Nicaragua Country Report
Business operations in Nicaragua are hindered by persistent corruption, poor infrastructure links, and institutional weaknesses. 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. This has worsened over the last two years as the government has consolidated control over public institutions following national anti-government protests that also served to disrupt business operations. Labour strike risks remain limited in 2020 as COVID-19-related disruptions limit employee-related disputes. Poor quality infrastructure, transport networks, and utilities are tested regularly by protests, transportation strikes, and severe weather events.
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 2019 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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