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REPUBLIC OF NICARAGUA

 

Official name: Republica de Nicaragua (Republic of Nicaragua)
Location: Central America
International organisations: The Non-Aligned Movement, The Organisation of American States, The United Nations, The World Trade Organisation.
Borders: Costa Rica, Honduras
Coastline: Caribbean Sea, Pacific Ocean
Land area: 129,494 Km2
Population: 5,000,000

 

Ethnicity: Two-thirds of the population are of Mestizo (mixed Amerindian and European) descent. About 20% are of European (mainly Spanish) descent, and about 10% are of African descent. There are small Amerindian minorities on the east coast.
Languages: Spanish is the official language and is almost universally used. English and Amerindian languages are used in some east coast communities.
Religion: Catholic Christian 85%, Protestant Christian 10%.
Form of government: Presidential democratic republic. Nicaragua is divided into 15 Departments and two autonomous regions.
 

Capital: Managua
Constitution: The Constitution of the Republic of Nicaragua came into effect on 9 January 1987. It was substantially amended in 1995.
Head of state: The President, elected by direct universal suffrage for a five-year term.
Head of government: The President, who appoints the Cabinet.
Legislature: Nicaragua has a unicameral legislature, the National Assembly (Asamblea Nacional), which has 93 members, 90 elected for six-year terms by proportional representation and three who are members by virtue of having been presidential candidates.
Electoral authority: The Supreme Electoral Council administers national elections
Freedom House rating: Political Rights 3, Civil Liberties 3

 

Political history

Nicaragua was brought under Spanish rule in the early 15th century and became part of the captaincy-general of Guatemala. In 1821 the region became independent when Spanish rule ended, and Nicaragua became part of the United Provinces of Central America. In 1838 the federation was dissolved and Nicaragua became independent. Like the other Central American states, Nicaragua was ruled through the 19th century by a small European minority, and there were frequent revolutions and struggles between Liberals and Conservatives.

In 1893 the Liberal leader José Santos Zelaya became president, and carried out major reforms before being overthrown in 1909. The resulting conflict led to American intervention in 1912. The US occupation continued until 1925, and left-wing guerillas led by Augusto Sandino continued resistance until 1928. In that year Sandino agreed to a peace treaty with General Anastasio Somoza García, but in 1934 Sandino was assassinated and Somoza made himself dictator.

Somoza ruled directly or indirectly with American patronage (it was Somoza of whom Franklin D Roosevelt said, "He may be a son of a bitch, but he's our son of a bitch."). He was assassinated in 1956, and was succeeded by his son Luis Somoza Debayle. In 1967 Luis was in turn succeeded by his brother Anastasio Somoza Debayle. In 1978 a revolt against Somoza's rule broke out, and in 1979 the dictator fled and the Sandinist National Liberation Front came to power led by Daniel Ortega Saavedra, who became President.

The new regime at first enjoyed broad support, but the SNLF's evident intent to create a communist state led to armed opposition (the Contras), armed and supported by the United States. Civil war raged until 1990, when there was a ceasefire and elections, in which Ortega was defeated by Violeta Barrios de Chamorro.

Since 1990 Nicaraguan politics have been dominated by the conservative Constitutional Liberal Party which has defeated the Sandinist National Liberation Front at three successive presidential elections and holds a majority in the legislature.

 

 For more informations about Nicaragua please visit the world factbook

 

               

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