Relative to its overall population, Nicaragua has never experienced any large-scale immigrant waves. The total number of immigrants to Nicaragua, both originating from other Latin American countries and all other countries, never surpassed 1% of its total population prior to 1995. The 2005 census showed the foreign-born population at 1.2%, having risen a mere .06% in 10 years.

In the 19th century Nicaragua experienced modest waves of immigration from Europe. In particular, families from Germany, Italy, Spain, France and Belgium immigrated to Nicaragua, particularly the departments in the Central and Pacific region.

As a result, the Northern cities of Estelí, Jinotega and Matagalpa have significant communities of fourth generation Germans. They established many agricultural businesses such as coffee and sugar cane plantations, newspapers, hotels and banks.

Also present is a small Middle Eastern-Nicaraguan community of Syrians, Armenians, Palestinian Nicaraguans, Jewish Nicaraguans, and Lebanese people in Nicaragua with a total population of about 30,000. There is also an East Asian community mostly consisting of Chinese, Taiwanese, and Japanese. The Chinese Nicaraguan population is estimated at around 12,000. The Chinese arrived in the late 19th century but were unsubstantiated until the 1920s.

The Civil War forced many Nicaraguans to start lives outside of their country. Although many Nicaraguans returned after the end of the war, many people emigrated during the 1990s and the first decade of the 21st century due to the lack of employment opportunities and poverty. The majority of the Nicaraguan Diaspora migrated to Costa Rica and the United States, and today one in six Nicaraguans live in these two countries.


The diaspora has also seen Nicaraguans settling around in smaller communities in other parts of the world, particularly Western Europe. Small communities of Nicaraguans are found in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

Communities also exist in Australia and New Zealand. Canada, Brazil and Argentina in the Americas also host small groups of these communities. In Asia, Japan also hosts a small Nicaraguan community.

Due to extreme poverty in Nicaragua, many Nicaraguans are now living and working in neighboring El Salvador a country that has the US dollar as currency.