Population: 5.907 million
Area: 130 370 km2
GDP (PPP): 31.18 billion dollar (2015 estimate)
GDP per capita (PPP): 5 000 $ (2015 estimate)
Rate of growth: 1 % (2015 estimate)
Head of state and head of government: Daniel Ortega Saavedra
Nicaragua formed an independent republic in 1838. In 1979 the Sandinistas ascended to power after a brief civil war. Free elections were first held in 1990 and the Sandinistas suffered a devastating defeat. This pattern was repeated in 1996 and 2001. In recent years, the situation in terms of human rights has improved significantly. The constitution guarantees freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of association, freedom of religion and freedom to convene. However, problems still remain – most pressingly that of poverty. Another problem is corruption.
Nicaragua has the most uneven income distribution in the world and it is one of the poorest countries in Latin America. The rate of economic growth has not been able to keep up with the country’s huge needs and Nicaragua is dependent on international aid. A free-trade agreement with the USA, the Dominican Republic and Central America (CAFTA) is in effect since 2006. This has expanded the opportunities for exports, mainly of products from agriculture and manifacture.
In 2005, the president and the ruling majority of the congress were involved in a power struggle which resulted in a constitutional reform that limited the president’s power. President Ortega of the socialist Sandinistas was elected head of government with 38 percent of the vote in November 2006 and was re-elected in 2011. The next parliamentary and presidential elections will be held in November 2017.
The Jarl Hjalmarson Foundation has for many years been working with Azalia Avilés, President of the International Women’s Democrat Union (IWDU). Avilés is appreciated for her efforts to build strong women’s networks in the region and abroad.