Departments of Nicaragua

Buy data    Donate

Updates: 

Nicaragua abandoned DST after a two-year trial in 2005-06.

Sorin Cosoveanu pointed out to me the results of the 2005 census.

"Administrative Subdivisions of Countries" shows Nicaragua divided into sixteen departments. As a sidelight, it mentions that there is an alternative division into six regions and three special zones. Each of the regions and special zones consists of one or more departments, except that Zelaya department is split into two special zones: Región Autónoma del Atlántico Norte, and Región Autónoma del Atlántico Sur. The FIPS and ISO standards have now begun to treat these special zones as department-level divisions.

Erratum: Population data in the book are 1990 estimates, not a 1991 census.

ISO 3166-2 Newsletter Number I-2 was published on 2002-05-21. For Nicaragua, it replaces Zelaya department with two autonomous regions named Atlántico Norte and Atlántico Sur.

Country overview: 

Short nameNICARAGUA
ISO codeNI
FIPS codeNU
LanguageSpanish (es)
Time zone-6
CapitalManagua

 

Nicaragua has been independent for the whole 20th century.

Other names of country: 

  1. Danish: Nicaragua
  2. Dutch: Nicaragua, Republiek Nicaragua (formal)
  3. English: Republic of Nicaragua (formal)
  4. Finnish: Nicaragua
  5. French: Nicaragua m
  6. German: Nicaragua n
  7. Icelandic: Nikaragúa
  8. Italian: Nicaragua m
  9. Norwegian: Nicaragua, Republikken Nicaragua (formal)
  10. Portuguese: Nicarágua, República f da Nicarágua f (formal)
  11. Russian: Республика Никарагуа (formal)
  12. Spanish: Nicaragua, República f de Nicaragua f (formal)
  13. Swedish: Nicaragua
  14. Turkish: Nikaragua Cumhuriyeti (formal)

Origin of name: 

Named for Nicarao, chief of the tribe of Nicaraos

Primary subdivisions: 

Nicaragua is divided into fifteen departamentos (departments) and two regiones autónomas (sing. región autónoma: autonomous regions).

DepartmentHASCFIPSPopulationArea(km.²)Area(mi.²)ZoneCapital
BoacoNI.BONU01150,6364,1771,613CBoaco
CarazoNI.CANU02166,0731,081418PJinotepe
ChinandegaNI.CINU03378,9704,8221,862PChinandega
ChontalesNI.CONU04153,9326,4812,502CJuigalpa
EstelíNI.ESNU05201,5482,230861CEstelí
GranadaNI.GRNU06168,1861,040401PGranada
JinotegaNI.JINU07331,3359,2223,561CJinotega
LeónNI.LENU08355,7795,1381,984PLeón
MadrizNI.MDNU09132,4591,708660CSomoto
ManaguaNI.MNNU101,262,9783,4651,338PManagua
MasayaNI.MSNU11289,988611236PMasaya
MatagalpaNI.MTNU12469,1726,8042,627CMatagalpa
Nueva SegoviaNI.NSNU13208,5233,4911,348COcotal
Región Autónoma del Atlántico NorteNI.ANNU17314,13032,82012,672ABilwi
Región Autónoma del Atlántico SurNI.ASNU18306,51027,54610,636ABluefields
Río San JuanNI.SJNU1495,5967,5402,911ASan Carlos
RivasNI.RINU15156,2832,162835PRivas
17 divisions5,142,098130,37350,337
  • Department: except RAAN and RAAS, which are autonomous regions.
  • HASC: Hierarchical administrative subdivision codes. If periods are replaced by
    hyphens, these are the same as the department codes from
    ISO/DIS 3166-2.
  • FIPS: Codes from FIPS PUB 10-4.
  • Population: 2005-05-28 census (source [5]).
  • Area: Column totals include lakes.
  • Zone: Nicaragua is unofficially divided into three zones: Atlantic (A), Central (C), and Pacific (P).

Postal codes: 

Correos de Nicaragua , Nicaragua's postal service, says that the country has a set of five-digit postal codes, in which the first digit represents the department, the next two digits represent the municipality, and the last two represent the district. I'm not sure how that works out when there are seventeen departments. The postal service site doesn't have any facility for looking up specific postal codes yet.

Further subdivisions:

See the Municipalities of Nicaragua page.

The departments are subdivided into municipios (municipalities). Since 1982-07-26, there has also been a subdivision into six regions and three special zones. However, the departments are still the divisions most often referenced. The regions are:

NameCapitalDepartments
Región IEstelíEstelí, Madriz, Nueva Segovia
Región IILeónChinandega, León
Región IIIManaguaManagua
Región IVJinotepeCarazo, Granada, Masaya, Rivas
Región VJuigalpaBoaco, Chontales
Región VIMatagalpaJinotega, Matagalpa
Región Autónoma del Atlántico NorteRositaZelaya (part)
Región Autónoma del Atlántico SurBluefieldsZelaya (part)
Zona Especial IIISan CarlosRío San Juan

 

The parts of Zelaya are also known by their acronyms, RAAN and RAAS; or as Zelaya Norte and Zelaya Sul. In the latest FIPS list, they have separate codes of NU17 and NU18, respectively, superseding Zelaya.

Territorial extent: 

  1. Granada includes Zapatera Island in Lake Nicaragua.
  2. Río San Juan includes the Solentiname Archipelago in Lake Nicaragua.
  3. Rivas includes Ometepe Island in Lake Nicaragua.
  4. Zelaya includes Nicaragua's Caribbean islands: the Corn Islands (Isla Grande del Maíz and Isla Pequeña del Maíz), the Cayos Miskitos, and some islets.

Origins of names: 

  1. Granada, León, and Segovia were named for cities in Spain.
  2. Gracias a Dios: Spanish for thanks to God, name bestowed on the cape by Columbus in 1502 after finding refuge from a storm in its lee
  3. Managua: possibly from ethnic name
  4. Nueva Segovia: Spanish nueva: new, named when the department was split from Segovia
  5. Zelaya: after general and president José Santos Zelaya

Change history: 

  1. 1900: Nicaragua consisted of the departments of Chinandega, Chontales, Granada, Leon, Managua, Masaya, Matagalpa, Segovia, Rivas, and Zelaya (also known as Mosquito Reservation).
  2. ~1902: Districts of Cabo Gracias a Dios, Prinzapolka, Rio Grande, and Siquia formed from the eastern parts of Chontales, Matagalpa, and Segovia; Estelí and Jinotega also split from Segovia; Carazo split from Granada.
  3. ~1915: District of San Juan del Norte split from Chontales.
  4. ~1938: Status of Cabo Gracias a Dios changed from district to comarca; Boaco split from Chontales; Segovia split into Madriz and Nueva Segovia; Zelaya merged with the four districts.
  5. ~1957: Río San Juan formed from parts of Chontales and Zelaya.
  6. ~1977: Cabo Gracias a Dios merged with Zelaya.
  7. 1982-07-26: Six regions and three special zones formed as a higher-level subdivision of Nicaragua.
  8. ~1988-01-01: Región Autónoma del Atlántico Norte and Región Autónoma del Atlántico Sur established.
  9. ~1994: Name of capital of Región Autónoma del Atlántico Norte changed from Puerto Cabezas to Bilwi. The municipio is still named Puerto Cabezas, and the capital is frequently called by its old name.
  10. ~1998: Región Autónoma del Atlántico Norte and Región Autónoma del Atlántico Sur considered to be on the same level with the departments. Before this time, they were together known as Zelaya department (HASC NI.ZE, FIPS NU16, capital Bluefields).
  11. 2005-02-01: A small part of R.A.A.S. transferred to R.A.A.N. in order to form Mulukukú municipio.

Population history:

Department19401950-05-311963-04-251971-04-201995-04-252005-05-28
Boaco40,32050,03972,00069,355136,949150,636
Cabo Gracias a Dios17,323
Carazo58,38152,13866,00071,494149,407166,073
Chinandega78,52981,836129,000154,726350,212378,970
Chontales61,02750,52976,00069,059144,635153,932
Estelí51,95443,74269,00079,400174,894201,548
Granada51,56148,73266,00071,579155,683168,186
Jinotega48,49448,55477,00092,567257,933331,335
León89,631123,614150,000167,519336,894355,779
Madriz34,62333,17850,00054,020107,567132,459
Managua133,745161,513319,000504,1261,093,7601,262,978
Masaya69,10772,44677,00093,890241,354289,988
Matagalpa116,766135,401171,000173,758383,776469,172
Nueva Segovia27,85627,07846,00065,719148,492208,523
Zelaya/R.A.A.N.69,91156,49789,000149,016192,716314,130
R.A.A.S.272,252306,510
Río San Juan9,08916,00021,15970,14395,596
Rivas51,25545,31464,00074,156140,432156,283
Total983,1601,057,0231,537,0001,911,5434,357,0995,142,098

 

Notes: In 1940, population of Zelaya includes Cabo Gracias a Dios and San Juan del Norte. 1963 data rounded to nearest 1,000.

Sources: 

  1. [1] Encyclopædia Britannica World Atlas, 1951 edition (1940 census data)
  2. [2] Encyclopædia Britannica World Atlas, 1957 edition (1950 census data)
  3. [3] Encyclopædia Britannica, 15th edition, Chicago, 1984 (1963 census data)
  4. [4] Data from the legend of a Nicaragua map, acquired in 1974 from a Nicaraguan bank (1971 census data)
  5. [5] VIII Censo de Población y IV de Vivienda : Población: Municipios, Volumen IV. Instituto Nacional de Estadísticas y Censos, 2005. Retrieved 2009-02-09. The 1995 data were retrieved about 2004-12-01 from the same site.
  6. [6] Library of Congress country study  (retrieved 1999).
Back to main statoids page Last updated: 2014-01-22
Copyright © 2002, 2004, 2005, 2008-2011, 2013, 2014 by Gwillim Law.