Honduras Information

The Republic of Honduras is an independent country (although they refer to themselves as a “State”) in western Central America, bordered to the north by the Gulf of Honduras and the Caribbean Sea, to the south by the Pacific Ocean, the west by Guatemala, and to the south east by Nicaragua.

The Republic of Honduras
Honduras Flag
Official language Spanish
Capital Tegucigalpa
Capital’s coordinates 14°6′ N 87°13′ W
President Porfirio Lobo Sosa
Area
 – Total
 – % water
Ranked 101st
  112,090 km²
  Negligible
Population
 – Total (2000)
 – Density
96th
  6,975,204
  62.23/km²
Independence
 – Declared
 – Recognized
(from Spain)
  15 September 1821
  1823
Currency Lempira
Time zone UTC -6
National anthem ‘Tu bandera es un lampo de cielo’
Internet TLD .hn
Calling Code 504

Contents


Honduran History

The Pre-Columbian city of Copán is a locale in western Honduras, near to the Guatemalan border. It is the site of a major Mayan kingdom of the Classic era. The ancient kingdom, named Xukpi (Corner-Bundle), flourished from the 5th century AD to the early 9th century, with antecedents going back to at least the 2nd century AD. The Maya civilization decayed, and by the time the Spanish came to Honduras, the once great city-state of Copán was overrun by the jungle.

After the Spanish discovery and subsequent conquest, Honduras became part of Spain’s vast empire in the New World. The Spanish ruled Honduras for approximately 3 centuries.

Honduras became a state in the United Provinces of Central America in 1821, and an independent republic with the demise of the union in 1840.

The Football war of 1969 was fought with El Salvador. It lasted approximately 100 days. During the 1980s, Honduras was used by anti-Sandinista contras fighting the Nicaraguan government. They werean ally to the El Salvadoran government forces fighting against leftist guerrillas.

Hurricane Fifi caused severe damage on September 18th and 19th, in 1974. Later, Hurricane Mitch devastated the country and wrecked its economy in 1998. Again, in 2005, Honduras was hit by three major hurricanes, one right after the other. Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Wilma, and Hurricane Beta, once again, left many of the country’s crops in ruin.

Honduran Politics

A Presidential and general election is scheduled for November every four years. Honduras has five registered political parties:

  • National Party of Honduras(Partido Nacional de Honduras: PNH)
  • Liberal Party of Honduras (Partido Liberal de Honduras: PLH)
  • Social Democrats (Partido Innovación Nacional y Social Demócrata: PINU-SD)
  • Social Christians (Partido Demócrata-Cristiano: DC)
  • Democrat Unification (Partido Unificación Democrática: UD)

The PNH and PLH have ruled the country for decades. In the last 23 years, Honduras has had five Liberal presidents: Manuel Zelaya Rosales, Roberto Suazo Córdova, José Azcona del Hoyo, Carlos Roberto Reina, and Carlos Roberto Flores. Honduras has had three Nationalist presidents: Porifirio Lobo Sosa, Rafael Leonardo Callejas Romero and Ricardo Maduro.

The elections and politics have been full of controversy, including questions about whether Azcona was born in Honduras or Spain, and whether Maduro should have been able to stand, given he was born in Panama,although to a Honduran mother.

Roberto Suazo Cordova ruled the country during the so called “Lost Decade” when hundreds of human rights violations were committed, and alleged political crimes were common place. In 1986, Azcona del Hoyo was elected via the “Formula B,” when Azcona did not obtain the majority of votes. However, 5 Liberal candidates and 4 Nationalist were running for president at that time, and the “Formula B” required all votes from all candidates from the same party to be added together. Azcona then became the president. In 1990, Callejas won the election under the slogan “Llegó el momento del Cambio,” (The time for Change is here), which was heavily criticized for resembling El Salvador’s “ARENAs” political campaign. Callejas Romero gained a reputation for illicit enrichment. Callejas has been the subject of several scandals and accusations in the last two decades. In 1998, during Flores Facusse’s mandate,
Hurricane Mitch hit the country and all indications of economic growth were washed out in a period of 5 days.

In 2004, separate ballots were used for mayors, congress, and president. Many more candidates were registered for 2005’s election.

The Nationalist and Liberal parties are distinct political parties with their own dedicated band of supporters; but some have pointed out that their interests and policy measures throughout the 23 years of uninterrupted democracy have been very similar. They are often seen as primarily serving the interests of their own members, who receive jobs when their party gains power and lose them again when the other party does so. Both are seen as suppoertive of the elite who own most of the wealth in the country. Neither of them promote socialist ideals, even though in many ways Honduras is run like a democratic version of an old socialist state, with price controls and nationalized electric and land-line telephone services.

Departments of Honduras

Honduras is divided into 18 departments:

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

Each department has various municipalities, 298 municipalities in total. The largest department by surface area is Olancho, and by population is Francisco Morazán. The smallest by both surface area and population is Islas de la Bahía (Bay Islands).

Geographical Information

Honduras borders the Caribbean Sea on the north coast and the Pacific Ocean on the south, through the Gulf of Fonseca. 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.

Honduran terrain consists mainly of mountains (~80%), but there are narrow plains along the coasts, a large undeveloped lowland jungle La Mosquitia region in the northeast and the heavily populated lowland San Pedro Sula valley in the northwest. In La Mosquitia lies the UNESCO – protected Biosphere of Río Plátano, with the Río Negro dividing the country from Nicaragua.

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

Economic Structure

Honduras is one of the poorest countries in the Americas. The distribution of wealth remains very polarized with average wages remaining very low. Economic growth is roughly 5% a year, but many people remain below the poverty line. It is estimated that there are more than 1.2 million people who are unemployed.

The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund classified Honduras as one of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries eligible for debt relief.

Both the electricity services (ENEE) and land line telephone services (Hondutel) are run by government monopolies, with the former receiving heavy subsidies from the government because of its chronic financial problems. There are price controls around the price of petrol, and other temporary price controls of basic commodities are often passed for short periods by Congress.

After years of declining against the US dollar, the Lempira has stabilized at around 19 Lempiras per dollar.

Demographics

The population of Honduras is predominantly of Mestizo descent and Roman Catholic faith. There are several Evangelical denominations also.
Along the northern coast are communities of English speakers (Bay Islands) who have maintained their culture since Honduras was part of the British Empire.
Groups of Garífuna
live along the north coast, where there are also many Afro-Latin Americans.
Hundreds of families can find their roots in Lebanon and Palestine, in Middle Eastern families called “turcos”. The so-called “Turcos”
along with the Jewish minority population, dominate the Honduran economy and politics by having the highest income. Many others have connections to Spain,
the United States (especially New Orleans, Florida and Texas) and the Cayman Islands. Even with all the “new-comers” in the country,
the indigenous people of Honduras are widely scattered throughout the country. Tribes like Chortís (Mayan descent), Payas or Pech,
Tolupanes or Xicaques/Jicaques, Lencas, Sumos or Tawahkas, and Olmecas. For the most part, these tribes live in extreme poverty due to their remote locations and uninterested government.


Culture

The patron saint of Honduras is the Virgin of Suyapa.

A Honduran can be called a Catracho or Catracha.
The word is derived from the last name of Honduran General Florencio Xatruch, who led Honduran armed forces in defense of Honduran territories in 1857 against an attempted invasion led by North American filibuster William Walker. The nickname is considered complimentary, not derogatory.

One of Honduras’ best known writers is Ramón Amaya Amador. Other writers include Roberto Sosa, Eduardo Bähr, Amanda Castro, Javier Abril Espinoza, Roberto Quesada, and Guillermo Anderson.

Oscar Andres Rodriguez is a Cardinal who was a potential candidate for Pope in the Papal conclave, 2005.

Not as famous as the cardinal, but also noteworthy, is Salvador Moncada, a world-renowned scientist with authorship of more than 12 highly cited papers, including his work on nitric oxide. His research on heart-related drugs includes the development of Viagra. Moncada works at the University College of London and funds an NGO in Tegucigalpa.

The Federación Nacional Autónoma de Fútbol de Honduras runs the popular Football league, while the Honduras national football team, (Seleccion) represents the country internationally. Honduras Soccer is a national pass time both fro players and fans. The country comes to a stop while the national team is playing so all can cheer their team on.

Environment

The Mesoamerican region, the landmass that extends from Southern Mexico to Panama, known for its diversity of species, is often called a “biodiversity hotspot”. Similar to other countries in the region, Honduras contains diverse biological resources as well as indigenous cultures. For instance,
it is believed that approximately 6,000-8,000 species of vascular plants are distributed across the country.

The number of reptiles and amphibians species recorded so far is around 245; birds can be between 650-700 species, and mammal species are close to 110.

In the northeastern region of La Mosquitia lies the Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve, a lowland rainforest which provides home to a great diversity of life. Sometimes called “The Last Lungs of Central America”, this Reserve was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites List in 1982.

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