Nicaragua Political System

According to businesscarriers, Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America. 6.5 million people live in an area of almost 130,000 km². This makes the country about one and a half times the size of Austria. It lies in the center of the narrow continental bridge between North and South America and borders on Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. It is also called “tierra de lagos y volcanes”.

Independence Day: September 15, 1821

Head of state: Daniel Ortega Saavedra

Head of government: Daniel Ortega Saavedra

Political system: Presidential Democracy

Political Transformation Index (BTI): Rank 94 (of 137) [2020]

Corruption Index (CPI): Rank 160 (out of 180) [2019]

Form of government

The constitution of the Republic of Nicaragua provides for a representative, parliamentary presidential democracy. Presidential and local elections take place every five years. The president is directly elected by the people and has a very strong constitutional position, similar to that of the US president. He determines his cabinet and thus heads the executive.

Ministries and Institutions

The ministers and key officials are listed in the current cabinet list. The President, Vice President and many ministries no longer have their own homepage. The news and announcements intended for the public are brought together on the “El 19 Digital” portal. Further information can be found on the websites of the Central Bank, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Environment, the Tourism Board, the Supreme Tax Authority.

Houses of Parliament

The parliament consists of only one House of Representatives, called “Asamblea”. It has a total of 92 seats: 90 electoral mandates and an additional one for the outgoing President and one for the respective inferior competitor.

On the homepage of the Asamblea Nacional you will find a list of all MPs and good information about the Nicaraguan legislative process. Further information on the electoral system and the composition of Parliament can be found on the website of the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

Administrative structure

The Republic of Nicaragua has 15 provinces, which are called ” Departamentos ” here. In addition, there are the two regions RACCS (Region Autónoma Costa Caribe Sur, formerly: Atlántico Sur) and RACCN (Región Autónoma Costa Caribe Norte, formerly: Atlántico Norte), which are constitutionally granted a certain autonomy due to their predominantly indigenous population. The following list provides the current population figures by city population.

Department Population (S 2018) Capital
Boaco 182.454 Boaco
Carazo 194,606 Jinotepe
Chinandega 435.843 Chinandega
Chontales 188,873 Juigalpa
Estelí 227,652 Estelí
Granada 211.006 Granada
Jinotega 460,415 Jinotega
Leon 417.049 Leon
Madriz 170,447 Somoto
Managua 1,521,612 Managua
Masaya 380,629 Masaya
Matagalpa 580.504 Matagalpa
Nueva Segovia 264.251 Ocotal
Río San Juan 132.059 San Carlos
Rivas 180,677 Rivas
Región Autónoma Costa Caribe Norte 510.053 Puerto Cabezas / Bilwi
Región Autónoma Costa Caribe Sur 402.281 Bluefields

Since Nicaragua is a unitary state, the departments are no longer represented as administrative districts without their own government and political representation. Only the two Atlantic regions have an autonomous council and a governor due to their historical and ethnic characteristics. In the 152 municipios (municipalities) alcaldes (mayors) and consejos municipales (municipal councils) are elected every four years. The municipal autonomy is guaranteed by the Constitution, and the expansion of local government is an important achievement of the revolutionary years. It means a counterbalance to the strong centralism of the state and offers new forms of citizen participation.

Legal system

Laws and decrees are promulgated in the La Gaceta Law Gazette.

The Supreme Court, el Corte Supremo de Justicia, consists of a total of 16 judges who are appointed by the National Assembly for five years each. The judicial authorities maintain a website with comprehensive information on the legal system. The level of authority is shown in the form of an organizational chart.

The Supreme Electoral Council is of particular importance. Since electoral decisions are often controversial, it counts as the “fourth power” in the state alongside the legislative, executive and judicial branches.

National symbols

The country’s flag has a blue stripe at the top and bottom. This means the two oceans between which the land lies. The colors and symbolism go back to the flag of the Central American Federation from 1823, but have been changed several times over the course of history.

In the middle of the white stripe is the triangular coat of arms: the five volcanoes symbolize the unity of the five Central American states. Above it hovers the Jacobin cap, which stands for freedom and republican spirit. At the top, a rainbow completes the ensemble.

The Nicaraguan national bird (left) is the Guardabarranco, a small, colorful bird with a long ornate tail and a fully grown beak. The national tree is called Madroño, in German strawberry tree (middle). The national flower is a tree-like, large umbellifer with white flowers: the Sacuanjoche (right), also called Flor de Mayo.

The official national anthem dates from 1918 and in the first stanza expresses the hope that the civil wars will come to an end and that peace will reign in the country. The melody was adopted and adapted from a hymn from the colonial era.

Parliament building in Managua Nicaragua