OFFICIAL NAME: Republic of Honduras
SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT: Multiparty Republic
AREA: 112,088 Sq Km (43,277 Sq Mi)
ESTIMATED 2000 POPULATION 6,163,300
LOCATION & GEOGRAPHY: Honduras is located on the Central
America Isthmus. It is bound by El Salvador to the southwest,
Guatemala to the west, Nicaragua to the south and southeast,
the Gulf of Honduras to the north and the Gulf of Fonseca
to the south. The territory also includes the Bay Islands,
the Swan Islands, as well as the Tigre, Grand Zacate and
Guegueensi Islands in the Pacific Ocean. The country is
generally mountainous with two main ranges, the Central
American Cordillera and the Volcanic Highlands which cut
the country into two halves. The lowlands consist of a southern
coastal plain as well as the Ulua and Aguan River Valleys
on the Caribbean coast. The country is drained by an extensive
river system and the principal rivers are the Patuca, Ulua,
Guayape and Aguan. In the northwest and northeast, Lake
Yojoa and Laguna Caratasca are also important regions. Major
Cities (pop. est.); Tegucigalpa 738,500, San Pedro Sula
353,800, La Ceiba 82,900, El Progreso 77,300, Choluteca
69,400 (1993). Land Use; forested 53%, pastures 14%, agricultural-cultivated
18%, other 15% (1993).
CLIMATE: Honduras has a tropical climate on the coast and a temperate
climate inland. Both climatic zones have a wet season from April to October
and a dry season from November to March. From October to April the northerly
winds which are moderately cold, temper the heat while hurricanes are also
quite common. Average annual precipitation varies from 1,770 mm (70 inches)
to 2,540 mm (100 inches) in the north, while along the Pacific coastal
plains it varies from 1,520 mm (60 inches) to 2,030 mm (80 inches). Average
temperature ranges in Tegucigalpa are from 4 to 27 degrees Celsius (39
to 81 degrees Fahrenheit) in February to 12 to 33 degrees Celsius (54 to
91 degrees Fahrenheit) in May.
PEOPLE: The principal ethnic majority are the Ladinos who are
all non Indians. The Ladinos who are mainly Mestizos of mixed Spanish and
AmerIndian descent, account for 90% of the population. The remainder are
pure blooded AmerIndians who account for 7% of the population while 2%
are Black Africans and 1% are Whites.
DEMOGRAPHIC/VITAL STATISTICS: Density; 42 persons per sq km (109
persons per sq mi) (1991). Urban-Rural; 41.1% urban, 58.9% rural (1991).
Sex Distribution; 50.1% male, 49.9% female (1990). Life Expectancy at Birth;
63.0 years male, 67.0 years female (1989). Age Breakdown; 45% under 15,
28% 15 to 29, 14% 30 to 44, 8% 45 to 59, 4% 60 to 74, 1% 75 and over (1990).
Birth Rate; 39.0 per 1,000 (1990). Death Rate; 8.0 per 1,000 (1990). Increase
Rate; 31.0 per 1,000 (1990). Infant Mortality Rate; 48.0 per 1,000 live
RELIGIONS: Mostly Christians with 85% of the population Roman
Catholic while 10% are Protestant.
LANGUAGES: The official language is Spanish which is spoken by
the Mestizos and the majority of the AmerIndians. Other principal AmerIndian
languages include Lenca, Xicaque, Chorti, Carib, Miskito and Sumo while
English is spoken by a few of the Bay Islanders and Black Africans.
EDUCATION: Aged 25 or over and having attained: no formal schooling
33.5%, incomplete primary 51.3%, incomplete secondary 4.3%, secondary 7.6%,
higher 3.3% (1983). Literacy; literate population aged 15 or over 2,082,000
or 73.1% (1990).
MODERN HISTORY - WWII TO 1993: In 1963 a military revolt led
by Col. Oswaldo Lopez Arellano overthrew the government and a new constitution
provided for Lopez to become President. In 1969 a Honduran land reform
law forced many families from El Salvador living in Honduras to give up
their land. Also in the same year a war broke out with El Salvador after
mounting economic tensions, although the war only lasted 2 weeks. In 1970
the Organization of American States (OAS) helped the two nations set up
a neutral zone along their common border. In 1971 voters elected Cruz to
the presidency, however, in 1972 the armed forces overthrew the Cruz government
and Lopez again became President. In 1975 the military led by Col. Juan
Alberto Melgar Castro ousted Lopez and took over the government. In 1978
Policarpo Paz Garcia led a military coup which removed Melgar from office.
In 1980 Honduras and El Salvador signed an agreement to end their border
dispute. In 1981 under US pressure Pres. Garcia prepared elections for
the return of a civilian government and in Jan. 1982 Roberto Suazo Cordova
was inaugurated as President, although the army commander-in-chief still
retained considerable power. In Jan. 1986 another civilian government succeeded
the other peacefully for the first time since 1929. In 1988 the Honduran-based
Contras (Nicaraguan rebels) and the Sandinista government of Nicaragua
signed a ceasefire agreement. In Nov. 1989 Rafael Leonardo Cellejas won
the presidential election and was inaugurated in Jan. 1990. During 1991
there were repeated attempts to reduce the army's autonomy while from May
to August there were several murders including that of landless peasant
farmers occupying uncultivated land, the assassination of a International
Committee Against Torture member as well as the torture, rape and murder
of an 18-year old civilian, all allegedly by military officers. In Sept.
1991 and in response to the allegations, three high ranking military and
police officers were demoted. In Mar. 1992 the Congress passed the Agriculture
Modernization Law in an attempt to attract further foreign investment and
improve crop development. On Mar. 30, 1992 the Nicaraguan Assembly dropped
its International Court of Justice law suit against Honduras for supporting
and training the Contras throughout the Nicaraguan civil war. In May 1992
military officials and officials from the National Agrarian Institute (INA)
forcibly removed campesino groups that had occupied some 61,750 acres (25,000
hectares) of uncultivated land. In July 1992 there was a series of political
assassinations as a result of trade union splits with the labor movement.
In 1993 the military was implicated in murders, corruption and drug trafficking
that resulted the military in Mar. 1993 agreeing to place the National
Department of Investigations (DNI) under civilian control by Jan. 1994.
Also during the first quarter of 1993 some 90 children disappeared in the
capital, allegedly for organ trafficking. In April 1993 two bodies were
found with obvious signs of organ removal that led to Pres. Leonardo appointing
a commission to investigate the claims. On Nov. 28, 1993 general elections
resulted in Carlos Roberto Reina of the Liberal Party (PL) defeating Oswaldo
Ramos Soto of the ruling National Party (PN) through campaigning to attack
government corruption and curb the military's influence in the government.
CURRENCY: The official currency is the Lempira (L) divided into
ECONOMY: Gross National Product; USD $3,220,000,000 (1993). Public
Debt; USD $3,479,000,000 (1993). Imports; USD $1,130,000,000 (1993). Exports;
USD $814,000,000 (1993). Tourism Receipts; USD $32,000,000 (1993). Balance
of Trade; L -113,100,000 (1994). Economically Active Population; 1,652,800
or 31.5% of total population (1993). Unemployed; 40.0% (1990).
MAIN TRADING PARTNERS: Its main trading partners are the USA
and CACM (Central American Common Market) countries.
MAIN PRIMARY PRODUCTS: Bananas, Beans, Cattle, Coffee, Fruits, Gold,
Lead, Maize, Rice, Silver, Shellfish, Sugar Cane, Timber, Tin, Tobacco.
MAJOR INDUSTRIES: Agriculture, Cement, Cigars, Fishing, Forestry,
Mining, Textiles, Wood Products.
MAIN EXPORTS: Bananas, Chemicals, Coffee, Hardwoods, Meat, Natural
Ores, Sugar, Timber.
TRANSPORT: Railroads; route length 996 km (619 mi) (1989), passenger-km
N/A., cargo ton-km N/A. Roads; length 18,629 km (11,576 mi) (1989). Vehicles;
cars 42,280 (1989), trucks and buses 69,653 (1989). Merchant Marine; vessels
754 (1990), deadweight tonnage 1,046,052 (1990). Air Transport; passenger-km
466,400,000 (289,807,000 passenger-mi) (1988), cargo ton-km 13,625,000
(9,332,000 short ton-mi) (1988).
COMMUNICATIONS: Daily Newspapers; total of 4 with a total circulation
of 159,000 (1992). Radio; receivers 1,910,000 (1994). Television; receivers
160,000 (1994). Telephones; units 117,100 (1993).
MILITARY: 16,800 (1994) total active duty personnel with 83.3%
army, 6.0% navy and 10.7% air force while military expenditure accounts
for 1.4% (1993) of the Gross National Product (GNP).
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