2005)
 
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610 sq km (2008)
 
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196.7 cu km (2000)
 
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total: 1.3 cu km/yr (15%/2%/83%)
per capita: 237 cu m/yr (2000)
 
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destructive earthquakes; volcanoes; landslides; extremely susceptible to hurricanes
volcanism: Nicaragua experiences significant volcanic activity; Cerro Negro (elev. 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
 
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deforestation; soil erosion; water pollution
 
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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
 
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largest country in Central America; contains the largest freshwater body in Central America, Lago de Nicaragua
 
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People and Society

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noun: Nicaraguan(s)
adjective: Nicaraguan
 
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mestizo (mixed Amerindian and white) 69%, white 17%, black 9%, Amerindian 5%
 
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Spanish (official) 97.5%, Miskito 1.7%, other 0.8% (1995 census)
note: English and indigenous languages found on the Atlantic coast
 
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Roman Catholic 58.5%, Protestant 23.2% (Evangelical 21.6%, Moravian 1.6%), Jehovah's Witnesses 0.9%, other 1.7%, none 15.7% (2005 census)
 
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5,666,301 (July 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 109
 
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0-14 years: 31.7% (male 913,905/female 879,818)
15-64 years: 63.8% (male 1,743,591/female 1,874,025)
65 years and over: 4.5% (male 116,153/female 138,809) (2011 est.)
 
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total: 22.9 years
male: 22.1 years
female: 23.7 years (2011 est.)
 
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1.088% (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 107
 
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19.46 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 93
 
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5.03 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 182
 
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-3.54 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 183
 
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urban population: 57% of total population (2010)
rate of urbanization: 2% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
 
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MANAGUA (capital) 934,000 (2009)
 
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at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.78 male(s)/female
total population: 1 male(s)/female (2011 est.)
 
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100 deaths/100,000 live births (2008)
country comparison to the world: 71
 
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total: 22.64 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 88
male: 25.94 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 19.19 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.)
 
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total population: 71.9 years
country comparison to the world: 131
male: 69.82 years
female: 74.09 years (2011 est.)
 
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2.12 children born/woman (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 116
 
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9.5% of GDP (2009)
country comparison to the world: 38
 
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0.37 physicians/1,000 population (2003)
country comparison to the world: 133
 
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0.9 beds/1,000 population (2008)
country comparison to the world: 152
 
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improved:
urban: 98% of population
rural: 68% of population
total: 85% of population
unimproved:
urban: 2% of population
rural: 32% of population
total: 15% of population (2008)
 
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improved:
urban: 63% of population
rural: 37% of population
total: 52% of population
unimproved:
urban: 37% of population
rural: 63% of population
total: 48% of population (2008)
 
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0.2% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 106
 
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6,900 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 112
 
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fewer than 500 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 94
 
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degree of risk: high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne disease: dengue fever and malaria
water contact disease: leptospirosis (2009)
 
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4.3% (2004)
country comparison to the world: 90
 
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3.1% of GDP (2003)
country comparison to the world: 130
 
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definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 67.5%
male: 67.2%
female: 67.8% (2003 est.)
 
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total: 11 years
male: 11 years
female: 11 years (2003)
 
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total: 8.6%
country comparison to the world: 112
male: 8.1%
female: 9.7% (2006)
 
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Government

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conventional long form: Republic of Nicaragua
conventional short form: Nicaragua
local long form: Republica de Nicaragua
local short form: Nicaragua
 
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republic
 
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name: Managua
geographic coordinates: 12 09 N, 86 17 W
time difference: UTC-6 (1 hour behind Washington, DC during Standard Time)
 
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15 departments (departamentos, singular - departamento) and 2 autonomous regions* (regiones autonomistas, singular - region autonoma); Atlantico Norte*, Atlantico Sur*, Boaco, Carazo, Chinandega, Chontales, Esteli, Granada, Jinotega, Leon, Madriz, Managua, Masaya, Matagalpa, Nueva Segovia, Rio San Juan, Rivas
 
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15 September 1821 (from Spain)
 
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Independence Day, 15 September (1821)
 
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9 January 1987; revised in 1995, 2000, and 2005
 
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civil law system; Supreme Court may review administrative acts
 
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accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; non-party state to the ICCt
 
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16 years of age; universal
 
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chief of state: President Daniel ORTEGA Saavedra (since 10 January 2007); Vice President Jaime MORALES Carazo (since 10 January 2007); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Daniel ORTEGA Saavedra (since 10 January 2007); Vice President Jaime MORALES Carazo (since 10 January 2007)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president
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elections: president and vice president elected on the same ticket by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term so long as it is not consecutive); election last held on 5 November 2006 (next to be held by November 2011)
election results: Daniel ORTEGA Saavedra elected president - 38.1%, Eduardo MONTEALEGRE 29%, Jose RIZO 26.2%, Edmundo JARQUIN 6.4%, other 0.3%
 
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unicameral National Assembly or Asamblea Nacional (92 seats; 90 members elected by proportional representation and party lists to serve five-year terms; 1 seat for the previous president, 1 seat for the runner-up in previous presidential election)
elections: last held on 5 November 2006 (next to be held by November 2011)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - FSLN 38, PLC 25, ALN 24, MRS 5; note - political parties have been reorganized to reflect the following seat distribution: as of 1 March 2011 - seats by party - FSLN 37, PLC 20, BDN 13, ALN 7, MRS 4, BUN 5, Independent 6
 
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Supreme Court or Corte Suprema de Justicia (16 judges elected for five-year terms by the National Assembly); note - in 2010, President Ortega directly replaced seven justices on the Supreme Court
 
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Conservative Party or PC [Alejandro BOLANOS Davis]; Independent Liberal Party or PLI [Indalecio RODRIGUEZ]; Liberal Constitutionalist Party or PLC [Jorge CASTILLO Quant]; Nicaraguan Liberal Alliance or ALN [Alejandro MEJIA Ferreti]; Sandinista National Liberation Front or FSLN [Daniel ORTEGA Saavedra]; Sandinista Renovation Movement or MRS [Enrique SAENZ-NAVARRETE]
 
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National Workers Front or FNT (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 (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 (an independent labor union); Superior Council of Private Enterprise or COSEP (a confederation of business groups)
 
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BCIE, CACM, FAO, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, LAES, LAIA (observer), MIGA, NAM, OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, PCA, PetroCaribe, RG, SICA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, Union Latina, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
 
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chief of mission: Ambassador Francisco Obadiah CAMPBELL Hooker
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
 
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chief of mission: Ambassador Robert J. CALLAHAN
embassy: Kilometer 5.5 Carretera Sur, Managua
mailing address: American Embassy Managua, APO AA 34021
telephone: [505] 252-7100, 252-7888; 252-7634 (after hours)
FAX: [505] 252-7304
 
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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
 
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turquoise-browed motmot (bird)
 
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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 1830"s until 1876
 
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Economy

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Nicaragua, the poorest country in Central America and the second poorest in the Hemisphere, has widespread underemployment and poverty. The US-Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) has been in effect since April 2006 and has expanded export opportunities for many agricultural and manufactured goods. Textiles and apparel account for nearly 60% of Nicaragua's exports, but increases in the minimum wage during the ORTEGA administration will likely erode its comparative advantage in this industry. ORTEGA's promotion of mixed business initiatives, owned by the Nicaraguan and Venezuelan state oil firms, together with the weak rule of law, could undermine the investment climate for domestic and international private firms in the near-term. Nicaragua relies on international economic assistance to meet internal- and external-debt financing obligations. Foreign donors have curtailed this funding, however, in response to November 2008 electoral fraud. Managua has an IMF extended Credit Facility program, which could help keep the government's fiscal deficit on target during the 2011 election year and encourage transparency in the use of Venezuelan off-budget loans and assistance. In early 2004, Nicaragua secured some $4.5 billion in foreign debt reduction under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative, however, Managua still struggles with a high public debt burden. Nicaragua is gradually recovering from the global economic crisis as increased exports drove positive growth in 2010. The economy is expected to grow at a rate of about 3% in 2011.
 
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$17.71 billion (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 130
$16.95 billion (2009 est.)
$17.2 billion (2008 est.)
note: data are in 2010 US dollars
 
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$6.551 billion (2010 est.)
 
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4.5% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 83
-1.5% (2009 est.)
2.8% (2008 est.)
 
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$3,000 (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 169
$2,900 (2009 est.)
$3,000 (2008 est.)
note: data are in 2010 US dollars
 
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agriculture: 18.5%
industry: 25.9%
services: 55.6% (2010 est.)
 
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2.811 million (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 104
 
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agriculture: 28%
industry: 19%
services: 53% (2010 est.)
 
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7.8% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 84
8.2% (2009 est.)
note: underemployment was 46.5% in 2008
 
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48% (2005)
 
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lowest 10%: 1.4%
highest 10%: 41.8% (2005)
 
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43.1 (2001)
country comparison to the world: 48
60.3 (1998)
 
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26.2% of GDP (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 49
 
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revenues: $2.12 billion
expenditures: $2.156 billion (2010 est.)
 
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32.4% of GDP (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 83
 
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-0.6% of GDP (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 54
 
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63.6% of GDP (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 27
63.8% of GDP (2009 est.)
 
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5.5% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 158
3.7% (2009 est.)
 
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3% (31 December 2010 est.)
NA% (31 December 2008)
 
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13.32% (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 72
14.04% (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$1.229 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 135
$965.6 million (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$2.924 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 135
$2.523 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$4.003 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 115
$4.061 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$NA
 
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coffee, bananas, sugarcane, cotton, rice, corn, tobacco, sesame, soya, beans; beef, veal, pork, poultry, dairy products; shrimp, lobsters
 
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food processing, chemicals, machinery and metal products, knit and woven apparel, petroleum refining and distribution, beverages, footwear, wood
 
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1.5% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 139
 
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3.419 billion kWh (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 123
 
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2.646 billion kWh (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 131
 
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0 kWh (2009 est.)
 
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2 million kWh (2009 est.)
 
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377 bbl/day (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 113
 
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30,000 bbl/day (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 116
 
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742 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 120
 
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30,290 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 102
 
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0 bbl (1 January 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 177
 
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0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 176
 
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0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 115
 
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0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 157
 
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0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 110
 
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0 cu m (1 January 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 179
 
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-$944 million (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 129
-$827.9 million (2009 est.)
 
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$3.157 billion (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 121
$2.39 billion (2009 est.)
 
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coffee, beef, shrimp and lobster, tobacco, sugar, gold, peanuts; textiles and apparel
 
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US 58.2%, El Salvador 7.7%, Canada 6.4%, Venezuela 4.2% (2010)
 
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$4.792 billion (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 117
$3.929 billion (2009 est.)
 
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consumer goods, machinery and equipment, raw materials, petroleum products
 
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US 23.4%, Venezuela 16.7%, Costa Rica 8.8%, China 7.2%, Mexico 6.7%, Guatemala 6%, El Salvador 4.6% (2010)
 
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$1.799 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 122
$1.573 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$4.739 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 113
$4.42 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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cordobas (NIO) per US dollar -
21.35 (2010)
20.34 (2009)
19.374 (2008)
18.457 (2007)
17.582 (2006)
 
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Communications

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258,000 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 122
 
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3.771 million (2010)
country comparison to the world: 115
 
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general assessment: system being upgraded by foreign investment; nearly all installed telecommunications capacity now uses digital technology, owing to investments since privatization of the formerly state-owned telecommunications company
domestic: since privatization, access to fixed-line and mobile-cellular services has improved but teledensity still lags behind other Central American countries; fixed-line teledensity roughly 5 per 100 persons; mobile-cellular telephone subscribership is increasing and reached 55 per 100 persons in 2009; connected to Central American Microwave System
international: country code - 505; the Americas Region Caribbean Ring System (ARCOS-1) fiber optic submarine cable 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) (2009)
 
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multiple privately-owned terrestrial television networks, supplemented by cable TV in most urban areas; of more than 100 radio broadcast stations, nearly all are privately owned; Radio Nicaragua is government-owned and Radio Sandino is controlled by the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) (2007)
 
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.ni
 
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157,162 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 70
 
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199,800 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 141
 
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Transportation

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143 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 39
 
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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 (2010)
 
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total: 132
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 16
under 914 m: 115 (2010)
 
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oil 54 km (2010)
 
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total: 19,137 km
country comparison to the world: 112
paved: 2,033 km
unpaved: 17,104 km (2009)
 
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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) (2010)
country comparison to the world: 40
 
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Bluefields, Corinto
 
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Military

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National Army of Nicaragua (Ejercito Nacional de Nicaragua, ENN; includes Navy, Air Force) (2010)
 
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18-30 years of age for voluntary military service; tour of duty 18-36 months; requires Nicaraguan nationality and 6th-grade education (2011)
 
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males age 16-49: 1,452,107
females age 16-49: 1,552,698 (2010 est.)
 
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males age 16-49: 1,227,757
females age 16-49: 1,335,653 (2010 est.)
 
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male: 69,093
female: 67,522 (2010 est.)
 
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0.6% of GDP (2006)
country comparison to the world: 153
 
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Transnational Issues

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memorials and countermemorials were filed by the parties in Nicaragua's 1999 and 2001 proceedings against Honduras and Colombia at the ICJ over the maritime boundary and territorial claims in the western Caribbean Sea, final public hearings are scheduled for 2007; 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; legal dispute over navigational rights of San Juan River on border with Costa Rica
 
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transshipment point for cocaine destined for the US and transshipment point for arms-for-drugs dealing
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