Nicaragua is bordered by Honduras on the north and Costa Rica on the south, in Central America. It is the largest country in Central America by land mass. With a population of 6.16 million people, 22% of whom are illiterate. 58% of the population is urban and 51% of the population is female. Managua, the capital of Nicaragua, has an estimated population of 1 million people and is the second most populous city in Central America, after Tegucigalpa.
Nicaragua is currently the poorest country in Central America and the second poorest in the Western Hemisphere. 48% of the population of Nicaragua live below the poverty line, and 79.9% live on less than $2/day. Nicaragua has a GDP of $6.375 billion with a purchasing power parity of $17.37 billion (ranked 128 in the world).
The per capita income is $2,108 with a purchasing parity power of $5,682 and inflation is 5.14%. Agriculture comprises 15.5% of GDP, with industry composing 24.4% and services composing 60%. Textiles and apparel account for nearly 60% of exports.
Nicaragua: a Brief History
Nicaragua has had a history of dictatorships, civil war and natural disasters, leaving its economy as one of the most crippled in the Western Hemisphere.
As a traditional agriculturally-based economy, Nicaragua has moved towards industrialization both in the 1950s and the 1990s; however, the country has hit many obstacles along the way. From the mid-20th Century on until 1979, economic capital was funneled into the hands of a few elite families, mainly that of the Samoza Dynasty. The Somoza family ruled Nicaragua through a dictatorship, with US backed support from 1939 until 1979, when the Revolutionary Army fought back for the political rights of the people.
In 1979, the Revolutionary Army took hold of the country's leadership. Known as the Sandinistas, the government began to redistribute land and establish social programs for health and education, in order to improve the quality of life for the Nicaraguan people. Tensions increased between the United States and the Sandinista government as they pursued a pro-Cuban orientation. The United States launched a campaign against Nicaragua through various means, including introducing embargoes and supporting, arming and financing contra rebel groups, whom carried out attacks via Honduras and Costa Rica.
For 11 years conditions worsened in Nicaragua; the country's per capita income dropped, inflation skyrocketed and the country's infrastructure, as a whole, weakened. In 1990, as part of a peace agreement, elections were held in the country. The Sandinista government fell to the opposition. The Nicaraguan people looked for peace and with this peace came economic growth and stability - unemployment began to shrink and inflation lowered. However, this positive growth was short lived, as in 1998 Hurricane Mitch devastated the country. Thousands died, billions of dollars were lost in damages and 20% of the Nicaraguan population was left homeless.
Little by little the country has been rebuilding itself and with the recent election of the Sandinistian government, has seen tremendous growth. New reforms have put an emphasis on education access to all children, literacy, health and economic stability. Recent growth in tourism and other key industries has made for many positive economic forecasts for the country