Honduran, Honduranean, Honduranian /hon'deuh ray"nee euhn/, adj., n.
/hon door"euhs, -dyoor"-/; Sp. /awn dooh"rddahs/, n.
1. a republic in NE Central America. 5,751,384; 43,277 sq. mi. (112,087 sq. km).Cap.: Tegucigalpa.
2. Gulf of, an arm of the Caribbean Sea, bordered by Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras.

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Introduction Honduras -
Background: Part of Spain's vast empire in the New World, Honduras became an independent nation in 1821. After two and one-half decades of mostly military rule, a freely elected civilian government came to power in 1982. During the 1980s, Honduras proved a haven for anti-Sandinista contras fighting the Marxist Nicaraguan Government and an ally to Salvadoran Government forces fighting against leftist guerrillas. Geography Honduras
Location: Middle America, bordering the Caribbean Sea, between Guatemala and Nicaragua and bordering the North Pacific Ocean, between El Salvador and Nicaragua
Geographic coordinates: 15 00 N, 86 30 W
Map references: Central America and the Caribbean
Area: total: 112,090 sq km land: 111,890 sq km water: 200 sq km
Area - comparative: slightly larger than Tennessee
Land boundaries: total: 1,520 km border countries: Guatemala 256 km, El Salvador 342 km, Nicaragua 922 km
Coastline: 820 km
Maritime claims: contiguous zone: 24 NM territorial sea: 12 NM continental shelf: natural extension of territory or to 200 NM exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
Climate: subtropical in lowlands, temperate in mountains
Terrain: mostly mountains in interior, narrow coastal plains
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m highest point: Cerro Las Minas 2,870 m
Natural resources: timber, gold, silver, copper, lead, zinc, iron ore, antimony, coal, fish, hydropower
Land use: arable land: 15.15% permanent crops: 3.13% other: 81.72% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land: 760 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards: frequent, but generally mild, earthquakes; extremely susceptible to damaging hurricanes and floods along the Caribbean coast Environment - current issues: urban population expanding; deforestation results from logging and the clearing of land for agricultural purposes; further land degradation and soil erosion hastened by uncontrolled development and improper land use practices such as farming of marginal lands; mining activities polluting Lago de Yojoa (the country's largest source of fresh water) as well as several rivers and streams with heavy metals Environment - international party to: Biodiversity, Climate
agreements: Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note: has only a short Pacific coast but a long Caribbean shoreline, including the virtually uninhabited eastern Mosquito Coast People Honduras -
Population: 6,560,608 note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2002 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 41.8% (male 1,400,778; female 1,340,834) 15-64 years: 54.6% (male 1,774,619; female 1,806,568) 65 years and over: 3.6% (male 112,100; female 125,709) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate: 2.34% (2002 est.)
Birth rate: 31.21 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate: 5.74 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate: -2.07 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.89 male(s)/ female total population: 1 male(s)/female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 30.48 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.) Life expectancy at birth: total population: 68.77 years female: 70.51 years (2002 est.) male: 67.11 years
Total fertility rate: 4.03 children born/woman (2002 est.) HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 1.92% (1999 est.) HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/ 63,000 (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths: 4,200 (1999 est.)
Nationality: noun: Honduran(s) adjective: Honduran
Ethnic groups: mestizo (mixed Amerindian and European) 90%, Amerindian 7%, black 2%, white 1%
Religions: Roman Catholic 97%, Protestant minority
Languages: Spanish, Amerindian dialects
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write total population: 74% male: 74% female: 74.1% (1999) Government Honduras -
Country name: conventional long form: Republic of Honduras conventional short form: Honduras local short form: Honduras local long form: Republica de Honduras
Government type: democratic constitutional republic
Capital: Tegucigalpa Administrative divisions: 18 departments (departamentos, singular - departamento); Atlantida, Choluteca, Colon, Comayagua, Copan, Cortes, El Paraiso, Francisco Morazan, Gracias a Dios, Intibuca, Islas de la Bahia, La Paz, Lempira, Ocotepeque, Olancho, Santa Barbara, Valle, Yoro
Independence: 15 September 1821 (from Spain)
National holiday: Independence Day, 15 September (1821)
Constitution: 11 January 1982, effective 20 January 1982; amended 1995
Legal system: rooted in Roman and Spanish civil law with increasing influence of English common law; recent judicial reforms include abandoning Napoleonic legal codes in favor of the oral adversarial system; accepts ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal and compulsory
Executive branch: chief of state: President Ricardo (Joest) MADURO (since 27 January 2002); First Vice President Vicente WILLIAMS Agasse (since 27 January 2002); Second Vice President Armida Villela Maria DE LOPEZ Contreras (since 27 January 2002); Third Vice President Alberto DIAZ Lobo (since 27 January 2002); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government head of government: President Ricardo (Joest) MADURO (since 27 January 2002); First Vice President Vicente WILLIAMS Agasse (since 27 January 2002); Second Vice President Armida Villela Maria DE LOPEZ Contreras (since 27 January 2002); Third Vice President Alberto DIAZ Lobo (since 27 January 2002); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government cabinet: Cabinet appointed by president elections: president elected by popular vote for a four-year term; election last held 25 November 2001 (next to be held NA November 2005) election results: Ricardo (Joest) MADURO (PN) elected president - 52.2%, Raphael PINEDA Ponce (PL) 44.3%, others 3.5%
Legislative branch: unicameral National Congress or Congreso Nacional (128 seats; members are elected proportionally to the number of votes their party's presidential candidate receives to serve four-year terms) elections: last held 25 November 2001 (next to be held NA November 2005) election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PN 61, PL 55, PUD 5, PDC 4, PINU-SD 3
Judicial branch: Supreme Court of Justice or Corte Suprema de Justicia (judges are elected for seven-year terms by the National Congress) Political parties and leaders: Christian Democratic Party or PDC [Dr. Hernan CORRALES Padilla]; Democratic Unification Party or PUD [leader NA]; Liberal Party or PL [Roberto MICHELETTI Bain]; National Innovation and Unity Party-Social Democratic Party or PINU-SD [Olban F. VALLADARES]; National Party of Honduras or PN [Raphael CALLEJAS] Political pressure groups and Committee for the Defense of Human
leaders: Rights in Honduras or CODEH; Confederation of Honduran Workers or CTH; Coordinating Committee of Popular Organizations or CCOP; General Workers Confederation or CGT; Honduran Council of Private Enterprise or COHEP; National Association of Honduran Campesinos or ANACH; National Union of Campesinos or UNC; Popular Bloc or BP; United Federation of Honduran Workers or FUTH International organization BCIE, CACM, ECLAC, FAO, G-77, IADB,
participation: IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO (subscriber), ITU, LAES, LAIA (observer), MINURSO, NAM, OAS, OPANAL, OPCW (signatory), PCA, RG, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Mario Miguel CANAHUATI honorary consulate(s): Boston, Detroit, Jacksonville, and St. Louis consulate(s) general: Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Phoenix, San Francisco, San Juan (Puerto Rico), Tampa FAX: [1] (202) 966-9751 telephone: [1] (202) 966-7702 chancery: Suite 4-M, 3007 Tilden Street NW, Washington, DC 20008 Diplomatic representation from the chief of mission: Ambassador Frank
US: ALMAGUER embassy: Avenida La Paz, Apartado Postal No. 3453, Tegucigalpa mailing address: American Embassy, APO AA 34022, Tegucigalpa telephone: [504] 238-5114, 236-9320 FAX: [504] 236-9037
Flag description: three equal horizontal bands of blue (top), white, and blue with five blue five-pointed stars arranged in an X pattern centered in the white band; the stars represent the members of the former Federal Republic of Central America - Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua; similar to the flag of El Salvador, which features a round emblem encircled by the words REPUBLICA DE EL SALVADOR EN LA AMERICA CENTRAL centered in the white band; also similar to the flag of Nicaragua, which features a triangle encircled by the word REPUBLICA DE NICARAGUA on top and AMERICA CENTRAL on the bottom, centered in the white band Economy Honduras
Economy - overview: Honduras, one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere with an extraordinarily unequal distribution of income, is banking on expanded trade privileges under the Enhanced Caribbean Basin Initiative and on debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative. While the country has met most of its macroeconomic targets, it failed to meet the IMF's goals to liberalize its energy and telecommunications sectors. Growth remains dependent on the status of the US economy, its major trading partner, on commodity prices, particularly coffee, and on containment of the recent rise in crime.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $17 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 2.1% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $2,600 (2001 est.) GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 18% industry: 32% services: 50% (2000 est.) Population below poverty line: 53% (1993 est.) Household income or consumption by lowest 10%: 0.4%
percentage share: highest 10%: 44.3% (1997) Distribution of family income - Gini 59 (1997)
index: Inflation rate (consumer prices): 9.7% (2001 est.)
Labor force: 2.3 million (1997 est.) Labor force - by occupation: agriculture 34%, industry 21%, services 45% (2001 est.)
Unemployment rate: 28% (2001 est.)
Budget: revenues: $607 million expenditures: $411.9 million, including capital expenditures of $106 million (1999 est.)
Industries: sugar, coffee, textiles, clothing, wood products Industrial production growth rate: 4% (1999 est.) Electricity - production: 3.573 billion kWh (2000) Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 36.89% hydro: 63.11% other: 0% (2000) nuclear: 0% Electricity - consumption: 3.593 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports: 5 million kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports: 275 million kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products: bananas, coffee, citrus; beef; timber; shrimp
Exports: $2 billion (f.o.b., 2001 est.)
Exports - commodities: coffee, bananas, shrimp, lobster, meat; zinc, lumber
Exports - partners: US 39.9%, El Salvador 9.2%, Germany 7.9%, Belgium 5.8%, Guatemala 5.4% (2000)
Imports: $2.7 billion (f.o.b., 2001 est.)
Imports - commodities: machinery and transport equipment, industrial raw materials, chemical products, fuels, foodstuffs
Imports - partners: US 46.1%, Guatemala 8.2%, El Salvador 6.6%, Mexico 4.7%, Japan 4.6% (2000)
Debt - external: $5.6 billion (2001) Economic aid - recipient: $557.8 million (1999)
Currency: lempira (HNL)
Currency code: HNL
Exchange rates: lempiras per US dollar - 16.0256 (January 2002), 15.9197 (2001), 15.1407 (2000), 14.5039 (1999), 13.8076 (1998), 13.0942 (1997)
Fiscal year: calendar year Communications Honduras - Telephones - main lines in use: 234,000 (1997) Telephones - mobile cellular: 14,427 (1997)
Telephone system: general assessment: inadequate system domestic: NA international: satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean); connected to Central American Microwave System Radio broadcast stations: AM 241, FM 53, shortwave 12 (1998)
Radios: 2.45 million (1997) Television broadcast stations: 11 (plus 17 repeaters) (1997)
Televisions: 570,000 (1997)
Internet country code: .hn Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 8 (2000)
Internet users: 40,000 (2000) Transportation Honduras -
Railways: total: 595 km narrow gauge: 318 km 1.067-m gauge; 277 km 0.914-m gauge (2000)
Highways: total: 15,400 km paved: 3,126 km unpaved: 12,274 km (1999 est.)
Waterways: 465 km (navigable by small craft)
Ports and harbors: La Ceiba, Puerto Castilla, Puerto Cortes, San Lorenzo, Tela, Puerto Lempira
Merchant marine: total: 284 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 749,243 GRT/846,942 DWT note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience: Argentina 1, Bahrain 1, Belize 1, British Virgin Islands 1, Bulgaria 1, China 8, Costa Rica 1, Cyprus 1, Egypt 6, El Salvador 1, Germany 1, Greece 18, Hong Kong 3, Indonesia 2, Italy 1, Japan 7, Lebanon 4, Liberia 4, Maldives 2, Marshall Islands 1, Mexico 1, Nigeria 1, Norway 1, Panama 14, Philippines 1, Romania 2, Russia 1, Saint Kitts and Nevis 3, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 1, Singapore 24, South Korea 12, Spain 1, Syria 1, Taiwan 4, Tanzania 1, Trinidad and Tobago 1, Turkey 2, Turks and Caicos Islands 1, United Arab Emirates 6, United Kingdom 1, United States 5, Vanuatu 1, Vietnam 1, Virgin Islands (UK) 1 (2002 est.) ships by type: bulk 20, cargo 166, chemical tanker 5, container 6, livestock carrier 1, passenger 3, passenger/cargo 3, petroleum tanker 54, refrigerated cargo 12, roll on/ roll off 8, short-sea passenger 4, specialized tanker 1, vehicle carrier 1
Airports: 117 (2001) Airports - with paved runways: total: 12 2,438 to 3,047 m: 3 1,524 to 2,437 m: 2 914 to 1,523 m: 3 under 914 m: 4 (2001) Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 105 1,524 to 2,437 m: 2 914 to 1,523 m: 20 under 914 m: 83 (2001) Military Honduras -
Military branches: Army, Navy (including marines), Air Force Military manpower - military age: 18 years of age (2002 est.) Military manpower - availability: males age 15-49: 1,563,174 (2002 est.) Military manpower - fit for military males age 15-49: 930,718 (2002 est.)
service: Military manpower - reaching males: 72,335 (2002 est.)
military age annually: Military expenditures - dollar $35 million (FY99)
figure: Military expenditures - percent of 0.6% (FY99)
GDP: Transnational Issues Honduras - Disputes - international: Honduras claims Sapodilla Cays off the coast of Belize; El Salvador disputes tiny Conejo Island off Honduras in the Golfo de Fonseca; many of the "bolsones" (disputed areas) along the El Salvador- Honduras boundary remain undemarcated despite ICJ adjudication in 1992; with respect to the maritime boundary in the Golfo de Fonseca, the ICJ referred to the line determined by the 1900 Honduras-Nicaragua Mixed Boundary Commission and advised a tripartite resolution among El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua; Nicaragua filed a claim against Honduras in 1999 and against Colombia in 2001 at the ICJ over disputed maritime boundary involving 50,000 sq km in the Caribbean Sea, including the Archipelago de San Andres y Providencia and Quita Sueno Bank
Illicit drugs: transshipment point for drugs and narcotics; illicit producer of cannabis, cultivated on small plots and used principally for local consumption; corruption is a major problem; vulnerable to money laundering

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officially Republic of Honduras

Country, Central America.

Area: 43,433 sq mi (112,492 sq km). Population (2002 est.): 6,561,000. Capital: Tegucigalpa. The population is predominantly mestizo (mixed European and Indian). Language: Spanish (official). Religion: Roman Catholicism (majority). Currency: Honduran lempira. The second largest country in Central America, Honduras has a 400-mi (645-km) coastline on the Caribbean Sea to the north and a 45-mi (72-km) coast on the Pacific Ocean to the south. More than three-fourths of Honduras is mountainous and wooded. The eastern lowlands include part of the Mosquito Coast. Most of the people live in isolated communities in the mountainous interior, where the climate is hot and rainy. The economy is primarily agricultural; bananas, coffee, and sugar are the primary export crops, and corn is the chief domestic staple. Honduras is a multiparty republic with one legislative house, and the head of state and government is the president. The Maya civilization flourished in the region in the 1st millennium AD. There are architectural and sculptural remains of a ceremonial centre at Copán, which was in use from с 465 to с 800. Christopher Columbus reached Honduras in 1502, and Spanish settlement followed. A major war between the Spaniards and the Indians broke out in 1537; the conflict ended in the decimation of the Indian population through disease and enslavement. After 1570 Honduras was part of the captaincy general of Guatemala, until Central American independence in 1821. It was then part of the United Provinces of Central America but withdrew in 1838 and declared its independence. In the 20th century, under military rule, there was nearly constant civil war. A civilian government was elected in 1982. The military remained influential, however, as the activity of leftist guerrillas increased. Flooding caused by a hurricane in 1998 devastated the country, killing several thousand people and leaving hundreds of thousands homeless. In 2001 Honduras was hit by a severe drought.

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▪ 2009

112,492 sq km (43,433 sq mi)
(2008 est.): 7,639,000
Head of state and government:
Manuel Zelaya

      Hondurans in 2008 experienced regular increases in prices, particularly for food and gasoline. To counter rising oil prices, Honduras joined PetroCaribe, which enabled it to receive petroleum from Venezuela for two years at a reduced price; the cost savings would be put into a trust for national development. To promote economic development, Honduras signed an agreement with Brazil's Petrobras to construct a plant to produce lubricants and oils; Tegucigalpa also entered into agreements that would allow Hondurans to apply to work in Canada and Spain legally. Honduras launched a new campaign to increase tourism, “Honduras, everything is here.” The Toncontín Airport in the capital was closed to international flights for five weeks, however, after a TACA Airlines plane with 136 people aboard crash landed in May; 5 people were killed.

      The main focus of politics was the selection of candidates for the upcoming 2009 general elections. On November 30 the Supreme Elections Tribunal oversaw primaries for all parties with internal factions. The primaries were significant because they represented only the second time that parties had held primaries for all offices (prior to 2005, primaries were held only to select presidential candidates). The most important presidential precandidates in both major parties, and in two of three small parties, selected female vice presidential candidates. Another political landmark was the implementation of the Transparency Law, which was passed at the end of 2006 and required government offices to share information when requested by a citizen. Pres. Manuel Zelaya brought Honduras into the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas, an organization promoted by Venezuelan Pres. Hugo Chávez to counter the influence of the U.S. and of international financial institutions. This move was highly controversial, with opposition from the Congress, the business community, and Honduran immigrants in the U.S. Another issue that made continuous headlines and shaped presidential precandidates' campaigns was the country's ongoing crime wave, including an increase in female homicides.

Michelle M. Taylor-Robinson

▪ 2008

112,492 sq km (43,433 sq mi)
(2007 est.): 7,484,000
Head of state and government:
Manuel Zelaya

      A longtime boundary dispute was settled between Honduras and Nicaragua on Oct. 8, 2007, by the UN, which drew a maritime border that granted Honduras sovereignty over four Caribbean islands. The ruling eased tensions between the countries and eliminated seizures of fishing boats; the decision was binding, with no appeal.

      A protest march in February underscored concern about corruption, and Pres. Manuel Zelaya addressed the matter in April by launching the fourth anticrime initiative of his term. The measure focused on the drug trade, and he stated that by year's end he would increase the number of police by 2,000.

      President Zelaya declared 2007 “the year of education,” and he named a commission to help improve the country's education system. Under the Fast Track Initiative that was launched in 2002 with assistance from the U.S. Agency for International Development and donors in developed countries, Honduras by 2006 had improved the percentage (from 70% to 85%) of children who completed primary school.

      Zelaya appointed himself director of the Honduran national electricity company in February in an effort to expand service and ease debt. On February 24 the Honduran government implemented “Operation Scissors,” a plan that cut power to approximately 700 businesses and homes with outstanding energy bills. When efforts to rent oil-storage facilities to address high fuel costs were unsuccessful, the government took control of multinational storage facilities, but it soon backed down under pressure from the U.S.

      The U.S. government in May extended for 18 months the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) that allowed 78,000 Hondurans to work legally in the U.S. because of environmental disasters in Honduras. TPS worker remittances, in addition to remittances from undocumented workers, accounted for approximately 25% of the country's GDP.

      Honduras named an ambassador to Cuba in February for the first time in 46 years. In May President Zelaya, who accused the media of only reporting problems, ordered major media channels to broadcast two hours a day of positive government propaganda, though he lowered the requirement to one hour on Mondays and Fridays through the end of June when journalists objected. In 2007 the 1982 constitution became the longest-enduring constitution in the country's history.

Michelle M. Taylor-Robinson

▪ 2007

112,492 sq km (43,433 sq mi)
(2006 est.): 7,329,000
Head of state and government:
Presidents Ricardo Maduro and, from January 27, Manuel Zelaya

 In Honduras 2006 began with the inauguration of a new government on January 27. Manuel Zelaya of the Liberal Party took over as president from Ricardo Maduro of the National Party. The peaceful transfer of power was important because a very slow ballot count and a close vote had created serious partisan tensions for a month after the Nov. 27, 2005, election until the presidential victor was declared. Throughout the year various groups, including government workers and the teachers and medical workers unions, held strikes to put pressure on Zelaya to fulfill campaign promises, notably wage increases.

      International relations and economics often became one topic for Honduras in 2006. The National Congress approved legislation (for example, protecting intellectual-property rights and regulating government contracts) necessary for Honduras to begin participating in the Central America–Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement, which had been approved by the U.S. and Honduran congresses in 2005. On March 29 Honduras, along with El Salvador and Guatemala, began negotiating a free-trade treaty with Colombia. Honduras and China also expanded trade dealings, though they lacked full diplomatic relations. A China-Honduras Chamber of Commerce was established in February, the first such organization in Central America, and China was considering investments in an industrial park and in textiles, telecommunications, and energy.

      A crime wave, including attacks by gangs on businesses and bus and taxi drivers who refused to pay protection money, aroused public alarm about security. The government responded by calling on the military to back up police patrols, starting a program to train military personnel in police techniques, and allowing the military to increase its size from 10,000 to 14,000. In June the U.S. suspended all Honduran visa applications for 10 days, concerned that identity-paper forgery in Honduras threatened U.S. national security.

       Archaeologists from Mexico discovered a pre-Columbian site with a ball court that they believed might be from the Olmec civilization.

Michelle M. Taylor-Robinson

▪ 2006

112,492 sq km (43,433 sq mi)
(2005 est.): 7,187,000
Head of state and government:
President Ricardo Maduro

 On Nov. 27, 2005, Honduras held its sixth elections since democracy was installed in 1982. Manuel Zelaya Rosales of the Liberal Party won the presidency and would take office in January 2006. The Liberal Party won 62 seats in the National Congress, the National Party 55 seats, with the remaining 11 seats divided between three parties. Electoral competition had begun in earnest on February 20, when the Liberal and National parties held primaries to select their presidential and mayoral candidates and slates for Congress.

      On March 3 the Honduran Congress voted to ratify the Central America–Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR). Honduras was the second country, after El Salvador, to ratify the treaty. In August the CAFTA-DR was ratified by the U.S. The agreement would allow duty-free import of many Honduran products into the U.S. after the Caribbean Basin Initiative expired in 2008. Under CAFTA-DR, U.S. imports into Honduras would also be duty free.

      Honduras began to receive benefits during the year from the Heavily Indebted Poor Country program. Total debt relief over time would exceed $1.2 billion. On June 13 Honduras became the second country, after Madagascar, to take part in the U.S.-sponsored Millennium Challenge Account program, with a 5-year, $215 million aid package to promote good governance and poverty reduction.

      A December 2004 attack in San Pedro Sula by members of the international Mara Salvatrucha criminal gang that claimed the lives of 28 people prompted Congress to pass penal reforms in 2005 and to strengthen Pres. Ricardo Maduro's zero-tolerance crime program. The attack also made crime and security major issues in the presidential campaign.

      In February international environmental groups discovered harpy eagles in the heavily forested region of La Mosquitia in easternmost Honduras. The animals had been thought to be extinct in the Americas.

Michelle M. Taylor-Robinson

▪ 2005

112,492 sq km (43,433 sq mi)
(2004 est.): 6,948,000
Head of state and government:
President Ricardo Maduro

      In February 2004 the IMF issued Honduras a three-year loan of about $107 million for a Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility, ending two years of negotiations during which Honduras lacked IMF assistance. The agreement was contingent upon government compliance with spending cuts and salary freezes for government workers. Honduran workers opposed a salary freeze, however, and teachers and medical workers struck for raises. Its compliance with the IMF agreement advanced Honduras's admission process in the Heavily Indebted Poor Country Program. In August a constitutional amendment was passed by the National Congress that rescinded the immunity of government officials.

      Honduran ports met a July 2004 deadline to implement security procedures required for shipping cargo to the United States, a key partner in Honduras's foreign trade, but the Honduran government pulled its troops out of the U.S.-led coalition force in Iraq. Negotiations were concluded during the year for the Central American Free Trade Agreement; the legislatures of the five Central American countries, the Dominican Republic, and the U.S. would each have to ratify the treaty before it took effect. The problem of demarcation of Honduras's border with El Salvador was finally resolved, and permanent markers were installed. The dispute resulted from the 1969 “Soccer War” and remained unsettled until International Court of Justice rulings in 1992 and 2003.

      Pres. Ricardo Maduro announced his desire to freeze funds for the Central American Court of Justice and the Central American Parliament, arguing that the money would be better spent on domestic health and education programs. Constitutionally, however, the National Congress would have to renounce the relevant treaties before the president's proposal could be effected.

      The World Food Programme (WFP) distributed food in drought-stricken southern Honduras. The government and the WFP began a program to expand irrigation and help farmers switch from traditional corn (maize) and bean crops to sorghum, sesame, and alternate bean varieties that required less water.

Michelle M. Taylor-Robinson

▪ 2004

112,492 sq km (43,433 sq mi)
(2003 est.): 6,803,000
Head of state and government:
President Ricardo Maduro

      Crime issues dominated Honduran politics in 2003. Pres. Ricardo Maduro continued his “zero tolerance” policy and targeted gang violence. The Congress passed two major laws as part of the government's efforts to combat crime; in July citizens were required to surrender all firearms, and in August membership in a gang became illegal. Despite Maduro's aggressive tactics, detractors claimed that his programs were not yet a success and that the only solution to the crime problem was to address its root causes: poverty and the lack of education and jobs. International attention was drawn to the crime problem on April 5 when a gang fight in the El Porvenir prison left 69 inmates dead and approximately 33 injured. The riot caused a government scandal when investigations showed that prison guards had shot many inmates.

      Government efforts to bring economic indicators in line with International Monetary Fund requirements created much popular unrest. Honduras's three-year loan agreement with the IMF had expired at the end of 2002, and by September 2003 the country still had not reached an agreement with the IMF for new loans, which severely constrained public finance. To appease the IMF, the government tried to broaden the tax base and reduce spending by cutting government jobs and freezing public-sector wages. These policies met with repeated strikes, particularly in the health, education, and transportation sectors.

      In international affairs Honduras participated with the other four Central American countries in negotiations with the United States to establish a Central American Free Trade Agreement. Honduras was also part of the “coalition of the willing”—countries that supported the U.S.-led war to oust Saddam Hussein—and in July Honduras sent a contingent of 370 troops to Iraq to serve under Polish command in an effort to internationalize the forces occupying Iraq.

Michelle M. Taylor-Robinson

▪ 2003

112,492 sq km (43,433 sq mi)
(2002 est.): 6,561,000
Head of state and government:
Presidents Carlos Roberto Flores Facussé and, from January 27, Ricardo Maduro

      On Jan. 27, 2002, in the third peaceful transition between parties in Honduras since democratic rule began in 1982, Pres. Carlos Flores of the Liberal Party handed over power to Ricardo Maduro of the National Party. The new administration was the first to govern without a majority in the congress. The National Party held 61 seats, 4 shy of a majority.

      Crime was a major issue in 2002. Historically low compared with neighbouring countries, the rate of violent crime—often gang-related—had in two years grown to levels that affected the quality of life of all sectors of society. Acting on campaign pledges, President Maduro immediately sent army troops on joint patrols with the police in the major cities. Particularly in Tegucigalpa, results were quickly felt, with a dramatic reduction in crime and a popular feeling of reclaiming the streets. Questions remained, however, about how long the government would have the finances to maintain this program and whether it would lead to human rights violations or a militarized police force. Roots of the crime problem, such as inadequate job opportunities for youth and police corruption, persisted.

      While Honduras's economy had largely rebounded from the widespread destruction caused by Hurricane Mitch in 1998, economic performance was depressed in 2002 owing to low world market prices for Honduras's main export products (coffee, bananas, sugar). In addition, the monilia fungus ravaged the cacao crop, which had a strong market, and farmers lacked funds for new plants.

      In a final act the Flores administration reopened diplomatic relations with Cuba after a 40-year lapse. On May 1 the U.S. government extended temporary protection status to 105,000 Hondurans living in the U.S.

Michelle M. Taylor-Robinson

▪ 2002

112,492 sq km (43,433 sq mi)
(2000 est.): 6,490,000
Head of state and government:
President Carlos Roberto Flores Facussé

      The national elections held on Nov. 25, 2001, were the sixth since 1981, marking an unprecedented two decades of democracy in Honduras. The presidential election was won by Ricardo Maduro of the National Party. The new government was scheduled to take office in January 2002. The campaign was marred by mutual accusations by the Liberal and National parties regarding the eligibility of front-running presidential aspirants. Conflict began in October 2000 when the National Elections Tribunal, dominated by the incumbent Liberals, claimed that Maduro was not a native Honduran and thus was ineligible to run for president. The dispute was finally resolved on Feb. 23, 2001, when the Congress reinterpreted the constitutional requirements for citizenship and allowed Maduro to run.

      With reconstruction from the massive damage caused in October 1998 by Hurricane Mitch still ongoing in 2001, Honduras suffered an extensive drought that the UN World Food Programme called the worst natural disaster to hit Central America since Mitch. More than 316,000 people were severely affected, and some 128,000 were to receive food aid. The drought also caused severe water shortages in the capital.

      Internationally several events were important. On February 21 the archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, became a cardinal. Rodríguez was the first Honduran, and only the third Central American, appointed to the Sacred College of Cardinals. On March 15 the free-trade agreement signed with Mexico, Guatemala, and El Salvador in 2000 took effect. In May the U.S. government renewed the Temporary Protected Status of 105,000 Hondurans living in the U.S. for an additional year (until July 2002) as part of continued U.S. efforts to help Honduras recover from the economic effects of Hurricane Mitch. Finally, the border disputes and economic sanctions that arose between Honduras and Nicaragua in 2000 continued during 2001.

Michelle M. Taylor-Robinson

▪ 2001

112,492 sq km (43,433 sq mi)
(2000 est.): 6,490,000
Head of state and government:
President Carlos Roberto Flores Facussé

      Throughout 2000 Honduras continued to rebuild from the destruction caused by Hurricane Mitch in October 1998. The country received a positive evaluation for its progress from the Consultative Group for the Reconstruction and Transformation of Central America, which represented about 40 donor nations and international organizations. Boosting that evaluation was an economy that showed its first signs of recovery since the hurricane hit.

      Honduras became the second Latin American country to qualify for debt relief under the Highly Indebted Poor Countries program. The program allowed the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the Central American Bank of Economic Integration to forgive portions of Honduras's debt and work to restructure other debts. In May the government moved to cut spending by announcing mass layoffs in the public sector.

      On June 29 Honduras, along with El Salvador and Guatemala, signed a free-trade agreement with Mexico after eight years of negotiations. The treaty was set to take effect on Jan. 1, 2001, when 57% of Mexico's exports and 65% of the three other countries' exports would become duty-free. Duties on the remainder of exports would be lifted over 12 years.

      In February a border dispute with Nicaragua became violent. The tension began in late 1999 when Honduras endorsed Colombian sovereignty over Caribbean waters and islands claimed by Nicaragua. Nicaragua retaliated by imposing trade sanctions on Honduras and bringing a lawsuit about the border demarcation to the World Court. In February 2000 the dispute expanded to include the question of fishing rights in the Gulf of Fonseca on the Pacific side of the isthmus. The suit was expected to take years to resolve. On March 7 the countries' foreign ministers signed a pact to prevent acts of aggression and coordinate boat patrols and military operations against drug traffickers. Nevertheless, Nicaragua continued its trade sanctions; in return, Honduras applied sanctions against Nicaraguan goods on March 25.

Michelle M. Taylor-Robinson

▪ 2000

112,492 sq km (43,433 sq mi)
(1999 est.): 6,281,000
Head of state and government:
President Carlos Roberto Flores Facussé

      The dominating concern in Honduras in 1999 was rebuilding from the damage caused by Hurricane Mitch in late 1998. At a conference in Stockholm attended by international lending agencies and 20 donor countries on May 25–28, the Honduran government presented its National Reconstruction and Transformation Plan. The plan included provisions to rebuild infrastructure and houses, modernize the country's economy, and address poverty. In April the Paris Club of creditor countries placed a three-year moratorium on Honduras's debt-service payments and forgave 67% of the country's $1.7 billion foreign debt, contingent upon its compliance with austerity conditions set by the International Monetary Fund. In May the Tela Railroad Co., a subsidiary of Chiquita Brands International Inc., began replanting its banana plantations destroyed by the hurricane, expecting to resume exports in 2000. In February a fire incapacitated the El Cajón hydroelectric plant, which supplied 60% of Honduras's electricity, and the generator was not repaired until May. Owing to the hurricane and the El Cajón fire, Honduras's economy was expected to contract 3% in 1999. Heavy rains in September caused renewed flooding.

      Civilian control over the military was increased in January when the commander of the armed forces, Gen. Mario Hung Pacheco, retired and was replaced by a civilian secretary of defense, Edgardo Dumas Rodríguez, who was appointed by President Flores. This marked the first time in 40 years that the Honduran military had been led by a civilian. Dumas pledged to audit recent military budgets.

      Honduras, along with El Salvador and Guatemala, continued free-trade negotiations with Mexico. While negotiations proceeded, the countries agreed to a six-month extension of preferential tariffs. In November a diplomatic tiff erupted with Nicaragua over the two countries' maritime border.

Michelle Taylor-Robinson

▪ 1999

      Area: 112,492 sq km (43,433 sq mi)

      Population (1998 est.): 5,919,000

      Capital: Tegucigalpa

      Heads of state and government: Presidents Carlos Roberto Reina Idiaquez and, from January 27, Carlos Roberto Flores Facussé

      Hurricane Mitch swept across the Caribbean and entered Honduran waters as a Category Five hurricane in the last week of October 1998. The 320 km/h (200 mph) winds dropped as the storm stalled over the mainland, but the subsequent tropical depression dumped unprecedented rainfall over the country. The Bay Islands were the first hit. The island of Guanaja lost all its trees and nearly all the houses. Those remaining were badly damaged, and the entire population was rendered homeless.

      The scale of the damage on the mainland emerged gradually over the next two weeks. Whole communities disappeared completely. Year-end figures gave 5,657 dead, although the total of those buried under a sea of mud may never be known. A half-million were left homeless. All the major rivers in the highlands burst their banks and unleashed a torrent on the villages below. Some 89 major bridges and countless minor ones were washed away. Even the capital, Tegucigalpa, was not spared when the Choluteca River rose 12 m (40 ft), swollen by the collapse of dams and flood barriers upstream. Severed communications and transport led to starvation. Aid workers battled against the threat of disease as Hondurans tried to cope with the flood waters and stinking mud containing rotting corpses.

      Agricultural damage was extensive. The fruit companies predicted that no bananas, Honduras's main export crop, would be sold abroad until 2000. Joblessness faced 17,000 banana workers. Foreign aid arrived quickly as further assistance was sought from international agencies in the form of grants and debt relief.

      In other developments, the new government of Pres. Carlos Roberto Flores Facussé took office on Jan. 27, 1998. The Liberal Party, in its second consecutive term, dominated the National Assembly with 67 of the 128 seats and most of all the town mayors except for Tegucigalpa.

      The rise in violent crime was a major concern in 1998, a trend that had intensified during the previous administration. The Committee for the Defense of Human Rights in Honduras (CODEH) reported an increase in extrajudicial (without legal authority) killings in 1994-98. There was also an increase in organized crime, particularly drug trafficking and kidnapping. The rise in kidnapping even touched the presidency when the president's niece, Tania Flores Facussé, was abducted on August 18. She was released after three days, and six people were later captured, including the head of security of her father's business and three retired army officers. Senior military officers were also alleged to be involved in drug trafficking. An inquiry was launched after the local military commander, Wilfredo Leva Cabrera, was implicated in the kidnapping and murder of seven men in Colón in a battle between drug cartels to control trafficking in the region. Leva escaped before an arrest warrant was issued, which led to the dismissal of the judge in charge of investigations for lack of due diligence.

      In September the National Assembly voted unanimously in favour of a draft constitutional amendment to abolish the post of commander in chief of the armed forces and, with it, the office's political and legal autonomy. His functions would be assumed by a civilian defense minister, answerable to the president.


▪ 1998

      Area: 112,492 sq km (43,433 sq mi)

      Population (1997 est.): 5,823,000

      Capital: Tegucigalpa

      Head of state and government: President Carlos Roberto Reina Idiaquez

      Two parties dominated the campaigning for the general elections on Nov. 30, 1997, the ruling Liberal Party (candidate Carlos Flores Facussé) and the National Party (candidate Nora Gunera de Melgar). Also contesting the elections were the National Innovation and Unity Party, the Christian Democrats, and the newly formed left-wing Democratic Unity. As well as concentrating on improving living standards, both leading candidates focused on public security in the light of rising crime. Flores was the winner in the election, gaining about 53% of the vote.

      In March the government, private business, and labour unions signed a Social Pact designed to resolve a crisis stemming largely from a sharp rise in living costs in 1996. During the following month, however, the government accepted new economic adjustment conditions required by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), several of which contravened accords in the Social Pact. In 1996, for the third consecutive year, Honduras failed to meet IMF targets on inflation, the elimination of subsidies, privatization, and reduction of the fiscal deficit.

      Following the murder of two Chortí Indian leaders in April, 2,000 indigenous people marched to Tegucigalpa to confront Pres. Carlos Roberto Reina. Subsequently, other ethnic minority leaders were killed; in all cases land disputes were the cause. Lack of progress in the handover of land promised to the Chortí led to a hunger strike by their leaders. This ended in August after the government pledged immediate action.

      Honduras was involved in border negotiations in 1997 with both El Salvador and Nicaragua. The former revolved around the demarcation of logging areas, while at the end of May, Nicaraguan and Honduran gunboats exchanged fire in the disputed waters of the Gulf of Fonseca. Efforts to improve Honduran-Nicaraguan relations were made in order to promote a commercial corridor from Corinto, Nic., to Puerto Cortés, Honduras, as an alternative to the Panama Canal.

      This article updates Honduras, history of (Honduras).

▪ 1997

      A republic of Central America, Honduras has coastlines on the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Area: 112,492 sq km (43,433 sq mi). Pop. (1996 est.): 5,666,000. Cap.: Tegucigalpa. Monetary unit: lempira, with (Oct. 11, 1996) a free rate of 12.07 lempiras to U.S. $1 (19.01 lempiras = £1 sterling). President in 1996, Carlos Roberto Reina.

      A 25% rise in Honduras's minimum wage at the beginning of 1996 was soon eroded by a 30% increase in the cost of basic goods. Strikes in support of higher wages spread throughout the public sector, together with demands that they not be financed by job cuts. The government offered a package worth 135 million lempiras, but the unions held out for their demands to be met in full. The government was hampered by its agreement with the International Monetary Fund involving stringent spending cuts.

      The government was unpopular with other sectors of the population as well. Indigenous groups demonstrated against the failure to fulfill aid commitments. The armed forces were dissatisfied with reforms reducing their power. The abolition of compulsory military service had drastically cut the size of the forces, and the police force and the profitable telephone company were being turned over to civilian control. Bomb attacks on the presidential residence in March and during a presidential address in June were suspected of being warnings by the military, despite emphatic denials by the chief of the armed forces, Gen. Mario Raúl Hung Pacheco. In July Hung Pacheco reportedly foiled an attempted rebellion against him by disgruntled officers.


      This article updates Honduras, history of (Honduras).

▪ 1996

      A republic of Central America, Honduras has coastlines on the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Area: 112,492 sq km (43,433 sq mi). Pop. (1995 est.): 5,512,000. Cap.: Tegucigalpa. Monetary unit: lempira, with (Oct. 6, 1995) a free rate of 9.47 lempiras to U.S. $1 (15.40 lempiras = £1 sterling). President in 1995, Carlos Roberto Reina.

      In January 1995 the civilian-run Criminal Investigations Unit began operations, replacing the secret police, the National Investigation Unit, which was disbanded in 1994. The new force, initially of 1,500 agents, was trained by the Israeli police and the FBI of the U.S. Though the military remained involved in police work, the Legislative Assembly began the constitutional reform process to change control of the Public Security Forces from military to civilian hands. The police and the armed forces discussed ways in which they could combat the rising crime wave, which was claiming about 50 lives a day, as well as stem the trafficking of arms and drugs through Honduran territory. The constitutional reform to abolish obligatory military service, approved by the previous Congress in 1994, was ratified by the new Congress in April by 125 votes to 3.

      Pres. Carlos Roberto Reina's election campaign promise of a "moral revolution" and an anticorruption drive was put into effect by the courts with several notable investigations. In January the sister of the foreign minister was arrested for selling official passports; in April the minister, Ernesto Paz Aguilar, a close friend of Reina, resigned from the Cabinet, and in August he and six other government officials were detained in prison on fraud charges related to the sale of official passports. The Supreme Court of Justice revoked the immunity granted to former president Rafael Leonardo Callejas so that he could answer charges relating to the falsification of documents and misappropriation of funds. President Reina himself was investigated over the inappropriate use of state funds to resolve a private labour dispute.


      This updates the article Honduras, history of (Honduras).

▪ 1995

      A republic of Central America, Honduras has coastlines on the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Area: 112,088 sq km (43,277 sq mi). Pop. (1994 est.): 5,302,000. Cap.: Tegucigalpa. Monetary unit: lempira, with (Oct. 7, 1994) a free rate of 8.91 lempiras to U.S. $1 (14.71 lempiras = £1 sterling). Presidents in 1994, Rafael Leonardo Callejas and, from January 27, Carlos Roberto Reina.

      Carlos Roberto Reina of the Liberal Party was sworn in as president of Honduras on Jan. 27, 1994, pledging to promote economic growth, eradicate corruption, and respect human rights. A report by the National Human Rights Commission on the disappearances in the 1980s was published just before Reina's inauguration; it directly implicated the armed forces and attributed responsibility to the U.S. and Argentina. In March an autonomous and apolitical Public Ministry headed by an attorney general was created. The reform had been recommended by an ad hoc commission in 1993 in response to human rights abuses by the security forces and inadequacies in the justice system. The police special intelligence unit was replaced by a civilian Criminal Investigations Unit. The abolition of forced military recruitment was approved by Congress in May, but before it could be ratified, the president bowed to military pressure and gave his authorization to a temporary military recruitment drive.

      In March President Reina outlined the difficult economic situation he had inherited and his plans for the future. The new administration aimed to increase tax collection and to cut spending by 10%; spending to fight poverty would account for 35% of the budget. The budget deficit was more than 11% of gross domestic product, and inflation for the first half of the year was over 20% as a result of the freeing of prices frozen by the previous government and the devaluation of the lempira. The government's economic program was unpopular with both business and labour; there were frequent labour disputes and demonstrations, some of which became violent, and isolated terrorist attacks.

      In May the president ordered a three-month moratorium on logging while a policy was being formulated to reorganize the administration of state forests and to clarify the role of the private sector. The area covered by forest declined from 36% in 1980 to 28% in 1990, and the deforestation was causing erosion. Drought affected Honduras throughout 1994, and there were daily electricity blackouts.


      This updates the article Honduras, history of (Honduras).

▪ 1994

      A republic of Central America, Honduras has coastlines on the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Area: 112,088 sq km (43,277 sq mi). Pop. (1993 est.): 5,148,000. Cap.: Tegucigalpa. Monetary unit: lempira, with (Oct. 4, 1993) a free rate of 6.91 lempiras to U.S. $1 (10.47 lempiras = £1 sterling). President in 1993, Rafael Leonardo Callejas.

      In the general elections held on Nov. 28, 1993, Carlos Roberto Reina of the Liberal Party (PL) defeated the candidate of the ruling National Party (PN), Oswaldo Ramos Soto. Reina, a former president of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, vowed to attack corruption in the government and to curb the influence of the armed forces.

      The Honduran armed forces came under pressure for reform in 1992-93 as a result of U.S. and domestic criticism of human rights abuses. The military was implicated in a variety of scandals, including murder, corruption, drug trafficking, and car theft. There were also allegations that the telephone lines of the president, public officials, businessmen, labour leaders, journalists, and foreign diplomats were routinely tapped by the military, not only for security reasons but also to protect their far-reaching business interests. In March 1993 the military agreed to put the National Department of Investigations (DNI) under civilian control by January 1994. The opposition called for the sale of Honduras' squadron of 12 F-5 supersonic fighters, which the U.S. sold to Honduras for providing territory for the Nicaraguan contra bases.

      In the first three months of 1993, over 90 children disappeared in Tegucigalpa. It was rumoured that a clandestine hospital on the Atlantic coast was trafficking in children's organs. In April, after the bodies of two children were found with obvious signs of organ removal, Pres. Rafael Leonardo Callejas appointed a commission to investigate. Health officials declared a national alert on June 16 after 15 new cases of cholera had been detected in two days. (SARAH CAMERON)

      This updates the article Honduras, history of (Honduras).

* * *

officially  Republic of Honduras,  Spanish  República de Honduras  
Honduras, flag of country of Central America situated between Guatemala and El Salvador to the west and Nicaragua to the south and east. The Caribbean Sea washes its northern coast, the Pacific Ocean its narrow coast to the south. Its area includes the offshore Caribbean department of the Bay Islands. The capital is Tegucigalpa (with Comayagüela), but—unlike most other Central American countries—another city, San Pedro Sula, is equally important industrially and commercially, although it has only half the population of the capital.

      The bulk of the population of Honduras lives a generally isolated existence in the mountainous interior, a fact that may help to explain the rather insular policy of the country in relation to Latin and Central American affairs. Honduras, like its neighbours in the region, is a developing nation whose citizens are presented with innumerable economic and social challenges, a situation that is complicated by rough topography and the occasional violence of tropical weather patterns, including the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Mitch in 1998.

The land

 More than three-fourths of the land area of Honduras is mountainous, lowlands being found only along the coasts and in the several river valleys that penetrate toward the interior. The interior takes the form of a dissected upland with numerous small peaks. The main surface features have a general east-west orientation. There is a narrow plain of alluvium bordering the Gulf of Fonseca (Fonseca, Gulf of) in the south. The southwestern mountains, the Volcanic Highlands, consist of alternating layers of rock composed of dark, volcanic detritus and lava flows, both of Tertiary age (from about 1.6 to 66.4 million years old). The northern mountains in other regions are more ancient, with granite and crystalline rocks predominating.

      Four geographic regions may be discerned:
● The eastern Caribbean lowlands (including the northern part of the Mosquito [Miskito] Coast, called La Mosquitia) and mountain slopes embrace about one-fifth of the total land area of Honduras. Hot and humid, this area is densely forested in the interior highlands, and lumbering is an important economic activity. Subsistence agriculture and fishing are the main support of the scattered population.
● The northern coastal and alluvial plains and coastal sierras make up about one-eighth of the land area and contain about one-fourth of the population. This is an economically important region, the clayey and sandy loam soils producing rich crops of bananas, rice, cassava (manioc, or yuca), oil palm, corn (maize), citrus fruits, and beans. Cattle, poultry, and pigs are raised. The nation's railroads are confined to this northern area, which has four of the five important ports of entry.
● The central highlands take up two-thirds of the national territory and contain the vast majority of the population. The mountains are rugged, rising in the west to 9,347 feet (2,849 metres) at Mount Las Minas, the highest point in the country. The numerous flat-floored valleys lie between 2,000 and 4,000 feet (600 to 1,200 metres) in elevation. The generally fertile soils, derived from lava and volcanic ash, produce coffee, tobacco, wheat, corn, sorghum, beans, fruits, and vegetables and support cattle, poultry, and pigs.
● The Pacific lowlands, centred on the Gulf of Fonseca, and the adjacent lower mountain slopes are only a small part of the land area and contain an equally small part of the population. The fertile soils, composed of alluvium or volcanic detritus, produce sesame seed, cotton, and some corn and sorghum. Cattle are raised on the lowland pastures, and coffee is grown on the nearby uplands.

      The climate is generally hot, with high humidity in the tropical coastal lowlands becoming modified by elevation toward the interior. Lowlands below 1,500 feet (460 metres) have mean annual temperatures between 79 and 82 °F (26 and 28 °C). The north coast is occasionally affected from October to April by cool northern winds of continental origin. Mountain basins and valleys, from 2,000 to 4,000 feet (600 to 1,200 metres), have mean annual temperatures of 66 and 73 °F (19 and 23 °C). At Tegucigalpa, located on hilly terrain at an elevation of 3,200 feet (975 metres), the rainy season starts in May and continues until mid-November, with temperatures sometimes reaching 90 °F (32 °C) in May and dropping to 50 °F (10 °C) in December, the coolest month. Around 7,000 feet (2,100 metres) mean annual temperatures are about 58 °F (14 °C). In the northern and eastern coastal and alluvial plains and on adjacent mountains, mean annual precipitation ranges from 70 to 110 inches (1,800 to 2,800 mm) or more, with a less rainy season from March to June; these areas occasionally have summer hurricanes that are accompanied by heavy rains. Pacific plains and mountain slopes get 60 to 80 inches (1,500 to 2,000 mm) of rain annually but from December to April receive little or no rain. Interior sheltered mountain basins and valleys receive 40 to 70 inches (1,000 to 1,800 mm) annually.

Plant and animal life
      In eastern Honduras the coastal and lagoon swamps have mangrove and palm forests, and west of these are low, rainy, sandy plains with pine (Pinus caribaea) savanna, extending inland for 40 miles (65 km) or more. West of the pine savanna, in low valleys and on lower mountains, which are rainy all year, and on the low, rainy northern mountains are broad belts of dense evergreen broad-leaved forests with many species of large trees, including mahogany, lignum vitae, Spanish cedar, balsa, rosewood, ceiba, sapodilla, and castilloa rubber. The high, rainy mountain slopes of highland Honduras support excellent oak-pine forests. Open, dry, deciduous woodlands and temperate grasslands are spread throughout the interior highland basins and valleys. The Pacific plains and adjacent mountain slopes have deciduous tropical forests and savannas. Mangroves occupy the low coastal swamps.

      Insects, birds, and reptiles are the most conspicuous animal forms. There are many species of butterflies, moths, beetles, bees, wasps, spiders, ants, flies, and mosquitoes, many of them beautifully coloured. Waterfowl in large numbers inhabit the coastal areas. Crocodiles, snakes, lizards (giant iguana and others), and turtles are found in the tropical forest areas. The fauna also includes deer, peccaries, tapir, pumas, jaguars, and ocelots. Fish and mollusks are abundant in lagoons and coastal waters. Deforestation of some interior regions since the Spanish conquest has led to serious soil erosion, and, since the mid-20th century, pesticides used by banana producers have caused environmental damage along coastal regions.

      To safeguard native flora and fauna, numerous national parks, protected forests, and biological reserves were established in the late 1980s and '90s, including Mount Bonito National Park (1987), which covers 434 square miles (1,125 square kilometres), and the protected forests Cuero y Salado (1987) and Isopo Point (1992). Extending more than 60 square miles (155 square km) near the Guatemalan border is Mount Azul de Copán National Park (1987), an area of rainforest that surrounds the famous Mayan ruins of Copán. La Tigra National Park was established in 1980 and covers 92 square miles (238 square km) of cloud forest near Tegucigalpa.

The people
       Honduras has been inhabited since well before the 1st century AD. The ruins at Copán in western Honduras indicate that the area was the centre of Mayan (Maya) civilization before the Maya migrated to the Yucatán Peninsula. Most of the American Indians (Central American and northern Andean Indian) are Lenca and are now found in the southwest, near the Guatemala border, close to the most important Indian centres of the pre-Columbian period. Small, isolated groups of non-Spanish-speaking Indians—such as the Jicaque, Miskito (Mosquito), and Paya—continue to live in the northeast, although their numbers are declining. Of the total population, about nine-tenths is mestizo (a mixture of Spanish and Indian). Blacks of West Indian origin and Garifuna (Black Caribs) make up a significant part of the population along the Caribbean coast, an area where English is widely spoken.

      The official language of Honduras is Spanish, and the predominant religion is Roman Catholicism, more than four-fifths of the population being adherents. The largest of the remaining groups are Protestant, with notable congregations in the east and on the Bay Islands. There has been rapid growth in Protestant churches, especially since the upheaval caused by Hurricane Mitch in 1998.

      A pronounced shift in population took place during the early part of the 20th century from the interior to the hot, humid northern coast, where employment opportunities were provided by the United Fruit Company. These northwestern lowlands and the western and southern highlands constitute the most densely populated parts of the country. The population grew extremely fast during the mid-20th century, posing a considerable problem in employment and housing. Although the rate of growth slowed somewhat by the 1990s, it remained well above the world average. The majority of the population is rural, living in small villages or isolated settlements, but nearly half of Hondurans are urban residents. During the 1980s and '90s there was an especially rapid increase in urban population in and around Tegucigalpa, with accompanying overcrowding of housing, suburban development, air and water pollution, and rising crime rates. In the rest of the country, the mountainous, forested terrain and poor roads added to the local isolation.

The economy
      Honduras is a poor country, and the majority of Hondurans work under extremely difficult conditions. The government has, however, adopted more active economic policies since the mid-20th century. In 1954 striking banana workers led the trade union movement to one of its most resounding triumphs, which resulted in the promulgation (in 1955) of a labour code that is considered one of the most complete instruments of its kind in Latin America. The code has generally resulted in a higher standard of living for the worker and better operating conditions for business; labour laws are not always strictly applied, however, and some workplaces are substandard.

      The country's natural resources include agricultural lands along the northern coast and interior river valleys, extensive pine forests, and small deposits of silver, lead, zinc, and low-grade iron ore. The economy is geographically divided between the highlands, where subsistence farming, stock raising, and mining have long dominated, and the lowlands, where plantation agriculture based largely on bananas is the chief occupation. In 1998, however, Hurricane Mitch devastated large portions of Honduran agriculture and transportation infrastructure, requiring major reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts.

Agriculture, forestry, and fishing
      Early in the 21st century agriculture contributed little more than one-tenth of the gross domestic product (GDP) but still employed the biggest slice (about two-fifths) of the labour force. Two U.S. corporations—Chiquita (formerly United Fruit Company (Chiquita Brands International, Inc.) and United Brands) and Dole (formerly Standard Fruit and Steamship Company and Castle & Cooke)—hold a disproportionate amount of the country's agricultural land and produce a substantial part of the national income by growing the majority of the country's banana crop. Important export crops other than bananas include coffee beans, tobacco, and sugarcane. Corn is the chief staple crop. Honduran farmers also plant genetically modified corn (illegal in the rest of Central America), which has helped combat food shortages and rising corn prices. Cattle raising is the main livestock activity, and beef has become an important export.

      About two-fifths of the country's land is covered by forests, making forest products a potentially large source of national income. The extensive pine forests were attacked by blight in the 1960s, and mahogany—the major timber export—began declining in importance. The practice of shifting agriculture, employing widespread burning of forests and the cutting of wood for fuel, has caused a depletion of forest resources. Present commercial practices of forest exploitation are inefficient. A substantial portion of timber harvested for commercial purposes does not reach the sawmill, and less than half of the timber that arrives at the mill is processed into lumber. To help alleviate the wasteful forestry practices, the government put all forest trees under state ownership in 1974, but forests continue to be depleted at a rapid rate.

      Fishing is a small but developing industry, carried on mainly off the Caribbean coast. Shrimp and lobster are the most important parts of the catch, the largest portion of which is shipped to the United States.

      Manufacturing, which accounted for about one-fifth of the GDP in the early 21st century, is dominated by small-scale firms that operate with intermediate levels of technology and possess limited processing capabilities. Dozens of foreign-owned maquiladoras (maquiladora) (duty-free manufacturing plants) were opened in the late 20th century, and by 1997 they employed as many as 75,000 workers, mostly women. The major products manufactured and processed are food products, beverages, textiles, clothing, chemicals, lumber, and paper products. The production of capital and heavy intermediate goods is minimal. Industrial plants are located largely in the urban areas of San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa.

      Mineral resources are limited but include silver, gold, lead, zinc, antimony, iron, mercury, and copper. From the 19th to the mid-20th century, the economy was largely dependent upon the production of silver and gold, particularly from El Mochito mine, which was the largest in Central America. Mining accounts for a tiny percent of the GDP, with zinc the leading mineral export.

      Except along the northern coastal plain, where railroads serve the banana plantations, the country's rugged terrain favours the development of roads instead of railroads, and roads in Honduras carry the vast majority of the freight tonnage and almost all the passenger traffic. The heart of the primary road network is the north-south highway that links the Pacific port of San Lorenzo and the Caribbean port of Puerto Cortez, stopping at Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula. The highway provides access to important agricultural areas in the Sula and Choluteca valleys and along the Caribbean coast. The Inter-American Highway (part of the Pan-American Highway) cuts across southern Honduras for about 100 miles. Highways also run southwest from San Pedro Sula to the El Salvador border and along the northern coast from San Pedro Sula to La Ceiba. Hurricane Mitch caused enormous damage to the Honduran road system.

      The Honduras National Railway, which is owned by the government and extends from Puerto Cortez (Puerto Cortés) to San Pedro Sula, hauls timber and agricultural products. The Tela Railway, once owned by the United Brands Company and acquired by the Honduras government in 1975, provides service for plantations in the eastern Sula Valley and the coastal plain. Another government-owned railroad runs east along the coastal plain to Balfate, with a branch extending into the Aguán Valley.

      All Honduran ports are operated by the National Port Authority. The major ports in the country are Puerto Cortez, Tela, La Ceiba, and Puerto Castilla. The Pacific coast provides deepwater anchorage at Amapala on El Tigre Island and at the mainland port of San Lorenzo, completed in 1978.

      Domestic air travel, although declining, supplements rail and highway travel, which includes intercity bus and truck service. Ramón Villeda Morales International Airport at San Pedro Sula is the largest airfield. The airport at Tegucigalpa has a substantially shorter runway and is minimally suitable for modern jet travel.

Administration and social conditions

      Since acquiring independence in 1821, Honduras has constitutionally been a democratic, representative, unitary state with power divided among the legislative, executive, and judicial branches. The country's constitution was rewritten 17 times between the years 1821 and 1982. However, power has often changed hands by violent, undemocratic means. Although the legislature is given the power to pass laws, practically all important legislation is drafted by the president and other members of the executive. The National Assembly in theory has great authority to check the administrative activities of the president, but only during the period 1925–31, when several cabinet ministers appointed by the president were forced to resign through censure, was such authority effective.

      The president, who is head of state and of the government, is elected directly by popular vote for an unrenewable term of four years. The single-house National Assembly is composed of 134 legislators elected to four-year terms. The major political parties are the Liberal Party of Honduras (Partido Liberal de Honduras) and the National Party (Partido Nacional). All citizens over 18 years of age are permitted to vote.

      For purposes of local administration, Honduras is divided into 18 departamentos. Governors are appointed by the president, one for each department, to carry out central government decisions. The departments are divided into municipios (municipalities), which are further partitioned into aldeas (villages, or hamlets). Rural areas are grouped into caseríos (settlements), which are subdivisions of aldeas. Localities may elect a mayor, a legal representative, and a council.

      The justices of the Supreme Court are appointed by the president. The Supreme Court exercises centralized control over the lower courts, including the appointment of justices, and has original and exclusive jurisdiction to declare acts of the legislature unconstitutional.

      The Honduran educational system follows the European model of centralized control through the Ministry of Public Education. According to law, education is free and, at the primary level, compulsory for all children. Efforts have been made to combat illiteracy, which affects more than one-fourth of the population over age 15 and is especially prevalent among older people. Higher education is centred at the National Autonomous University of Honduras in Tegucigalpa (founded 1847).

Welfare and health
      By the end of the 20th century, Honduras, like most other Latin American countries, had moved increasingly in the direction of the interventionist, or welfare, state. In 1955 the Honduran basic labour code came into effect, granting the right to work, a minimum wage, an eight-hour workday, the freedom to form labour unions, collective bargaining, conciliation, and the right to strike. Social security and social welfare benefits were not improved appreciably, however: many Honduran workers outside the public sector and not employed by business or industry are not covered. Health care also is generally inadequate for the poor urban and rural labourers. Death rates are high among the lower economic groups, who suffer from two severe health problems in particular, malnutrition and malaria.

Cultural life
      The art and architecture of the pre-Columbian and Spanish colonial periods are strongly evident in Honduran culture. Of special interest is the great Mayan (Maya) city of Copán, which represents the height of the Mayan Classic period. Discovered in the early 16th century, Copán was partly excavated and restored in 1839. Spanish architecture reflects Moorish, Gothic, and, especially, Baroque styles. Modern Honduran culture has not produced many strong representatives of its art, the country's widespread poverty being a major impediment. Most contemporary artists reflect their colonial heritage, and the pre-Columbian heritage is seen mainly in Indian crafts. Social themes may also be reflected in paintings and literary works, the latter generally represented by poetry and short fiction.

Daily life
      The family is central to Honduran daily life and society, and strong emphasis is placed on family loyalty. Not only do family ties form a vital part of social identity, but they provide assistance in business and in finding one's path through government bureaucracy and red tape. Particularly close, trusted friends are often brought into family circles by being designated compadres (“godparents”), an honour (and a mark of responsibility) that is often conferred at marriages and baptisms. In addition to religious marriages, civil ceremonies are common, as are free unions. Many couples eventually have a religious ceremony, but typically only after their funds allow for a grand wedding celebration.

      There are many comidas típicas (“typical foods”) associated with the various regions of the country, including sopa de hombre (“man's soup”) and other seafood dishes in the south, queso con chile (“cheese with chili peppers”) in the west, and cazabe (mashed cassava) among Garifuna in the north. Found throughout the country are such dishes as tamales and yuca con chicharrón (fried cassava and pork). Among the poor the dietary staple is corn, often eaten as tortillas. Beans, cassava, plantains, and rice are common, but meat and green vegetables are not. The gap between the wealthy (and even the middle-class) and the poor is pronounced. Impoverished families in rural areas typically live on tiny parcels of land, and urban poor often inhabit cramped, unsanitary rows of dirt-floored rooms called cuarteríos.

Cultural institutions
      Cultural institutions in Honduras include the National School of Music and the Republican History Museum (founded 1993), both in Tegucigalpa, and the Archaeological Museum of Comayagua. The Autonomous National University of Honduras (1847) in the capital enrolls more than 30,000 students. Some other institutions produce theatrical works in both Spanish and English.

      There is general freedom of the press in Honduras, and daily newspapers are published in the principal cities of the country. Those of Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula are the most noteworthy, and several have Internet editions. The progressive and rapid development of radio and television has provided the country with excellent facilities for speedy and effective communication. There are radio and television networks that cover the entire country.

Sports and recreation
      The programming on several radio stations features rock and popular music from the United States and Europe. Many television programs are imported and dubbed into Spanish as well, and motion pictures are typically Hollywood imports with Spanish subtitles. Family recreation often revolves around religious festivals honouring local saints. On February 3, Catholics throughout the nation celebrate the patron saint of Honduras, the Virgin of Suyapa, named for the village near which her venerated image was found.

      Football (soccer) is a passion for many Hondurans. There is scarcely a village that does not sponsor a team or club at some level of competition, and international matches often arouse great emotion. The national team has remained a strong contender; it advanced to the semifinals in the 1998 World Cup, and it took second place at the 1999 Pan American Games after defeating the United States, Uruguay, Cuba, Jamaica, and Canada in turn.

      Many of Honduras's better sports and recreational facilities cater to the tourist trade. Scuba diving, swimming, and sport fishing (especially for tarpon) are popular in the resort region around Cannon Island, on the northern coast.

J. Roberto Moncada R Ralph Lee Woodward, Jr.

      The following history of Honduras focuses on events since European settlement. (For regional treatment, see pre-Columbian civilizations: Mesoamerican civilization (pre-Columbian civilizations); Latin America, history of; and Central America.)

Early history
      When the Spanish arrived to colonize (colonialism, Western) Honduras, the land was occupied by a variety of indigenous peoples, the most advanced of whom were the Maya. Gold stimulated Spanish conquest of the area early in the 16th century, and the Honduran gold-mining town of Gracias became the capital of Spanish Central America (the Audiencia de los Confines) in 1544. By 1548, however, the Spaniards had exhausted the gold, and Santiago ( Antigua Guatemala) became the new capital of the Kingdom of Guatemala. Honduras, with its capital at Comayagua and agriculture the base of its economy, was a province of that kingdom ( audiencia) within the Viceroyalty of New Spain. In the 1570s, a silver strike in the highlands brought a rush of prospectors to Honduras, resulting in the rise of an important population centre at Tegucigalpa, which competed thereafter, especially in the 18th century, with Comayagua. However, agriculture, the enduring economic base of Central America, was slow to develop in Honduras. Development of Spanish society in the Honduras area was hindered by coastal attacks from the pirates and buccaneers endemic to the Caribbean Sea and eventually by a concerted British effort to control the coastal areas of Central America. For long periods the Spanish utilized a soft defense against the Caribbean threat, falling back to the highlands and to the Pacific coastal areas, which were generally closer to their network of communication and transportation. Thus, the British (British Empire) came to control the Caribbean's Mosquito (Mosquito Coast) coastal region. The Sambo- Miskito peoples along the coast were the indispensable allies of the British in this endeavour. In the 18th century, however, the Spanish Bourbon kings made a sustained effort to recover the Caribbean coastal areas, and their success in the Gulf of Honduras was manifested by the completion of a fort at Omoa on the gulf by 1779.

      Independence from Spain came in 1821 and from Mexico in 1823, when Honduras joined in the formation of the United Provinces of Central America. Friction between Liberal and Conservative factions soon undermined the federation, however. In general, the Liberals favoured republicanism, freer trade, less government regulation, removal of the Catholic clergy's political and economic powers, and imitation of foreign models of development. Conservatives defended the clergy, leaned toward monarchism, mistrusted foreign models, and were generally more traditional and pro-Spanish in their outlook. In 1830 a Honduran Liberal, Francisco Morazán (Morazán, Francisco), became president of this federation, and for a decade he promoted Liberal policies that curtailed the traditional power and privileges of the clergy and increased agricultural exports. Conservative and popular opposition to Liberal policies led to the collapse of the federation, and Honduras declared its absolute independence on November 5, 1838. The prochurch Conservatives in Honduras took control under Francisco Ferrera, who became the first constitutional president on January 1, 1841. During the mid-19th century, despite its declaration of sovereignty, Honduras supported efforts to restore the Central American union, while its real independence was severely limited by its more powerful neighbours. Conservative domination lasted until the 1870s, during which time the church regained its former position and the Honduran government signed a concordat (1861) with the Holy See in Rome.

      After 1871 the ascendancy of Justo Rufino Barrios (Barrios, Justo Rufino) in Guatemala influenced a return to liberalism in Honduras, where Marco Aurelio Soto, a Liberal, assumed the presidency (1876). In 1880 the Liberals promulgated a new constitution that sought to undo the work of the Conservatives, and they also moved the capital from Comayagua to Tegucigalpa. Five years later, Liberals in Honduras and elsewhere proved to be nationalists first and blocked an attempt by Guatemala to unify the isthmus by force. Liberals continued to dominate the country well into the 20th century, encouraging foreign investment and economic growth, although Honduras remained the poorest state on the isthmus.

The 20th century
      In the first decade of the 20th century, Nicaraguan strongman José Santos Zelaya put Miguel Dávila into the Honduran presidency. This led in 1911 and 1912 to something more serious than periodic revolutions. The U.S. president, William Howard Taft (Taft, William Howard), sent marines to protect American banana investments, which by this time had grown considerably, with three companies exploiting this Honduran product. All three made large capital outlays in the form of improved port facilities, railroads, workers' settlements, and similar developments.

      In 1918 Honduras declared war on Germany but took no active part in World War I. Thereafter, disenchanted Liberals and Conservatives formed the National Party to challenge continued Liberal rule. In 1932, following political unrest and economic decline caused by the Great Depression, National Party leader General Tiburcio Carías Andino was elected president and remained in office until 1949. Carías's policies, however, differed little from Liberal political or economic policy.

      Honduras declared war on Japan, Germany, and Italy in December 1941. The wartime curtailment of shipping brought much economic distress; export surpluses of bananas, coconuts, and copra piled up, leading to widespread unemployment and consequent unrest. But the government was able to maintain itself, and it promulgated some beneficial reforms. Carías survived a revolution in 1947, but he soon turned the government over to his minister of defense, Juan Manuel Gálvez (ruled 1949–54).

      Julio Lozano Díaz (1954–56) continued National Party rule, but political turmoil and military revolt in 1957 led to the congressional election of Ramón Villeda Morales (1957–63), a Liberal who brought some modernization to the transportation system and to labour legislation. In 1963 Colonel Osvaldo López Arellano overthrew Villeda and declared himself head of state, returning the National Party to power. In the summer of 1969 the Soccer War with El Salvador broke out, triggered indeed by a soccer (football) game but caused by severe economic and demographic problems. Though brief, the war dampened hopes for economic and political integration in Central America.

      Honduras was ruled by military governments from 1963 until the election of Ramón Ernesto Cruz (1971–72). Cruz's election resulted from the Soccer War, which Honduras had lost militarily. But López, chief of the armed forces, retained real power, and in December 1972 he removed Cruz from office. Pressured toward modernizing reforms by younger military officers, López astonished many by announcing, in January 1974, a reform program that included land redistribution. His program had little success, however.

      López was discredited and forced to resign in 1975 because of an international bribery scandal; he was replaced by Colonel Juan Alberto Melgar Castro (1975–78). Honduras prospered modestly under Melgar, largely because of high earnings from the elevated world coffee market during those years. His administration was weakened, however, by a series of scandals.

      General Policarpo Paz García, who attained power through a bloodless military coup in late 1978, pledged to continue Melgar's policies, but he soon faced harder times. Central America entered a cycle of violence with the revolution in Nicaragua that overthrew Anastasio Somoza Debayle (Somoza family) in July 1979 and the revolution in El Salvador that was under way in that same year. Honduras appeared to be an island of stability as its neighbours experienced guerrilla warfare. In November 1981 the country elected a civilian government after 17 years of almost continuous military rule.

      The new Honduran president, Roberto Suazo Córdova of the Liberal Party, was a noted anticommunist who favoured strong relations with the United States. Hopes ran high for internal improvements, but these were dashed as Honduras became embroiled in the growing regional conflicts. Protests grew over the presence of Nicaraguan Contras (guerrilla fighters), who were using U.S.-sanctioned Honduran border areas as bases for attacks against Nicaragua's Sandinista government. There was also dissension over U.S.-run camps for training Salvadorans in counterinsurgency to combat the growing civil war in their country. (Honduras banned these camps in 1984.) The U.S. presence supported the further militarization of Honduras, and Honduran army chieftain Gustavo Álvarez Martínez appeared to be the real power there until 1984, when younger officers loyal to Suazo ousted the chieftain amid anti-American demonstrations in Tegucigalpa. Suazo's government continued, however, to cooperate with the anti-Sandinista activities of the United States, and he received substantial economic aid in return, including U.S. construction of airports and other military installations. In the late 1980s Honduras joined the other Central American governments in a cooperative movement for regional peace. This brought increased pressure to restrict Contra activity and to reduce the U.S. presence in Honduras.

      The U.S. government had hoped that its relations with Honduras would help establish the country as a model Central American democracy, but that image was tarnished in 1986 when another Liberal, José Azcona Hoyo, succeeded Suazo despite having received far fewer votes than the National Party candidate, Rafael Leonardo Callejas. In 1989, however, Callejas won election and took office in 1990, the first time in 57 years that an opposition government had taken office peacefully.

      Callejas's administration faced labour disputes, rising crime and violence, and charges of corruption. A major conflict between independent banana producers and Chiquita reduced banana exports in 1990, and by 1992 the annual per capita income in Honduras was only two-fifths of what it had been prior to the conflict. Severe economic and financial decline allowed the Liberals to sweep back to power in 1994 with Carlos Roberto Reina, whose conciliatory approach did not solve all the nation's problems but nevertheless gained him wider support than Callejas had enjoyed, and the Liberals were able to win again in November 1997. The new president, Carlos Flores Facussé, an engineer with close ties to the United States, represented the more conservative wing of the Liberal Party and promised to continue the probusiness policies of his predecessors. In October 1998, however, Hurricane Mitch (Mitch, Hurricane), one of the worst storms to strike the Western Hemisphere in recorded history, dumped torrential rains on the country, washing away crops, roads, and population centres throughout Honduras. The storm killed several thousand Hondurans, displaced in excess of a million persons, ruined the country's economy and infrastructure, and caused widespread misery and unemployment. A massive international relief effort supported the reconstruction efforts, which occupied Honduras for the next several years.

Wayne M. Clegern Ralph Lee Woodward, Jr.

The 21st century
      Ricardo Maduro Joest of the National Party won the 2001 presidential elections. During his time in office, Honduras received debt relief and ratified the implementation of the Central America–Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA–DR) with the United States. José Manuel Zelaya Rosales of the Liberal Party took over the presidency in 2006. Zelaya focused on fighting crime and the ongoing drug trade in the country. His administration extended the protection that allowed hundreds of thousands of Hondurans to continue working legally in the United States. Remittances from workers there accounted for about one-fourth of the Honduran gross domestic product. A longtime boundary dispute with Nicaragua was settled in 2007 by the United Nations, and it resulted in Honduras gaining sovereignty over four Caribbean islands.


Additional Reading

Tim L. Merrill (ed.), Honduras: A Country Study, 3rd ed. (1995), covers the geography, social and administrative structure, and history of the country. Kent Norsworthy and Tom Barry, Inside Honduras, 2nd ed. (1994), also provides substantial detail on the politics, military, economy, and society. Alison Acker, Honduras: The Making of a Banana Republic (1988); and Ralph Lee Woodward, Jr., Central America: A Nation Divided, 3rd ed. (1999), place Honduras in the larger context of Central American history.

Works on early Honduran history include Robert S. Chamberlain, The Conquest and Colonization of Honduras, 1502–1550 (1953, reprinted 1966); and Linda Newson, The Cost of Conquest: Indian Decline in Honduras Under Spanish Rule (1986). Darío A. Euraque, Reinterpreting the Banana Republic: Region and State in Honduras, 1870–1972 (1996), is excellent for the century that it covers. Political aspects of resources are discussed in Kenneth V. Finney, In Quest of El Dorado: Precious Metal Mining and the Modernization of Honduras, 1880–1900 (1987); and for 20th-century developments see Nancy Peckenham and Annie Street (eds.), Honduras: Portrait of a Captive Nation (1985); and James A. Morris, Honduras: Caudillo Politics and Military Rulers (1984). William H. Durham, Scarcity and Survival in Central America (1979, reissued 1992), pursues the underlying causes of the 1969 Soccer War between El Salvador and Honduras and exposes many of the socioeconomic problems of Central America and their long-term historical consequences. Ralph Lee Woodward, Jr.

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Universalium. 2010.

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