More information about Nicaragua is available on the Nicaragua Page and from other Department of State publications and other sources listed at the end of this fact sheet.
The United States established diplomatic relations with Nicaragua in 1849 following its independence from Spain and the later dissolution of a federation of Central American states. Post-independence, the country experienced frequent periods of armed conflict, , rebellion, and dictatorships. Diplomatic relations between the two countries have been severed or interrupted a number of times. More recently, the 2011 presidential and legislative elections and 2012 municipal elections were marred by significant irregularities and were denounced by domestic and international observers as severely flawed. In 2014 the National Assembly approved constitutional changes that further weakened democratic institutions. Several human rights concerns also remain, including on the limits of freedom of expression and freedom of press, and the closing of civil society space. The United States has called on the Nicaraguan government to protect universal human rights, and has said that it will continue to support civil society and promote human rights in Nicaragua.
The Government of Nicaragua and the United States cooperate on law enforcement, counternarcotics, disaster preparation and response, trade facilitation, and other matters in our mutual national interests. Increasing numbers of private American citizens, including retirees, reside in Nicaragua, and approximately 250,000 American citizens visited Nicaragua in 2014.
U.S. assistance to Nicaragua promotes economic prosperity, the strengthening of democratic institutions, and the expansion of citizen security. U.S. government programs advance broad-based economic stability and growth through market-led food security and productivity, support the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises including those owned by vulnerable populations, promote greater use of the trade advantages provided by the CAFTA-DR, and encourage socially and environmentally responsible sustainable growth. U.S. assistance also aims to increase citizens’ ability to engage in democratic governance through training for emerging democratic leaders, strengthening civil society engagement, supporting an independent media, and improving local governance. In under-governed areas of the Caribbean coastal region where drug trafficking and related criminal activity is rising, military-to-military prevention programs focus on education and life-skills development that support citizen security. By improving reading performance, enhancing work force and life-skills, and increasing community engagement to create positive and safe environments for at-risk children and youth, U.S. assistance aims to deter involvement in illicit activities and increase opportunities for Nicaraguans.
Bilateral Economic Relations
Nicaragua remains the second-poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, with roughly 40% of the population living in poverty. The United States and Nicaragua are parties to the U.S.-Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR), which aims to facilitate trade and investment and further regional integration by eliminating tariffs, opening markets, reducing barriers to services, and promoting transparency. The American Chamber of Commerce estimates there are over 125 companies operating in Nicaragua with some relation to a U.S. company, either as wholly or partly-owned subsidiaries, franchisees, or exclusive distributors of U.S. products, which have over 300,000 employees in Nicaragua. U.S. exports to Nicaragua include agricultural products, donated relief articles, and machinery. U.S. imports from Nicaragua include apparel, agricultural products, and automobile wire harnesses. In August 2015, the United States announced that Nicaragua had resolved the last of the Section 527 property expropriation claims. The United States encourages the Nicaraguan government to resolve all property claims and to address concerns about its investment climate.
Nicaragua's Membership in International Organizations
Nicaragua and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, Organization of American States, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and World Trade Organization.
Nicaragua maintains an embassy in the United States at 1627 New Hampshire Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20009 (tel. 202-939-6570).
More information about Nicaragua is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here:
Department of State Nicaragua Page
Department of State Key Officers List
CIA World Factbook Nicaragua Page
U.S. Embassy: Nicaragua
USAID Nicaragua Page
History of U.S. Relations With Nicaragua
Human Rights Reports
International Religious Freedom Reports
Trafficking in Persons Reports
Narcotics Control Reports
Investment Climate Statements
Office of the U.S. Trade Representative Countries Page
U.S. Census Bureau Foreign Trade Statistics
Export.gov International Offices Page
Library of Congress Country Studies
Travel and Business Information