Nicaragua Social Condition Facts

Social conditions

Although poverty has decreased in recent years, Nicaragua is still one of Latin America’s poorest countries. There has been good growth in the economy in recent years, but income is unevenly distributed. The poorest fifth of the population has less than four per cent of income.

About one-third of Nicaraguans live in poverty, according to the World Bank. The middle class is small, the largest individual socio-economic group consists of those who, by only a small margin, are above the poverty line and who thus easily fall into poverty again. Poverty is most widespread in rural areas, especially among indigenous peoples on the Atlantic coast.

In 2007, the government introduced toll-free care and education and has started a number of projects to reduce poverty, including the food program Noll hunger (Hambre Cero). This has led to reduced malnutrition among especially the children and lower maternal mortality. In addition, the availability of water, sewage and toilets has increased, but conditions are worse in rural areas in the cities. Between 1990 and 2010, the proportion of malnourished Nicaraguans decreased from 55 to 20 percent, according to the United Nations Food Agency FAO.

nicaragua population

The availability of health care has increased with the efforts of the Sandin Government, but even here the resources are unevenly distributed. The range of health care is poorer in the countryside, and in some isolated parts of the Atlantic coast there are no healthcare facilities at all.

Nicaragua is a male-dominated society. Women are discriminated against in terms of salary and influence in society, although the proportion of women in politics has increased sharply with the Sandin government.

Violence against women is very common, but few of the crimes are reported and of those who do so, barely a fifth lead to legal satisfaction games. When it comes to domestic violence, many cases are settled. In the mid-1990s, specially trained women commissioners began to be placed at some of the country’s police stations to encourage more people to report abuse, rape and other violence against women. Later, more women commissioners have been trained and are now found in most of the country’s municipalities.

In 2012, 85 women were murdered, an increase of 9 compared to the previous year. In Latin America, the term femicidiosis about the murder of women is used precisely because they are women. These murders are characterized by brutality and hatred of women, and are common in Nicaragua.

A new law against female violence entered into force in 2012, where new criminal categories such as femicidios, workplace violence, property offenses against women and violence in connection with the exercise of authority. The punishment was sharpened for violence based on gender; For example, women’s murder can result in up to 30 years in prison. In addition, special courts, specialized in violence against women, should be set up. However, women’s organizations have warned that the government has not allocated sufficient resources to enable the law to be applied.

In 2011, Nicaragua had Latin America’s highest proportion of teenage pregnancies. Every fourth pregnant woman was between 15 and 19 years old. In addition, the number of pregnant girls between the ages of 10 and 14 has increased in recent years.

Since 2007, there has been a total ban on abortion. Women undergoing abortion risk up to four years in prison, and doctors who participate in an abortion can be sentenced to up to ten years in prison and revoked identification. Illegal abortions are common and the medical complications cause many deaths and complicated pregnancies. The UN has called on Nicaragua to abolish the ban on abortion in terms of women’s human rights.

Women are discriminated against in working life, where they have less pay than men, even for the same work, and where fewer women are managers. In politics, women have gained greater influence with the new Sandini government. Just over 40 percent of the MPs and about the same proportion of government members are women.

Violence and sexual abuse of children are common and sex tourism occurs. It is estimated that there are about 15,000 street children in the country’s cities, many of them sniffing glue to get rid of themselves. Alcohol and other drugs are also common among adolescents. A few youths from the criminal gang maras – which are common in Honduras and El Salvador – have made their way into Nicaragua, but police are pursuing intensive intelligence efforts to prevent the violent gang from rooting in Nicaragua.

People with disabilities or other disabilities are discriminated against in access to education, work and opportunities to access the streets and buildings. According to WHO, almost half a percent of children with disabilities participated in compulsory compulsory school in 2011.
Homosexuality was illegal until 2007. In society there is a conservative view of homosexuality and discrimination is widespread.

Women are discriminated against and, for example, lack the right to have an abortion even if their lives are in danger. Human rights organizations that fight for women’s sexual and reproductive rights are sometimes counteracted and rejected by the government. Violence against women and children is a major problem, although efforts are being made to combat it. Indigenous peoples are also discriminated against in terms of access to health care, education and community service. Many children also live in difficult conditions.


Infant Mortality: 16 per 1000 births (2018)

Percentage of HIV infected: 0.2 percent (2018)

Proportion of HIV infected among young women

0.1 percent (2018)

Proportion of HIV infected among young men: 0.1 percent (2018)

Proportion of population with access to clean water: 82.3 percent (2015)

Proportion of the population having access to toilets: 74.4 percent (2017)

Public expenditure on health care as a percentage of GDP: 7.8 percent (2015)

Public expenditure on health care per person: US $ 188 (2016)

Proportion of women in parliament: 46 percent (2018)



The hurricane causes great havoc

About 200 people are killed, homes are destroyed and over 200,000 become homeless as Hurricane Felix advances across northeast Nicaragua. Half of the country’s agricultural harvest goes to nothing.


Imprisoned ex-president gets freedom of movement

Former President Arnoldo Alemán, who in 2003 was sentenced to 20 years in prison for corruption, gets the right to move freely throughout the country (see Modern History). Alemán was already allowed to live freely in the capital and its surroundings. The Ministry of the Interior is now lifting the previous restrictions, but it is generally considered that Ortega is behind the decision. This shows that the pact between the Sandinists and Aléman’s PLC is still in force, something that has been repeatedly criticized by human rights organizations and the opposition (see Political system).


A change of law gives the president more power

Shortly after taking office, Ortega presents a proposal in the National Assembly to give the President more direct control over the country’s military and police. The proposal is adopted with the support of the conservative PLC. At the same time, the National Assembly approves a law that allows the President, through decrees, that is to pass laws without the approval of the National Assembly, to form several citizens’ councils, which, among other things, are allowed to submit proposals for a new government policy (see Political system).

FSLN back in office

FSLN and Ortega take office after the election victory.



Ortega and FSLN win the election

November 5

The Socialist Party FSLN wins both the presidential and parliamentary elections. Daniel Ortega, who sat in power from 1985 to 1990, takes home the victory in the presidential election in the first round with 38 percent of the vote. Two Eduardo Montealegre from ALN receive 29 percent and third Edmundo Jarquín from MRS 6 percent. In the election to the National Assembly, FSLN receives 38 of the 90 seats, while PLC receives 25, ALN receives 22 and MRS 5 seats.