The World Factbook (1990)/Nicaragua


World Factbook (1990) Nicaragua.jpg

See regional map III


Total area: 129,494 km²; land area: 120,254km²

Comparative area: slightly larger than New York State

Land boundaries: 1,231 km total; Costa Rica 309 km, Honduras 922 km

Coastline: 910 km

Maritime claims:

Contiguous zone: 25 nm security zone (status of claim uncertain)
Continental shelf: not specified
Territorial sea: 200 nm

Disputes: territorial disputes with Colombia over the Archipelago de San Andres y Providencia and Quita Sueno Bank

Climate: tropical in lowlands, cooler in highlands

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

Natural resources: gold, silver, copper, tungsten, lead, zinc, timber, fish

Land use: 9% arable land; 1% permanent crops; 43% meadows and pastures; 35% forest and woodland; 12% other; including 1% irrigated

Environment: subject to destructive earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, and occasional severe hurricanes; deforestation; soil erosion; water pollution


Population: 3,722,683 (July 1990), growth rate 2.8% (1990)

Birth rate: 40 births/1,000 population (1990)

Death rate: 9 deaths/1,000 population (1990)

Net migration rate: -3 migrants/1,000 population (1990)

Infant mortality rate: 68 deaths/1,000 live births (1990)

Life expectancy at birth: 61 years male, 62 years female (1990)

Total fertility rate: 5.0 children born/woman (1990)

Nationality: noun—Nicaraguan(s); adjective—Nicaraguan

Ethnic divisions: 69% mestizo, 17% white, 9% black, 5% Indian

Religion: 95% Roman Catholic, 5% Protestant

Language: Spanish (official); English- and Indian-speaking minorities on Atlantic coast

Literacy: 88% (1981)

Labor force: 1,086,000; 43% service, 44% agriculture, 13% industry (1986)

Organized labor: 35% of labor force


Long-form name: Republic of Nicaragua

Type: republic

Capital: Managua

Administrative divisions: 9 administrative regions encompassing 17 departments (departamentos, singular—departamento); North, Atlantic Coast, South, Atlantic Coast, Boaco, Carazo, Chinandega, Chontales, Estelí, Granada, Jinotega, León, Madriz, Managua, Masaya, Matagalpa, Nueva Segovia, Rio San Juan, Rivas

Independence: 15 September 1821 (from Spain)

Constitution: January 1987

Legal system: civil law system; Supreme Court may review administrative acts

National holiday: Independence Day, 15 September (1821)

Executive branch: president, vice president, Cabinet

Legislative branch: National Assembly (Asamblea Nacional)

Judicial branch: Supreme Court (Corte Suprema) and municipal courts

Leaders: Chief of State and Head of Government—President-Elect Violeta Barios de CHAMORRO (since 25 February 1990; takes office 25 April 1990); Vice President-elect Virgilio GODOY (since 25 February 1990; takes office 25 April 1990)

Political parties and leaders:

Ruling coalition: National Opposition Union (UNO)—14 party alliance: National Conservative Party (PNC), Silviano Matamoros; Conservative Popular Alliance Party (PAPC), Miriam Arguello; National Conservative Action Party (PANC), Hernaldo Zuniga; National Democratic Confidence Party (PDCN), Augustin Jarquin; Independent Liberal Party (PLI), Virgilio Godoy; Neo-Liberal Party (PALI), Andres Zuniga; Liberal Constitutionalist Party (PLC), Jose Ernesto Somarriba; National Action Party (PAN), Eduardo Rivas; Nicaraguan Socialist Party (PSN), Gustavo Tablada; Communist Party of Nicaragua (PCdeN), Eli Altimirano; Popular Social Christian Party (PPSC), Luis Humberto; Nicaraguan Democratic Movement (MDN), Roberto Urroz; Social Democratic Party (PSD), Guillermo Potoy; Central American Integrationist Party (PIAC), Alejandro Perez;

Opposition parties: Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), Daniel Ortega; Central American Unionist Party (PUCA), Blanca Rojas; Democratic Conservative Party of Nicaragua (PGDN), Jose Brenes; Liberal Party of National Unity (PLUIN), Eduardo Coronado; Movement of Revolutionary Unity (MUR), Francisco Samper; Social Christian Party (PSC), Erick Ramirez; Revolutionary Workers' Party (PRT), Bonifacio Miranda; Social Conservative Party (PSOC), Fernando Aguerro; Popular Action Movement Marxist-Leninist (MAP-ML), Isidro Tellez; Popular Social Christian Party (PPSC), Mauricio Diaz.

Suffrage: universal at age 16

Elections: President—last held on 25 February 1990 (next to be held February 1996); results—Violeta Barrios de Chamorro (UNO) 54.7%, Daniel Ortega Saavedra (FSLN) 40.8%, others 4.5%;

National Constituent Assembly—last held on 25 February 1990 (next to be held February 1996); results—UNO 53.9%, FSLN 40.8%, PSC 1.6%, MUR 1.0%; seats—(92 total) UNO 51, FSLN 39, PSC 1, MUR 1

Communists: FSLN 35,000; other Communists 15,000-20,000

Other political or pressure groups: Permanent Congress of Workers (CPT), Confederation of Labor Unification (CUS), Autonomous Nicaraguan Workers' Central (CTN-A), Independent General Confederation of Workers (CTG-I), Communist Labor Action and Unity Central (CAUS), Nicaraguan Workers' Central (CST); Superior Council of Private Enterprise (COSEP) is an umbrella group of 11 different business groups, including the Chamber of Commerce, the Chamber of Industry, and the Nicaraguan Development Institute (INDE)


Diplomatic representation: Chargé d'Affaires Leonor Arguello de HUPER; Chancery at 1627 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington DC 20009; telephone (202) 387-4371 or 4372; US—Chargé d'Affaires John P. LEONARD; Embassy at Kilometer 4.5 Carretera Sur, Managua (mailing address is APO Miami 34021); telephone [505](2) 66010 or 66013, 66015 through 66018, 66026, 66027, 66032 through 66034; note—Nicaragua expelled the US Ambassador on 11 July 1988, and the US expelled the Nicaraguan Ambassador on 12 July 1988

Flag: 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; 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


Overview: Government control of the economy historically has been extensive, although the new government has pledged to reduce it. The financial system is directly controlled by the state, which also regulates wholesale purchasing, production, sales, foreign trade, and distribution of most goods. Over 50% of the agricultural and industrial firms are state owned. Sandinista economic policies and the war have produced a severe economic crisis. The foundation of the economy continues to be the export of agricultural commodities, largely coffee and cotton. Farm production fell by roughly 7% in 1989, the fifth successive year of decline. The agricultural sector employs 44% of the work force and accounts for 23% of GDP and 86% of export earnings. Industry, which employs 13% of the work force and contributes 26% to GDP, showed a sharp drop of −23% in 1988 and remains below pre-1979 levels. External debt is one of the highest in the world on a per capita basis. In 1989 the annual inflation rate was 1,700%, down from a record 16,000% in 1988. Shortages of basic consumer goods are widespread.

GDP: $1.7 billion, per capita $470; real growth rate −5.0% (1989 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 1,700% (1989)

Unemployment rate: 25% (1989)

Budget: revenues $0.9 billion; expenditures $1.4 billion, including capital expenditures of $0.15 billion (1987)

Exports: $250 million (f.o.b., 1989 est.); commodities—coffee, cotton, sugar, bananas, seafood, meat, chemicals; partners—CEMA 15%, OECD 75%, others 10%

Imports: $550 million (c.i.f., 1989 est.); commodities—petroleum, food, chemicals, machinery, clothing; partners—CEMA 55%, EC 20%, Latin America 10%, others 10%

External debt: $8 billion (year end 1988)

Industrial production: growth rate −23% (1988 est.)

Electricity: 415,000 kW capacity; 1,340 million kWh produced, 380 kWh per capita (1989)

Industries: food processing, chemicals, metal products, textiles, clothing, petroleum refining and distribution, beverages, footwear

Agriculture: accounts for 23% of GDP and 44% of work force; cash crops—coffee, bananas, sugarcane, cotton; food crops—rice, corn, cassava, citrus fruit, beans; variety of animal products—beef, veal, pork, poultry, dairy; while normally self-sufficient in food, war-induced shortages now exist

Aid: US commitments, including Ex-Im (FY70-82), $290 million; Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-87), $981 million; Communist countries (1970-88), $3.3 billion

Currency: córdoba (plural—córdobas); 1 córdoba (C$) = 100 centavos

Exchange rates: córdobas (C$) per US$1—65,000 (February 1990) is the free market rate; official rate is 46,000 (February 1990), 270 (1988), 0.103 (1987), 0.097(1986), 0.039(1985)

Fiscal year: calendar year


Railroads: 373 km 1.067-meter gauge, government owned; majority of system not operating; 3 km 1.435-meter gauge line at Puerto Cabezas (does not connect with mainline)

Highways: 25,930 km total; 4,000 km paved (includes all 2,170 km gravel or crushed stone, 5,425 km earth or graded earth, 14,335 km unimproved, 368.5 km of the Pan-American highway)

Inland waterways: 2,220 km, including 2 large lakes

Pipelines: crude oil, 56 km

Ports: Corinto, El Bluff, Puerto Cabezas, Puerto Sandino, Rama

Merchant marine: 2 cargo ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 2,161 GRT/2,500 DWT

Civil air: 12 major transport aircraft

Airports: 261 total, 169 usable; 9 with permanent-surface runways; none with runways over 3,659 m; 2 with runways 2,440-3,659 m; 12 with runways 1,220-2,439 m

Telecommunications: low-capacity radio relay and wire system being expanded; connection into Central American Microwave System; 60,000 telephones; stations—45 AM, no FM, 7 TV, 3 shortwave; satellite earth stations 1 Intersputnik and 1 Atlantic Ocean INTELSAT

Defense Forces

Branches: Sandinista Popular Army, Sandinista Navy, Sandinista Air Force/Air Defense, Sandinista People's Militia

Military manpower: males 15-49, 747,144; 459,333 fit for military service; 44,213 reach military age (18) annually

Defense expenditures: NA