Honduras

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Republic of Honduras
República de Honduras
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: 
  • "Libre, Soberana e Independiente" (Spanish)
  • "Free, Sovereign and Independent"
Anthem: Himno Nacional de Honduras
National Anthem of Honduras
Capital
and largest city
Tegucigalpa
14°6′N 87°13′W / 14.100°N 87.217°W / 14.100; -87.217
Official languages Spanish
Recognised regional languages
Ethnic groups ([1])
Demonym
  • Honduran
  • Catracho
Government Presidential republic
 -  President Juan Orlando Hernández
 -  President of National Congress Mauricio Oliva
Legislature National Congress
Independence
 -  Declaredb from Spain 15 September 1821 
 -  Declared from the
First Mexican Empire
1 July 1823 
 -  Declared, as Honduras, from the Federal Republic of Central America 5 November 1838 
Area
 -  Total 112,492 km2 (102nd)
43,278 sq mi
Population
 -  2010 estimate 8,249,574 (94th)
 -  2007 census 7,529,403
 -  Density 64/km2 (128th)
166/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2011 estimate
 -  Total $35.697 billion[2]
 -  Per capita $4,345[2]
GDP (nominal) 2011 estimate
 -  Total $17.381 billion[2]
 -  Per capita $2,115[2]
Gini (1992–2007) 55.3[3]
high
HDI (2013) Steady 0.617[4]
medium · 129th
Currency Lempira (HNL)
Time zone CST (UTC−6)
Drives on the right
Calling code +504
ISO 3166 code HN
Internet TLD .hn
a. Mixture of European and American Indian.
b. As part of the Federal Republic of Central America.
Population estimates 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, as of July 2007.

Honduras (Listeni/hɒnˈdʊərəs/), officially the Republic of Honduras (Spanish: República de Honduras [reˈpuβlika ðe onˈduɾas]), is a republic in Central America. It was at times referred to as Spanish Honduras to differentiate it from British Honduras, which became the modern-day state of Belize.[5] The country is bordered to the west by Guatemala, to the southwest by El Salvador, to the southeast by Nicaragua, to the south by the Pacific Ocean at the Gulf of Fonseca, and to the north by the Gulf of Honduras, a large inlet of the Caribbean Sea.

Honduras was home to several important Mesoamerican cultures, most notably the Maya, prior to being conquered by Spain in the sixteenth century. The Spanish introduced Roman Catholicism and the now predominant Spanish language, along with numerous customs that have blended with the indigenous culture. The country became independent in 1821 and has since been a republic, although it has consistently endured much social strife and political instability.

Honduras spans an area of about 112,492 km² and has a population exceeding eight million. Its northern portions are part of the Western Caribbean Zone. Honduras is best known for the production of minerals, coffee, tropical fruit, and sugar cane, as well as for its growing textiles industry, which serves the international market.

Etymology

Honduras literally means "depths" in Spanish. The name could either refer to the bay of Trujillo as an anchorage, fondura in the Leonese dialect of Spanish, or to Columbus's alleged quote that "Gracias a Dios que hemos salido de esas Honduras" ("Thank God we have departed from those depths").[6][7][8] It was not until the end of the 16th century that Honduras was used for the whole province and prior to 1580, Honduras only referred to the eastern part of the province, and Higueras referred to the western part.[8] Another early name is Guaymuras, revived as the name for the political dialogue in 2009 that took place in Honduras as opposed to Costa Rica. [9]

History

Main article: History of Honduras
Mayan stelae, an emblematic symbol of the Honduran Mayan civilization at Copan.

Pre-colonial period

In pre-Columbian times, modern Honduras was part of the Mesoamerican cultural area. In the west, the Maya civilization flourished for hundreds of years. The dominant state within Honduras's borders was that based in Copán. Copán fell with the other Lowland centres during the conflagrations of the Terminal Classic, the early 9th century. The Maya of this civilization survive in western Honduras as the Ch'orti', isolated from their Choltian linguistic peers to the west.

Remains of other Pre-Columbian cultures are found throughout the country. Archaeologists have studied sites such as Naco and La Sierra in the Naco Valley, Los Naranjos on Lake Yojoa, Yarumela in the Comayagua Valley, La Ceiba and Salitron Viejo (both now under the Cajon Dam reservoir), Selin Farm and Cuyamel in the Aguan valley, Cerro Palenque, Travesia, Curruste, Ticamaya, Despoloncal in the lower Ulua river valley, and many others.

Conquest period

On his fourth and the final voyage to the New World in 1502, Christopher Columbus became the first European to visit the Bay Islands on the coast of Honduras.[10] Columbus landed near the modern town of Trujillo, in the vicinity of the Guaimoreto Lagoon.

In 1524 the Spanish arrived on Honduras led by Hernán Cortés, bringing forces down from Mexico. Much of the conquest was done in the following two decades, first by groups loyal to Cristóbal de Olid, and then by those loyal of Francisco Montejo but most particularly by those following Alvarado. In addition to Spanish resources, the conquerors relied heavily armed forces from Mexico—Tlaxcalans and Mexica armies of thousands who lived on in the region as garrisons. Resistance to conquest was led in particularly by Lempira, and many regions in the north never fell to the Spanish, notably the Miskito Kingdom. After the Spanish conquest, Honduras became part of Spain's vast empire in the New World within the Kingdom of Guatemala. Trujillo and Gracias were the first city-capitals. The Spanish ruled the region for approximately three centuries.

Colonial period

Honduras was organized as a province of the "Kingdom of Guatemala" and the capital was fixed, first at Trujillo on the Atlantic coast, and later at Comayagua, and finally at Tegucigalpa in the central part of the country.

Silver mining was a key factor in the Spanish conquest and settlement of Honduras.[11] Initially the mines were worked by local people through the encomienda system, but as disease and resistance made this less available, slaves from other parts of Central America were brought in, and following the end of the local slave trading period at the end of the sixteenth century, African slaves, mostly from Angola were obtained.[12] After about 1650, very few slaves or other outside workers arrived in Honduras.

Although the Spanish conquered the southern or Pacific portion of Honduras fairly quickly they were less successful in the northern or Atlantic side. They managed to found a few towns along the coast, at Puerto Caballos and Trujillo in particular, but failed to conquer the eastern portion of the region and many pockets of independent indigenous people as well. The Miskito Kingdom, located in the northeast was particularly effective in resisting conquest. The Miskitos, in turn found support from northern European privateers, pirates and especially the British (formerly English) colony of Jamaica, which placed much of it under their protection after 1740.

Fortaleza de San Fernando de Omoa was built by the Spanish to protect the coast of Honduras from English pirates.

Independence and the nineteenth century

Honduras became independent from Spain in 1821 and was for a time part of the First Mexican Empire until 1823 when it became part of the United Provinces of Central America federation. After 1838 it was an independent republic and held regular elections.

Comayagua was the capital of Honduras until 1880, when it was transferred to Tegucigalpa.

In the decades of 1840 and 1850 Honduras participated in several failed attempts to restore Central American unity, such as the Confederation of Central America (1842–1845), the covenant of Guatemala (1842), the Diet of Sonsonate (1846), the Diet of Nacaome (1847) and National Representation in Central America (1849–1852).

Although Honduras eventually adopted the name Republic of Honduras, the unionist ideal never waned, and Honduras was one of the Central American countries that pushed hardest for the policy of regional unity.

Since independence, nearly 300 small internal rebellions and civil wars have occurred in the country, including some changes of government.

Neoliberal policies favoring international trade and investment began in the 1870s, and soon foreign interests became involved first in shipping, especially tropical fruit (most notably bananas) from the north coast, and then in railway building. In 1888, a projected railroad line from the Caribbean coast to the capital, Tegucigalpa, ran out of money when it reached San Pedro Sula, resulting in its growth into the nation's main industrial center and second largest city.

International influence in the 20th century

In the late nineteenth century United States-based infrastructure and fruit growing companies were granted substantial land and exemptions to develop the northern regions. As a result, thousands of workers came to the north coast to work in the banana plantations and the other industries that grew up around the export industry. The banana exporting companies, dominated by Cuyamel Fruit Company (until 1930), United Fruit Company, and Standard Fruit Company, built an enclave economy in northern Honduras, controlling infrastructure and creating self-sufficient, tax exempt sectors that contributed relatively little to economic growth. Honduras saw insertion of American troops in 1903, 1907, 1911, 1912, 1919, 1924 and 1925[13] and in 1904 writer O. Henry coined the term "Banana republic" to describe Honduras.

In addition to drawing many Central American workers to the north, the fruit companies also encouraged immigration of workers from the English-speaking Caribbean, notably Jamaica and Belize, who introduced an African descended, English speaking and largely Protestant population into the country, though many left after changes in the immigration law in 1939.[14]

Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Honduras joined the Allied Nations on 8 December 1941. Along with twenty-five other governments, Honduras signed the Declaration by United Nations on 1 January 1942.

Constitutional crises in the 1940s led to reforms in the 1950s, and as a result of one such reform, workers were given permission to organize, which led to a general strike in 1954 that paralyzed the northern part of the country for more than two months, but which led to more general reforms.

In 1969, Honduras and El Salvador fought what would become known as the Football War.[15] There had been border tensions between the two countries after Oswaldo López Arellano, a former president of Honduras, blamed the deteriorating economy on the large number of immigrants from El Salvador. From that point on, the relationship between the two countries grew acrimonious and reached a low when El Salvador met Honduras for a three-round football elimination match as a preliminary to the World Cup. Tensions escalated, and on 14 July 1969, the Salvadoran army launched an attack on the Honduras army. The Organization of American States negotiated a cease-fire, which took effect on 20 July and brought about a withdrawal of Salvadoran troops in early August.[15] Contributing factors to the conflict were a boundary dispute and the presence of thousands of Salvadorans living in Honduras illegally. After the week-long football war, as many as 130,000 Salvadoran immigrants were expelled.[16] El Salvador had agreed on a truce to settle the boundary issue, but Honduras later paid war damage costs for expelled refugees.[15]

Hurricane Fifi caused severe damage while skimming the northern coast of Honduras on 18 and 19 September 1974. Melgar Castro (1975–78) and Paz Garcia (1978–82) largely built the current physical infrastructure and telecommunications system of Honduras.[17]

In 1979, the country returned to civilian rule. A constituent assembly was popularly elected in April 1980 and general elections were held in November 1981. A new constitution was approved in 1982 and the PLH government of Roberto Suazo assumed power. Roberto Suazo won the elections with a promise to carry out an ambitious program of economic and social development in Honduras in order to tackle the country's recession. President Roberto Suazo Cordoba launched ambitious social and economic development projects, sponsored by American development aid. Honduras became host to the largest Peace Corps mission in the world, and nongovernmental and international voluntary agencies proliferated.[17]

During the early 1980s, the United States established a continuing military presence in Honduras with the purpose of supporting U.S. Government support to El Salvador, the Contra guerillas fighting the Nicaraguan government, and also developed an air strip and a modern port in Honduras. Though spared the bloody civil wars wracking its neighbors, the Honduran army quietly waged a campaign against Marxist-Leninist militias such as Cinchoneros Popular Liberation Movement, notorious for kidnappings and bombings,[18] and many non-militants. The operation included a CIA-backed campaign of extrajudicial killings by government-backed units, most notably Battalion 316.[19]

Part of the massive damage caused by Hurricane Mitch in Tegucigalpa

In 1998, Hurricane Mitch caused such massive and widespread destruction that former Honduran President Carlos Roberto Flores claimed that fifty years of progress in the country had been reversed. Mitch destroyed about 70% of the crops and an estimated 70–80% of the transportation infrastructure, including nearly all bridges and secondary roads. Across the country, 33,000 houses were destroyed, an additional 50,000 damaged, some 5,000 people killed, 12,000 more injured – for a total loss estimated at $3 billion USD.[20]

21st century

The 2008 Honduran floods were severe and around half the country's roads were damaged or destroyed as a result.[21]

In 2009, a constitutional crisis[22][23] culminated in a transfer of power from the president to the head of Congress.[24]

Countries all over the world, the OAS, and the UN formally and unanimously condemned the action as a coup d'état[22] and refused to recognize the de facto[25] government, though a document submitted to the United States Congress declared the coup to be legal according to the opinion of the lawyers consulted by the Library of Congress.[26] In any event the Honduran Supreme Court also ruled the proceedings to be legal. The government that followed the de facto government, set up a "truth and reconciliation commission", Comisión de la Verdad y Reconciliación, which after more than a year of research and debate[27] concluded the ousting to be a coup d'état "to the executive power", illegal in their opinion.[28][29][30][31]

Geography

Main article: Geography of Honduras
Honduras is surrounded by the Caribbean Sea (top), Nicaragua, a gulf on the Pacific Ocean, El Salvador (lower left) and Guatemala (left).

Honduras borders the Caribbean Sea on the north coast and the Pacific Ocean on the south through the Gulf of Fonseca. It mostly lies between latitudes 13° and 17°N (a small area lies south of 13°, and the Swan Islands are north of 17°), and longitudes 83° and 90°W.

The climate varies from tropical in the lowlands to temperate in the mountains. The central and southern regions are relatively hotter and less humid than the northern coast.

The Honduran territory consists mainly of mountains, but there are narrow plains along the coasts, a large undeveloped lowland jungle La Mosquitia region in the northeast, and the heavily populated lowland Sula valley in the northwest. In La Mosquitia, lies the UNESCO world-heritage site Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve, with the Coco River which divides the country from Nicaragua.

The Islas de la Bahía and the Swan Islands (all off the north coast) are part of Honduras. Misteriosa Bank and Rosario Bank, 130 to 150 km (80–93 miles) north of the Swan Islands, fall within the EEZ of Honduras.

Honduran rainforest

Natural resources include timber, gold, silver, copper, lead, zinc, iron ore, antimony, coal, fish, shrimp, and hydropower.

Ecology

The region is considered a biodiversity hotspot because of the numerous plant and animal species that can be found there. Like other countries in the region, Honduras contains vast biological resources. The country hosts more than 6,000 species of vascular plants, of which 630 (described so far) are orchids; around 250 reptiles and amphibians, more than 700 bird species, and 110 mammal species, half of them being bats.[32]

In the northeastern region of La Mosquitia lies the Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve, a lowland rainforest which is home to a great diversity of life. The reserve was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites List in 1982.

Honduras has rain forests, cloud forests (which can rise up to nearly three thousand meters above sea level), mangroves, savannas and mountain ranges with pine and oak trees, and the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System. In the Bay Islands there are bottlenose dolphins, manta rays, parrot fish, schools of blue tang and whale shark.

Government and politics

Main article: Politics of Honduras

Honduras has five registered political parties: National Party (Partido Nacional de Honduras: PNH); Liberal Party (Partido Liberal de Honduras: PLH); Social Democrats (Partido Innovación y Unidad-Social Demócrata: PINU-SD), Social Christians (Partido Demócrata-Cristiano de Honduras: DCH); and Democratic Unification (Partido Unificación Democrática: UD). PNH and PLH have ruled the country for decades. In the last years, Honduras has had six Liberal presidents: Roberto Suazo Córdova, José Azcona del Hoyo, Carlos Roberto Reina, Carlos Roberto Flores, Manuel Zelaya and Roberto Micheletti, and three Nationalists: Rafael Leonardo Callejas Romero, Ricardo Maduro and Porfirio Lobo Sosa. The elections have been full of controversies, including questions about whether Azcona was born in Spain, and whether Maduro should have been able to stand, given he was born in Panama.

Honduras has had many leaders from several parties since gaining its independence from Spain and from Mexico; nineteen have served as president during the period when Honduras was a part of the Federal Republic of Central America. Sixty-seven men have served as president of the Republic of Honduras. The current Honduras president is President Porfirio Lobo. In addition there have been several joint governments.

In 1963, a military coup was mounted against the democratically elected president Ramón Villeda Morales. This event started a string of Military Governments which held power almost uninterrupted until 1981 when Suazo Córdova (LPH) was elected president and Honduras changed from a military authoritarian regime.

Government ministries are often incapable of carrying out their mandate due to budgetary constraints.[citation needed] In an interview with Rodolfo Pastor Fasquelle, Minister of Sports & Culture and one of three 'super ministers' responsible for coordinating the ministries related to public services (security and economic being the other two), published in Honduras This Week on 31 July 2006, it was related that 94% of the department budget was spent on bureaucracy and only 6% went to support activities and organizations covered by the mandate. Wages within that ministry were identified as the largest budget consumer.[citation needed]

President Maduro's administration "de-nationalized" the telecommunications sector in a move to promote the rapid diffusion of these services to the Honduran population. As of November 2005, there were around 10 private-sector telecommunications companies in the Honduran market, including two mobile phone companies. As of mid-2007, the issue of tele-communications continues to be very damaging to the current government.[33] The country's main newspapers are La Prensa, El Heraldo, La Tribuna and Diario Tiempo. The official newspaper is La Gaceta.

A Presidential and General Election was held on 27 November 2005. Manuel Zelaya of the Liberal Party of Honduras (Partido Liberal de Honduras: PLH) won, with Porfirio Pepe Lobo of the National Party of Honduras (Partido Nacional de Honduras: PNH) coming in second. The PNH challenged the election results, and Lobo Sosa did not concede until 7 December. Towards the end of December, the government finally released the total ballot count, giving Zelaya the official victory. Zelaya was inaugurated as Honduras' new president on 27 January 2006.[citation needed]

Zelaya precipitated a national crisis by trying to hold a non-binding national referendum to ask the Honduran people: "Do you agree that, during the general elections of November 2009 there should be a fourth ballot to decide whether to hold a Constituent National Assembly that will approve a new political constitution?"[34] This possible Assembly then might not or more likely might have proposed constitutional changes to term-limits – as the military and the Supreme Court deemed possible – and other more likely, unrelated and legal constitutional changes.[35]

2009 Honduran constitutional crisis

Demonstrators supporting Micheletti
Manuel Zelaya in 2009

The 2009 Honduran constitutional crisis[36] resulted in an event the international community almost universally refers to as a coup d'état. The coup lasted from 28 June 2009 to 27 January 2010. President Manuel Zelaya attempted to hold a "non-binding referendum" on 28 June asking voters if the upcoming November elections should include an additional ballot box. The ballot box would ask if the Honduran people wished to form a Constitutional Assembly in the term of the newly elected president.[37] The Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that found a prior referendum based on the same issue unconstitutional and prohibited it.[38][39]

Referendum

Zelaya ignored the Supreme Court and decided to proceed on the referendum, basing his decision on the Law of Citizen Participation, passed in 2006. Zelaya dismissed the head of the military command, General Romeo Vásquez Velásquez, for disobeying an order to hold the poll, but the Supreme Court ordered his reinstatement. The Supreme Court then ordered the military (who as a non-civilian force had no jurisdiction over the matter) to detain Zelaya. The vote on the referendum was scheduled for 28 June 2009. In the early morning on that day, the army[40] arrested Zelaya at his home.

Zelaya was held in a U.S. airbase outside Tegucigalpa[41] before being forcibly sent to San José, Costa Rica.[42] Zelaya attempted reentry into the country on several occasions. According to the constitution, it is illegal to expatriate any Honduran citizen.[43] Roberto Micheletti, the former President of the Honduran Congress and a member of the same party as Zelaya, was sworn in as President by the National Congress on the afternoon of Sunday 28 June[44] for a term that ended on 27 January 2010.[45]

No country recognised the de facto government as legitimate; all members of the UN condemned the removal of Zelaya as a coup d'état. Some Republican Party members of the U.S. Congress voiced support at the time for the new government.[46][47] On 21 September 2009, Zelaya returned to Honduras and entered the Brazilian embassy. From its roof, he attempted to incite his supporters in a rebellion. The government disrupted utility services to the embassy and imposed a curfew in an attempt to maintain order in the area when Zelaya's supporters protested around the embassy.

The following day, in Decree PCM-M-016-2009, the government suspended five Constitutional rights: personal liberty (Article 69), freedom of expression (Article 72), freedom of movement (Article 81), habeas corpus (Article 84) and freedom of association and assembly.[48][49] It closed a leftist radio and a television station.[50] The decree suspending human rights was officially revoked on 19 October 2009 in La Gaceta.[51]

2009 election

The presidential election on 29 November 2009 was held under a tense state of political turmoil and ongoing coup. Porfirio Lobo Sosa of the National Party of Honduras defeated the candidate of the Liberal Party of Honduras, civil engineer Elvin Ernesto Santos Ordoñez. Sosa was sworn into office as president in 2010, and declared his wish to bring order to the country and reapply for membership in the Organization of American States.

Crime and law enforcement

Main article: Crime in Honduras

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Honduras has the highest rate of intentional homicide in the world, with 6,239 intentional homicides, or 82.1 per 100,000 of population in 2010. This is significantly higher than the rate in El Salvador, which at 66.0 per 100,000 in 2010, has the second highest rate of intentional homicide in the world.[52]

Departments and municipalities

Departmental division of Honduras

Honduras is divided into 18 departments. The capital city is Tegucigalpa in the Central District within the department of Francisco Morazán.

  1. Atlántida
  2. Choluteca
  3. Colón
  4. Comayagua
  5. Copán
  6. Cortés
  7. El Paraíso
  8. Francisco Morazán
  9. Gracias a Dios
  10. Intibucá
  11. Islas de la Bahía
  12. La Paz
  13. Lempira
  14. Ocotepeque
  15. Olancho
  16. Santa Bárbara
  17. Valle
  18. Yoro

Economy

Downtown San Pedro Sula

The economy has continued to grow slowly, but the distribution of wealth remains very polarized with average wages remaining low. Economic growth in the last few years has averaged 7% a year, one of the highest rates in Latin America, but 50% of the population, approximately 3.7 million people, still remains below the poverty line.[53] It is estimated that there are more than 1.2 million people who are unemployed, the rate of unemployment standing at 27.9%. According to the Human Development Index, Honduras is the sixth poorest/least developed country in Latin America, after Haiti, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Guyana, and Bolivia.

Sky Residence Club, one of the tallest building in Tegucigalpa, standing at 318 feet (97 meters) in the Lomas del Mayab neighborhood.

Honduras was declared one of the heavily indebted poor countries by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, and was made eligible for debt relief in 2005.

The government operates both the electricity (ENEE) and land-line telephone services (HONDUTEL), as ENEE receives heavy subsidies for its chronic financial problems. HONDUTEL, however, is no longer a monopoly, as the telecommunication sector was opened to private sector on 25 December 2005, as was required under the CAFTA. The price of petroleum is controlled, and the Congress often ratifies temporary price regulations for basic commodities.

Gold, silver, lead and zinc are produced at mines owned by foreign companies.[54]

After years of decline against the U.S. dollar, lempira recently stabilized at around 19 lempiras per dollar. In June 2008, the exchange rate between U.S. dollar and lempira was approximately 1 to 18.85.

In 2005, Honduras signed the CAFTA, the free trade agreement with the United States. In December 2005, Puerto Cortes, the main seaport in Honduras, was included in the U.S. Container Security Initiative.[55]

On 7 December 2006, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy announced the first phase of the Secure Freight Initiative, an unprecedented effort to build upon existing port security measures by enhancing the U.S. government’s authority to scan containers from overseas for nuclear and radiological materials to better assess the risk of inbound containers. The initial phase of Secure Freight involves the deployment of nuclear detection and other devices to six foreign ports: Port Qasim in Pakistan; Puerto Cortes in Honduras; Southampton in the United Kingdom; Port Salalah in Oman; Port of Singapore; and the Gamman Terminal at Port Busan in Korea. Since early 2007, containers from these ports have been scanned for radiation and other risk factors before they are allowed to depart for the United States.[56]

To enhance the economy, on 4 September 2012 Honduras government has signed a memorandum of understanding with a group of international investors to build a zone (city) with their own laws, tax system, judiciary and police, but the opponents tried to lodge a suit at the supreme court about it ('state within a state').[57]

Energy

About half of the electricity sector in Honduras is privately owned. The remaining generation capacity is run by ENEE (Empresa Nacional de Energía Eléctrica). Key challenges in the sector are:

  • How to finance investments in generation and transmission in the absence of either a financially healthy utility or of concessionary funds by external donors for these types of investments;
  • How to re-balance tariffs, cut arrears and reduce commercial losses – including electricity theft – without fostering social unrest; and
  • How to reconcile environmental concerns with the government's objective to build two new large dams and associated hydropower plants.
  • How to improve access in rural areas.

Social conditions

Over the centuries, the territory of Honduras has known a number of social systems, ranging from ancient forager groups through early complex societies to more elaborated ones, such as those of the Maya and Lenca. Spanish conquest built on these, and their traditions carried over into the post independence period. Honduras' emergence in the late nineteenth century as a cash crop producing exporter and then its limited industrialization through the maquiladora system have brought about the conditions of today.

In 2012, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime rated Honduras as the country with the highest per capita murder rate. (See: List of countries by intentional homicide rate)

Water supply and sanitation

Water supply and sanitation in Honduras varies greatly from urban centers to rural villages. Larger population centers generally have modernized water treatment and distribution systems, however water quality is often poor because of lack of proper maintenance and treatment. Rural areas generally have basic drinking water systems with limited capacity for water treatment. Many urban areas have sewer systems in place for the collection of wastewater, however proper treatment of wastewater is scarce. In rural areas, sanitary facilities are generally limited to latrines and basic septic pits.

Water and sanitation services were historically provided by Servicio Autonomo de Alcantarillas y Aqueductos (SANAA). In 2003, a new "water law" was passed which called for the decentralization of water services. With the 2003 law, local communities have the right and responsibility to own, operate, and control their own drinking water and wastewater systems. Since passage of the new law, many communities have joined together to address water and sanitation issues on a regional basis.

Many national and international non-government organizations have a history of working on water and sanitation projects in Honduras. International groups include, but are not limited to, the Red Cross, Water 1st, Rotary Club, Catholic Relief Services, Water for People, EcoLogic Development Fund, CARE, CESO-SACO, Engineers Without Borders USA, Flood The Nations, SHH, Global Brigades, and Agua para el Pueblo in partnership with AguaClara at Cornell University.

In addition, many government organizations working on projects include: the European Union, USAID, the Army Corps of Engineers, Cooperacion Andalucia, the government of Japan, and many others.

Transport

Highway in Honduras

Transportation in Honduras consists of the following infrastructure: 699 km of railways; 13,603 km of roadways;[1] seven ports and harbors;[citation needed] and 112 airports altogether (12 Paved, 100 unpaved).[1] Responsibility for policy in the transport sector rests with the Ministry of Public Works, Transport and Housing (SOPRTRAVI after its Spanish acronym).

Demographics

See also: Hondurans

Ethnicity

Main article: Ethnicity in Honduras

According to the CIA World Factbook, Honduras has a population of 8,143,564 as at July 2011; the CIA World Factbook states that the population makeup is: "mestizo (mixed Amerindian and European) 90%, Amerindian 7%, black 2%, white 1%".[1]

Languages

Spanish, Honduran Sign Language, Garifuna, Bay Islands Creole English, Mískito, Sumu, Pech, Jicaque, Ch’orti’, Lenca (extinct).

Religion

Main article: Religion in Honduras
Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez was one of the strongest candidates to become Pope after the death of John Paul II.[citation needed]

Although most Hondurans are nominally Roman Catholic (which would be considered the main religion) Roman Catholic Church is declining while membership in Protestant churches is increasing. The International Religious Freedom Report, 2008, notes that a CID Gallup poll reported that 47% of the population identified themselves as Catholic, 36% as evangelical Protestant, and 17% provided no answer or considered themselves "other." Customary Catholic church tallies and membership estimates 81% Catholic where the priest (in more than 185 parishes) is required to fill out a pastoral account of the parish each year.[58][59]

The CIA Factbook has Honduras listed as 97% Catholic and 3% Protestant.[1] Commenting on statistical variations everywhere, John Green of Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life notes that: "It isn't that ... numbers are more right than [someone else's] numbers ... but how one conceptualizes the group."[60] Often people attend one church without giving up their "home" church. Many who attend evangelical megachurches in the US, for example, attend more than one church.[61] This shifting and fluidity is common in Brazil where two-fifths of those who were raised evangelical are no longer evangelical and Catholics seem to shift in and out of various churches, often while still remaining Catholic.[62]

Most pollsters suggest an annual poll taken over a number of years would provide the best method of knowing religious demographics and variations in any single country. Still, in Honduras are thriving Anglican, Presbyterian, Methodist, Seventh-day Adventist, Lutheran, Latter-day Saint (Mormon) and Pentecostal churches. There are Protestant seminaries. The Catholic Church, still the only "church" that is recognized, is also thriving in the number of schools, hospitals, and pastoral institutions (including its own medical school) that it operates. Its archbishop, Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga, is also very popular, both with the government, other churches, and in his own church. Practitioners of the Buddhist, Jewish, Islamic, Bahá'í, Rastafari and indigenous denominations and religions exist.[63]

Folklore

Wilson Palacios, one of the most well-known athletes from Honduras, plays for the Honduras national football team and for Stoke City of the English Premier League.

Legends and fairy tales are paramount within the Honduras culture; Lluvia de Peces (Fish Rain) is an example of this. The legend of El Cadejo, La Llorona and La Ciguanaba (La Sucia) are also popular.

Geographic distribution

According to the Honduras 2001 Census of Population, the most populous Departments are: Cortés (1,2 million), Francisco Morazán (1,2 million), Yoro (466,000), Olancho (420,000), Choluteca (391,000) and Comayagua (353,000). The least populous are Islas de la Bahia and Gracias a Dios. According to the same source, the main cities are: Tegucigalpa (894,000 hab.-Distrito Central only-), San Pedro Sula (517,000 hab.), Choloma (160,000 hab.), La Ceiba (140,00 hab.), El Progreso (106,000 hab.), Choluteca, Comayagua, Puerto Cortes, La Lima and Danli. However, the main metropolitan areas are Tegucigalpa (1,200,000 hab. -est. 2007–) and San Pedro Sula (900,000 hab. -same year-). Between the 1988 and 2001 Census, San Pedro Sula doubled its population. The country has 20 cities above 20,000 inhabitants. Honduras is the only Central American country which its second most important city has half the population of the city-capital. Considering metropolitan areas only, the Honduran capital is the third largest Central American urban agglomeration, after Guatemala City and San Salvador.

Diaspora

Main article: Honduran diaspora

Since 1975, emigration from Honduras has accelerated as job-seekers and political refugees sought a better life elsewhere. Although many Hondurans have relatives in Spain, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Canada, the majority of expatriate Hondurans live in the United States.

In Spain, the Honduran community is the largest amongst the Central American people living there, with an estimated 8,500, according to Spanish statistics for 2006.[64] The main figures indicate that 2,130 live in Barcelona and 1,100 in Madrid. In addition Catalonia has 4,854 Hondurans; Comunidad de Madrid, 1,086; Comunidad Valenciana, 556; and Castilla y Leon, 524.

According to CELADE (Investigación Migración Internacional de Latinoamérica)'s figures, by 1992, more than 8,700 Hondurans were living in El Salvador; 9,700 in Nicaragua (1995), 5,500 in Guatemala (2002), 3,000 in Costa Rica (by 2000); and 2,400 in Belize (1990). Note: figures are not comparable. Additionally, according to UN Demographic Yearbook (2000) 8,700 Honduran live in Canada.[65]

Recent State Department estimates[66] suggest there are between 800,000 and 1 million Hondurans living in the United States, nearly 15% of the Honduran domestic population. The large uncertainty is due to the substantial number of undocumented Honduran immigrants currently believed to be residing in the United States. The 2010 U.S. Census counted 633,401 Hondurans in the United States, up from 217,569 in 2000.[67]

Culture

Main article: Culture of Honduras

Creative endeavors

The Cathedral of Comayagua

The most renowned Honduran painter is Jose Antonio Velásquez. Other important painters include Carlos Garay, and Roque Zelaya. Some of Honduras' most notable writers are Lucila Gamero de Medina, Froylan Turcios, Ramón Amaya Amador and Juan Pablo Suazo Euceda, Marco Antonio Rosa, Roberto Sosa, Eduardo Bähr, Amanda Castro, Javier Abril Espinoza, Teófilo Trejo, and Roberto Quesada.

Some of Honduras' notable musicians include Rafael Coello Ramos, Lidia Handal, Victoriano López, Guillermo Anderson, Víctor Donaire, Matilde Quan, Moises Canelo, Julio Quan Francisco Carranza, Camilo Rivera Guevara, Héctor David, Javier Reyes, Norma Erazo, Sergio Suazo, Ángel Ríos, Jorge Mejía, Jorge Santos, Walterio Galdámez and Fernando Raudales.

Hondurans are often referred to as Catracho or Catracha (fem) in Spanish. The word was coined by Nicaraguans and derives from the last name of the Spanish Honduran General Florencio Xatruch, who, in 1857, led Honduran armed forces against an attempted invasion by North American adventurer William Walker. The nickname is considered complimentary, not derogatory. The main language is Spanish, spoken by 94% as first language. Minority languages are spoken by less than 4%. These are Amerindian languages such as Garifuna, Miskito, and Pech; Honduras Sign Language; and English on the Bay Islands off the north coast.

Honduras This Week is a weekly English-language newspaper that has been published for seventeen years in Tegucigalpa. On the islands of Roatan, Utila and Guanaja, the Bay Islands Voice has been a source of monthly news since 2003.

Honduran cuisine makes extensive use of coconut, in both sweet and savory foods, and even in soups.

The José Francisco Saybe theater in San Pedro Sula is home to the Círculo Teatral Sampedrano (Theatrical Circle of San Pedro Sula)

Celebrations

Sawdust carpets of Comayagua During the Easter Celebrations.

Some of Honduras' national holidays include Honduras Independence Day on 15 September and Children's Day or Día del Niño, which is celebrated in homes, schools and churches on 10 September; on this day, children receive presents and have parties similar to Christmas or birthday celebrations. Some neighborhoods have piñatas on the street. Other holidays are Easter, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Day of the Soldier (3 October to celebrate the birth of Francisco Morazán), Christmas, El Dia de Lempira on 20 July,[68] and New Year's Eve.

Honduras Independence Day festivities start early in the morning with marching bands. Each band wears different colors and features cheerleaders. Fiesta Catracha takes place this same day: typical Honduran foods such as beans, tamales, baleadas, cassava with chicharron, and tortillas are offered. On Christmas Eve, the people reunite with their families and close friends to have dinner, then give out presents at midnight. In some cities fireworks are seen and heard at midnight. On New Year's Eve there is food and "cohetes", fireworks and festivities. Birthdays are also great events, and include the famous "piñata" which is filled with candies and surprises for the children invited.

La Feria Isidra is celebrated in La Ceiba, a city located in the north coast, in the second half of May to celebrate the day of the city's patron saint Saint Isidore. People from all over the world come for one week of festivities. Every night there is a little carnaval (carnavalito) in a neighborhood. Finally, on Saturday there is a big parade with floats and displays with people from many countries. This celebration is also accompanied by the Milk Fair, where many Hondurans come to show off their farm products and animals.

National symbols

National bird, Ara macao

The flag of Honduras is composed of 3 equal horizontal stripes, with the upper and lower ones being blue and representing the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea. The central stripe is white. It contains five blue stars representing the five states of the Central American Union. The middle star represents Honduras, located in the center of the Central American Union.

The Coat of Arms was established in 1945. It is an equilateral triangle, at the base is a volcano between three castles, over which is a rainbow and the sun shining. The triangle is placed on an area that symbolizes being bathed by both seas. Around all of this an oval containing in golden lettering: "Republic of Honduras, Free, Sovereign and Independent".

The National Anthem of Honduras is a result of a contest carried out in 1914 during the presidency of Manuel Bonilla. In the end, it was the poet Augosto C. Coello that ended up writing the anthem, with the participation of German composer Carlos Hartling writing the music. The anthem was officially adopted on 15 November 1915, during the presidency of Alberto Membreño. The anthem is composed of a choir and seven stroonduran.

The national flower is the famous orchid, Rhyncholaelia digbyana (formerly known as Brassavola digbyana), which replaced the rose in 1969. The change of the National Flower was carried out during the administration of general Oswaldo López Arellano, thinking that Brassavola digbiana "is an indigenous plant of Honduras; having this flower exceptional characteristics of beauty, vigor and distinction", as the decree dictates it.

The National Tree of Honduras was declared in 1928 to be simply "the Pine that appears symbolically in our Coat of Arms" (el Pino que figura simbólicamente en nuestro Escudo),[69] even though pines comprise a genus and not a species, and even though legally there's no specification as for what kind of pine should appear in the Coat of Arms either. Because of its commonality in the country, the Pinus oocarpa species has become since then the species most strongly associated as the national tree, but legally it is not so. Another species associated as the national tree is the Pinus caribaea.

The National Mammal is the white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), which was adopted as a measure to avoid excessive depredation. It is one of two species of deer that live in Honduras. The National Bird of Honduras is the Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao). This bird was much valued by the pre-Columbian civilizations of Honduras.

Sports

Football is the most popular Sport in Honduras. Information on all other Honduran sports related articles are below:

Health

The fertility rate is approximately 3.7 per woman.[70] The under-five mortality rate is at 40 per 1,000 live births.[70] The health expenditure was US$ (PPP) 197 per person in 2004.[70] There are about 57 physicians per 100,000 people.[70]

Education

Main article: Education in Honduras

In Honduras about 83.6% of the population of the country is literate. The net primary enrollment rate was 94% in 2004,[70] while in 2007 the primary school completion rate was reported to be 40%.[citation needed] Honduras has bilingual (Spanish and English) and even trilingual (Spanish with English, Arabic, and/or German) schools[71] and numerous universities.

The university is ruled by National Autonomous University of Honduras which have centers in the most important cities in Honduras.

See also

References

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External links