Nicaragua is a country in Central America. It is divided into 15 departments and two autonomous regions, and has 153 municipalities. According to the 8th Population and 4th Housing Census (INIDE 2005), the population of Nicaragua was 5.8 million in 2010, of which 42 percent were people under the age of 18. The North and South Atlantic Autonomous Regions (RAAN and RAAS) account for almost half of the national territory, with an approximate population of 759,384 in 2010 and the highest proportion of indigenous peoples and Afro-descendant communities in Nicaragua.
A total of 420,740 indigenous people live in Nicaragua, representing approximately 8.1 percent of the country’s population. They are grouped into eight indigenous peoples: four in the Caribbean Coast region (Miskitos, Mayangnas, Ulwas and Ramas) and four in the Pacific, central and northern regions (Nahoas, Cacaoperas, Chorotegas and Xius). In addition to the indigenous peoples, there are two Afro-descendant groups in the Caribbean Coast region (Creoles and Garifunas) consisting of 23,187 people, who represent 0.45 percent of the country’s population.
In terms of economic growth and poverty reduction, important efforts have been made in the country in an attempt to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. These efforts have mainly been aimed at reducing the inequity in the distribution of economic income and in the country’s different levels of development.
According to data from the Living Standards Measurement Surveys of 2005 and 2009, poverty in Nicaragua dropped from 48.3 percent in 2005 to 42.5 percent in 2009, for a total reduction of 5.8 percent or just over 5 million people. Meanwhile, approximately 14.6 percent of the population was living in extreme poverty in 2009, for a reduction of 2.6 percent compared to 2005 (17.2 percent).
Despite having important wealth (water, biodiversity, forests, minerals and petroleum), the Caribbean Coast region has the highest poverty and vulnerability rates, due to a history of exclusion from development processes. The persistent gaps in the autonomous regions have been aggravated by phenomena such as migration, the advance of the agricultural frontier and disasters such as Hurricane Felix, which in 2007 affected some 33,000 families in 295 communities, leaving over 100 dead and nearly 80 percent of the infrastructure destroyed.
The Nicaraguan state ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1990. In 1998 the Nicaraguan National Assembly promulgated the Legal Code for Children and Adolescents, which went into force that same year. This law provides the national legal framework for the protection of the rights of children and adolescents. The Nicaraguan state has also adopted other legislative measures for the application of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
More than 100 of the country’s 153 municipalities have created Municipal Child and Adolescent Commissions, which involve the participation of social and community organizations, including organizations of children and adolescents, to facilitate the management and coordination of local programmes related to children’s rights.