Simply put, Nicaragua is economically challenged. It remains the poorest country in Central America and the second poorest in the entire Western Hemisphere.
However, it is growing. And the combination of poverty and growth make it an ideal place to invest, which in turn helps support the Nicaraguan economy and earn the investor a tidy return too.
Under the administration of President Daniel Ortega, the Nicaraguan economy has increased dramatically although this growth has been somewhat held back by the global recession that began in 2008.
Inflation appears to be under control as well, at just over 4% in July of 2016, down from a high of almost 20% in 2008.
Nicaraguan farmers produce a variety of crops. Among them are coffee, tobacco, bananas, sugarcane, cotton, soy, beef, pork, poultry, and dairy.
The largest industries in Nicaragua are petroleum refining and distribution, food processing, and especially tourism.
Recent data shows that Nicaragua is the 113th largest exporting country globally with total exports of US$5.4 billion.
Exported goods have decreased however over the previous five years at a rate of nearly 20%.
Nicaragua’s biggest exports are insulated wire (at three-quarters of a billion US dollars) and coffee (nearly half a billion US dollars).
Top Export Partners
Biggest exports from Nicaragua go to the US (over half), followed by Mexico, Venezuela, Canada, and El Salvador.
As of the latest data available, Nicaragua was the 121st largest importing nation. The amount of goods imported into the country has increased by almost 10% every year with a recent high of US$6.27 billion.
The largest product imported has been petroleum (crude and refined), which account for a whopping 14.1% of all imports.
Top Import Partners
Nicaragua imports the most goods from the US (nearly a billion dollars annually), followed closely by China, Mexico, Guatemala, and Costa Rica.
Nicaragua Economic Statistics
GDP (purchasing power parity) (2014): US$11.81 (billions)
GDP per capita (2014): US$1.96 (billions)
Real annual growth rate (2013): USD $4.7 (millions)
Inflation (July 2016): 4.1%
Unemployment: 7.2%. Almost half of all Nicaraguan adults are either unemployed or underemployed.