|Currency||Nicaraguan córdoba (NIO, C$)|
GDP per capita
GDP per capita rank
GDP by sector
Population below poverty line
|29.6% (2015 est.)|
|46.2 high (2014, World Bank)|
Labor force by occupation
|food processing, chemicals, machinery and metal products, knit and woven apparel, petroleum refining and distribution, beverages, footwear, wood, electric wire harness manufacturing, mining|
|coffee, beef, gold, sugar, peanuts, shrimp and lobster, tobacco, cigars, automobile wiring harnesses, textiles, apparel|
Main export partners
|consumer goods, machinery and equipment, raw materials, petroleum products|
Main import partners
Gross external debt
|−2% (of GDP) (2017 est.)|
|Revenues||3.871 billion (2017 est.)|
|Expenses||4.15 billion (2017 est.)|
The economy of Nicaragua is focused primarily on the agricultural sector. Nicaragua itself is the least developed country in Central America, and the second poorest in the Americas by nominal GDP. In recent years, under the administrations of Daniel Ortega, the Nicaraguan economy has expanded somewhat, following the global recession of 2009, when the country's economy actually contracted by 1.5%, due to decreased export demand in the US and Central American markets, lower commodity prices for key agricultural exports, and low remittance growth. The economy saw 4.5% growth in 2010 thanks to a recovery in export demand and growth in its tourism industry.Nicaragua's economy continues to post growth, with preliminary indicators showing the Nicaraguan economy growing an additional 5% in 2011. Consumer Price inflation have also curtailed since 2008, when Nicaragua's inflation rate hovered at 19.82%. In 2009 and 2010, the country posted lower inflation rates, 3.68% and 5.45%, respectively. Remittances are a major source of income, equivalent to 15% of the country's GDP, which originate primarily from Costa Rica, the United States, and European Union member states. Approximately one million Nicaraguans contribute to the remittance sector of the economy.
In early 2004, Nicaragua secured some $4.5 billion in foreign debt reduction under the International Monetary Fund and World Bank Heavily Indebted Poor Countries initiative. In April 2006, the US-Central America Free Trade Agreement went into effect, expanding export opportunities for Nicaragua's agricultural and manufactured goods. Textiles and apparel account for nearly 60% of Nicaragua's exports. In October 2007, the IMF approved an additional poverty reduction and growth facility program in support of the government's economic plans. Nicaragua relies on international economic assistance to meet internal- and external-debt financing obligations, although foreign donors curtailed this funding in response to widespread allegations of electoral fraud in Nicaragua's November 2008 elections.
Nicaragua's economy was devastated in the 1980s by the Contra War, which saw the destruction of much of the country's infrastructure. At the same time, the US staged an economic blockade from 1985 onward.
Following the civil war, Nicaragua began free market reforms, privatizing more than 350 state companies and commencing a general trend of economic growth. Inflation has been reduced from 33,603% during the later years of the Sandinista period and 55,000% during the first year of the Chamorro government to more normal levels, averaging an annual rate of 9.5% over the 2000-2010 decade (based on World Bank figures).
Growth was slow (3%) in 2001 due to a combination of factors (a global recession, a series of bank failures, low coffee prices, and a drought), and in 2009 the economy actually contracted 1.5% in reaction to the 2008–2012 global recession). But even with the recessions, growth has averaged 3.4% between 2001 and 2011 (again, based on World Bank figures).
Unemployment is 6.4%.Nicaragua suffers from persistent trade and budget deficits and a high debt-service burden, leaving it highly dependent on foreign assistance—which represented almost 25% of GDP in 2001.
One of the key engines of economic growth has been production for export. Although traditional products such as coffee, meat, and sugar continued to lead the list of Nicaraguan exports, the fastest growth is now in nontraditional exports: textile and apparel; gold; seafood; and new agricultural products such as peanuts, sesame, melons, and onions. In 2007, exports topped $1 billion US dollars for the first time in Nicaraguan history.
Nicaragua is primarily an agricultural country, but construction, mining, fisheries, and general commerce also have been expanding during the last few years. Foreign private capital inflows topped $300 million in 1999 but, due to economic and political uncertainty, fell to less than $100 million in 2001. In the last 12 years, tourism has grown 394%,the rapid growth has led it to become Nicaragua's second largest source of foreign capital. Less than three years ago, the nation's tourism budget was U.S. $400,000; today, it is over $2 million. Nicaragua's economy has also produced a construction boom, the majority of which is in and around Managua.
Nicaragua faces a number of challenges in stimulating rapid economic growth. An International Monetary Fund (IMF) program is currently being followed, with the aim of attracting investment, creating jobs, and reducing poverty by opening the economy to foreign trade. This process was boosted in late 2000 when Nicaragua reached the decision point under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) debt relief initiative. However, HIPC benefits were delayed because Nicaragua subsequently fell "off track" from its IMF program. The country also has been grappling with a string of bank failures that began in August 2000. Moreover, Nicaragua continues to lose international reserves due to its growing fiscal deficits.
The country is still a recovering economy and it continues to implement further reforms, on which aid from the IMF is conditional. In 2005, finance ministers of the leading eight industrialized nations (G8) agreed to forgive some of Nicaragua's foreign debt, as part of the HIPC program. According to the World Bank Nicaragua's GDP was around $4.9 US billion dollars. Recently, in March 2007, Poland and Nicaragua signed an agreement to write off $30.6 million which was borrowed by the Nicaraguan government in the 1980s.
The U.S. is the country's largest trading partner, providing 25% of Nicaragua's imports and receiving about 60% of its exports. About 25 wholly or partly owned subsidiaries of U.S. companies operate in Nicaragua. The largest of those investments are in the energy, communications, manufacturing, fisheries, and shrimp farming sectors. Good opportunities exist for further investments in those same sectors, as well as in tourism, mining, franchising, and the distribution of imported consumer, manufacturing, and agricultural goods. There also are copper mines in northeastern Nicaragua.
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in purchasing power parity (PPP) in 2012 was estimated at US$20.04 billion, and GDP per capita in PPP at US$3,300, making Nicaragua the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.The service sector is the largest component of GDP at 56.7%, followed by the industrial sector at 25.8%(2012). Agriculture represents 17.5% of GDP and it's the largest percentage in a Central American country. Nicaraguan labor force is estimated at 2.961 million of which 28% is occupied in agriculture, 19% in the industry sector and 53% in the service sector (2012).
|Food and agriculture|
|Groundnuts in Shell||30|
|Indigenous cattle meat||30|
|1Source: FAO (2005) Major Food and Agricultural Commodities and Producers|
Coffee became Nicaragua's principal crop in the 1870s, a position it still held in 1992 despite the growing importance of other crops. Cotton gained importance in the late 1940s, and in 1992 was the second biggest export earner. In the early 20th century, Nicaraguan governments were reluctant to give concessions to the large United States banana companies, and bananas never attained the level of prominence in Nicaragua that they reached in Nicaragua's Central American neighbors; bananas were grown in the country, however, and were generally the third largest export earner in the post-World War II period. Beef and animal byproducts, the most important agricultural export for the three centuries before the coffee boom of the late 19th century, were still important commodities in 1992.
From the end of World War II to the early 1960s, the growth and diversification of the agricultural sector drove the nation's economic expansion. From the early 1960s until the increased fighting in 1977 caused by the Sandinista revolution, agriculture remained a robust and significant part of the economy, although its growth slowed somewhat in comparison with the previous postwar decades. Statistics for the next fifteen years, however, show stagnation and then a drop in agricultural production.
The agricultural sector declined precipitously in the 1980s. Until the late 1970s, Nicaragua's agricultural export system generated 40 percent of the country's GDP, 60 percent of national employment, and 80 percent of foreign exchange earnings. Throughout the 1980s, the Contras destroyed or disrupted coffee harvests as well as other key income-generating crops. Private industry stopped investing in agriculture because of uncertain returns. Land was taken out of production of export crops to expand plantings of basic grain. Many coffee plants succumbed to disease.
In 1989, the fifth successive year of decline, farm production declined by roughly 7 percent in comparison with the previous year. Production of basic grains fell as a result of Hurricane Joan in 1988 and a drought in 1989. By 1990 agricultural exports had declined to less than half the level of 1978. The only bright spot was the production of nontraditional export crops such as sesame, tobacco, and African palm oil.
The service sector was estimated to account for 56.8% of the country's GDP, and employs 52% of the active population.This section includes transportation, commerce, warehousing, restaurant and hotels, arts and entertainment, health, education, financial and banking services, telecommunications as well as public administration and defense.
Tourism in Nicaragua is one of the most important industries in the country. It is the second largest source of foreign exchange for the country and is predicted to become the first largest industry in 2007.The growth in tourism has positively affected the agricultural, commercial, finance, and construction industries as well.
Nicaragua has transformed itself into one of the safest and fastest-growing countries in North America. A stable, multi-party democracy, Nicaragua has ratified Free Trade Agreements with major markets such as the United States, the Dominican Republic (DR-CAFTA), Taiwan and Mexico, among others. As evidence of continuous efforts in improving the business climate, Nicaragua has been ranked favorably in a variety of independent evaluations.
The 2011 Doing Business Report, published by The World Bank Group, a report that benchmarks various indicators of the investment climate in 183 nations, ranked Nicaragua as the top location in Central America in starting a business, investor protection, and closing a business. Additionally, the country improved in the following categories: ease of doing business, registering property, paying taxes, trading across borders and enforcing contracts.
The following table shows the main economic indicators in 1990–2017.
|GDP in $|
|7.92 Bln.||9.91 Bln.||14.94 Bln.||18.07 Bln.||19.33 Bln.||20.85 Bln.||21.99 Bln.||21.43 Bln.||22.65 Bln.||24.58 Bln.||26.65 Bln.||28.42 Bln.||30.31 Bln.||32.12 Bln.||34.07 Bln.||36.28 Bln.|
|GDP per capita in $|
|−0.1 %||5.9 %||4.1 %||4.3 %||3.8 %||5.1 %||3.4 %||−3.3 %||4.4 %||6.3 %||6.5 %||4.9 %||4.8 %||4.9 %||4.7 %||4.9 %|
|3,004.1 %||11.1 %||11.5 %||9.6 %||9.1 %||11.1 %||19.8 %||3.7 %||5.5 %||8.1 %||7.2 %||7.1 %||6.0 %||4.0 %||3.5 %||3.9 %|
|15.5 %||16.9 %||9.8 %||5.6 %||5.3 %||5.0 %||6.2 %||7.0 %||8.0 %||7.5 %||6.8 %||5.3 %||5.6 %||6.0 %||6.2 %||6.1 %|
(Percentage of GDP)
|...||...||95 %||67 %||51 %||31 %||26 %||29 %||30 %||29 %||28 %||29 %||29 %||29 %||31 %||34 %|
Household income or consumption by percentage share:lowest 10%: 1.4%; highest 10%: 41.8 (2005)
Industrial production growth rate: 2.4% (2005)
Electricity - production: 2.778 billion kWh (2006)
Electricity - production by source:fossil fuel: 53.43%; hydro: 35.34%; nuclear: 0%; other: 11.23% (1998). A large number of wind turbines have been installed along the SW shore of Lake Nicaragua since, and some geothermal plants have been constructed as well. As of 2013, the breakdown was: fossil fuel: 50%; wind power: 15%; geothermal: 16%, hydropower: 12%, biomass power: 7%.
Electricity - consumption: 2.929 billion kWh (2006)
Electricity - exports: 69.34 million kWh (2006)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2006)
Agriculture - products: coffee, bananas, sugarcane, cotton, rice, corn, tobacco, sesame, soya, beans; beef, veal, pork, poultry, dairy products; shrimp, lobsters
Exports - commodities: coffee, beef, shrimp and lobster, cotton, tobacco, peanuts, sugar, bananas; gold
Imports - commodities: consumer goods, machinery and equipment, raw materials, petroleum products
Currency: 1 gold Cordoba (C$) = 100 centavos
Exchange rates: gold Córdoba (C$) per US$1 – 17.582 (2006), 16.733 (2005), 15.937 (2004), 15.105 (2003), 14.251 (2002)
The economy of Cameroon was one of the most prosperous in Africa for a quarter of a century after independence. The drop in commodity prices for its principal exports —petroleum, cocoa, coffee, and cotton — in the mid-1980s, combined with an overvalued currency and economic mismanagement, led to a decade-long recession. Real per capita GDP fell by more than 60% from 1986 to 1994. The current account and fiscal deficits widened, and foreign debt grew. Yet because of its oil reserves and favorable agricultural conditions, Cameroon still has one of the best-endowed primary commodity economies in sub-Saharan Africa.
The economy of Costa Rica has been very stable for some years now, with continuing growth in the GDP and moderate inflation, though with a high unemployment rate: 8.13% in 2018. Costa Rica's economy emerged from recession in 1997 and has shown strong aggregate growth since then. The estimated GDP for 2017 is US$61.5 billion, up significantly from the US$52.6 billion in 2015 while the estimated 2017 per capita is US$12,382.
The economy of Colombia is the fourth largest in Latin America as measured by gross domestic product. Colombia has experienced a historic economic boom over the last decade. In 1990, Colombia was Latin America's 5th largest economy and had a GDP per capita of only US$1,500, by 2018 it became the 4th largest in Latin America, and the world's 37th largest. As of 2018 the GDP (PPP) per capita has increased to over US$14,000, and GDP (PPP) increased from US$120 billion in 1990 to nearly US$750 billion. Poverty levels were as high as 65% in 1990, but decreased to under 30% by 2014.
The economy of Ecuador is the eighth largest in Latin America and the 69th largest in the world by total GDP. Ecuador’s economy is based on the export of oil, bananas, shrimp, gold, other primary agricultural products and money transfers from Ecuadorian emigrants employed abroad. In 2017, remittances constituted 2.7% of country's GDP. The total trade amounted to 42% of the Ecuador’s GDP in 2017. The country is substantially dependent on its petroleum resources. In 2017, oil accounted for about one-third of public-sector revenue and 32% of export earnings. Ecuador is one of OPEC's smallest members and produced about 531,300 barrels per day of petroleum in 2017. It is the world's largest exporter of bananas and a major exporter of shrimp. Exports of non-traditional products such as cut flowers and canned fish have grown in recent years. In the past, Ecuador’s economy depended largely on primary industries like agriculture, petroleum, and aquaculture. As a result of shifts in global market trends and development of technology have led to the economic development of other sectors like textile, processed food, metallurgy and the service sectors. Between 2006 and 2014, GDP growth averaged 4.3%, driven by high oil prices and external financing. From 2015 until 2018 GDP growth averaged just 0.6%. Ecuador's president, Lenín Moreno, has launched a radical transformation of Ecuador’s economy since taking office in May 2017. The aim is to increase the private sector’s weight, in particular the oil industry. The International Monetary Fund approved an agreement with Ecuador in March 2019. This arrangement would provide support for the Ecuadorian government’s economic policies over three years.
The economy of Grenada is a largely tourism-based, small and open economy. Over the past two decades, the main thrust of Grenada's economy has shifted from agriculture to services, with tourism serving as the leading foreign currency earning sector. The country's principal export crops are the spices nutmeg and mace. Other crops for export include cocoa, citrus fruits, bananas, cloves, and cinnamon. Manufacturing industries in Grenada operate mostly on a small scale, including production of beverages and other foodstuffs, textiles, and the assembly of electronic components for export.
The economy of Honduras is based mostly on agriculture, which accounts for 14% of its gross domestic product (GDP) in 2013. Leading export coffee (US$340 million) accounted for 22% of total Honduran export revenues. Bananas, formerly the country's second-largest export until being virtually wiped out by 1998's Hurricane Mitch, recovered in 2000 to 57% of pre-Mitch levels. Cultivated shrimp is another important export sector. Since the late 1970s, towns in the north began industrial production through maquiladoras, especially in San Pedro Sula and Puerto Cortés.
The economy of Jamaica is heavily reliant on services, accounting for 70% of the country's GDP. Jamaica has natural resources, primarily bauxite, and an ideal climate conducive to agriculture and also tourism. The discovery of bauxite in the 1940s and the subsequent establishment of the bauxite-alumina industry shifted Jamaica's economy from sugar and bananas. By the 1970s, Jamaica had emerged as a world leader in export of these minerals as foreign investment increased.
The economy of Kenya is a market-based economy with a liberalised external trade system and a few state enterprises. Major industries include agriculture, forestry, fishing, mining, manufacturing, energy, tourism and financial services. As of 2019, Kenya had an estimated GDP of $99.246 billion and per capita GDP of $2,010 making it the 62nd largest economy in the world.
The economy of Malawi is predominantly agricultural, with about 80% of the population living in rural areas. The landlocked country in south central Africa ranks among the world's least developed countries. In 2017, agriculture accounted for about one-third of GDP and about 80% of export revenue. The economy depends on substantial inflows of economic assistance from the IMF, the World Bank, and individual donor nations. The government faces strong challenges: to spur exports, to improve educational and health facilities, to face up to environmental problems of deforestation and erosion, and to deal with the problem of HIV/AIDS in Africa.
The economy of Panama is based mainly on the services sector, which accounts for nearly 80% of its GDP. Services include the Panama Canal, banking, commerce, the Colón Free Trade Zone, insurance, container ports, and flagship registry, medical and health and tourism. The country's industry includes manufacturing of aircraft spare parts, cement, drinks, adhesives and textiles. Additionally, exports from Panama include bananas, shrimp, sugar, coffee, and clothing. Panama's economy is a fully dollarized, with the US dollar being legal tender in the country. Panama is a high-income economy with a history of low inflation.
The economy of the Republic of the Congo is a mixture of subsistence hunting and agriculture, an industrial sector based largely on petroleum extraction and support services, and a government spending, characterized by budget problems and overstaffing. Petroleum has supplanted forestry as the mainstay of the economy, providing a major share of government revenues and exports. Nowadays the Republic of the Congo is increasingly converting natural gas to electricity rather than burning it, greatly improving energy prospects.
The economy of Rwanda has undergone rapid industrialisation due to a successful governmental policy. Since the early-2000s, Rwanda has witnessed an economic boom improving the living standards of many Rwandans. The Government’s progressive visions have been the catalyst for the fast transforming economy. The President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, has noted his ambition to make Rwanda the "Singapore of Africa".
The economy of Saint Lucia relies primarily on the sale of bananas, and the income generated from tourism, with additional input from small-scale manufacturing. Saint Lucia is one of the Windward Islands, a group of islands located off the southeast coast of North America.
Predominantly rural, and with limited natural resources, the economy of Senegal gains most of its foreign exchange from fish, phosphates, groundnuts, tourism, and services. The agricultural sector of Senegal is highly vulnerable to variations in rainfall and changes in world commodity prices. The former capital of French West Africa, is also home to banks and other institutions which serve all of Francophone West Africa, and is a hub for shipping and transport in the region.
The economy of Seychelles is based on fishing, tourism, processing of coconuts and vanilla, coir rope, boat building, printing, furniture and beverages. Agricultural products include cinnamon, sweet potatoes, cassava (tapioca), bananas, poultry and tuna.
The economy of Madagascar is a market economy and is supported by Madagascar's well-established agricultural industry and emerging tourism, textile and mining industries. Malagasy agriculture produces tropical staple crops such as rice and cassava, as well as cash crops such as vanilla and coffee. Madagascar's wealth of natural resources supports its sizable mining industry. Additionally, Madagascar's status as a developing nation exempts Malagasy exports from customs protocol in some areas, notably the United States and European Union. These exemptions have supported the growth of the Malagasy textile industry. Despite Madagascar's natural resources and developing industries, the 2009 Malagasy political crisis—considered by the international community to be an illegal coup—deterred foreign investments in Madagascar and caused the Malagasy economy to decline. Foreign investments have resumed following the resumption of elections in early 2014. At 2018, Madagascar is one of the world's fastest-growing economies.
With a per capita gross domestic product of $8,300 in 2016 and an average GDP growth of 4.2% over the last decade, Guyana is one of the fastest developing countries in the Western Hemisphere. It is expected to achieve GDP growth of over 85% in 2020.
The economy of the Gambia is heavily reliant on agriculture. The Gambia has no important mineral or other natural resources, and has a limited agricultural base. About 75% of the population depends on crops and livestock for its livelihood. Small-scale manufacturing activity features the processing of peanuts, fish, and animal hides.
The economy of South America comprises approximately 410 million people living in twelve nations and three territories. It encompasses 6 percent of the world's population.
The economy of Algeria expanded by 4% in 2014, up from 2.8% in 2013. Growth was driven mainly by the recovering oil and gas sector and further economic expansion of 3.9% is forecast in 2015 and 4.0% in 2016.