The majority of the population lives in the western part of Nicaragua. A majority of the residents are of mixed descent from Europeans and indigenous peoples. On the east coast, which is isolated from the rest of the country, live many Afro-Raguans and smaller groups of indigenous people.
Before the colonial period, most of the indigenous people lived in the western part of the country. After the colonization of the Spaniards, those who survived came biased over time (see Older history). Today, more than two-thirds of the population identify as “mastering”, the term used for people of predominantly Spanish and Central American origin. A large minority consider themselves white. A few indigenous peoples, among them subtiaba, remain in the west but have lost most of their traditional way of life as well as their own languages.
- COUNTRYAAH.COM: Key populations estimated size and data of Nicaragua, including population density of how many people per square mile. Also included are facts for population and language.
The eastern half of Nicaragua only houses about a tenth of the population. The majority of the population in the cities of the Atlantic coast are blacks, who are descended from slaves brought by the English in the 17th and 18th centuries. Others have immigrated later from the Caribbean and the Afronicaraguans largely identify with the Caribbean island world. They speak mainly Caribbean English.
In the rural area to the east, one of the indigenous peoples, miskito, which is today mixed with blacks and whites, but has retained its language. In the area there are also the smaller indigenous people mayagna (sumu) and rama.
Most Nicaraguan people speak Spanish.
At least one million Nicaraguans live abroad. Most live in the United States or Costa Rica, and about half of them live there without a permit.
FACTS – POPULATION AND LANGUAGE
mastiser 69%, white 17%, black 9%, indigenous people 5% 1
Number of residents
Number of residents per square kilometer
Percentage of residents in the cities
58.3 percent (2017)
Nativity / birth
19.5 per 1000 residents (2016)
Mortality / mortality
4.8 per 1000 residents (2016)
1.1 percent (2017)
2.2 number of children born per woman (2016)
Percentage of women
50.7 percent (2017)
75 years (2016)
Life expectancy for women
78 years (2016)
Life expectancy for men
72 years (2016)
Spanish is officially language 2
- Estimation, based on self-identification
2. English, Miskito, Sumu and Rama are recognized languages on the Atlantic Coast
Grand victory for Ortega in the presidential election
Ortega wins the presidential election with 62.5 percent of the vote. Businessman Fadio Gadea, candidate for the Liberal Party Alliance PLI-UNE, gets 31 percent and PLC’s candidate Arnoldo Alemán just under 6 percent. In the parliamentary elections, the FSLN receives 62 out of 90 seats, which means more than two-thirds and thus the right to amend the Constitution on their own. The PLI gets 26 seats and PLC 2. The opposition accuses the government of electoral fraud. Foreign observers note some irregularities but still give the choice approved. In the aftermath of the election, four people lose their lives.
The National Police Chief gets an extended mandate
Ortega reissues a decree on an extended ordinance for an official who is required by law to have a limited mandate. This time, the national police chief Aminta Granera applies to his five-year ordinance extended indefinitely (see January 2010).
The election movement begins, observers are welcomed
President Ortega’s main opponent on the right is businessman Fadio Gadea, candidate for the Liberal Party Alliance PLI-UNE, and PLC’s candidate Arnoldo Alemán, who was president 1997-2002. Ortega leads in opinion polls. In a twist, the president now says that all observers are welcome to monitor the election (see February 2011).
Ortega appoints Vice Presidential candidate
Ortega’s choice of vice presidential candidate is seen by many as a trend violation for FSLN. In the past, the party has struggled to have vice presidential candidates who are not part of the party (incumbent Vice President Jaime Morales Carazo belonged to the Contras and fought against the Sandinists during the civil war of the 1980s; see Modern History). Now Ortega has appointed former army chief and Sandinist Omar Halleslevens as his vice presidential candidate. Critics fear it could threaten the independence of the military. The public generally has strong confidence in the military, which is considered to have maintained its independent position while the judiciary and the electoral authority have become increasingly politically controlled.
The election authority is criticized
The climate is getting tougher for the fall presidential election. Both opposition parties and civic groups demand that the CSE electoral authority approve Ortega’s candidacy. At the same time, they are accusing the CSE of lack of legitimacy – the head of the electoral authority is sitting overtime through a decree on extended tenure that Ortega has issued.
Ortega candidate in the election
The FSLN formally appoints Ortega as its presidential candidate. Both the opposition and some former supporters believe that his candidacy is in violation of the Constitution (see October 2009), and the president is increasingly criticized for imperfection. Ortega’s statement in support of Muammar Gaddafi in connection with the violence in Libya also upset many.
“No observers in the presidential election”
President Ortega says no observers will be allowed in the November presidential election. There is concern that a situation similar to the one after the 2008 municipal elections should arise. At that time, no international observers were allowed and, after extensive accusations of fraud, both the US and the EU temporarily froze their aid to Nicaragua.