U.S. Relations With Nicaragua

Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs
Fact Sheet
December 16, 2016

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 U.S. government works to promote prosperity, security, and democracy in Nicaragua. The United States established diplomatic relations with Nicaragua in 1849 following its independence from Spain and the later dissolution of the 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. Significant irregularities marred the Nicaraguan national election process in November 2016, which the United States and others characterized as severely flawed. In advance of the elections, the Nicaraguan government sidelined opposition candidates for president, limited domestic observation at the polls, prohibited independent international electoral observers, and took other actions to degrade the legitimacy of the election. 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, missionaries, and businesspeople reside in Nicaragua, and approximately 275,000 American citizens visited Nicaragua in 2015.

U.S. Strategy for Engagement in Central America

U.S. diplomatic engagement and foreign assistance in Central America is guided by the U.S. Strategy for Engagement in Central America (Strategy). In 2015, the United States announced the Strategy, a comprehensive and robust partnership with Central American governments to promote an economically integrated Central America that is fully democratic; provides economic opportunities to its people; enjoys more accountable, transparent, and effective public institutions; and ensures a safe environment for its citizens. The Strategy focuses on three overarching lines of action: 1) enhancing citizen security; 2) promoting good governance; and 3) promoting prosperity and regional economic integration. The Strategy is a multi-year effort for all seven Central American countries that builds off of previous successful partnerships and programs in the region.

U.S. Assistance to Nicaragua

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 Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (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 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.

Bilateral Representation

The U.S. Ambassador to Nicaragua is Laura F. Dogu; other principal embassy officials are listed in the Department's Key Officers List.

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