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Country Reports

Nicaragua Country Report

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Risk Level

Low
Moderate
Elevated
High
Very High
Severe
Extreme

Overview

Executive Summary

President Daniel Ortega is likely to remain in power over the next year despite continuing anti-government actions demanding his resignation and early elections. Protests disrupting business operations and delaying supply chains in April–September 2018 began over social security reforms but expanded to include demands for democratic freedoms. Police and paramilitary containment operations with repeated use of lethal force resulted in at least 325 deaths and over 3,000 injuries; most of the 700 political prisoners were released in June 2019. Despite regional border closures in reaction to the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) virus, the Ortega administration has resisted implementing any restrictions and remains fully open to transit and travelers. This is likely an effort to avoid further damage to Nicaragua’s economy. Nicaragua’s economic and political outlook will be influenced by the United States’ reaction to political disruption in Latin America. US sanctions including certification that Nicaragua has not met NICA Act minimum standards extends the probability of US opposition to new multilateral loan approvals with financial institutions such as the international Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank. Despite the government’s renewed hold on power, IHS Markit estimates Nicaragua’s economy entered recession in the second half of 2018 and this is likely to continue through 2020. Similarly, currency devaluation risks are driven by persistent capital outflows while continuing deposit withdrawals indicate deteriorating and increasingly severe liquidity issues in the banking sector. IHS Markit projects GDP shrinkage in 2020 of 1% and a slight rebound in 2021 when growth of 1.49% of GDP is forecast.Protests in the first half of 2020 are more likely if the economy weakens rapidly, exacerbated by internal stresses (including COVID-19-virus spread) and falling FDI. Government-backed violence against political activists resulting in death or injury is also a likely protest catalyst. The resulting demonstrations are unlikely to reach the disruption levels observed in 2018.
Last update: March 24, 2020

Operational Outlook

Business operations are likely to be hindered by persistent corruption, poor infrastructure links, and institutional weaknesses. Poor quality infrastructure, transport networks, and utilities are regularly tested by protests as well as severe weather events. Corruption among officials, cronyism, and connection-dependent contract negotiations often result in discrimination against firms lacking political connections, as well as regulatory and judicial delays. Generally positive security and economic indicators over the last decade have been disrupted by extended anti-government protests that are unlikely to be fully resolved in 2020.

Last update: February 12, 2020

Terrorism

High

There are no terrorist groups operating in Nicaragua. A group identifying itself as the Nicaraguan Patriotic Alliance (APN) claimed responsibility through social media for 'military actions' after explosions caused minor damage to the San Isidro Bridge to Puerto Corinto on 22 September in an ongoing political dispute with the incumbent administration of President Daniel Ortega, but such actions are likely to remain relevantly isolated through 2020. Anti-government armed groups like the right-leaning 're-Contras' have typically been the main sources of armed violence in Nicaragua but the Contras have committed to non-violence as they join the opposition to challenge Ortega's administration.

Last update: February 20, 2020

Crime

Nicaragua's official homicide rate decreased over 2019 to 7.5 per 100,000 from 11 per 100,000 in 2018 when public protests over stretched police coverage in Nicaragua. In 2019, politically motivated murders and related disappearances appeared to have decreased, although the exact numbers are difficult to confirm because of poor government reporting. Reported homicide incidents were concentrated in the departments of Jinotega, Matagalpa, Chinandega, and Rio San Juan, and over 85% of cases were located in rural areas. Incidents of robbery by intimidation, including violent armed robbery, remain high.

Last update: February 20, 2020

War Risks

Territorial disputes with Costa Rica and Colombia are unlikely to lead to armed conflict. A ruling on a maritime border dispute with Costa Rica from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) resulted in modest fines against Nicaragua in 2018. A lack of diplomatic resolution of a territorial dispute with Colombia increases the likelihood that fishing vessels will be seized, and offshore oil concessions in the Caribbean may occasionally experience delays, but relations have improved since the removal of a 35% trade tariff on Colombian imports in March 2017. Colombia has a greater military capacity, reducing open-war risks.

Last update: February 20, 2020

Social Stability

Very high

Despite the successful repression of politically motivated protests, risks of demonstrations and other means of provoking unrest remain elevated. Nationwide protests began on 18 April 2018 demanding the resignation of President Daniel Ortega. The social unrest has also resulted in periodic cargo disruptions and a reported increase in opportunistic robberies and theft. Small but targeted politically-driven social unrest is likely to continue, particularly in the capital Managua and departmental capitals where opposition support is strong.

Last update: February 20, 2020

Health Risk

Severe

Vaccines required to enter the country

No vaccinations are required to enter the country.

Vaccines recommended for all travelers

Routine vaccinations: Consult your doctor to ensure all routine vaccinations - such as for diphtheria, tetanus, polio, tuberculosis, influenza, measles, mumps, pertussis, rubella, varicella, etc. - are up to date (include booster shots if necessary).

Vaccines recommended for most travelers

Hepatitis A: The vaccine is given in two doses, six months apart, and is nearly 100 percent effective. The WHO recommends the vaccine be integrated into national routine immunization schedules for children aged one year or older.

Typhoid fever: The typhoid fever vaccine can be administered via injection (administered in one dose) or orally (four doses). The vaccine is only 50-80 percent effective, so travelers to areas with a risk of exposure to typhoid fever, a bacterial disease, should also take hygienic precautions (e.g. drink only bottled water, avoid undercooked foods, wash hands regularly, etc.). Children can be given the shot beginning at two years of age (six for the oral vaccine).

Vaccines recommended for some travelers

Hepatitis B: The WHO recommends that all infants receive their first dose of vaccine as soon as possible after birth, preferably within 24 hours. The birth dose should be followed by two or three doses to complete the primary series. Routine booster doses are not routinely recommended for any age group.

Rabies: The rabies vaccination is typically only recommended for travel to remote areas and if the traveler will be at high risk of exposure (e.g. undertaking activities that will bring them into contact with dogs, cats, bats, or other mammals). The vaccination is administered in three doses over a three-to-four week period. Post exposure prophylaxis is also available and should be administered as soon as possible following contact with an animal suspected of being infected (e.g. bites and scratches).

Malaria: There is currently no malaria vaccine. However, various antimalarial prophylactics are available by prescription and can reduce risk of infection by up to 90 percent. Different medications are prescribed depending on the risk level and the strains of the virus present in the destination. Antimalarial tablets need to be taken throughout the trip to be effective and may need to be taken for as long as four weeks following the trip.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Natural Risks

Severe

The rainy season (April/May to October/November) often brings floods, particularly in September and October.

Furthermore, hurricanes and tropical storms have the potential to hit the country between June and November, during the Atlantic Hurricane Season. Hurricane Otto made landfall in the country in November 2016, causing infrastructural damage and resulting in several deaths.

Nicaragua is home to numerous active volcanoes including the Momotombo, Telica, Cerro, Masaya, and San Cristobal.

Earthquakes can strike at any time, notably along the Pacific Coast. There were a total of nine earthquakes with magnitudes of 5.0 or higher on the Richter scale in 2016. There is the risk of tsunamis in the event of an offshore earthquake.

The country, located in Central America's "Dry Corridor," regularly experiences droughts.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Infrastructure

Despite years of steady economic growth, Nicaragua remains an impoverished country, the second poorest in the Americas after Haiti. As such, transportation, electrical, medical, and tourist infrastructure is lacking, particularly outside of cities, and is highly vulnerable in the event of natural disasters.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Practical Information

Climate

Nicaragua's climate is tropical, hot, and humid. The rainy season lasts from May until October in the west of the country and until January along the Caribbean coast where hurricanes can strike between July and October. Torrential rain is not rare and often causes flooding. It rains much more along the Caribbean coast than in the center of the country or along the Pacific coast.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +505
Police: 118
Fire Dept.: 118
Ambulance: 102

Electricity

Voltage: 120 V ~ 60 Hz

Outlets:

Last update: April 5, 2019