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page last updated on October 28, 2009
Flag of Nicaragua
(CONTAINS DESCRIPTION)
Location of Nicaragua
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Map of Nicaragua
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of Nicaragua
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Introduction ::Nicaragua
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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. 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. The 2008 municipal elections were characterized 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 face new challenges under the ORTEGA administration.
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Geography ::Nicaragua
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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: 97
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 (2003)
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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
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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 ::Nicaragua
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5,891,199 (July 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 108
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0-14 years: 33.8% (male 1,013,866/female 976,430)
15-64 years: 62.9% (male 1,847,756/female 1,857,264)
65 years and over: 3.3% (male 85,782/female 110,101) (2009 est.)
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total: 22.1 years
male: 21.7 years
female: 22.5 years (2009 est.)
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1.784% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 73
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23.25 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 77
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4.3 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 206
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-1.11 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 125
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urban population: 57% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 1.8% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
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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 (2009 est.)
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total: 25.02 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 88
male: 28.09 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 21.8 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)
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total population: 71.5 years
country comparison to the world: 128
male: 69.35 years
female: 73.75 years (2009 est.)
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2.57 children born/woman (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 91
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0.2% (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 106
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7,700 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 114
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fewer than 500 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 90
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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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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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Roman Catholic 58.5%, Evangelical 21.6%, Moravian 1.6%, Jehovah's Witness 0.9%, other 1.7%, none 15.7% (2005 census)
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Spanish 97.5% (official), Miskito 1.7%, other 0.8% (1995 census)
note: English and indigenous languages on Atlantic coast
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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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3.1% of GDP (2003)
country comparison to the world: 143
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Government ::Nicaragua
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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; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
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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
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 5 November 2006 (next to be held by November 2011)
election results: Daniel ORTEGA Saavedra elected president - 38.07%, Eduardo MONTEALEGRE 29%, Jose RIZO 26.21%, Edmundo JARQUIN 6.44%
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unicameral National Assembly or Asamblea Nacional (92 seats; 90 members are 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 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 23 (22 plus one for presidential candidate Eduardo MONTEALEGRE, runner-up in the 2006 presidential election), MRS 5, APRE 1 (outgoing President Enrique BOLANOS); note - as of 1 January 2009: seats by party - FSLN 38, PLC 25, BDN 15, ALN 6, MRS 3, APRE 1, Independent 4
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Supreme Court or Corte Suprema de Justicia (16 judges elected for five-year terms by the National Assembly)
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Conservative Party or PC [Azalia AVILES Salmeron]; Liberal Constitutionalist Party or PLC [Jorge CASTILLO Quant]; Nicaraguan Democratic Bloc or BDN [Eduardo MONTEALEGRE]; Nicaraguan Liberal Alliance or ALN [Eliseo NUNEZ Sr.]; 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, RG, SICA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, Union Latina, UNWTO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
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chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charges d'Affaires Alcides J. MONTIEL Barillas
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; 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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Economy ::Nicaragua
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Nicaragua has widespread underemployment and the second lowest per capita income in the Western Hemisphere. 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 recent increases in the minimum wage will likely erode its comparative advantage in this industry. Nicaragua relies on international economic assistance to meet internal- and external-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. However, severe budget shortfalls resulting from the suspension of large amounts of direct budget support from foreign donors concerned with recent political developments has caused a slowdown in PRGF disbursements. Similarly, private sector concerns surrounding ORTEGA's handling of economic issues have dampened investment. Economic growth has slowed in 2009, due to decreased export demand from the US and Central American markets, lower commodity prices for key agricultural exports, and low remittance growth - remittances are equivalent to almost 15% of GDP.
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$16.79 billion (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 130
$16.27 billion (2007 est.)
$15.76 billion (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
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$6.35 billion (2008 est.)
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3.2% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 120
3.2% (2007 est.)
3.9% (2006 est.)
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$2,900 (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 168
$2,900 (2007 est.)
$2,800 (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
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agriculture: 16.9%
industry: 25.8%
services: 57.3% (2008 est.)
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2.322 million (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 111
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agriculture: 29%
industry: 19%
services: 52% (2006 est.)
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5.6% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 67
4.9% (2007 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: 51
60.3 (1998)
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34.5% of GDP (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 10
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revenues: $1.271 billion
expenditures: $1.594 billion (2008 est.)
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53.2% of GDP (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 33
69.5% of GDP (2004 est.)
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19.8% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 203
11.1% (2007 est.)
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NA%
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11% (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 59
13.04% (31 December 2007)
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$NA (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 136
$465.1 million (31 December 2007)
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$NA (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 103
$1.802 billion (31 December 2007)
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$NA (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 102
$4.133 billion (31 December 2007)
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$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, textiles, clothing, petroleum refining and distribution, beverages, footwear, wood
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3% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 81
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3.286 billion kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 123
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2.569 billion kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 131
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0 kWh (2008 est.)
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63.95 million kWh (2007 est.)
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0 bbl/day (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 151
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29,000 bbl/day (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 113
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212.5 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 130
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29,570 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 101
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0 bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 146
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0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 153
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0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 154
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0 cu m (2008)
country comparison to the world: 138
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0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 103
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0 cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 148
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$-1.418 billion (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 131
$-1.048 billion (2007 est.)
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$2.922 billion (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 122
$2.313 billion (2007 est.)
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coffee, beef, shrimp and lobster, tobacco, sugar, gold, peanuts
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US 60.6%, El Salvador 7.2%, Honduras 4.8% (2008)
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$5.042 billion (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 114
$4.117 billion (2007 est.)
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consumer goods, machinery and equipment, raw materials, petroleum products
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US 25.1%, Mexico 11.6%, Costa Rica 7.3%, Venezuela 6.4%, Guatemala 5.3%, China 4.3%, El Salvador 4.1% (2008)
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$1.141 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 124
$1.103 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
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$3.276 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 117
$3.341 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
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cordobas (NIO) per US dollar - 19.374 (2008 est.), 18.457 (2007), 17.582 (2006), 16.733 (2005), 15.937 (2004)
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Communications ::Nicaragua
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312,000 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 114
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3.039 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 109
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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 increasing and now exceeds 50 per 100 persons; 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) (2008)
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AM 63, FM 32, shortwave 1 (1998)
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3 (plus 7 repeaters) (1997)
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.ni
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88,742 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 74
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185,000 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 140
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Transportation ::Nicaragua
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143 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 40
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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 (2009)
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total: 132
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 16
under 914 m: 115 (2009)
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oil 54 km (2008)
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total: 19,036 km
country comparison to the world: 113
paved: 2,299 km
unpaved: 16,737 km (2005)
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2,220 km (including lakes Managua and Nicaragua) (2008)
country comparison to the world: 41
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Bluefields, Corinto, El Bluff
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Military ::Nicaragua
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National Army of Nicaragua (ENN; includes Navy, Air Force) (2008)
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17 years of age for voluntary military service; tour of duty 18-36 months (2008)
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males age 16-49: 1,513,312
females age 16-49: 1,507,999 (2008 est.)
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males age 16-49: 1,277,878
females age 16-49: 1,339,413 (2009 est.)
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male: 72,366
female: 70,118 (2009 est.)
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0.6% of GDP (2006)
country comparison to the world: 157
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Transnational Issues ::Nicaragua
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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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