Here's Why Nicaragua Is Unbelievably Safe Despite Being Impoverished

NicaraguaErin Fuchs/Business InsiderOmetepe Island in Nicaragua in January 2014

Central America, long engulfed by bloodshed and gang warfare, has come to be known as one of the most dangerous regions in the world. Nicaragua, however, is now one of the safest countries in the Southern hemisphere despite being poor and having a bloody past, according to a new NPR report.

This is thanks to the softer approach the country has taken to fighting crime. From the NPR report:

While Nicaragua’s neighbours have embraced so-called “mano dura” or iron fist policies, Nicaragua has taken a softer approach.

The Nicaraguan police, for example, pacified the Dimitrov neighbourhood by having the community patrol itself and by having police officers mediate talks between gang members often after soccer games.

The government has also developed a program that sends kids to school instead of prison. A new youth training center in Managua helps high-risk youth from bad neighborhoods leave or avoid gangs by educating them in practical fields. Currently, only 70 Nicaraguan juveniles are in jail.

The Economist pointed out in 2012 that Nicaragua’s murder rate was 13 per 100,000, which had remained unchanged in five years. By comparison, the murder rate in neighbouring Honduras was 82 per 100,000.

Despite the fact that it has become safer, Nicaragua is still the poorest country in Central America and the second-poorest in the Western Hemisphere, according to the CIA.

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