Area: 129,494 sq. km. (59,998 sq. mi.); slightly larger than New
Cities: Capital--Managua (pop. 1 million). Other cities--Leon,
Granada, Jinotega, Matagalpa, Chinandega, Masaya.
Terrain: Extensive Atlantic coastal plains rising to central
interior mountains; narrow Pacific coastal plain interrupted by
Climate: Tropical in lowlands; cooler in highlands.
Nationality: Noun and adjective--Nicaraguan(s).
Population (2004 est.): 5.36 million.
Annual growth rate (est.): 1.97%. Density--33 per sq. km.
Ethnic groups: Mestizo (mixed European and indigenous) 69%, white
17%, black (Jamaican origin) 9%, indigenous 5%.
Religion: Predominantly Roman Catholic, with rapidly growing
percentage of Evangelical Protestants.
Languages: Spanish (official), English and indigenous languages on
Education: Years compulsory--none enforced (28% of first
graders eventually finish sixth grade). Literacy—67.5%.
Health: Life expectancy--70 yrs. Infant mortality rate—30.15/1,000.
Work force (1999): 1.7 million. Unemployed--22%;
Constitution: The 1987 Sandinista-era constitution was changed in
1995 to provide for a more even distribution of power among the four
branches of government and again in 2000 to increase the Supreme
Court and the Controller General's Office and to make changes to the
Branches: Executive--president and vice president.
Legislative--National Assembly (unicameral). Judicial--Supreme
Court; subordinate appeals, district, and local courts; separate
labor and administrative tribunals. Electoral--Supreme
Electoral Council, responsible for organizing and holding elections.
Administrative subdivisions: 15 departments and two autonomous
regions on the Atlantic coast; 145 municipalities.
Major political parties: Liberal Constitutionalist Party (PLC);
Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN). Other political
parties: Conservative Party (PC); National Resistance Party (PRN);
Camino Cristiano; Alliance for the Republic (APRE). Regional parties
in the Atlantic Coast include YATAMA (Yapti Tasba Masraka Nanih Asla
Takanka) and PMUC (Partido Movimiento de Unidad Costeña).
Suffrage: Universal at 16.
GDP (2003): PPP $11.4 billion.
Annual growth rate (2003 est.): 1.4%.
Per capita GDP (2003 est.): $2,200.
Inflation rate (2003 est.): 5.3%.
Natural resources: Arable land, livestock, fisheries, gold, timber.
Agriculture (31% of GDP): Products--corn, coffee, sugar,
meat, rice, beans, bananas.
Industry (23% of GDP): Types--processed food, beverages,
textiles, petroleum, and metal products.
Services (45% of GDP): Types--commerce, construction,
government, banking, transportation, and energy.
Trade (2001): Exports--$640 million (f.o.b.): coffee,
seafood, beef, sugar, industrial goods, gold, bananas, sesame.
Markets--U.S. 43%, European Union 33%, Central American Common
Market (CACM) 17%, Mexico 2%. Imports--$1.7 billion (f.o.b.):
petroleum, agricultural supplies, manufactured goods. Suppliers--U.S.
32%, CACM 21%, Venezuela 11%, European Union 9%.