El Salvador i



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El Salvador i/ɛl ˈsælvədɔr/ (Spanish: República de El Salvador, literally 'Republic of The Savior') is the smallest and the most densely populated country in Central America. The country's capital city and largest city is San Salvador; Santa Ana and San Miguel are also important cultural and commercial centers in the country as well as Central America. El Salvador borders the Pacific Ocean on the south, and the countries of Guatemala to the west and Honduras to the north and east. Its easternmost region lies on the coast of the Gulf of Fonseca, opposite Nicaragua. As of 2009, El Salvador had a population of approximately 5,744,113 people, composed predominantly of Mestizos.[3]

The colón was the official currency of El Salvador from 1892 to 2001, when it adopted the U.S. Dollar.

In 2010 El Salvador ranked in the top 10 among Latin American countries in terms of the Human Development Index and in the top 3 in Central America (behind Costa Rica and Panama), due in part to ongoing rapid industrialization. In addition, tropical forests and overall forest cover has expanded by nearly 20% from the year 1992 to 2010, making it one of the few countries experiencing reforestation.[8]

El Salvador - Physical Features

Two parallel mountain ranges cross El Salvador east to west with a central plateau between them and a narrow coastal plain hugging the Pacific. These physical features divide the country into two physiographic regions. The mountain ranges and central plateau covering 85 percent of the land comprise the interior highlands. The remaining coastal plains are referred to as the Pacific lowlands.

The northern range of mountains, the Sierra Madre, forms a continuous chain along the border with Honduras. Elevations in this region range from 1,600 to 2,200 meters. The area was once heavily forested, but overexploitation led to extensive erosion, and it has become semibarren. As a result, it is the country's most sparsely populated zone, with little farming or other development.

The southern range of mountains is actually a discontinuous chain of more than twenty volcanoes, clustered into five groups. The westernmost group, near the Guatemalan border, contains Izalco and Santa Ana, which at 2,365 meters is the highest point in El Salvador. Between the cones lie alluvial basins and rolling hills eroded from ash deposits. The volcanic soil is rich, and much of El Salvador's coffee is planted on these slopes.

The central plateau constitutes only 25 percent of the land area but contains the heaviest concentration of population and the country's largest cities. This plain is about 50 kilometers wide and has an average elevation of 600 meters. Terrain here is rolling, with occasional escarpments, lava fields, and geysers.

A narrow plain extends from the coastal volcanic range to the Pacific Ocean. This region has a width ranging from one to thirty-two kilometers with the widest section in the east, adjacent to the Golfo de Fonseca. Near La Libertad, however, the mountains pinch the lowlands out; the slopes of adjacent volcanoes come down directly to the sea. Surfaces in the Pacific lowlands are generally flat or gently rolling and result from alluvial deposits from nearby slopes.

El Salvador has over 300 rivers, the most important of which is the Rio Lempa. Originating in Guatemala, the Rio Lempa cuts across the northern range of mountains, flows along much of the central plateau, and finally cuts through the southern volcanic range to empty into the Pacific. It is El Salvador's only navigable river, and it and its tributaries drain about half the country. Other rivers are generally short and drain the Pacific lowlands or flow from the central plateau through gaps in the southern mountain range to the Pacific.

Numerous lakes of volcanic origin are found in the interior highlands; many of these lakes are surrounded by mountains and have high, steep banks. The largest lake, the Lago de Ilopango, lies just to the east of the capital. Other large lakes include the Lago de Coatepeque in the west and the Lago de Güija on the Guatemalan border. The Cerron Grande Dam on the Rio Lempa has created a large reservoir, the Embalse Cerron Grande, in northern El Salvador.



El Salvador - Climate

El Salvador has a tropical climate with pronounced wet and dry seasons. Temperatures vary primarily with elevation and show little seasonal change. The Pacific lowlands are uniformly hot; the central plateau and mountain areas are more moderate.

The rainy season, known locally as invierno, or winter, extends from May to October. Almost all the annual rainfall occurs during this time, and yearly totals, particularly on southern-facing mountain slopes, can be as high as 200 centimeters. Protected areas and the central plateau receive lesser, although still significant, amounts. Rainfall during this season generally comes from low pressure over the Pacific and usually falls in heavy afternoon thunderstorms. Although hurricanes occasionally form in the Pacific, they seldom affect El Salvador.

From November through April, the northeast trade winds control weather patterns. During these months, air flowing from the Caribbean has had most of the precipitation wrung out of it passing over the mountains in Honduras. By the time this air reaches El Salvador, it is dry, hot, and hazy. This season is known locally as verano, or summer.



Temperatures vary little with season; elevation is the primary determinant. The Pacific lowlands are the hottest region, with annual averages ranging from 25°C to 29°C. San Salvador is representative of the central plateau, with an annual average temperature of 23°C and absolute high and low readings of 38°C and 7°C, respectively. Mountain areas are the coolest, with annual averages from 12°C to 23°C and minimum temperatures sometimes approaching freezing

Introduction

El Salvador




Background:

El Salvador achieved independence from Spain in 1821 and from the Central American Federation in 1839. A 12-year civil war, which cost about 75,000 lives, was brought to a close in 1992 when the government and leftist rebels signed a treaty that provided for military and political reforms.




Geography

El Salvador




Location:

Central America, bordering the North Pacific Ocean, between Guatemala and Honduras

Geographic coordinates:

13 50 N, 88 55 W

Map references:

Central America and the Caribbean

Area:

total: 21,040 sq km
land: 20,720 sq km
water: 320 sq km

Area - comparative:

slightly smaller than Massachusetts

Land boundaries:

total: 545 km
border countries: Guatemala 203 km, Honduras 342 km

Coastline:

307 km

Maritime claims:

territorial sea: 200 nm

Climate:

tropical; rainy season (May to October); dry season (November to April); tropical on coast; temperate in uplands

Terrain:

mostly mountains with narrow coastal belt and central plateau

Elevation extremes:

lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Cerro El Pital 2,730 m

Natural resources:

hydropower, geothermal power, petroleum, arable land

Land use:

arable land: 31.85%
permanent crops: 12.07%
other: 56.08% (2001)

Irrigated land:

360 sq km (1998 est.)

Natural hazards:

known as the Land of Volcanoes; frequent and sometimes very destructive earthquakes and volcanic activity; extremely susceptible to hurricanes

Environment - current issues:

deforestation; soil erosion; water pollution; contamination of soils from disposal of toxic wastes

Environment - international agreements:

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea

Geography - note:

smallest Central American country and only one without a coastline on Caribbean Sea




People

El Salvador




Population:

6,704,932 (July 2005 est.)

Age structure:

0-14 years: 36.5% (male 1,250,901/female 1,198,589)
15-64 years: 58.3% (male 1,860,084/female 2,051,140)
65 years and over: 5.1% (male 153,133/female 191,085) (2005 est.)

Median age:

total: 21.57 years
male: 20.44 years
female: 22.69 years (2005 est.)

Population growth rate:

1.75% (2005 est.)

Birth rate:

27.04 births/1,000 population (2005 est.)

Death rate:

5.85 deaths/1,000 population (2005 est.)

Net migration rate:

-3.67 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2005 est.)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.91 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.8 male(s)/female
total population: 0.95 male(s)/female (2005 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 25.1 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 27.98 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 22.08 deaths/1,000 live births (2005 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 71.22 years
male: 67.61 years
female: 75.01 years (2005 est.)

Total fertility rate:

3.16 children born/woman (2005 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

0.7% (2003 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:

29,000 (2003 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

2,200 (2003 est.)

Nationality:

noun: Salvadoran(s)
adjective: Salvadoran

Ethnic groups:

mestizo 90%, white 9%, Amerindian 1%

Religions:

Roman Catholic 83%, other 17%
note: there is extensive activity by Protestant groups throughout the country; by the end of 1992, there were an estimated 1 million Protestant evangelicals in El Salvador

Languages:

Spanish, Nahua (among some Amerindians)

Literacy:

definition: age 10 and over can read and write
total population: 80.2%
male: 82.8%
female: 77.7% (2003 est.)




Government

El Salvador




Country name:

conventional long form: Republic of El Salvador
conventional short form: El Salvador
local long form: Republica de El Salvador
local short form: El Salvador

Government type:

republic

Capital:

San Salvador

Administrative divisions:

14 departments (departamentos, singular - departamento); Ahuachapan, Cabanas, Chalatenango, Cuscatlan, La Libertad, La Paz, La Union, Morazan, San Miguel, San Salvador, Santa Ana, San Vicente, Sonsonate, Usulutan

Independence:

15 September 1821 (from Spain)

National holiday:

Independence Day, 15 September (1821)

Constitution:

23 December 1983

Legal system:

based on civil and Roman law, with traces of common law; judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations

Suffrage:

18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:

chief of state: President Elias Antonio SACA Gonzalez (since 1 June 2004); Vice President Ana Vilma DE ESCOBAR (since 1 June 2004); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Elias Antonio SACA Gonzalez (since 1 June 2004); Vice President Ana Vilma DE ESCOBAR (since 1 June 2004); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
cabinet: Council of Ministers selected by the president
elections: president and vice president elected on the same ticket by popular vote for five-year terms; election last held 21 March 2004 (next to be held March 2009)
election results: Elias Antonio SACA Gonzalez elected president; percent of vote - Elias Antonio SACA Gonzalez (ARENA) 57.7%, Schafik HANDAL (FMLN) 35.6%, Hector SILVA (CDU-PDC) 3.9%, other 2.8%

Legislative branch:

unicameral Legislative Assembly or Asamblea Legislativa (84 seats; members are elected by direct, popular vote to serve three-year terms)
elections: last held 16 March 2003 (next to be held March 2006)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - FMLN 31, ARENA 28, PCN 15, PDC 5, CD 5

Judicial branch:

Supreme Court or Corte Suprema (judges are selected by the Legislative Assembly)

Political parties and leaders:

Christian Democratic Party or PDC [Rodolfo PARKER]; Democratic Convergence or CD (formerly United Democratic Center or CDU) [Ruben ZAMORA, secretary general]; Democratic Party or PD [Jorge MELENDEZ]; Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front or FMLN [Medardo GONZALEZ]; Liberal Democratic Party or PLD [Kirio Waldo SALGADO, president]; National Action Party or PAN [Gustavo Rogelio SALINAS, secretary general]; National Conciliation Party or PCN [Ciro CRUZ ZEPEDA, president]; National Republican Alliance or ARENA [Elias Antonio SACA Gonzalez]; Social Christian Union or USC (formed by the merger of Christian Social Renewal Party or PRSC and Unity Movement or MU) [Abraham RODRIGUEZ, president]; Social Democratic Party or PSD [Juan MEDRANO]

Political pressure groups and leaders:

labor organizations - Electrical Industry Union of El Salvador or SIES; Federation of the Construction Industry, Similar Transport and other activities, or FESINCONTRANS; National Confederation of Salvadoran Workers or CNTS; National Union of Salvadoran Workers or UNTS; Port Industry Union of El Salvador or SIPES; Salvadoran Union of Ex-Petrolleros and Peasant Workers or USEPOC; Salvadoran Workers Central or CTS; Workers Union of Electrical Corporation or STCEL; business organizations - National Association of Small Enterprise or ANEP; Salvadoran Assembly Industry Association or ASIC; Salvadoran Industrial Association or ASI

International organization participation:

BCIE, CACM, FAO, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO (correspondent), ITU, MIGA, MINURSO, OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, PCA, RG, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNMIL, UNOCI, UPU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTO

Diplomatic representation in the US:

chief of mission: Ambassador Rene Antonio LEON Rodriguez
chancery: 2308 California Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 265-9671
FAX: [1] (202) 234-3834
consulate(s) general: Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York (2), San Francisco, and Washington, DC
consulate(s): Boston

Diplomatic representation from the US:

chief of mission: Ambassador H. Douglas BARCLAY
embassy: Final Boulevard Santa Elena Sur, Antiguo Cuscatlan, La Libertad, San Salvador
mailing address: Unit 3116, APO AA 34023
telephone: [503] 278-4444
FAX: [503] 278-5522

Flag description:

three equal horizontal bands of blue (top), white, and blue with the national coat of arms centered in the white band; the coat of arms features a round emblem encircled by the words REPUBLICA DE EL SALVADOR EN LA AMERICA CENTRAL; similar to the flag of Nicaragua, which has a different coat of arms centered in the white band - it features a triangle encircled by the words REPUBLICA DE NICARAGUA on top and AMERICA CENTRAL on the bottom; also similar to the flag of Honduras, which has five blue stars arranged in an X pattern centered in the white band




Economy

El Salvador




Economy - overview:

GDP per capita is roughly half that of Brazil, Argentina, and Chile, and the distribution of income is highly unequal. The government is striving to open new export markets, encourage foreign investment, modernize the tax and healthcare systems, and stimulate the sluggish economy. Implementation of the Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement, ratified by El Salvador in 2004, is viewed as a key policy to help achieve these objectives. The trade deficit has been offset by annual remittances from Salvadorans living abroad - 16% of GDP in 2004 - and external aid. With the adoption of the US dollar as its currency, El Salvador has lost control over monetary policy and must concentrate on maintaining a disciplined fiscal policy.

GDP (purchasing power parity):

$32.35 billion (2004 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

1.8% (2004 est.)

GDP - per capita:

purchasing power parity - $4,900 (2004 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 9.2%
industry: 31.1%
services: 59.7% (2004 est.)

Labor force:

2.75 million (2004 est.)

Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture 17.1%, industry 17.1%, services 65.8% (2003 est.)

Unemployment rate:

6.3% - but the economy has much underemployment (2004 est.)

Population below poverty line:

36.1% (2003 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:

lowest 10%: 1.4%
highest 10%: 39.3% (2001)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:

52.5 (2001)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

5.4% (2004 est.)

Investment (gross fixed):

16.6% of GDP (2004 est.)

Budget:

revenues: $2.491 billion
expenditures: $2.782 billion, including capital expenditures of NA (2004 est.)

Public debt:

41.7% of GDP (2004 est.)

Agriculture - products:

coffee, sugar, corn, rice, beans, oilseed, cotton, sorghum; shrimp; beef, dairy products

Industries:

food processing, beverages, petroleum, chemicals, fertilizer, textiles, furniture, light metals

Industrial production growth rate:

0.7% (2004 est.)

Electricity - production:

4.158 billion kWh (2004)

Electricity - production by source:

fossil fuel: 44%
hydro: 30.9%
nuclear: 0%
other: 25.1% (2001)

Electricity - consumption:

4.45 billion kWh (2004)

Electricity - exports:

91 million kWh (2004)

Electricity - imports:

473 million kWh (2004)

Oil - production:

0 bbl/day (2001 est.)

Oil - consumption:

39,000 bbl/day (2001 est.)

Oil - exports:

NA

Oil - imports:

NA

Current account balance:

$-880.5 million (2004 est.)

Exports:

$3.249 billion (2004 est.)

Exports - commodities:

offshore assembly exports, coffee, sugar, shrimp, textiles, chemicals, electricity

Exports - partners:

US 65.6%, Guatemala 11.8%, Honduras 6.3% (2004)

Imports:

$5.968 billion (2004 est.)

Imports - commodities:

raw materials, consumer goods, capital goods, fuels, foodstuffs, petroleum, electricity

Imports - partners:

US 46.3%, Guatemala 8.1%, Mexico 6% (2004)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:

$1.888 billion (2004 est.)

Debt - external:

$4.792 billion (September 2004 est.)

Economic aid - recipient:

$125 million of which, $53 million from US (2003)

Currency (code):

US dollar (USD)

Currency code:

USD

Exchange rates:

the US dollar became El Salvador's currency in 2001

Fiscal year:

calendar year




Communications

El Salvador




Telephones - main lines in use:

752,600 (2003)

Telephones - mobile cellular:

1,149,800 (2003)

Telephone system:

general assessment: NA
domestic: nationwide microwave radio relay system
international: country code - 503; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean); connected to Central American Microwave System

Radio broadcast stations:

AM 61 (plus 24 repeaters), FM 30, shortwave 0 (1998)

Radios:

2.75 million (1997)

Television broadcast stations:

5 (1997)

Televisions:

600,000 (1990)

Internet country code:

.sv

Internet hosts:

4,084 (2003)

Internet Service Providers (ISPs):

4 (2000)

Internet users:

550,000 (2003)




Transportation

El Salvador




Railways:

total: 283 km
narrow gauge: 283 km 0.914-m gauge
note: length of operational route reduced from 562 km to 283 km by disuse and lack of maintenance (2004)

Highways:

total: 10,029 km
paved: 1,986 km (including 327 km of expressways)
unpaved: 8,043 km (1999 est.)

Waterways:

Rio Lempa partially navigable (2004)

Ports and harbors:

Acajutla, Puerto Cutuco

Airports:

73 (2004 est.)

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 4
over 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 2 (2004 est.)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 69
914 to 1,523 m: 15
under 914 m: 54 (2004 est.)

Heliports:

1 (2004 est.)




Military

El Salvador




Military branches:

Army, Navy (FNES), Air Force (FAS)

Military service age and obligation:

18 years of age for compulsory military service, with 12-month service obligation; 16 years of age for volunteers (2002)

Manpower available for military service:

males age 18-49: 1,391,278 (2005 est.)

Manpower fit for military service:

males age 18-49: 960,315 (2005 est.)

Manpower reaching military service age annually:

males: 70,286 (2005 est.)

Military expenditures - dollar figure:

$157 million (2003)

Military expenditures - percent of GDP:

1.1% (2003)




Nicaragua











Introduction

Nicaragua




Background:

The Pacific Coast of Nicaragua was settled as a Spanish colony from Panama in the early 16th century. Independence from Spain was declared in 1821 and the country became an independent republic in 1838. Britain occupied the Caribbean Coast in the first half of the 19th century, but gradually ceded control of the region in subsequent decades. Violent opposition to governmental manipulation and corruption spread to all classes by 1978 and resulted in a short-lived civil war that brought the Marxist Sandinista guerrillas to power in 1979. Nicaraguan aid to leftist rebels in El Salvador caused the US to sponsor anti-Sandinista contra guerrillas through much of the 1980s. Free elections in 1990, 1996, and again in 2001 saw the Sandinistas defeated. The country has slowly rebuilt its economy during the 1990s, but was hard hit by Hurricane Mitch in 1998.




Geography

Nicaragua




Location:

Central America, bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean, between Costa Rica and Honduras

Geographic coordinates:

13 00 N, 85 00 W

Map references:

Central America and the Caribbean

Area:

total: 129,494 sq km
land: 120,254 sq km
water: 9,240 sq km

Area - comparative:

slightly smaller than the state of New York

Land boundaries:

total: 1,231 km
border countries: Costa Rica 309 km, Honduras 922 km

Coastline:

910 km

Maritime claims:

territorial sea: 200 nm
continental shelf: natural prolongation

Climate:

tropical in lowlands, cooler in highlands

Terrain:

extensive Atlantic coastal plains rising to central interior mountains; narrow Pacific coastal plain interrupted by volcanoes

Elevation extremes:

lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mogoton 2,438 m

Natural resources:

gold, silver, copper, tungsten, lead, zinc, timber, fish

Land use:

arable land: 15.94%
permanent crops: 1.94%
other: 82.12% (2001)

Irrigated land:

880 sq km (1998 est.)

Natural hazards:

destructive earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides; extremely susceptible to hurricanes

Environment - current issues:

deforestation; soil erosion; water pollution

Environment - international agreements:

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification

Geography - note:

largest country in Central America; contains the largest freshwater body in Central America, Lago de Nicaragua




People

Nicaragua




Population:

5,465,100 (July 2005 est.)

Age structure:

0-14 years: 37.2% (male 1,036,487/female 999,226)
15-64 years: 59.7% (male 1,623,065/female 1,638,017)
65 years and over: 3.1% (male 73,935/female 94,370) (2005 est.)

Median age:

total: 20.56 years
male: 20.15 years
female: 20.98 years (2005 est.)

Population growth rate:

1.92% (2005 est.)

Birth rate:

24.88 births/1,000 population (2005 est.)

Death rate:

4.49 deaths/1,000 population (2005 est.)

Net migration rate:

-1.19 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2005 est.)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.78 male(s)/female
total population: 1 male(s)/female (2005 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 29.11 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 32.6 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 25.44 deaths/1,000 live births (2005 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 70.33 years
male: 68.27 years
female: 72.49 years (2005 est.)

Total fertility rate:

2.81 children born/woman (2005 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

0.2% (2003 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:

6,400 (2003 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

less than 500 (2003 est.)

Nationality:

noun: Nicaraguan(s)
adjective: Nicaraguan

Ethnic groups:

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

Religions:

Roman Catholic 72.9%, Evangelical 15.1%, Moravian 1.5%, Episcopal 0.1%, other 1.9%, none 8.5% (1995 census)

Languages:

Spanish 97.5% (official), Miskito 1.7%, other 0.8% (1995 census)
note: English and indigenous languages on Atlantic coast

Literacy:

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 67.5%
male: 67.2%
female: 67.8% (2003 est.)




Government

Nicaragua




Country name:

conventional long form: Republic of Nicaragua
conventional short form: Nicaragua
local long form: Republica de Nicaragua
local short form: Nicaragua

Government type:

republic

Capital:

Managua

Administrative divisions:

15 departments (departamentos, singular - departamento) and 2 autonomous regions* (regiones autonomistas, singular - region autonomista); Atlantico Norte*, Atlantico Sur*, Boaco, Carazo, Chinandega, Chontales, Esteli, Granada, Jinotega, Leon, Madriz, Managua, Masaya, Matagalpa, Nueva Segovia, Rio San Juan, Rivas

Independence:

15 September 1821 (from Spain)

National holiday:

Independence Day, 15 September (1821)

Constitution:

9 January 1987; reforms in 1995 and 2000

Legal system:

civil law system; Supreme Court may review administrative acts

Suffrage:

16 years of age; universal

Executive branch:

chief of state: President Enrique BOLANOS Geyer (since 10 January 2002); Vice President Alfredo GOMEZ (since 10 October 2005); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Enrique BOLANOS Geyer (since 10 January 2002); Vice President Alfredo GOMEZ (since 10 October 2005); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president
elections: president and vice president elected on the same ticket by popular vote for a five-year term; election last held 4 November 2001 (next to be held by November 2006)
election results: Enrique BOLANOS Geyer (PLC) elected president - 56.3%, Daniel ORTEGA Saavedra (FSLN) 42.3%, Alberto SABORIO (PCN) 1.4%; Jose RIZO Castellon elected vice president

Legislative branch:

unicameral National Assembly or Asamblea Nacional (92 seats; members are elected by proportional representation and party lists to serve five-year terms; one seat for previous President, one seat for runner-up in previous Presidential election
elections: last held 4 November 2001 (next to be held by November 2006)
election results: percent of vote by party - Liberal Alliance (ruling party - includes PCCN, PLC, PALI, PLIUN, and PUCA) 46.03%, FSLN 36.55%, PCN 2.12%; seats by party - Liberal Alliance 53, FSLN 38, PCN 1

Judicial branch:

Supreme Court or Corte Suprema (16 judges elected for five-year terms by the National Assembly)

Political parties and leaders:

Alliance for the Republic or APRE [Miguel LOPEZ Baldizon, Oscar WENDOLYN Vargas, Karla WHITE]; Central American Unionist Party or PUCA [leader NA]; Christian Alternative Party or AC [Orlando TARDENCILLA Espinoza]; Conservative Party of Nicaragua or PCN [Mario RAPPACCIOLI]; Independent Liberal Party or PLI [Anibal MARTINEZ Nunez, Pedro REYES Vallejos]; Independent Liberal Party for National Unity or PLIUN [leader NA]; Liberal Constitutional Party or PLC [Jorge CASTILLO Quant]; Liberal Salvation Movement or MSL [Eliseo NUNEZ Hernandez]; New Liberal Party or PALI [leader NA]; Nicaraguan Party of the Christian Path or PCCN [Guillermo OSORNO Molina]; Nicaraguan Resistance Party or PRN [Salvador TALAVERA]; Sandinista National Liberation Front or FSLN [Daniel ORTEGA Saavedra]; Sandinista Renovation Movement or MRS [leader NA]; Unity Alliance or AU [leader NA]

Political pressure groups and leaders:

National Workers Front or FNT is a Sandinista umbrella group of eight labor unions including - Farm Workers Association or ATC, Health Workers Federation or FETASALUD, Heroes and Martyrs Confederation of Professional Associations or CONAPRO, National Association of Educators of Nicaragua or ANDEN, National Union of Employees or UNE, National Union of Farmers and Ranchers or UNAG, Sandinista Workers Central or CST, and Union of Journalists of Nicaragua or UPN; Permanent Congress of Workers or CPT is an umbrella group of four non-Sandinista labor unions including - Autonomous Nicaraguan Workers Central or CTN-A, Confederation of Labor Unification or CUS, Independent General Confederation of Labor or CGT-I, and Labor Action and Unity Central or CAUS; Nicaraguan Workers' Central or CTN is an independent labor union; Superior Council of Private Enterprise or COSEP is a confederation of business groups

International organization participation:

BCIE, CACM, FAO, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO (correspondent), ITU, LAES, LAIA (observer), MIGA, NAM, OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, PCA, RG, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTO

Diplomatic representation in the US:

chief of mission: Ambassador Salvador STADTHAGEN (since 5 December 2003)
chancery: 1627 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20009
telephone: [1] (202) 939-6570, [1] (202) 939-6573
FAX: [1] (202) 939-6545
consulate(s) general: Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco

Diplomatic representation from the US:

chief of mission: Ambassador Barbara Calandra MOORE
embassy: Kilometer 4.5 Carretera Sur, Managua
mailing address: APO AA 34021
telephone: [505] 266-6010
FAX: [505] 266-9074

Flag description:

three equal horizontal bands of blue (top), white, and blue with the national coat of arms centered in the white band; the coat of arms features a triangle encircled by the words REPUBLICA DE NICARAGUA on the top and AMERICA CENTRAL on the bottom; similar to the flag of El Salvador, which features a round emblem encircled by the words REPUBLICA DE EL SALVADOR EN LA AMERICA CENTRAL centered in the white band; also similar to the flag of Honduras, which has five blue stars arranged in an X pattern centered in the white band




Economy

Nicaragua




Economy - overview:

Nicaragua, one of the hemisphere's poorest countries, faces low per capita income, massive unemployment, and huge external debt. Distribution of income is one of the most unequal on the globe. While the country has made progress toward macroeconomic stability over the past few years, GDP annual growth has been far too low to meet the country's needs. As a result of successful performance under its International Monetary Fund policy program and other efforts, Nicaragua qualified in early 2004 for some $4 billion in foreign debt reduction under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative. Even after this reduction, however, the government continues to bear a significant foreign and domestic debt burden. If ratified, the US-Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) will provide an opportunity for Nicaragua to attract investment, create jobs, and deepen economic development. While President BOLANOS enjoys the support of the international financial bodies, his internal political base is meager.

GDP (purchasing power parity):

$12.34 billion (2004 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

4% (2004 est.)

GDP - per capita:

purchasing power parity - $2,300 (2004 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 20.7%
industry: 24.7%
services: 54.6% (2004 est.)

Labor force:

1.93 million (2004 est.)

Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture 30.5%, industry 17.3%, services 52.2% (2003 est.)

Unemployment rate:

7.8% plus underemployment of 46.5% (2003 est.)

Population below poverty line:

50% (2001 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:

lowest 10%: 1.2%
highest 10%: 45% (2001)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:

55.1 (2001)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

9.3% (2004 est.)

Investment (gross fixed):

28% of GDP (2004 est.)

Budget:

revenues: $725.5 million
expenditures: $1.039 billion, including capital expenditures of NA (2004 est.)

Public debt:

69.5% of GDP (2004 est.)

Agriculture - products:

coffee, bananas, sugarcane, cotton, rice, corn, tobacco, sesame, soya, beans; beef, veal, pork, poultry, dairy products

Industries:

food processing, chemicals, machinery and metal products, textiles, clothing, petroleum refining and distribution, beverages, footwear, wood

Industrial production growth rate:

4.4% (2000 est.)

Electricity - production:

2.553 billion kWh (2002)

Electricity - production by source:

fossil fuel: 83.9%
hydro: 7.7%
nuclear: 0%
other: 8.4% (2001)

Electricity - consumption:

2.318 billion kWh (2002)

Electricity - exports:

6.8 million kWh (2002)

Electricity - imports:

15.3 million kWh (2002)

Oil - production:

0 bbl/day (2003 est.)

Oil - consumption:

25,770 bbl/day (2003 est.)

Oil - exports:

738 bbl/day (2003)

Oil - imports:

27,950 bbl/day (2003)

Current account balance:

$-843.1 million (2004 est.)

Exports:

$750 million f.o.b. (2004 est.)

Exports - commodities:

coffee, beef, shrimp and lobster, tobacco, sugar, gold, peanuts

Exports - partners:

US 64.8%, El Salvador 7%, Mexico 3.6% (2004)

Imports:

$2.02 billion f.o.b. (2004 est.)

Imports - commodities:

consumer goods, machinery and equipment, raw materials, petroleum products

Imports - partners:

US 22.6%, Costa Rica 8.5%, Venezuela 8.4%, Guatemala 6.8%, Mexico 5.8%, El Salvador 4.9%, South Korea 4.5% (2004)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:

$670 million (2004 est.)

Debt - external:

$4.573 billion (2004 est.)

Economic aid - recipient:

$541.8 million (2003)

Currency (code):

gold cordoba (NIO)

Currency code:

NIO

Exchange rates:

gold cordobas per US dollar - 15.937 (2004), 15.105 (2003), 14.251 (2002), 13.372 (2001), 12.684 (2000)

Fiscal year:

calendar year




Communications

Nicaragua




Telephones - main lines in use:

171,600 (2002)

Telephones - mobile cellular:

202,800 (2002)

Telephone system:

general assessment: inadequate system being upgraded by foreign investment
domestic: low-capacity microwave radio relay and wire system being expanded; connected to Central American Microwave System
international: country code - 505; satellite earth stations - 1 Intersputnik (Atlantic Ocean region) and 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)

Radio broadcast stations:

AM 63, FM 32, shortwave 1 (1998)

Radios:

1.24 million (1997)

Television broadcast stations:

3 (plus seven low-power repeaters) (1997)

Televisions:

320,000 (1997)

Internet country code:

.ni

Internet hosts:

7,094 (2003)

Internet Service Providers (ISPs):

3 (2000)

Internet users:

90,000 (2002)




Transportation

Nicaragua




Railways:

total: 6 km
narrow gauge: 6 km 1.067-m gauge (2004)

Highways:

total: 18,712 km
paved: 2,126 km
unpaved: 16,586 km (2002)

Waterways:

2,220 km (including lakes Managua and Nicaragua) (1997)

Pipelines:

oil 54 km (2004)

Ports and harbors:

Bluefields, Corinto, El Bluff

Airports:

176 (2004 est.)

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 11
2,438 to 3,047 m: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 3
under 914 m: 3 (2004 est.)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 165
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 23
under 914 m: 141 (2004 est.)




Military

Nicaragua

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