NicaraguaBeachWhy El Presidente Ortega Hasn't Changed Our Minds About Nicaragua

Nicaragua appeals to the romantic. It is a land of pirates and martyrs, heroes, warriors, and poets, fighting each in his way for what he believes. Nicaragua is a colorful land, from its red clay-tiled roofs to its powder blue church steeples…from the yellow, green, red, and blue facades of its centuries-old haciendas to the pink and purple bougainvillea that cascades down its inland hillsides.

Geographically, Nicaragua is blessed, with two long coastlines and two big lakes, plus volcanoes, highlands, rain forest, and rivers. In this regard, it's got everything Costa Rica and Panama's got, all less discovered and developed and available for the adventurer and eco-traveler at bargain rates.

Architecturally, too, Nicaragua is notable. Its two sister colonial cities, Granada and Leon, vie for the title of Oldest City in the Americas. Whichever story you believe (that the Spanish conquistadores settled first on the shores of Lake Nicaragua at Granada or, perhaps, a few months earlier in Old Leon), Nicaragua is the big winner, with impressive colonial-era churches, public buildings, and parks to her credit.

Real estate prices in Nicaragua rose steadily until the presidency of Sandinista Danny (Ortega) began. After his election, the U.S. real estate market began to tumble and investors began to pull back, taking a wait-and-see attitude over the possibility of wealth redistribution and land reform that framed Ortega's leadership during the latter part of the 20th century.

Over half a decade later, and the bad press initially surrounding the re-election of El Presidente Ortega is turning. While still a bit of a wild card, Ortega is playing nice with the U.S. He is working to clean up title on 3,800 properties held by Nicaraguans. And, importantly, he continues to support foreign investors' land rights. While most U.S. speculators are holding their sidelines approach to the Nicaragua market, the tourists are beginning to buy in again. Sales aren't as brisk as before Ortega's re-election, but they are trending up, especially near the tourist hubs of Granada and San Juan del Sur.

Our top choices in Nicaragua are colonial (and cheap!) Grenada and beautiful San Juan del Sur on the Pacific Coast.

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Population 5.7 million (July 2012)
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) $18.7 billion (20011 est.)
GDP Per Capita $3,200 (20011 est.)
Inflation Rate 8.4% (2011 est.)
Currency Gold Cordoba (NIO)
Exchange Rate Versus U.S. Dollar 22.45 gold cordobas = 1 U.S. dollar (2088 est.)
Language Spanish (official)
Capital Managua
Population of Capital City 1.7 million
Time Zone GMT minus 6
Seasons Tropical; rainy season lasts from June to December
International Dialing Code 505
Electricity 120V / 60 Hz; Plug Type: A (US style)
Presidential Republic
Name and Party Affiliation
of Current Leader
Daniel Ortega, Sandista National Liberation Front
Income Tax Rate for Residents 10% to 25%; 15% for all income earned within Nicaragua
Property Tax 0% to 1%
Capital Gains Tax Are taxed according to a progressive rate schedule
Inheritance Tax Taxed at income tax rate
Rental Income Tax Taxed as income tax rate
Transfer Tax 1%, paid by seller levied on certain types of documents, the amount varies depending on the transaction.
Sales Tax 15%
Restrictions on Foreign
Ownership of Property
Local Chamber of Commerce
Rotonda Güegüense
Tel: Tel: (5052) 68-35-05
American Chamber of Commerce
Apartado Postal 202
Tel: (5052) 67-30-99
Primary Exports Coffee, beef, shrimp, lobster, tobacco, sugar, gold, peanuts, bananas, cotton, rice.
Residency and Visa Requirements Tourist Visa: automatic 90 days upon entry
Residency: permanent residence and investor's residence visas, including pensionado and rentista
Citizenship: three years of uninterrupted, legal residence
Special Benefits for Foreign Residents or Retirees No income tax on external income; tax-free import of household goods and vehicle
National Airline None