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National name Repblica de Nicaragua/Republic of Nicaragua Area 127,849 sq km/49,362 sq mi Capital Managua Major towns/cities Len, Chinandega, Masaya, Granada, Estel Major ports Corinto, Puerto Cabezas, El Bluff Physical features narrow Pacific coastal plain separated from broad Atlantic coastal plain by volcanic mountains and lakes Managua and Nicaragua one of the world's most active earthquake regions
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Head of state and government Arnoldo Aleman from 1997 Political system emergent democracy Political executive limited presidency Administrative divisions 15 departments and two autonomous regions Political parties Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), MarxistLeninist Opposition Political Alliance (APO, formerly National Opposition Union UNO), loose US-backed coalition Armed forces 17,000 (1998) Conscription military service is voluntary (since 1990) Death penalty abolished in 1979 Defence spend ( GDP) 1.1 (1998) Education spend ( GNP) 3.9 (1997) Health spend ( GDP) 4.3 (199095)
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Currency cordoba GDP (US) 2.3 billion (1999) Real GDP growth ( change on previous year) 7 (1999) GNP (US) 2.1 billion (1999) GNP per capita (PPP) (US) 2,154 (1999) Consumer price inflation 11.3 (1999) Unemployment 13.3 (1997) Foreign debt (US) 6.2 billion (1999) Major trading partners USA, El Salvador, Panama, France, Spain, Germany, Costa Rica, Venezuela Resources gold, silver, copper, lead, antimony, zinc, iron, limestone, gypsum, marble, bentonite Industries food products, beverages, petroleum refining, chemicals, metallic products, processed leather, cement Exports coffee, meat, cotton, sugar, seafood, bananas, chemical products. Principal market USA 37.7 (1999) Imports machinery and transport equipment, food and live animals, consumer goods, mineral fuels and lubricants, chemicals, and related products. Principal source USA 34.5 (1999) Arable land 20.2 (1996) Agricultural products coffee, cotton, sugar cane, bananas, maize, rice, beans, green tobacco livestock rearing (cattle and pigs) fishing forest resources
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Population 5,074,000 (2000 est) Population growth rate 2.7 (19952000) Population density (per sq km) 39 (1999 est) Urban population ( of total) 56 (2000 est) Age distribution ( of total population) 014 43, 1559 52, 60 5 (2000 est) Ethnic groups about 70 of mixed American Indian and Spanish origin about 15 European origin about 9 African 5 American Indian mixed American Indian and black origin Language Spanish (official), English, American Indian languages Religion Roman Catholic 95 Education (compulsory years) 6 Literacy rate 67 (men) 70 (women) (2000 est) Labour force 41.8 agriculture, 17.4 industry, 40.8 services (1997) Life expectancy 66 (men) 71 (women) (19952000) Child mortality rate (under 5, per 1,000 live births) 58 (19952000) Physicians 1 per 1,566 people (1993) Hospital beds 1 per 856 people (1993) TV sets (per 1,000 people) 190 (1997) Radios (per 1,000 people) 285 (1997) Internet users (per 10,000 people) 40.5 (1999) Personal computer users (per 100 people) 0.8 (1999)
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Airports international airports Managua (Augusto Cesar Sandino) total passenger km 80 million (1995) Railways total length 287 km/178 mi freight services reported withdrawn in 1994 Roads total road network 18,000 km/11,185 mi, of which 10.1 paved (1996 est) passenger cars 18.1 per 1,000 people (1996 est)
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Visa requirements UK visa not required for a stay of up to 90 days. USA visa not required for a stay of up to 90 days Embassy in the UK 2nd Floor, 36 Upper Brook Street, London W1Y 1PE. Tel (020) 7409 2536 fax (020) 7409 2593 British embassy Apartado A-169, El Reparto Los Robles, Primera Etapa, Entrada principal de la Carretera a Massaya, 4a Casa a Mano Derecha, Managua. Tel (2) 780 014 fax (2) 784 085 Chamber of commerce Cmara de Comercio de Nicaragua, Apartado 135, Frente a Lotera Popular, C C Managua JR. Tel (2) 670 718 Office hours 08001600 MonFri Banking hours 08001600 MonFri 08301130 Sat Time difference GMT 6 Chief tourist attractions Lake Nicaragua, with its 310 beautiful islands the Momotombo volcano the Corn Islands (Islas de Maiz) in the Caribbean, fringed with white coral and palm trees Major holidays 1 January, 1 May, 19 July, 1415 September, 8, 25 December variable Good Friday, Holy Thursday
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10th century Indians from Mexico and Mesoamerica migrated to Nicaragua's Pacific lowlands. 1522 Visited by Spanish explorer Gil Gonzalez de Avila, who named the area Nicaragua after local Indian chief, Nicarao. 152324 Colonized by the Spanish, under Francisco Hernandez de Cordoba, who was attracted by local gold deposits and founded the cities of Granada and Len. 17th18th centuries Britain was the dominant force on the Caribbean side of Nicaragua, while Spain controlled the Pacific lowlands. 1821 Independence achieved from Spain Nicaragua was initially part of Mexican Empire. 1823 Became part of United Provinces (Federation) of Central America, also embracing Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. 1838 Became fully independent when it seceded from the Federation. 185793 Ruled by succession of Conservative Party governments. 1860 The British ceded control over the Caribbean (Mosquito) Coast to Nicaragua. 1893 Liberal Party leader, Jos Santos Zelaya, deposed the Conservative president and established a dictatorship which lasted until overthrown by US marines in 1909. 191225 At the Nicaraguan government's request, with the political situation deteriorating, the USA established military bases and stationed marines. 192733 Re-stationed US marines faced opposition from the anti-American guerrilla group led by Augusto Csar Sandino, who was assassinated in 1934 on the orders of the commander of the US-trained National Guard, Gen Anastasio Somoza Garcia. 1937 Gen Somoza was elected president start of near-dictatorial rule by the Somoza family, which amassed a huge personal fortune. 1961 Left-wing Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) formed to fight the Somoza regime. 1978 The Nicaraguan Revolution Pedro Joaquin Chamorro, a popular publisher and leader of the anti-Somoza Democratic Liberation Union (UDEL), was assassinated, sparking a general strike and mass movement in which moderates joined with the FSLN to overthrow the Somoza regime. 1979 The Somoza government was ousted by the FSLN after a military offensive. 1980 A FSLN junta took power in Managua, headed by Daniel Ortega Saavedra lands held by Somozas were nationalized and farming cooperatives established. 1982 There was subversive activity against the government by right-wing Contra guerrillas, promoted by the USA, attacking from bases in Honduras. A state of emergency was declared. 1984 US troops mined Nicaraguan harbours. The action was condemned by the World Court in 1986 and 17 billion in reparations ordered. FSLN won the assembly elections. 1985 The US president Ronald Reagan denounced the Sandinista government, vowing to remove it, and imposed a US trade embargo. 1987 A Central American peace agreement was cosigned by Nicaraguan leaders. 1988 The peace agreement failed. Nicaragua held talks with the Contra rebel leaders. A hurricane left 180,000 people homeless. 1989 Demobilization of rebels and release of former Somozan supporters the ceasefire ended but the economy was in ruins after the Contra war there was 60 unemployment. 1990 The FSLN was defeated by right-of-centre National Opposition Union (UNO), a US-backed coalition Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, widow of the murdered Pedro Joaquin Chamorro, was elected president. There were antigovernment riots. 1992 Around 16,000 people were made homeless by an earthquake. 1994 A peace accord was made with the remaining Contra rebels. 1996 Right-wing candidate Arnoldo Aleman won the presidential elections. 1998 Daniel Ortega was re-elected FSLN leader.
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Nicaragua Flag
The triangle signifies equality. The volcanos recall the five nations of the Central American Federation (CAF). Effective date 27 August 1971. (Image Helicon)
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Nicaragua Map
Locator map for Nicaragua, bounded N by Honduras and S by Costa Rica. It has an area of 127,849 sq km/49,363 sq mi. (Image Helicon)
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