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Area—comparative: slightly smaller than New York State

Coastline: 910 km

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

Environment—current issues: deforestation; soil erosion; water pollution

Population: 4,583,379 (July 1998 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 44% (male 1,017,190; female 1,000,436)
15-64 years: 53% (male 1,191,323; female 1,251,828)
65 years and over: 3% (male 52,836; female 69,766) (July 1998 est.)

Population growth rate: 2.92% (1998 est.)

Birth rate: 36.04 births/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Death rate: 5.8 deaths/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 42.26 deaths/1,000 live births (1998 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 66.62 years
male: 64.26 years
female: 69.08 years (1998 est.)

Total fertility rate: 4.28 children born/woman (1998 est.)

Ethnic groups: mestizo (mixed Amerindian and white) 69%, white 17%, black 9%, Amerindian 5%

Religions: Roman Catholic 95%, Protestant 5%

Languages: Spanish (official)
note: English- and Amerindian-speaking minorities on Atlantic coast

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 65.7%
male: 64.6%
female: 66.6% (1995 est.)

National capital: Managua

Independence: 15 September 1821 (from Spain)

National holiday: Independence Day, 15 September (1821)

Constitution: 9 January 1987

Suffrage: 16 years of age; universal

Political parties and leaders:
right: Nicaraguan Party of the Christian Road (PCCN), Guillermo OSORNO, Roberto RODRIGUEZ; Liberal Constitutionalist Party (PLC), Jose RIZO Castellon; Independent Liberal Party for National Unity (PLIUN), Carlos GUERRA Gallardo; National Conservative Party (PCN), Adolfo CALERO, Noel VIDAURRE; Nationalist Liberal Party (PLN), Enrique SANCHEZ Herdocia
center right: Neoliberal Party (PALI), Adolfo GARCIA Esquivel; Nicaraguan Resistance Party (PRN), Fabio GADEA; Independent Liberal Party (PLI), Virgilio GODOY; National Project (PRONAL), Antonio LACAYO Oyanguren; Conservative Action Movement (MAC), Hernaldo ZUNIGA
center left: Sandinista Renovation Movement (MRS), Sergio RAMIREZ; Social Democratic Party (PSD), Adolfo JARQUIN; Social Christian Party (PSC), Erick RAMIREZ; Movement for Revolutionary Unity (MUR), NA; Central American Integrationist Party (PIAC), NA; Unity Alliance (AU), Alejandro SERRANO; Conservative Party of Nicaragua (PCN), Dr. Fernando AGUERO Rocha; National Democratic Party (PND), Alfredo CESAR Aguirre; Central American Unionist Party (PUCA), Blanca ROJAS Echaverry; UNO-96 Alliance, Alfredo CESAR Aguirre; Nicaraguan Democratic Movement (MDN), Alfredo GUZMAN
left: Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), Daniel ORTEGA Saavedra

Economy—overview: The Nicaraguan economy, devastated during the 1980s by economic mismanagement and civil war, is beginning to rebound. In 1991 President CHAMORRO launched an ambitious economic stabilization program that reduced inflation and obtained substantial economic aid from abroad. Economic growth rose sharply in 1995-97, due to surges in exports and efforts to enhance trade liberalization. The program, however, hit some snags, and a 1994-97 IMF Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility (ESAF) signed by the CHAMORRO administration with the Fund lapsed in September 1996 due to non-compliance. In 1997, however, the IMF resumed negotiations for an ESAF with the ALEMAN administration, and agreed to an ESAF in 1998. IMF approval of the ESAF cleared the way for debt relief by the Paris Club later that year and has opened the way for debt relief under the Highly Indebted Poor Countries Initiative. Implementation of a 1997 property accord—designed to resolve conflict over properties confiscated by the Sandinistas in the 1980s—should also help inspire international investor confidence. Strong growth is forecast for 1998, with implementation of a 1997 free trade agreement with Mexico expected to boost agricultural exports, although the industrial sector may come under pressure from increased Mexican competition.

GDP—real growth rate: 6% (1997 est.)

GDP—composition by sector:
agriculture: 34%
industry: 21%
services: 45% (1995)

Agriculture—products: coffee, bananas, sugarcane, cotton, rice, corn, cassava (tapioca), citrus, beans; beef, veal, pork, poultry, dairy products

total value: $635 million (f.o.b., 1996)
commodities: coffee, seafood, meat, sugar, gold, bananas
partners: US, Central America, Germany, Canada

total value: $1.1 billion (c.i.f., 1996)
commodities: consumer goods, machinery and equipment, petroleum products
partners: Central America, US, Venezuela, Japan

Debt—external: $6 billion (1996 est.)

Military manpower—availability:
males age 15-49: 1,067,336 (1998 est.)

Military expenditures—dollar figure: $27.48 million (1996)

Military expenditures—percent of GDP: 1.35% (1996)

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