In principle, primary and secondary schools have been
free since the Sandinist revolution in 1979, but since the
1990s the number of private schools has increased and the
resources of public schools have been reduced. The education
system has undergone major changes in parallel with the
changing ideological attitude of the political authorities.
According to UNESCO calculations in 2001, illiteracy
among the adult population was approx. 23%. More recent
statistics suggest that illiteracy among children has
increased in the 2000s.
The 6-year primary school (primaria) is compulsory and
starts when the children are 6 years old. The secondary
school (secundaria) is 5 or 6 years old. In 2001, 82% of
primary school children began; however, the dropout rate is
relatively large in the poor part of the population. 37%
continued in high school. The Sandinist government from 2006
also emphasizes preschool/kindergarten (preescolar) as
part of the education system. Check topschoolsintheusa for test centers of ACT, SAT, and GRE as well high schools in the country of Nicaragua.
Higher education takes place at Escuela Normal, which
includes, among other things, teacher education, at various
private institutions, and at universities. The country has
four public and four private universities. The most
important are the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Nicaragua
(UNAN) in Managua - created in 1812 - and in León - created
in 1680; moreover, a branch of the Jesuit Universidad
Centroamericana (UCN). None of Nicaragua's universities
today (2009) have doctoral studies, and research is very
limited. Many Nicaraguan professionals are educated in the
United States, Europe, and other Central American countries.
Throughout 2005 the tension between Nicaragua and Costa
Rica increased due to the disagreement that arose in 1998
about the border crossing in Rio San Juan. A 19th century
treaty gave Costa Rica the right to commercially navigate
the river, but according to. Managua did not allow the
Treaty presence of armed Costa Rican police.
Like the rest of Central America, Nicaragua was hit by
Hurricane Stan in October 2005, but although the damage was
not as great as in Guatemala and El Salvador, it cost 11
Nicaraguan lives and substantial material damage.
In November 2006, Daniel Ortega won the presidential
election over his civilian counterpart with 38% of the vote.
During the election campaign, the United States had
interfered and launched a scare campaign against Ortega and
the Sandinists, which the United States waged war on in the
1980's. To secure the victory, Ortega had entered into
agreements with old enemies from the Contra. Ortega's
victory was a manifestation of popular dissatisfaction with
15 years of civil rule characterized by widespread
corruption and power arrogance. Ortega, when he joined in
January 2007, declared open struggle against hunger, poverty
and corruption. He further stated that he wanted to maintain
a friendly relationship with the United States. Cuba's
President Fidel Castro did not attend the inauguration due
to illness, but Venezuela's Hugo Chávez did.
As one of its first official acts, Ortega embarked on
Nicaragua's inclusion in the Latin American ALBA
collaboration. The country was admitted as early as February
To avoid the open split in the relationship between the
FSLN and the church that characterized Nicaragua in the
1980's, the FSLN allied itself with the deeply conservative
Catholic church. The consequence was that while the front in
the 80's advocated the right to abortion, it is now opposed
and even the limited right when the pregnancy was at risk to
the mother's life has since been removed by the FSLN and the
Following Colombia's military attack on Equador in March
2008, Nicaragua severed diplomatic relations with the rogue
state. However, relations were resumed a few months later
during the Rio Group summit in Santo Domingo. However,
diplomatic relations continue to be strained, and Colombia's
president protested sharply against Nicaragua when Ortega in
May condoned the guerrilla movement FARC when its historic
leader, Tiro Fijo, died. Ortega expressed his solidarity
with the FARC and characterized Tiro Fijo as a great
advocate of social justice in Colombia.
The EU and the US, too, have cooled their relations with
Nicaragua after the FSLN election victory in 2007. The EU
has ceased its assistance, and so has Denmark - for
political reasons. Nicaragua has compensated for the cooler
relationship with the EU and the US by strengthening its
ties with the rest of Latin America, Russia and Iran. In
September 2008, Nicaragua recognized the two Georgian
breakaway republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. During
NATO's war on Libya in the first half of 2011, Nicaragua was
one of the few countries to stand on Libya's side.
While the economy declined in 2009 as a result of the
global economic crisis, it grew again 4.5% in 2010.
Primarily as a result of increased exports and increased
tourism revenue. The country continues to work on
establishing a channel from the Pacific to the Caribbean
that can compete with the Panama Canal. Such a channel will
be a real boost to the country's economy.