Nicaragua remains one of the poorest countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Despite positive growth rates in recent years and positive trends on a number of economic and social indicators, Nicaragua continues to face extensive poverty affecting 30% of its population, particularly in rural areas.

Nicaragua is currently undergoing a demographic transition, with declining fertility rates and an increasingly young population (nearly half the country's population is below the age of 25). Although insecurity is less acute in Nicaragua than in other countries in the region, it is an issue of concern, especially on the Caribbean coast. The country is also vulnerable to the effects of climate change and natural disasters.

EU Cooperation 2014-2020

EU support for the 2014-2020 period provides an allocation of €169 million concentrating in three focal sectors: 1) the productive sector with a focus on rural areas, 2) effective education for employment, and 3) adaptation to climate change.

Nicaragua was the first country to ratify the EU-Central America Association Agreement – a comprehensive free trade agreement with a strong focus on development cooperation. Accordingly, Nicaragua also continues benefiting during 2014-2020 from the EU sub-regional programme for Central America (€115 million). While in the past, sub-regional cooperation was mainly focused on social cohesion and economic growth, the current programming period responds to the emerging needs of the region, namely security and rule of law, climate change and disaster management, and regional economic integration.

Furthermore, Nicaragua has a substantial portfolio of EU thematic projects which amount to over €35 million. This portfolio includes projects in the following sectors:

  • environment
  • human rights
  • gender equality
  • food security and nutrition
  • as well as support to local authorities and non-governmental organisations.

EU Cooperation 2007-2013

For the 2007-2013 period, the EU allocated €214 million to Nicaragua under the Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI). The priorities outlined were good governance, education, and economic and trade issues.


Key country statistics

  • Total population (2015): 6 082 000
  • Life expectancy (at birth) (2015): 71 years (male), 77 years (female)
  • Human Development Index - Medium human development (2014): 0.631
  • Population living below $1.90 a day (2009): 10.8%
  • Income share held by lowest 40% of income distribution (2009): 13.9%
  • Lower middle income country - Gross National Income per capita (2014): 1 415 US$ (constant 2005 US$)
  • Average Gross Domestic Product growth over 5 years (2010-2014): 4.8%

Selected results achieved with EU support through projects and programmes completed between mid-2014 and mid-2015

Gender equality and women’s empowerment

  • 50 female entrepreneurs were provided with access to credits aimed at improving their export capacity

Inclusive Growth and poverty reduction

  • 140 families from the Lake Cocibolca Basin improved their income by means of the establishment of tourist attractions and infrastructure

Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change

  • 600 hectares of land in the Lake Cocibolca Basin were subject to sustainable land management practices and generated income
  • 12 municipalities in the Cocibolca Lake Basin developed/ updated local environmental plans
  • 9 municipalities in the Cocibolca Lake Basin introduced facilities to treat and dispose of solid waste