Country information:



129.494 square kilometres


5.89 million (July 2009)

Capital city

Managua (990.417 inhabitants 2006)

Official languages

Spanish (other languages: Miskito 1,7%)

GDP per capita (PPP)

US$ 2 900 (2008)

Population growth

1.8 % (2009)

Life expectancy

71,5 years (men: 69,4 years, women: 73,8 years) (2009)

Infant mortality

25 per 1 000 live births (2009)

Rate of illiteracy

22,5 % (2003)




Tourism continues to play a relatively minor role in Nicaragua. According to UNWTO in the year 2004 approximately 615 000 guests came into the country and paid 166 million Euro. Most of them are from the USA and Canada, followed by Germany, Spain and Italy. Most of these are individual tourists, and environmental and cultural tourists. The growth of tourism however, leads to rising land prices, destruction of the landscape and to ecological imbalance. A further consequence in certain areas is the growth of prostitution, which also includes the sexual exploitation of children. Foreigners are always seen to be rich. In view of the poverty in the country, the assumption is that the wishes of tourists have to be met, because they pay the money.


Commercial sexual exploitation of children in tourism

No statistics are kept about sex tourism, but it has clearly increased over the past four years - in parallel with the growing numbers of tourists and the worsening of the economic situation. The true extent of this seems to be underestimated by the government. Currently, neither child trafficking nor sexual abuse are covered adequately by legislation. There is a "Code of childhood and adolescence”, which includes clear statements against abuse and sexual mistreatment, but which does not specify sentences for transgressions.


On 6 February 1990, Nicaragua ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and has undertaken to protect children against all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse.


HIV / Aids

With the spread of prostitution, there are also fears of an increase in the frequency of HIV and AIDS. According to estimates by UNAIDS and the World Health Organization published at the end of 2007 approximately 7.700 people in Nicaragua were infected with HIV, including 2.100 women. How many children were infected, could not be estimated. In the same year less than 500 Nicaraguans died following infection with HIV.


Local Contacts


Terre des hommes - Oficina Regional Centroamérica

Ms. Ellen Krumstroh

Edificio CICUTEC

Costado Oeste del Parque El Carmen, Apartado Postal 971

Managua, Nicaragua

Phone/Fax: +505-2-2686019



Casa Alianza

Del Estadio Nacional

3 cuadras al norte, 1 cuadra arriba.

Detrás del Ministerio del Trabajo,

en la dupla norte

Managua, Nicaragua

Phone: +505 228 6771

Fax: +505 250 5433




State and society

Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America. Since its independence in 1821, it has been a republic governed by a president, vice-president and cabinet. The National Assembly has 92 members, elected directly, like the president, for a period of six years. Everybody over 16 years of age is entitled to vote. The basics of the constitution formulated in 1987, and the latest version from 2000 guarantees the freedom of the individual, the right to education and housing, and equal rights for women.


More than 80% of Nicaraguans are Roman Catholics, 20% are members of smaller Protestant and other religious communities. There is no state religion, and Nicaragua's constitution guarantees freedom of belief.

85% of the population are white and mestizos, 10% Creoles, 5% indigenous groups (Sumu, Miskito, Ramaquie). More than half the population lives below the poverty line.


In Nicaragua, the extended family plays a major role in the life of the individual, and influences many personal decisions. Frequently a family will live with parents, aunts, uncles and cousins under one roof.


There is compulsory schooling, and 6-years of free education is provided. Almost all children visit primary school, but only half of them go on to finish school with some qualification.



Nicaragua is dependent to a large extent on foreign aid. According to an international study published in July 1997, Nicaragua is by far the poorest country in Central America. Hurricane Mitch in 1998 only made this situation worse. Agriculture is the most important sector of the economy, and it is growing in importance. However, this is increasing the impact on the environment. Nicaragua is one of the leading beef producers in Central America. Main exports are coffee, sugar, seafood, bananas, meat and cotton, above all to the USA and Germany. In the industrial sector the production sector is most important (beverages, foodstuffs, tobacco, cement, chemicals, oil products). There are also important gold ore deposits.