Nicaragua is located in Central America, above Costa Rica and to the south of Honduras. The country has had a tough history and is still struggling to overcome both political and environmental setbacks including a dictatorship, civil war, and a hurricane. At present, the country’s democracy has weakened under current president Daniel Ortega, a past leader of the Sandinista guerrilla group, who was elected democratically to govern Nicaragua back in 2006 and renewed his term once again in 2021 in a very controversial elections.
The total population of Nicaragua is estimated to be a little over 6.5 million, with population growth having decreased slightly over the past decade. The largest city and capital of Nicaragua is Managua, and at present, around 60 percent of Nicaraguans live in urban areas and cities. One of the main reasons for population growth to decrease is the slumping fertility rate, which has been decreasing over the last decade as well, however, because of the high fertility rate in the past, the country has a large share of young inhabitants under the age of 14 and a very small percentage of people over 65.
The economy of Nicaragua has traditionally been strongest in the agricultural sector. Employment across the different sectors shows nearly a third of Nicaragua's workforce being employed in the agricultural sector, and about half in the industrial sector. In recent years, the unemployment rate has been steady at around five percent since 2018. Although the population figures are not very high and unemployment is even lower than the EU average, for example, the country has an extremely low per capita GDP and remains one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere.
However trade, both imports and exports, has picked up significantly under Ortega, and even though the United States is outwardly critical of the Ortega administration, it imports more than 50 percent of all Nicaraguan goods. The United States is also Nicaragua's main trade partner regarding imports to Nicaragua. Due to the social and political unrest which erupted in 2018, plummeting foreign investment, and the coronavirus pandemic, among other reasons, the economy of Nicaragua has been experiencing negative growth as of late, shrinking in 2020 for the third consecutive year. And, although GDP growth is expected to return to positive numbers from 2021 onwards, figures will be notably lower than those registered in 2016 and 2017. Further economic growth is needed to be able to bring the majority of the Nicaraguans out of poverty.
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