A sea of possibilities
Nicaragua’s Caribbean Coast represents around 46 percent of the national territory and has an enormous potential for development. It is divided into two autonomous regions known as Autonomous Region of the North Caribbean Coast (RACCN), and Autonomous Region of the South Caribbean Coast (RACCS), which are governed under the Autonomy Law (Law 28), in accordance with the Political Constitution.
According to the Autonomy Regime, the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua has three types of property: private, public and communal. Communal property is non-transferable. However, leasing contracts and association agreements can be established with the authorization of the correspondent territorial and communal governments.
The RACCN has a territorial extension of 33,106 km², its capital is Bilwi, and the languages spoken are Spanish, English, Miskito and Mayagna.
The RACCS has a territorial extension of 27,260 km², its capital is Bluefields, and the languages spoken are Spanish, English, Miskito, Ulfa and Garifuna.
By 2019, the total population of the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua is estimated at 938,224 people, which represents 14.4 percent of the country's total population.
Economically active population
11,191 enrolled and 505 graduates
Nicaragua's Caribbean Coast represents 23 percent of the total agricultural area, over 80 percent of the forest area, 70 percent of the fishing production and 60 percent of the country's mining resources.
The Caribbean Coast has enormous potential for forestry activities. The region represents an estimate of 37,394 km² of land with potential for timber production of high commercial value such as mahogany, laurel, and teak.
Approximately 30 percent of the Caribbean Coast’s labor force forms part of the agriculture industry. The region has vast land extensions ideal for the production of coffee, cocoa, palm oil, coconut, bamboo, and rubber.
The RACCN represents the largest mining region in the country with an estimate of 388 hectares of metallic and non-metallic concessions, particularly in the municipalities of Rosita, Bonanza, and Siuna. Out of this total, only 222 hectares are currently being exploited.
Fishing is a fundamental part of the life and culture of the Caribbean Coast, its more than 551 kms of coastline represent 70 percent of the national fisheries production with an enormous potential for hydrocarbons. By 2016, the region contributed to the national fisheries production in 23.74 million pounds, out of which 76 percent was exported with a value estimated at US$126 million.
With the inauguration of its first call center, the Caribbean Coast is starting to position itself as a reference point for the outsourcing industry. This region has an enormous potential for high-quality BPO, ITO and KPO operations, due to its young and bilingual labor pool.
The Nicaraguan Caribbean Coast is one of the world's most recognized touristic regions. The saturation of traditional touristic destinations, as well as the price increases at these locations, create an important opportunity for the Nicaraguan Caribbean to present new offers at attractive prices. Furthermore, it is an excellent opportunity to increase not only the number of tourists but also of investors in the hospitality and tourism industry overall.
According to the World Economic Forum 2017-2018 Global Competitiveness Index, Nicaragua is the country with the best roads in Central America and ranks fifth in all Latin America. In addition to this, in April 2019, the first Bluefields-Managua land route was inaugurated, which brings together the Caribbean region with the Pacific region. This road project represents an investment of approximately US$115 million and creates a significant advantage for the region.
By 2016, 44 percent of RACCN and 54 percent of RACCS had access to constant and stable electric energy. This represents around 313 communities in both regions and an investment of US$30 million to the continuous improvement and coverage of the service.
Nicaragua has been working to guarantee permanent transit of people and goods within the Caribbean Coast through periodic maintenance of over 300 km of highways. In addition, the country has built and reconditioned around 2,415 km of rural roads and 157 bridges.
To facilitate national and international commerce, the Caribbean Coast has three main ports. Out of these, Arlen Siu Port is considered Nicaragua’s main route to international markets in the Caribbean and the United States’ East Coast.
The local airline La Costeña, subsidiary of Avianca, currently provides aerial transportation between Managua and the Caribbean Coast. It currently offers daily flights to Bluefields, Corn Island, Siuna, Bonanza, Bilwi, Río San Juan and Waspam. Likewise, the Caribbean Coast has three main cargo terminals located in Bilwi, Bluefields and Corn Island.
All municipal capitals of the Nicaraguan Caribbean have access to mobile and bandwidth data services. The city of Bluefields in the Southern Caribbean Coast has access to the submarine optic fiber ring ARCOS 1 and there is a project being developed to bring optic fiber connection to the rest of the Caribbean Coast.
Similarly, Nicaragua along with the World Bank are working on the CARCIP Nicaragua Program, which is focused on reducing the digital access gap between the Caribbean Coast and the rest of the country. This program will include the habilitation of 18 base stations to provide mobile and internet access to the entire region.