Population: In 1993 population estimated at 4.08
million. Rate of annual growth calculated at about 3.4
one of highest in Latin America. Population density 32
per square kilometer in 1990--lowest in Central America.
population concentrated in Pacific lowlands; Caribbean
sparsely settled. Population 55 percent urban, with urban
nearly twice that of rural areas.
Ethnic Groups: Although definitions imprecise,
approximately 76 percent of population mestizo, 10 percent
European, about 3 percent indigenous, estimated 11 percent
or African. Indigenous, Creole, and African populations
in east; ladinos (culturally Hispanic mestizos and
mainly in Pacific lowlands and central highlands.
Languages: Spanish official language, spoken by
everyone in Pacific lowlands and central highlands.
predominant language in Caribbean lowlands. Miskito
indigenous language, also spoken in east. Spanish widely
second language in east.
Education and Literacy: Educational system
and generally inadequate. Access to education improved
1980s, with introduction of free education, but large
population was not completing primary schooling in 1993.
Literacy reported at about 50 percent at end of Somoza
Literacy campaign in 1980 reportedly raised functional
rate to about 77 percent.
Health and Welfare: Health indicators generally
life expectancy at birth 62 years in 1991; infant
72 per 1,000 live births in 1989; high incidence of
high incidence of infectious diseases, mainly enteritis,
and tuberculosis; relatively low incidence of human
immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Health care system
despite modest improvement during 1980s; Welfare
generally poor; approximately 70 percent of population
poverty line; nearly 50 percent unemployed or
access to safe drinking water and basic public services
poor, especially in rural areas and Caribbean coast;
housing poor in urban shantytowns, with acute housing
Data as of December 1993