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Nicaragua

Nicaragua

Summary

Nicaragua’s economy is still recovering from the damage caused by Hurricane Mitch in 1998, and the government is still working to rebuild infrastructure. The coastal country exports mainly coffee, beef, gold, and sugar. The government is battling the large child labor industry present in the country as well as the lack of resources to provide quality public education. Deforestation threatens local wildlife and diminishes the natural forests.1 1 https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/nu.html

Demographics

Nationality
Nicaraguan
Population
5,788,531 (July 2013 est.)
Ethnic Groups
Languages
Religions

Explore Nicaragua Subcases

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Environment
Family
Human Rights
Education
Poverty
Religion
Clean Water
Economy
Government
Health
Children
Animals

Environment

Deforestation is one of the largest environmental issues in Nicaragua. Around 75% of Nicaraguan forests have been repurposed for farming or pasture land.1 Furthermore, the loss of forests has exacerbated the impacts of natural disasters. In their absence, flooding and wind damage have grown more severe. Another environmental concern is the use of harmful pesticides in farming, which have been linked to a wide range of health concerns such as skin and breast cancer, miscarriages, and nervous disorders. Beyond the health impacts, the use of pesticides has contaminated fresh water sources and leeched natural nutrients from the soil.2

Family

Family structure in Nicaragua is predicated on a patriarchal system. The culture of machismo has contributed to a high rate of rape and domestic violence; nearly 70% of Nicaraguan women have been victims of violence, many as teenagers.1 Although Nicaragua passed a law in 2012 banning violence against women, the law has already been undermined by other legislation.2 Fertility is praised in Nicaraguan culture and there is great importance placed on the number of children a woman can have.3

Human Rights

The main areas of concern for human rights in Nicaragua are women’s, indigenous people’s rights, and civil rights related to the construction of the Grand Interoceanic Canal. The government passed legislation to approve the building of the canal, but human rights groups have protested the laws that don’t fully acknowledge the rights of the indigenous people. There were 55 gender-motivated killings of women in 2017, and legislation was passed that reduced what falls into the category of femicide, thereby reducing the prosecutorial power of the victims. Abortion is banned universally in the country, no matter the circumstances.1 The freedom of the press is another prominent human rights concern in Nicaraguan society. Independent media outlets have claimed that the government has used harassment, intimidation, fabricated security risks, Read More and irregular application of libel law to limit the press’ ability to report freely.2 Show Less

Education

The education system in Nicaragua is severely undermined by poverty. Primary education in Nicaragua is free and compulsory, but parents are required to pay for their children’s uniforms, books, supplies, and desks, which are costs that are often too much for many families.1 The primary school enrollment rate in Nicaragua is 94%.2 The school system suffers from budget shortages, lack of supplies, insufficient teachers and staff, and poor education policy.3 Nicaragua has the smallest education budget in Central America at 4.5% of its GDP. The adult literacy rate in Nicaragua is 83%.4

Poverty

Nicaragua is the poorest country in Central America. 30% of the population lives under the poverty line. The unemployment rate is 6.5%.1 The Borgen Project cites lack of public services such as public education and access to international markets as some of the reasons that Nicaragua remains so poor. The government has failed to create a stable economic environment. While poverty has moderately declined in recent years, natural disasters and global economic fluctuations have actually caused economic situations to worsen in certain regions.2

Religion

Nicaragua has no official state religion and its constitution provides for religious liberty. Roman Catholics makes up over 50% of the population. Evangelical Christians make up about 34% of the population and an additional 1.5% of the population is made up of Mormon, Jehovah's Witness, Amish, and Mennonite groups.The Roman Catholic Church is the most politically active religious body in Nicaragua.1 Nicaragua’s constitution provides for freedom of religion, and this is generally well enforced. Reports of religious conflict or discrimination are rare.2

Clean Water

Overall, 87% of Nicaraguans have access to improved water sources and 70% have access to improved sanitation infrastructure, yet regional disparities remain. 70% of people living in rural communities have access to safe drinking water and 55% have improved sanitation facilities.1 Over 300 children die each year in Nicaragua from diarrhea caused by waterborne diseases.2

Economy

Nicaragua is the poorest country in Central America. The economy depends primarily on agriculture. Specifically, crops such as coffee, bananas, rice, tobacco, and cotton are major exports. The unemployment rate in Nicaragua is 6.5%, while almost 30% of the population lives below the poverty line due to underemployment. The country’s public debt is 46% of its GDP, and the country’s main trade partners are the US, Mexico, and China.1 The country has property rights, but foreign investment is still hindered by the inconsistent enforcement of such laws.2

Government

The Republic of Nicaragua is a presidential democracy, but the government continues to struggle with the residual effects of the country’s tumultuous political history. 93% of Nicaragua’s business people believe corruption is a hindrance to economic productivity.1 Transparency International has ranked Nicaragua 151st out of 180 countries, while the Nicaraguan public scored their government 21 out of 100.2 Furthermore, bribery, contested elections, and alleged collusion between public officials and crime lords contribute to the lack of faith in the government and military and have led to the practice of impunity within the police force.3

Health

Life expectancy in Nicaragua is 74 years old. The maternal mortality rate is 150 deaths per 100,000 live births, while infant mortality is 18 deaths per 1,000 live births. 23% of adults are obese.1 In Nicaragua, the high risk for epidemic outbreaks and the comparatively high number of deaths from treatable diseases such as pneumonia and malaria reflect shortages in personnel and medical resources.2

Children

Child labor poses a great threat to children in Nicaragua. There are no current available statistics on child labor, but current business leaders estimate that there are between 250,000 and 320,000 children in the labor industry and that over a third of these children are under the age of fourteen.1 Over 45% of children under the age of five suffer from chronic malnutrition.2 Furthermore, roughly 22% of children suffer from stunted growth, which can lead to medical problems like obesity and diabetes later in life.3 Poverty and the lack of education are interrelated variables trapping many children in cycles of poverty.4

Animals

The ecoregion that includes Nicaragua is home to 95 species of parrots, 24 reptiles, and 23 mammals. The yellow-naped parrot, panama flycatcher, and black-bellied plover are native birds in the area, and some local mammals are the white-faced capuchin, pygmy anteater, nine banded armadillo, and Central American otter. Threats to these species include erosion due to intense rainfall on soil that has been exposed by deforestation. There are also concerns about urban encroachment and contamination from pesticide runoff.1

Nicaragua

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