Archived 15th edition home
Ethnologue > Web version > Country index > Americas > Nicaragua

Languages of Nicaragua

See language map.
Republic of Nicaragua, República de Nicaragua. 5,359,759. National or official language: Spanish. Literacy rate: 66% to 74%. Also includes Arabic (400), Chinese (7,000). Blind population: 1,800 (1982 WCE). Deaf population: 248,401. The number of languages listed for Nicaragua is 10. Of those, 7 are living languages and 3 are extinct.

Living languages


[cab] A few speakers in Nicaragua (2001 Elias Velásquez). Ethnic population: 1,500 in Nicaragua (1982 Meso-America). Región Atlántica Autónoma del Sur, Orinoco village, far from speakers in other countries. Alternate names: Garífuna, Caribe, Black Carib, Central American Carib, "Moreno".  Classification: Arawakan, Maipuran, Northern Maipuran, Caribbean 
More information.


[miq] 154,400 in Nicaragua (1993 census). Population total all countries: 183,400. Ethnic population: 154,400 (1993). From Pearl Lagoon to Black River, coast and lowlands. Zalaya Department, North Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAN) with a concentration in the city of Puerto Cabeza, and towns and villages of Prinzapolka, Tronquera, San Carlos (Río Coco), Waspam, Leimus, Bocana de Paiwas, Karawala, Sangnilaya, Wasla, Sisin, Rosita, Bonanza, Siuna, Bihmuna, and all along the Río Coco area. Also in South Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAS). Also spoken in Honduras. Alternate names: Mísquito, Mískitu, Mosquito, Marquito.  Dialects: Honduran Mískito (Mam), Tawira (Tauira), Baymuna (Baymunana, Baldam), Wanki (Wangki), Cabo (Kabo). The language is closest to Sumo Mayangna. Wangki is spoken around Puerto Cabeza. The other dialects are in settlements to the southwest.  Classification: Misumalpan 
More information.

Nicaragua Creole English

[bzk] 30,000 (1986 Carrier Pidgin). Includes 625 speakers of Rama Cay Creole (1989 Holm). Bluefields Region including Rama Cay Island, Pearl Lagoon, Prinzapolka, Puerto Cabezas, Corn Islands. Alternate names: Mískito Coast Creole English.  Dialects: Rama Cay Creole English, Bluefields Creole English.  Classification: Creole, English based, Atlantic, Western 
More information.

Nicaraguan Sign Language

[ncs] 3,000 (1997 Asociación Nacional de Sordos de Nicaragua). Population includes hearing people. Managua and throughout the nation. Alternate names: Idioma de Senas de Nicaragua.  Dialects: There are two sign languages in Nicaragua. Unrelated to El Salvadoran, Costa Rican, or other sign languages.  Classification: Deaf sign language 
More information.


[rma] 24 (1989 J. Holm). Ethnic population: 900 (2000 C. Grinevald). Rama Cay, 30-mile radius. Classification: Chibchan, Rama  Nearly extinct.
More information.


[spa] 4,347,000 in Nicaragua (1995).  Alternate names: Español, Castellano.  Classification: Indo-European, Italic, Romance, Italo-Western, Western, Gallo-Iberian, Ibero-Romance, West Iberian, Castilian 
More information.


[sum] 6,700 in Nicaragua (1982 Mesoamerica). Population total all countries: 7,400. Upriver locations from Prinzapolka River in the south into Honduras in the north. Also spoken in Honduras. Alternate names: Sumo, Sumu, Soumo, Sumoo, Woolwa, Sumo Tawahka, Taguaca.  Dialects: Panamahka, Nicaraguan Tawahka, Ulwa, Bawihka, Kukra. A distinct dialect is spoken in Honduras.  Classification: Misumalpan 
More information.

Extinct languages


[mtn] Extinct. Ethnic population: 18,000 to 20,000 (1981 MARC). The ethnic group is in the Central highlands, Matagalpa and Jinotega departments, and in Honduras, El Paraíso department. Alternate names: Pantasmas.  Classification: Misumalpan 
More information.


[mom] Extinct. Ethnic population: 10,000 (1981 MARC).  Classification: Unclassified 
More information.


[sut] Extinct. Ethnic population: 5,000 (1981 MARC). Plains of León, Pacific slope. Classification: Subtiaba-Tlapanec 
More information.