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Nicaraguan northern port

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Nicaragua’s National Port Company will invest close to $400 million on a new terminal in Bilwi, the dock area of Puerto Cabezas, capital of the North Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region.

Following the construction, Bilwi will be able to accommodate some 4 million tons of cargo annually, about the same as the tonnage handled last year by all Nicaraguan ports.

The investment in one of Nicaragua’s poorest areas may make little sense.

Three fourths of the population lives in poverty or extreme poverty, while adult illiteracy is over 40%, according to the Foundation for the Autonomy and Development of the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua.

On the other hand, the region has deposits of gold, copper and iron, and is home to many of Nicaragua’s most important natural areas, including the forest reserves of Bosawas, Cola Blanca and Cerro Banacruz, along with the Miskita Savanna, the Rio Pinzapolka Delta, and the coral reef of Miskito Key.

Bilwi currently relies on shipments to and from ports in neighboring countries.

But Honduras’s Puerto Cortes is more than 500 kilometers (300 miles) away, as is Costa Rica’s Limon.

The North Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region covers an area of 32,000 square kilometers (12,000 square miles) and has a population of around 200,000, mainly indigenous groups, such as Miskitos and Mayangnas, as well as people of Spanish and African descent.