Nicaragua Military

Nicaragua is a country located in Central America, bordered by Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. It has a population of around 6.4 million people and the official language is Spanish. The majority of the population are Christians, with some other religious denominations also present.

The military of Nicaragua consists of four branches; Army, Navy, Air Force and National Police Force. The total active personnel in the military are around 18,000 people. The Army has around 8,000 personnel with a focus on ground operations and border protection. It also has a Navy with 2,500 personnel for naval operations as well as 10 combat vessels for maritime defense missions within Nicaraguan waters. The Air Force has 5,500 personnel with 28 combat aircrafts for air support operations and air defense missions within Nicaragua’s borders.

Nicaragua is a member of several international military or defense organizations such as Organization of American States (OAS) and Central American Integration. See naturegnosis to learn more about the country of Nicaragua.


After the demobilization in 1989–91, the defense has been cut down considerably and reorganized. It is based on selective military duty with a first voluntary service of 18–36 months and (2008) includes 14,000 men organized in an independent brigade, six territorial defense areas, 21 patrol boats and 15 armed helicopters. The material is older and of Soviet origin.

Defense of Nicaragua costs decreased in 1985-2006 from 17.4% to 0.7% of GDP. To see related acronyms about this country, please check ABBREVIATIONFINDER where you can see that NIC stands for Nicaragua.

Nicaragua Army

The area that is today Nicaragua was originally influenced by the south from the chibcha people (see Colombia) and from the north by the maya people. The Atlantic coast was populated by the Miskito people. Cristóbal Colón (Columbus) first visited the region in 1502. After converting Nicoya and Nicarao native leaders to Christianity and defeating Diriang’s rebel army, Spanish conquistadors Gil Gonzales Dávila and Andrés Niño Spain’s dominance over the territory. In 1544 it was incorporated into Guatemalan General Capatinate.

In 1821, the region became independent and joined the rest of Central America in the Mexican Empire. Already in 1824, however, they again broke loose to form the Federation of the United Provinces of Central America. Nicaragua withdrew from the federation in 1839 and became an independent state from then on. The country was politically divided into two sharply separated groups: the conservative coffee and sugar oligarchy, the liberal petty traders and users who were friendly to free trade.

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Invasion of the United States

The country’s geopolitical location made it a strategic piece for the US expansion to the west. Thus, in 1856, 120 North Americans went ashore under the guidance of adventurer William Walker, who, with the support of Washington, proclaimed Nicaragua president. The purpose of the North American invasion was to expand the area of ​​slave plantations, which was itself put under increasing pressure. Walker was defeated by a joint Central American army in 1857, and executed in 1860 when he made another invasion attempt at Trujillo in Honduras. In 1875 and 1895, the country’s ports were occupied militarily by Germany and Great Britain, respectively, who administered the customs duties to collect their debts.

After three decades of conservative rule, the Liberal Party won in 1893 and José Santos Zelaya took over the presidential post. However, the Liberals refused to meet a number of demands from the United States that, under President William M. Taft, had initiated his “dollar diplomacy”. Therefore, in 1912, Taft ordered the land invaded, and after the Liberal leader Benjamín Zeledón was executed, the invasion force remained in the country until 1925. The following year they returned to rescue President Adolfo Díaz, who was close to being overthrown.

The guerrilla warfare of the 1980s, in addition to still causing thousands of victims (about 30,000 dead at the end of the decade), further destruction and the flight of a large part of the civilian population from the affected areas, especially along the borders with Honduras, had blocked the reconstruction process started after 1979 and imposed an unsustainable cost on the economy, also following the absorption of more than half of public spending by the military sector. To this were added the heavy consequences of the break with the United States (only partially compensated, up to the crisis of the Soviet bloc in 1989, by aid from the USSR and its allies) and the more general difficulties, such as the deterioration of reasons exchange rate and the increase in interest rates on foreign debt, connected with the trend of the international economy in the 1980s. To the decrease, since 1982, of real income per capita was therefore accompanied by strong liabilities in the external accounts and in the state budget and a rapid growth in foreign debt (more than fivefold between 1979 and 1989) and inflation (from 25% in 1982 to 36,000% 1988), while the financial crisis induced the government to gradually limit social spending. Finally, starting from 1988 drastic austerity measures were adopted in the monetary and fiscal field (including the dismissal of over 30,000 public employees), which, while allowing a reduction in inflation, contributed to aggravate the depression: in 1990 real per capita income it was more than 40% lower than in 1980 and unemployment reached 40% of the workforce.

From 1988, pressured by the economic and social crisis, the government of Managua decidedly embarked on the path of agreement with the political and military opposition, including through unilateral concessions. Despite the continuation of the guerrilla warfare, the state of emergency was suspended from January 1988 and direct negotiations were started with the contras, whose developments in the following two years led to a series of legislative changes and to agree on the modalities of the 1990 general elections. These took place on February 25, under the control of observers from the UN and the OAS, and saw the participation of 90% of the electorate. The Unión Nacional Opositora (ONE), a heterogeneous coalition of 14 opposition parties, obtained 55% of the votes and 51 seats (out of 92) in the National Assembly; 41% of the votes and 39 seats went to the FSLN (which, although defeated, remained the strongest party) and 2 seats to two smaller formations. V. Barrios de Chamorro, widow of the leader assassinated in 1978 and candidate of the UNO, was elected to the presidency of the Republic. Only after the new administration took office, on April 25, did the anti-Sandinist forces begin to demobilize, dismantling the bases in Honduras and merging into five “security zones” under UN supervision; the trial ended on June 27, after the disarmament of nearly 20,000 contras, when the leaders of the guerrillas formally put an end to over ten years of civil war.

The new government, which did not have a sufficient majority to amend the 1987 constitution and whose parliamentary base itself was far from solid, given the heterogeneity of the UNO, sought an agreement with the Sandinista opposition, primarily on the delicate question of the armed forces. These were sharply downsized (from over 60,000 men in 1990 to less than 15,000 in 1993) and placed under the political direction of V. Chamorro, who also assumed the Ministry of Defense, but their command remained entrusted to gen. H. Ortega Saavedra, brother of the leader of the FSLNicaragua This aroused bitter dissent from the right wing of the UNO, led by Vice President V. Godoy Reyes, who opposed any collaboration with the Sandinistas, pressed for a break in institutional continuity and challenged the moderate line of V. Chamorro and the former. minister A. Lacayo Oyanguren.