Nicaragua shares its borders with Costa Rica, Honduras, the Pacific Ocean, and the Caribbean Sea. The largest country in Central America, Nicaragua is known as “the land of lakes and volcanoes.” Mountains, coastal plains, and a tropical rainforest also fill the landscape.

  • Population: 5,788,000
  • Life Expectancy: 74 years
  • Access to Safe Water: 85%
  • School Enrollment: 93%
  • Land Mass: 59,998 sq. mi.
  • Literacy Rate: 78%
  • Under Age 5 Mortality Rate: 27/1000
  • Average Annual Income (GNI): 1,080

Facts about Nicaragua

Economic Development

Nicaragua is one of the poorest countries in Central America. The World Food Program estimates that more than 40 percent of the rural population lives in poverty and about half of Nicaraguan workers are unemployed.

Economic Development

The country's vulnerability to natural disasters has slowed economic growth.

Food & Agriculture

The World Food Program estimates that in some areas, more than 40 percent of children under the age of 5 suffer from chronic malnutrition.


While an estimated 93 percent of children enroll in primary school, many children do not finish school because they must work to help support their families.

Nicaragua flag


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Progress in Nicaragua

Thanks to the generous support of our sponsors. World Vision was able to work alongside communities to accomplish the following in 2012.

  • Trained farmers in improved farming methods to increase crop yields and promote soil and water conservation.

  • Distributed seeds and farming supplies to families and schools, enabling them to plant gardens and increasing children's access to nutritious food.

  • Contributed materials to help families build household latrines.

  • Improved the learning environment by providing schools with desks, chairs, and materials for building maintenance.

  • Held math and literacy contests, motivating children to excel in their studies.

  • Strengthened the quality of education by providing professional development training for teachers and distributing learning materials such as books.

  • Established school libraries to provide students with resource materials.

  • Continued to raise awareness of child rights through children's clubs and community advocacy groups.

  • Worked with health agencies to evaluate children's health and provide them with anti-parasite medication and vitamin supplements.

  • Distributed food packages to severely malnourished children and provided food for school meal programs.

  • Trained caregivers in nutrition and taught them how to prepare healthy meals using locally available ingredients.

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    World Vision in Nicaragua Today

    World Vision is committed to partnering with the people of Nicaragua to improve their lives today and to help enact sustainable solutions for the future of their children, families, and communities. World Vision’s child sponsorship program plays a vital role in this partnership, with donors from the United States sponsoring more than 19,400 girls and boys. In addition to sponsorship, World Vision operates other programs that benefit communities in Nicaragua. Highlights include:

    • Providing 653 families with improved water through constructing wells and rehabilitating water systems.
    • Protecting residents affected by major flooding by providing emergency relief items to 3,412 families .

    World Vision History in Nicaragua

    World Vision assistance dates back to a 1972 earthquake in Nicaragua; child sponsorship began in 1990. Since then, some of World Vision’s major accomplishments have included:

    • Assisting thousands of people fleeing civil conflict with relief supplies in the 1970s.
    • Improving the lives of people in prison through literacy, carpentry, mechanics, printing, and gardening training in the 1980s.
    • Helping farmers in agricultural production, raising livestock, and constructing irrigation systems and reservoirs during the 1990s.
    • Changing the lives of children with cleft palates or severe burns through reconstructive surgery, medicine and supplies, transportation, and housing in the beginning of the 21st century.

    Geography & People

    Geography and people

    Nicaragua shares its borders with Costa Rica, Honduras, the Pacific Ocean, and the Caribbean Sea. The largest country in Central America, Nicaragua is known as “the land of lakes and volcanoes.” Mountains, coastal plains, and a tropical rainforest also fill the landscape.

    Natural resources include gold, silver, copper, tungsten, lead, zinc, timber, and fish.

    About 90 percent of Nicaragua’s population lives in the Pacific lowlands, which make up the western third of the country. Most Nicaraguans have mixed Amerindian and Spanish ancestry and speak the official language of Spanish. Residents also speak indigenous dialects.

    Families are close-knit and extended families often live together. Nicaraguans use both of their parents’ surnames. They use the father’s name as the family name, but the mother’s last name comes at the end of the full name.


    Nicaragua gained independence from Spain in 1821 after nearly 300 years of Spanish rule. Following decades of military regimes, the Somoza family ruled as dictators for more than 40 years, beginning in 1936.

    The Sandinista National Liberation Front ousted the Somoza family in 1979 after a civil war that killed at least 50,000 people. Internal and external political tensions continued until 1990, when the government held free elections.

    In 1998, Hurricane Mitch devastated the country, killing at least 3,000 people and leaving hundreds of thousands more homeless.

    Despite continued political tensions, Nicaragua still holds democratic elections today.

    Prayer Requests for Nicaragua

    • The protection and care of children vulnerable to abuse and neglect.
    • Families living in poverty to have opportunities for better futures.