International development cooperation is the main pillar of Swiss-Nicaraguan relations. The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) has been active in Nicaragua for over 40 years with a range of different projects. Nicaragua will remain part of the SDC's Central America priority region until 2024.
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Nicaragua
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
Relations with Nicaragua focus on development cooperation and humanitarian aid. Switzerland's diplomatic interests and consular matters are handled by the Swiss embassy in San José, Costa Rica.
The cooperation office for Central America, which includes a consular section, is located in Managua.
In view of the continuing erosion of democracy, the rule of law and human rights in Nicaragua, the Federal Council decided on 24 June 2020 to impose financial sanctions and travel restrictions on six persons close to President Daniel Ortega. This decision brings Switzerland in line with EU sanctions.
The trade volume between Switzerland and Nicaragua is modest. In 2022, Switzerland imported goods worth CHF 262.7 million from Nicaragua, mainly comprising precious metals and agricultural products including coffee and bananas. Switzerland exported just over CHF 9.2 million in goods to Nicaragua – mainly metals, machinery, various types of devices and electronics.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
Researchers from Nicaragua can apply to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships.
Development cooperation and humanitarian aid
The SDC has been active in Nicaragua since 1979. Central America will remain a priority region for Swiss development cooperation until 2024. The SDC focuses its development efforts in Central America on Nicaragua and Honduras. Under the 2021–24 cooperation strategy, the SDC continues its work in areas including governance, the rule of law and human rights, economic development, and climate change and disaster risk reduction.
In 2021, SDC outlays in Nicaragua amounted to CHF 12.6 million. While Swiss bilateral cooperation will be withdrawn from Latin America – including Nicaragua – by the end of 2024, humanitarian aid will continue. And as part of its human rights policy, Switzerland will continue to actively promote respect for human rights in Nicaragua beyond 2024.
Swiss nationals in Nicaragua
According to statistics on the Swiss abroad, there were 232 Swiss nationals living in Nicaragua at the end of 2022.
History of bilateral relations
Nicaragua gained its independence from Spain in 1821, and a republic was created in 1838. Switzerland recognised the state as soon as it was founded.
In 1936, the Federal Council appointed an honorary consul in Nicaragua. Diplomatic relations were established in 1957. From 1968 to 1976, Switzerland had an embassy in Managua.
The SDC became active in Nicaragua after the Somoza dictatorship fell in 1979. Many Swiss nationals joined the brigades formed to help with the country's reconstruction.
The SDC has been operating a cooperation office for the Central America region from Managua since 1993.