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Top Nicaragua

Nicaragua by Numbers

Country Name: República de Nicaragua

Capital: Managua

Independence Day: September 15, 1821 (from Spain)

President: President Daniel Ortega Saavedra (since 10 January 2007)

Currency: Gold Cordoba (NIO) Exchange Rate: gold cordobas per US dollar - 18.457 (2007)

Population: 7.8 (July 2009 est.)

Nationality: Nicaraguan(s)

Ethnic groups: mestizo (mixed Amerindian and white) 69 percent; white 17 percent; black 9 percent; Amerindian 5 percent.

Religions: Roman Catholic 58.5 percent; Evangelical 21.6 percent; Moravian 1.6 percent; Jehovah's Witness 0.9 percent; other 1.7 percent; none 15.7 percent (2005 census).

Languages: Spanish 97.5 percent (official), Miskito 1.7 percent, other 0.8 percent (1995 census);English and indigenous languages are spoken on the Atlantic coast.

Literacy: (definition: age 15 and over can read and write) 67.5 percent. Historical 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 the Marxist Sandinista guerrillas to power in 1979. Nicaraguan aid to leftist rebels in El Salvador caused the US to sponsor anti-Sandinista contra guerrillas through much of the 1980s. Free elections, in 1990, 1996, and 2001, saw the Sandinistas defeated, but voting in 2006 announced the return of former Sandinista President Daniel Ortega Saavedra. Nicaragua's infrastructure and economy - hard hit by the earlier civil war and by Hurricane Mitch in 1998 - are slowly being rebuilt.

Geography: Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America; it contains the largest freshwater body of water in Central America: Lago de Nicaragua. Thecountry borders both Costa Rica and Honduras, between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean.

Coastline: 910 km (565 mi)

Highest point: Mogoton at 2,438 m (8,000 ft)

Natural resources: gold, silver, copper, tungsten, lead, zinc, timber, fish Natural hazards: destructive earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides; extremely susceptible to hurricanes

Environmental issues: deforestation; soil erosion; water pollution

Economic overview: Nicaragua has widespread underemployment, one of the highest degrees of income inequality in the world, and the third lowest per capita income in the Western Hemisphere. While the country has progressed toward macroeconomic stability in the past few years, annual GDP growth has been far too low to meet the country's needs, forcing the country to rely on international economic assistance to meet fiscal and debt financing obligations. In early 2004, Nicaragua secured some $4.5 billion in foreign debt reduction under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative, and in October 2007, the IMF approved a new poverty reduction and growth facility (PRGF) program that should create fiscal space for social spending and investment. The continuity of a relationship with the IMF reinforces donor confidence, despite private sector concerns surrounding President Ortega, which has dampened investment. 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. Energy shortages fueled by high oil prices, however, are a serious bottleneck to growth.

GDP per capita: $2,800 (2007 est.)

Population below the poverty line: 50 percent (2001)

Unemployment rate: 4.9 percent, plus underemployment of 46.5 percent (2007 est.)

Agriculture products: ccoffee, bananas, sugarcane, cotton, rice, corn, tobacco, sesame, soya, beans; beef, veal, pork, poultry, dairy products; shrimp, lobsters. Industries: food processing, chemicals, machinery and metal products, textiles, clothing, petroleum refining and distribution, beverages, footwear, wood.

Export commodities: coffee, beef, shrimp and lobster, tobacco, sugar, gold, peanuts.

Export partners: US, El Salvador, Honduras.

Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Nicaragua : Nicaragua Today,

23 Sep 2009

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