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Area: 129,494 sq. km. (59,998 sq. mi.); slightly larger than New York State.
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 volcanoes.
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 Caribbean coast.
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%; underemployed--36%.

Type: Republic.
Independence: 1821.
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 electoral laws.
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%.

Adapted from material published in the CIA World Factbook.
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