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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. The country was devastated by Hurricane Mitch in 1998, which killed about 5,600 people and caused approximately $2 billion in damage.
Geography Honduras
Central America, bordering the Caribbean Sea, between Guatemala and Nicaragua and bordering the Gulf of Fonseca (North Pacific Ocean), between El Salvador and Nicaragua
Geographic coordinates:
15 00 N, 86 30 W
Map references:
Central America and the Caribbean
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
820 km
Maritime claims - as described in UNCLOS 1982 (see Notes and Definitions):
territorial sea: 12 NM
continental shelf: natural extension of territory or to 200 NM
contiguous zone: 24 NM
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
subtropical in lowlands, temperate in mountains
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 agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, 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
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 2004 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 41.2% (male 1,434,555; female 1,376,216)
15-64 years: 55.1% (male 1,866,219; female 1,896,027)
65 years and over: 3.7% (male 118,404; female 132,147) (2004 est.)
Median age:
total: 19 years
male: 18.6 years
female: 19.4 years (2004 est.)
Population growth rate:
2.24% (2004 est.)
Birth rate:
31.04 births/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Death rate:
6.64 deaths/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Net migration rate:
-1.99 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2004 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: 0.9 male(s)/female
total population: 1 male(s)/female (2004 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 29.64 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 25.89 deaths/1,000 live births (2004 est.)
male: 33.22 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 66.15 years
male: 64.99 years
female: 67.37 years (2004 est.)
Total fertility rate:
3.97 children born/woman (2004 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
1.6% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
57,000 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
3,300 (2001 est.)
noun: Honduran(s)
adjective: Honduran
Ethnic groups:
mestizo (mixed Amerindian and European) 90%, Amerindian 7%, black 2%, white 1%
Roman Catholic 97%, Protestant minority
Spanish, Amerindian dialects
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 76.2%
male: 76.1%
female: 76.3% (2003 est.)
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
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
15 September 1821 (from Spain)
National holiday:
Independence Day, 15 September (1821)
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
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 [Juan Ramon VALAZQUEZ Nazzar]; Democratic Unification Party or PUD [Cesar David Adolfo HAM Pena]; 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 [Jose Celin DISCUA Elvir]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Committee for the Defense of Human 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 participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Mario Miguel CANAHUATI
honorary consulate(s): Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, Jacksonville
consulate(s) general: Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Phoenix, San Francisco
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 US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Larry Leon PALMER
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 and massive unemployment, 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 has 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 reduction of the high crime rate.
purchasing power parity - $17.46 billion (2003 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
2.5% (2003 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $2,600 (2003 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 13.5%
industry: 30.7%
services: 55.8% (2002 est.)
Population below poverty line:
53% (1993 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 0.6%
highest 10%: 42.7% (1998)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
56.3 (1998)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
7.7% (2003 est.)
Labor force:
2.3 million (1997 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 34%, industry 21%, services 45% (2001 est.)
Unemployment rate:
27.5% (2003 est.)
revenues: $607 million
expenditures: $411.9 million, including capital expenditures of $106 million (1999 est.)
sugar, coffee, textiles, clothing, wood products
Industrial production growth rate:
7.7% (2003 est.)
Electricity - production:
3.778 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 50.2%
hydro: 49.8%
other: 0% (2001)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
3.822 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2001)
Electricity - imports:
308 million kWh (2001)
Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - consumption:
29,000 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports:
Oil - imports:
Agriculture - products:
bananas, coffee, citrus; beef; timber; shrimp
$1.37 billion f.o.b. (2003 est.)
Exports - commodities:
coffee, bananas, shrimp, lobster, meat; zinc, lumber (2000)
Exports - partners:
US 69%, El Salvador 3%, Guatemala 2% (2002)
$3.11 billion f.o.b. (2003 est.)
Imports - commodities:
machinery and transport equipment, industrial raw materials, chemical products, fuels, foodstuffs (2000)
Imports - partners:
US 53.3%, Mexico 4.3%, El Salvador 4.2% (2002)
Debt - external:
$5.1 billion (2003)
Economic aid - recipient:
$557.8 million (1999)
lempira (HNL)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
lempiras per US dollar - 17.35 (2003), 16.43 (2002), 15.47 (2001), 14.84 (2000), 14.21 (1999)
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications Honduras
Telephones - main lines in use:
322,500 (2002)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
326,500 (2002)
Telephone system:
general assessment: inadequate system
domestic: NA
international: country code - 504; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean); connected to Central American Microwave System
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 241, FM 53, shortwave 12 (1998)
2.45 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
11 (plus 17 repeaters) (1997)
570,000 (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet hosts:
160 (2002)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
8 (2000)
Internet users:
168,600 (2002)
Transportation Honduras
total: 699 km
narrow gauge: 279 km 1.067-m gauge; 420 km 0.914-m gauge (2002)
total: 13,603 km
paved: 2,775 km
unpaved: 10,828 km (1999 est.)
465 km (navigable by small craft)
Ports and harbors:
La Ceiba, Puerto Castilla, Puerto Cortes, San Lorenzo, Tela, Puerto Lempira
Merchant marine:
total: 238 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 598,600 GRT/616,158 DWT
registered in other countries: 16 (2003 est.)
foreign-owned: Argentina 1, Bahrain 1, British Virgin Islands 1, Bulgaria 1, Cayman Islands 1, China 4, Costa Rica 1, Cyprus 1, Egypt 5, El Salvador 1, Greece 16, Hong Kong 3, Indonesia 2, Israel 1, Italy 1, Japan 2, Jordan 1, South Korea 9, Lebanon 4, Liberia 4, Maldives 2, Marshall Islands 3, Mexico 1, Nigeria 2, Panama 10, Philippines 1, Russia 1, Saint Kitts and Nevis 3, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 1, Saudi Arabia 1, Singapore 22, Spain 1, Taiwan 2, Tanzania 1, Thailand 1, Turkey 2, Turks and Caicos Islands 1, United States 7, Vanuatu 1, Vietnam 1
by type: bulk 12, cargo 139, chemical tanker 5, combination bulk 1, container 5, liquefied gas 1, livestock carrier 1, passenger 3, passenger/cargo 2, petroleum tanker 54, refrigerated cargo 8, roll on/roll off 4, short-sea/passenger 3
115 (2003 est.)
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 (2003 est.)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 103
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 18
under 914 m: 83 (2003 est.)
Military Honduras
Military branches:
Army, Navy (including Naval Infantry), Air Force
Military manpower - military age:
18 years of age (2004 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 1,642,029 (2004 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 977,130 (2004 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males: 76,143 (2004 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$99.8 million (2003)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
1.5% (2003)
Transnational Issues Honduras
Disputes - international:
in 1992, ICJ ruled on the delimitation of "bolsones" (disputed areas) along the El Salvador-Honduras border, and the OAS is assisting with a technical resolution of bolsones; in 2003, the ICJ rejected El Salvador's request to revise its decision on one bolsone; the 1992 ICJ ruling advised a tripartite resolution to a maritime boundary in the Gulf of Fonseca with consideration of Honduran access to the Pacific; El Salvador continues to claim tiny Conejo Island, not mentioned by the ICJ, off Honduras in the Gulf of Fonseca; Honduras claims Sapodilla Cays off the coast of Belize but agreed to creation of a joint ecological park and Guatemalan corridor in the Caribbean in the failed 2002 Belize-Guatemala Differendum; Nicaragua filed a claim against Honduras in 1999 and against Colombia in 2001 at the ICJ over a complex maritime dispute in the Caribbean Sea
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; some money-laundering activity