This article is about the demographic features of the population of Nicaragua, including population density, ethnicity, education level, health of the populace, economic status, religious affiliations and other aspects of the population.
Nicaragua, officially the Republic of Nicaragua, is the largest country in the Central American isthmus, bordered by Honduras to the northwest, the Caribbean to the east, Costa Rica to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the southwest. Managua is the country's capital and largest city and is also the third-largest city in Central America, behind Tegucigalpa and Guatemala City. The multi-ethnic population of six million includes people of indigenous, European, African, and Asian heritage. The main language is Spanish. Indigenous tribes on the Mosquito Coast speak their own languages and English.
Population density is a measurement of population per unit area or unit volume; it is a quantity of type number density. It is frequently applied to living organisms, and most of the time to humans. It is a key geographical term. In simple terms population density refers to the number of people living in an area per kilometer square.
An ethnic group or an ethnicity is a category of people who identify with each other based on similarities such as common ancestry, language, history, society, culture or nation. Ethnicity is usually an inherited status based on the society in which one lives. Membership of an ethnic group tends to be defined by a shared cultural heritage, ancestry, origin myth, history, homeland, language or dialect, symbolic systems such as religion, mythology and ritual, cuisine, dressing style, art or physical appearance.
|Demographics of Nicaragua|
|Infant mortality rate||27.14/1,000|
|Life expectancy||70.92 years|
According to the 2017 revision of the World Population Prospects , Nicaragua has a population of 6,149,928. Mestizos (who are a mix of Native American and white) make up about 69% of the population, while whites make up 24%. The remainder of the Nicaraguan population is 9% black, and 5% Native American.
Mestizo is a term traditionally used in Spain, Latin America and the Philippines that originally referred to a person of combined European and Indigenous American descent, regardless of where the person was born. The term was used as an ethnic/racial category in the casta system that was in use during the Spanish Empire's control of its American and Asian colonies. Nowadays though, particularly in Spanish America, mestizo has become more of a cultural term, with culturally mainstream Latin Americans regarded or termed as mestizos regardless of their actual ancestry and with the term Indian being reserved exclusively for people who have maintained a separate indigenous ethnic identity, language, tribal affiliation, etc. Consequently, today, the vast majority of Spanish-speaking Latin Americans are regarded as mestizos.
Nicaraguan demographics reflected a different composition prior to the Sandinista revolution of 1979 since most of the migration during the years that followed were primarily of upper or middle class Nicaraguans, a group primarily made up of whites. A growing number of these expats have returned, while many continue to live abroad.
The Sandinista National Liberation Front is a socialist political party in Nicaragua.
The 42.5% of the population live below to the poverty line,The general poverty rate is estimated of 47.3%, although much of the population lives in the lower middle class because of low salaries and a minimal amount of PIB (US$1000–3000).
The most populous city in the country is the capital city, Managua, with a population of 1.2 million (2005). As of 2005, over 4.4 million inhabitants live in the Pacific, Central and North regions. 2.7 million inhabitants reside in the Pacific region alone, while inhabitants in the Caribbean region only reach an estimated 700,000.
Managua is the capital and largest city of Nicaragua, and the center of an eponymous department. Located on the southwestern shore of Lake Managua, it had an estimated population 1,042,641 in 2016 within the city's administrative limits and a population of 1,401,687 in the metropolitan area, which additionally includes the municipalities of Ciudad Sandino, El Crucero, Nindirí, Ticuantepe and Tipitapa.
The Census Bureau in Nicaragua is the National Institute of Statistics and Census (INEC). The institution is in charge of completing censuses and surveys. INEC ran its first census in 1906, the last census was taken in 2005, it was the eighth to date.
A census is the procedure of systematically acquiring and recording information about the members of a given population. The term is used mostly in connection with national population and housing censuses; other common censuses include agriculture, business, and traffic censuses. The United Nations defines the essential features of population and housing censuses as "individual enumeration, universality within a defined territory, simultaneity and defined periodicity", and recommends that population censuses be taken at least every 10 years. United Nations recommendations also cover census topics to be collected, official definitions, classifications and other useful information to co-ordinate international practice.
According to the 2017 revision of the World Population Prospects the total population was 6,149,928 in 2016, compared to only 1,295,000 in 1950. The proportion of children below the age of 15 in 2010 was 34.5%, 60.9% was between 15 and 65 years of age, while 4.6% was 65 years or older .
Structure of the population (01.07.2009) (estimates):
|Total||2 844 244||2 898 072||5 742 316||100|
|0-4||347 205||332 920||680 125||11,84|
|5-9||336 817||323 279||660 096||11,50|
|10-14||344 831||332 925||677 756||11,80|
|15-19||331 536||329 072||660 608||11,50|
|20-24||286 484||290 439||576 923||10,05|
|25-29||250 672||260 730||511 402||8,91|
|30-34||197 120||214 967||412 087||7,18|
|35-39||162 472||174 845||337 317||5,87|
|40-44||136 223||143 572||279 795||4,87|
|45-49||115 914||124 028||239 942||4,18|
|50-54||98 355||107 733||206 088||3,59|
|55-59||74 173||80 156||154 329||2,69|
|60-64||45 221||48 460||93 681||1,63|
|65-69||43 121||46 230||89 351||1,56|
|70-74||32 418||35 443||67 861||1,18|
|75-79||22 249||25 956||48 205||0,84|
|80+||19 433||27 317||46 750||0,81|
|0-14||1 028 853||989 124||2 017 977||35,14|
|15-64||1 698 170||1 774 002||3 472 172||60,47|
|65+||117 221||134 946||252 167||4,39|
Ninety percent of Nicaraguans live in the Pacific lowlands and the adjacent interior highlands. The population is 54% urban. The most populous city in Nicaragua is the capital city, Managua, with a population of 1.2 million (2005). As of 2005, over 4.4 million inhabitants live in the Pacific, Central and North regions of the country. There are 2.7 million residents in the Pacific region. The Caribbean region has an estimated 700,000 residents.In addition, many Nicaraguans live abroad.
|8||Masaya||Masaya||289,988||17||San Carlos||Río San Juan||95,596|
|9||Ocotal||Nueva Segovia||208,523||18||Total||--||5,142,098 (2005)|
|Source: National Institute of Statistics and Census (INEC).|
Registration of vital events is in Nicaragua not complete. The Population Department of the United Nations prepared the following estimates.
|CBR*||CDR*||NC*||TFR*||IMR*||Life expectancy |
|Life expectancy |
|Life expectancy |
|1950-1955||77 000||32 000||45 000||54.9||23.0||31.9||7.20||172||42.3||40.9||43.7|
|1955-1960||89 000||33 000||56 000||54.2||20.4||33.8||7.50||151||45.4||44.1||46.8|
|1960-1965||93 000||33 000||60 000||48.5||17.0||31.5||7.10||131||48.7||47.3||50.0|
|1965-1970||103 000||32 000||71 000||46.3||14.4||31.9||6.95||114||52.0||50.5||53.4|
|1970-1975||120 000||33 000||88 000||46.3||12.6||33.7||6.79||98||55.3||53.7||56.8|
|1975-1980||137 000||34 000||102 000||45.2||11.3||33.9||6.35||90||57.6||55.3||60.0|
|1980-1985||149 000||35 000||114 000||42.9||10.1||32.7||5.85||80||59.5||56.5||62.6|
|1985-1990||150 000||33 000||117 000||38.2||8.4||29.8||5.00||65||62.2||59.0||65.5|
|1990-1995||156 000||29 000||127 000||35.4||6.5||28.9||4.50||48||66.1||63.5||68.7|
|1995-2000||147 000||27 000||120 000||30.1||5.6||24.6||3.60||34||68.4||65.9||71.1|
|2000-2005||139 000||26 000||112 000||26.3||5.0||21.2||3.00||26||70.9||68.0||73.8|
|2005-2010||140 000||27 000||113 000||24.8||4.7||20.1||2.76||22||72.9||69.9||76.0|
|* CBR = crude birth rate (per 1000); CDR = crude death rate (per 1000); NC = natural change (per 1000); IMR = infant mortality rate per 1000 births; TFR = total fertility rate (number of children per woman)|
Total Fertility Rate (TFR) (Wanted Fertility Rate) and Crude Birth Rate (CBR):
|Year||CBR (Total)||TFR (Total)||CBR (Urban)||TFR (Urban)||CBR (Rural)||TFR (Rural)|
|1998||29||3,6 (2,5)||2,9 (2,0)||5,0 (3,3)|
|2001||27||3,2 (2,3)||24||2,6 (1,8)||31||4,4 (3,0)|
Births and deaths
|Year||Population (x1000)||Live births||Deaths||Natural increase||Crude birth rate||Crude death rate||Rate of natural increase||TFR|
|2010||132 165||19 944||112 221|
In the 19th century, there had been a substantial indigenous minority, but this group was also largely assimilated culturally into the mestizo majority. Primarily in the 19th century, Nicaragua saw several waves of immigration from other European nations. In particular the northern cities of Estelí, Jinotega and Matagalpa have significant fourth generation Germans. Most of Nicaragua's population lives in the western region of the country in the departments of Managua, Granada and Léon.
According to the 2005 census 443,847 (8.6%) residents consider themselves to belong to an indigenous people or to an ethnic community.The remaining majority of the Nicaraguan population (91.6%) are deemed mestizo and white, with the majority of these being of Spanish, with some German, Italian, Portuguese and French ancestry. Mestizos and whites mainly reside in the western region of the country.
Possibly also a part of the black or Afro-Nicaraguan population, which mainly resides on the country's sparsely populated Caribbean (or Atlantic) coast, is included in the majority population which does not consider itself to belong to an ethnic community. In the 2005 census, there were only 19,890 Creoles (0.4% of the total population). The Creole population is mostly of West Indian (Antillean) origin, the descendants of indentured laborers brought mostly from Jamaica when the region was a British protectorate.
The Garifuna, a people of mixed Carib, Angolan, Congolese and Arawak descent, numbered 3,271 in 2005 (0.1%). 112,253 people considered themselves "Mestizo de la Costa Caribe" (mestizo of the Caribbean coast). In addition to the inhabitants who declared themselves Indigenous or Ethnic community, 13,740 answered "Other". Another 47,473 responded "Not Sure" and an additional 19,460 responded "Ignore".
The Native American population, the unmixed descendants of the country's indigenous inhabitants, numbered 227,760 (4.4% of the total population) in 2005.Nicaragua's pre-Columbian consisted of many indigenous groups. In the western region, the Nahua people (also known as the Pipil-Nicaraos) were present along with other groups such as the Chorotega people.
The central region and the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua were inhabited by indigenous peoples who were mostly Chibcha-related groups that had migrated from South America, primarily present day Colombia and Venezuela. These groups include the Miskitos (120,817 people), Matagalpa (15,240 people), Ramas (4,185 people), Sumos (9,756 people) and Ulwa (698 people). Other indigenous peoples include the Subtiaba (19,949 people) and modern-day Chorotegas who are also known as the Mangue (46,002 people).
In the 19th century, there was still a substantial indigenous minority, but this group was largely assimilated culturally into the mestizo majority. In the mid-1980s, the government divided the department of Zelaya – consisting of the eastern half of the country — into two autonomous regions and granted the black and indigenous people of this region limited self-rule within the Republic.
|Those belonging to recognized indigenous communities (2005)|
Relative to its overall population, Nicaragua has never experienced any large scale wave of immigrants. The total number of immigrants to Nicaragua, both originating from other Latin American countries and all other countries, never surpassed 1% of its total population prior to 1995. The 2005 census showed the foreign-born population at 1.2%, having risen a mere .06% in 10 years.However, in the 19th century, Nicaragua received immigrants from Europe, who established many agricultural businesses such as coffee and sugar cane plantations, and also newspapers, hotels and banks.
During the Nicaraguan Revolution and the Civil War, thousands of Nicaraguans left the country. After the 1990 Nicaraguan Elections some people returned, but many more emigrated during the rest of the decade. In 1998, the Hurricane Mitch killed almost 4,000 people in the country and destroyed much of the Nicaraguan economy, as a result thousands of Nicaraguans received the TPS for emigrate to the United States as "refugees".In recent years, many Nicaraguans had left the country to escape poverty and unemployment.
Nicaraguan emigration is a recent process. During the 1990–2004 period, more than 800,000 Nicaraguans left the country, compared to 100,000 during the 1970–1989 period.According to the World Bank, in 2005 there were 683,520 Nicaraguans living outside Nicaragua legally. If those who are undocumented are counted, some sources estimate as many as 1,500,000 Nicaraguans living abroad by the end of 2005. Nicaraguans are the third largest community of Central Americans living abroad, after Guatemalans and Salvadorans. Nicaragua is also the second country in Central America by percentage of population living abroad.
Remittances to Nicaragua represent about 15% of the country's GDP.In 2008 Nicaragua received close to one billion dollars in remittances; an increase from the $750,000,000 received in 2007, according to the World Bank
The official language of Nicaragua is Spanish, or Nicañol as Nicaraguan Spanish is sometimes referred to, and is spoken by the country's population. In Nicaragua the Voseo form is common, just as in other countries in Central and South America like Honduras, Argentina, and Uruguay. Spanish has many different dialects spoken throughout Latin America, Central American Spanish is the dialect spoken in Nicaragua.
Some other characteristics of Nicaraguan phonology include:
Nicaraguans on the Caribbean coast speak their indigenous languages and also English. The indigenous peoples of the east who use their original language tend to also speak Spanish and/or English, the main languages being Miskito language, Sumo language, and Rama language. Creole languages are also present in the Caribbean coast, Nicaragua Creole English has 30,000 speakers.
Nicaragua has many minority groups. Many ethnic groups in Nicaragua, such as the Chinese Nicaraguans and Palestinian Nicaraguans, have maintained their ancestral languages while also speaking Spanish and/or English. Minority languages include Chinese, Arabic, German, Italian among others. Nicaragua also has a total of 3 extinct languages.
Nicaraguan Sign Language is also of particular interest to linguists.
|Religious Affiliation in Nicaragua (census 2005 )|
|1Includes Buddhism, Islam, and Judaism among other religions.|
|Source: 2005 Nicaraguan Census|
Religion is a significant part of the culture of Nicaragua and forms part of the constitution. Religious freedom, which has been guaranteed since 1939, and religious tolerance is promoted by both the Nicaraguan government and the constitution. Bishops are expected to lend their authority to important state occasions, and their pronouncements on national issues are closely followed. They can also be called upon to mediate between contending parties at moments of political crisis.
Although Nicaragua has no official religion it is nominally Roman Catholic. Practicing Roman Catholics are no longer the majority and are declining while evangelical Protestant groups and Mormons are growing rapidly have been growing since the 1990s. There are also strong Anglican and Moravian communities on the Caribbean coast.
Roman Catholicism came to Nicaragua in the 16th century with the Spanish conquest and remained, until 1939, the established faith. Protestantism and various Christian sects came to Nicaragua during the 19th century, but only during the 20th century have Protestant denominations gained large followings in the Caribbean Coast of the country. Popular religion revolves around the saints, who are perceived as intermediaries between human beings and God.
Most localities, from the capital of Managua to small rural communities, honor patron saints selected from the Roman Catholic calendar with annual fiestas. In many communities, a rich lore has grown up around the celebrations of patron saints, such as Managua's Saint Dominic (Santo Domingo), honored in August with two colorful, often riotous, day-long processions through the city. The high point of Nicaragua's religious calendar for the masses is neither Christmas nor Easter, but La Purísima, a week of festivities in early December dedicated to the Immaculate Conception, during which elaborate altars to the Virgin Mary are constructed in homes and workplaces.
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The term Hispanic broadly refers to the people, nations, and cultures that have a historical link to the Spanish language or the country of Spain, depending on the context.
Afro-Latin American or Black Latin American refers to Latin Americans of significant African ancestry. The term may also refer to historical or cultural elements in Latin America thought to have emanated from this community.
Mexicans are the people of the United Mexican States, a multiethnic country in North America. Mexicans can also be those who identify with the Mexican cultural or national identity.
Nicaraguans are people inhabiting in, originating or having significant heritage from Nicaragua. Most Nicaraguans live in Nicaragua, although there is also a significant Nicaraguan diaspora, particularly in Costa Rica and the United States with smaller communities in other countries around the world. There are also people living in Nicaragua who are not Nicaraguans because they were not born or raised in Nicaragua nor have they gained citizenship.
Latin Americans are the citizens of the Latin American countries and dependencies. Latin American countries are multi-ethnic, home to people of different ethnic and national backgrounds. As a result, some Latin Americans do not take their nationality as an ethnicity, but identify themselves with both their nationality and their ancestral origins. Aside from the indigenous Amerindian population, all Latin Americans or their ancestors immigrated since 1492. Latin America has the largest diasporas of Spaniards, Portuguese, Black Africans, Italians, Lebanese and Japanese in the world. The region also has large German, French, and Jewish diasporas.
Mískito Coast Creole or Nicaragua Creole English is an English-based creole language spoken in coastal Nicaraguan region of Mosquito Coast on the Caribbean Sea; its approximately 30,000 speakers are spread over a number of small villages. The region is today administratively separated into two autonomous regions: North Caribbean Coast and South Caribbean Coast. Mosquito is the nickname that is given to the region and earlier residents by early Europeans who visited and settled in the area. The term "Miskito" is now more commonly used to refer to both the people and the language.
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Central America is a region of North America formed by six Latin American countries and one (officially) Anglo-American country, Belize. As an isthmus it connects South America with the remainder of mainland North America, and comprises the following countries : Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama.
White Latin Americans, or European Latin Americans, are Latin Americans who are considered white, typically due to European, or in some cases Levantine, descent. Latin American countries have often encouraged miscegenation, and even a small amount of European ancestry could entail significant upwards social mobility.
The Rama are an indigenous people living on the eastern coast of Nicaragua. Since the start of European colonization, the Rama population has declined as a result of disease, conflict, and loss of territory. In recent years, however, the Rama population has increased to around 2,000 individuals. A majority of the population lives on the island of Rama Cay, which is located in the Bluefields Lagoon. Additional small Rama communities are dispersed on the mainland from Bluefields to Greytown. The Rama are one of three main indigenous groups on Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast.
The official language of Nicaragua is Spanish; however, Nicaraguans on the Caribbean coast speak indigenous languages and also English. The communities located on the Caribbean coast also have access to education in their native languages. Additionally, Nicaragua has four extinct indigenous languages.
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Afro-Nicaraguans are Nicaraguans of African descent in Nicaragua. They make up 9% of the population and they're the largest group of African descent in in Central America. Numbering almost 600,000, according to the CIA factbook (2011), they primarily live on the southeastern coast, the Mosquito Coast, Bluefields and Managua. The 1990 Nicaraguan national census recorded 25,000 or 1% of the population. Creoles are from the Anglo-Caribbean and speak a dialect of Jamaican patois known as Miskito Coast Creole. Nicaragua also has a Garifuna population.
Indigenous peoples in Paraguay, or Native Paraguayans, include 17 ethnic groups belonging to five language families. While only a 1.7% of Paraguay's population is fully indigenous, 95% of the population identifies as being partially of indigenous; however, the majority do not identify as being indigenous but as Mestizos. Most of the Indian population lives in the northwestern part of the country, the Gran Chaco.
Costa Ricans, also called Ticos, are a group of people from a multiethnic Spanish speaking nation in Central America called Costa Rica. Costa Ricans are predominantly whites, castizos, harnizos and mestizo, but their country is considered a multiethnic society, which means that it is home to people of many different ethnic backgrounds. As a result, modern-day Costa Ricans do not consider their nationality as an ethnicity but as a citizenship with various ethnicities. Costa Rica has four small minority groups: Mulattoes, Blacks, Asians, and Amerindians. In addition to the "Indigenas", whites, mestizos, blacks and mulattoes, Costa Rica is also home to thousands of Asians. Most of the Chinese and Indians now living in the country are descendants of those that arrived during the 19th century as migrant workers.
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