Nicaragua Table of Contents
In 1993 Nicaragua had 26,000 kilometers of roads; 4,000 kilometers were paved, 2,200 kilometers were gravel, and the rest were earthen (see fig. 11). The Pan American Highway, heavily damaged during the civil war, runs north to south for 369 kilometers through western Nicaragua, linking Managua with Honduras and Costa Rica. A modest system of paved and gravel roads connects the populated areas of the Pacific lowlands and also smaller cities in the central highlands. In 1993, however, eastern Nicaragua remained almost without roads, and the primary road to the region from the west stopped at Rama short of the Caribbean coast. During the strife of the 1970s and 1980s, many of the country's bridges and roads deteriorated even further because of fighting and lack of routine maintenance.
Most of Nicaragua's government-owned railroads are only nominally operational. Rail travel is possible from Managua north to León or south to Granada on Lago de Nicaragua. The existing system consists of 373 kilometers of 1.067-meter narrow gauge in the Pacific region and an isolated three kilometers of 1.435- meter standard-gauge line at Puerto Cabezas in the northeast. Several trains a day carry passengers south from Managua to Granada, or north from the capital to León. The León-to-Corinto section has been out of service since 1982, when floods damaged the tracks. The government has plans to contract a new standardgauge line from Corinto through Managua to San Juan del Norte on the Caribbean, but lack of funding has delayed construction.
The country has 2,220 kilometers of inland waterways, including two large lakes, Lago de Managua and Lago de Nicaragua, and five significant ports, two on the Pacific Coast and three on the Caribbean coast. Corinto and Puerto Sandino are Nicaragua's principal ports on the Pacific Coast; the smaller Caribbean coast ports are Puerto Cabezas, Bluefields, and El Bluff. Rama is a river port were goods or travelers from western Nicaragua change to river boats to continue their journey to Bluefields. The country's principal port, Corinto, is a deep-water port with alongside berthing facilities, and is suitable for general import and export cargo. Puerto Sandino, the second largest Pacific coast port, handles petroleum products through an offshore buoy and pipeline; it is not suitable for deep-water berthing. Although mined by the United States in the 1980s, neither harbor suffered permanent damage. The Caribbean coast ports are hampered by a lack of rail or road connections with western or central Nicaragua, where most economic activity for the country takes place. Bluefields and Puerto Cabezas are used primarily for fish and lumber exports; El Bluff is a military port.
Augusto C. Sandino International Airport, twelve kilometers outside of Managua, is the country's principal airport. Although ten other cities have paved airfields, none have scheduled airline service.
Data as of December 1993