Flag of Honduras

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Once part of Spain's vast empire in the New World, Honduras became an independent nation in 1821. After two and a 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 leftist guerrillas. The country was devastated by Hurricane Mitch in 1998, which killed about 5,600 people and caused approximately $2 billion in damage.


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


total: 112,090 sq km
land: 111,890 sq km
water: 200 sq km

Land boundaries:

total: 1,520 km
border countries: Guatemala 256 km, El Salvador 342 km, Nicaragua 922 km


820 km

Maritime claims:

territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: natural extension of territory or to 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: 9.53%
permanent crops: 3.21%
other: 87.26% (2005)

Irrigated land:

800 sq km (2003)

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

Geography - note:

has only a short Pacific coast but a long Caribbean shoreline, including the virtually uninhabited eastern Mosquito Coast


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 2006 est.)

Age structure:

0-14 years: 39.9% (male 1,491,170/female 1,429,816)
15-64 years: 56.7% (male 2,076,727/female 2,077,975)
65 years and over: 3.4% (male 113,747/female 137,061) (2006 est.)

Median age:

total: 19.5 years
male: 19.1 years
female: 19.8 years (2006 est.)

Population growth rate:

2.16% (2006 est.)

Birth rate:

28.24 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Death rate:

5.28 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Net migration rate:

-1.39 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.83 male(s)/female
total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2006 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 25.82 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 29 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 22.47 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 69.33 years
male: 67.75 years
female: 70.98 years (2006 est.)

Total fertility rate:

3.59 children born/woman (2006 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

1.8% (2003 est.)

people living with HIV/AIDS:

63,000 (2003 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

4,100 (2003 est.)


noun: Honduran(s)
adjective: Honduran

Ethnic groups:

mestizo (mixed Amerindian and European) 90%, Amerindian 7%, black 2%, white 1%


Roman Catholic 97%, Protestant 3%


Spanish, Amerindian dialects


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 76.2%
male: 76.1%
female: 76.3% (2003 est.)

Country name:

conventional long form: Republic of Honduras
conventional short form: Honduras
local long form: Republica de Honduras
local short form: 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

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 27 November 2005 (next to be held November 2009)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PL 62, PN 55, PUD 5, PDC 4, PINU 2

Judicial branch:

Supreme Court of Justice or Corte Suprema de Justicia (judges are elected for seven-year terms by the National Congress)

Economy - overview:

onduras, one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere with an extraordinarily unequal distribution of income and massive unemployment, is banking on expanded trade under the US-Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) and on debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative. The country has met most of its macroeconomic targets, and began a three-year IMF Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PGRF) program in February 2004. Growth remains dependent on the economy of the US, its largest trading partner, on continued exports of non-traditional agricultural products (such as melons, chiles, tilapia, and shrimp), and on reduction of the high crime rate.

GDP (purchasing power parity):

$20.21 billion (2005 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):

$7.842 billion (2005 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

4% (2005 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$2,800 (2005 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 12.7%
industry: 31.2%
services: 56.1% (2005 est.)

Labor force:

2.54 million (2005 est.)

Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture: 34%
industry: 21%
services: 45% (2001 est.)

Unemployment rate:

28% (2005 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:

55 (1999)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

9.2% (2005 est.)

Investment (gross fixed):

27% of GDP (2005 est.)


revenues: $1.693 billion
expenditures: $1.938 billion; including capital expenditures of $106 million (2005 est.)

Public debt:

70.5% of GDP (2005 est.)

Agriculture - products:

bananas, coffee, citrus; beef; timber; shrimp


sugar, coffee, textiles, clothing, wood products

Industrial production growth rate:

7.7% (2003 est.)

Electricity - production:

4.338 billion kWh (2003)

Electricity - consumption:

4.369 billion kWh (2003)

Electricity - imports:

335 million kWh (2003)

Oil - consumption:

37,000 bbl/day (2003 est.)

Current account balance:

-$456 million (2005 est.)


$1.726 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.)

Exports - commodities:

coffee, shrimp, bananas, gold, palm oil, fruit, lobster, lumber

Exports - partners:

US 54.4%, El Salvador 8.1%, Germany 5.9%, Guatemala 5.4% (2004)


$4.161 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.)

Imports - commodities:

machinery and transport equipment, industrial raw materials, chemical products, fuels, foodstuffs (2000)

Imports - partners:

US 37.5%, Guatemala 6.9%, Mexico 5.4%, Costa Rica 4.3%, El Salvador 4% (2004)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:

$2.23 billion (2005 est.)

Debt - external:

$4.675 billion (2005 est.)

Economic aid - recipient:

$557.8 million (1999)

Currency (code):

lempira (HNL)

Fiscal year:

calendar year

Telephones - main lines in use:

390,100 (2004)

Telephones - mobile cellular:

707,200 (2004)

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)

Television broadcast stations:

11 (plus 17 repeaters) (1997)

Internet country code:


Internet hosts:

4,763 (2005)

Internet users:

223,000 (2005)


116 (2005)

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 11
2,438 to 3,047 m: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 3
under 914 m: 3 (2005)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 105
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 19
under 914 m: 84 (2005)


total: 699 km
narrow gauge: 279 km 1.067-m gauge; 420 km 0.914-m gauge (2004)


total: 13,603 km
paved: 2,775 km
unpaved: 10,828 km (1999)


465 km (most navigable only by small craft) (2005)

Merchant marine:

total: 131 ships (1000 GRT or over) 356,805 GRT/518,767 DWT
by type: bulk carrier 9, cargo 66, chemical tanker 6, container 1, liquefied gas 1, livestock carrier 1, passenger 4, passenger/cargo 5, petroleum tanker 27, refrigerated cargo 8, roll on/roll off 2, specialized tanker 1
foreign-owned: 43 (Canada 1, China 3, Egypt 1, Greece 3, Hong Kong 2, Indonesia 1, Israel 1, Japan 4, South Korea 6, Lebanon 1, Mexico 1, Singapore 12, Taiwan 2, Tanzania 1, Turkey 1, US 2, Vietnam 1) (2005)

Ports and terminals:

Puerto Castilla, Puerto Cortes, San Lorenzo, Tela

Military branches:

Army, Navy (includes Naval Infantry), Air Force

Disputes - international:

in 1992, International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled on the delimitation of "bolsones" (disputed areas) along the El Salvador-Honduras border, but despite Organization of American States (OAS) intervention and a further ICJ ruling in 2003, full demarcation of the border remains stalled; 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 in the ICJ ruling, 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, which the OAS is attempting to revive; Nicaragua filed a claim against Honduras in 1999 and against Colombia in 2001 at the ICJ over a complex dispute over islands and maritime boundaries 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