Nicaraguan Migration, the base of its diasporization

Most of the diaspora is composed of foreign born Nicaraguans who left their homelands mostly in the 1970s onward. They have migrated to the United States and Costa Rica. There have also been relevant increases in migration to Spain. Nicaraguans in Spain have nearly doubled since 2010, pushed in part by a demand in elderly and children care labor.

Nicaraguan migration to the United States is smaller compared to other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Instead, Nicaraguans historically have emigrated to their neighbor, Costa Rica.

Emigration started rising in the 1970’s, driven by natural disasters, as well as political and economic factors. In the 1990’s, migration to Costa Rica grew in larger numbers. Today, Nicaraguans living abroad have income that equals that of the country’s entire GDP. The official statistics of Nicaraguans living abroad pointed to nearly 700,000 people living abroad.  The figure does not include a larger number of people who left during the 2018 political crisis.  However, the numbers illustrate the spread of its diaspora to many countries.

Table 1: Nicaraguans Living Abroad

Countries

1990

1995

2000

2005

2010

2015

2017

2019*

World

442,037

438,343

502,147

436,584

610,957

645,309

658,203

682,865

Costa Rica

99,153

131,695

230,085

148,064

287,766

292,232

294,018

296,541

United States

168,659

197,100

225,929

236,243

254,081

267,051

275,909

302,845

Spain

1,002

1,240

2,013

3,156

12,892

20,361

20,554

25,969

Rest

8,954

9,604

10,340

10,921

12,228

13,227

13,854

15,000

Panama

4,553

4,593

4,923

7,775

10,998

12,915

13,335

13,752

Canada

6,199

7,730

9,444

8,894

8,945

10,003

10,399

10,511

Guatemala

3,726

4,565

5,404

6,424

7,443

8,561

8,908

8,787

El Salvador

3,893

4,219

4,545

6,024

7,502

7,823

7,874

7,929

Honduras

142,802

74,273

5,768

5,649

5,530

7,767

7,844

7,891

Mexico

3,096

3,324

3,696

3,434

3,572

5,369

5,508

4,105

Source: UN Bilateral Migration Matrix.

 

Table 2: Nicaraguans living in Selected States/Provinces in the U.S. and Costa Rica

United States

%

Costa Rica

%

Florida

43%

San Jose

36%

California

27%

Alajuela

26%

Other

30%

Cartago

5%

 

Heredia

11%

Guanacaste

8%

Puntarenas

5%

Limon

9%

 Sources: US Census Bureau, Costa Rica INEC

 

Table 3 shows estimates for recent migrant stocks to specific countries, and table 3 updates the total migrant stocks in the selected countries.

Table 3: Nicaraguan Migrant flows

Annual entry

2015

2016

              2017

2018 est.

Nicaraguans in the United States

       10,160.64

         5,143.06

        5,689.96

6,500

Nicaraguans in Costa Rica

       10,281.60

       10,408.58

      11,515.39

40,000

Nicaraguans elsewhere

         3,427.20

         1,734.76

        1,919.23

3,500

Annual entry of Nicaraguans abroad

       23,870.44

       17,286.40

      19,124.58

50,000

Source: Author’s estimates