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Honduras

Sovereign state in Central America

Top 10 Honduras related articles

Coordinates: 15°00′N 86°30′W / 15.000°N 86.500°W / 15.000; -86.500

Republic of Honduras

República de Honduras (Spanish)
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 languagesSpanish
Ethnic groups
([1])
Demonym(s)
  • Honduran
  • Catracho(a)
GovernmentUnitary presidential republic
• President
Juan Orlando Hernández
Ricardo Álvarez Arias
Mauricio Oliva
LegislatureNational 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 (43,433 sq mi) (101st)
Population
• 2018 estimate
9,587,522[2][3] (95th)
• 2013 census
8,303,771
• Density
64/km2 (165.8/sq mi) (128th)
GDP (PPP)2018 estimate
• Total
$49.010 billion[4] (104th)
• Per capita
$5,817[4] (133rd)
GDP (nominal)2018 estimate
• Total
$23.835 billion[4] (108th)
• Per capita
$2,829[4] (128th)
Gini (2016)  50[5]
high
HDI (2018)  0.623[6]
medium · 132nd
CurrencyLempira (HNL)
Time zoneUTC−6 (CST)
Driving sideright
Calling code+504
ISO 3166 codeHN
Internet TLD.hn
  1. Mixture of European and American Indian.
  2. 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 (/hɒnˈdjʊərəs, -ˈdʊər-/ ( listen), /-æs/;[7] Spanish: [onˈduɾas] ( listen)), officially the Republic of Honduras (Spanish: República de Honduras), is a country in Central America. The republic of Honduras 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, before the Spanish Colonization 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. Honduras became independent in 1821 and has since been a republic, although it has consistently endured much social strife and political instability, and remains one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere. In 1960, the northern part of what was the Mosquito Coast was transferred from Nicaragua to Honduras by the International Court of Justice.[8]

The nation's economy is primarily agricultural, making it especially vulnerable to natural disasters such as Hurricane Mitch in 1998.[9] The lower class is primarily agriculturally based while wealth is concentrated in the country's urban centers.[10] Honduras has a Human Development Index of 0.625, classifying it as a nation with medium development.[11] When the Index is adjusted for income inequality, its Inequality-adjusted Human Development Index is 0.443.[11]

Honduran society is predominantly Mestizo; however, American Indian, black and white individuals also live in Honduras (2017).[12] The nation had a relatively high political stability until its 2009 coup and again with the 2017 presidential election.[13]

Honduras spans about 112,492 km2 (43,433 sq mi) and has a population exceeding 9 million.[2][3] Its northern portions are part of the Western Caribbean Zone, as reflected in the area's demographics and culture. Honduras is known for its rich natural resources, including minerals, coffee, tropical fruit, and sugar cane, as well as for its growing textiles industry, which serves the international market.

Honduras Intro articles: 61

Etymology

The literal meaning of the term "Honduras" is "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").[14][15][16]

It was not until the end of the 16th century that Honduras was used for the whole province. Prior to 1580, Honduras referred to only the eastern part of the province, and Higueras referred to the western part.[16] 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.[17]

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.

Honduras Etymology articles: 8

History

A Maya stela, an emblematic symbol of the Honduran Mayan civilization at Copan

Pre-colonial period

In pre-Columbian times, almost all of modern Honduras was part of the Mesoamerican cultural area, with the exception of La Mosquitia in the extreme east, which seems to have been more connected to the Isthmo-Colombian area although also in contact with and influenced by Mesoamerican societies. In the extreme west, Mayan civilization flourished for hundreds of years. The dominant and most well-known and well-studied state within Honduras' borders was in Copán, which was located in a mainly non-Maya area, or on the frontier between Maya and non-Maya areas. Copán declined with other Lowland centres during the conflagrations of the Terminal Classic in the 9th century. The Maya of this civilization survive in western Honduras as the Ch'orti', isolated from their Choltian linguistic peers to the west.[18]

However, Copán represents only a fraction of Honduran pre-Columbian history. Remnants of other civilizations are found throughout the country. Archaeologists have studied sites such as Naco [es] and La Sierra in the Naco Valley, Los Naranjos on Lake Yojoa, Yarumela in the Comayagua Valley,[19] La Ceiba and Salitron Viejo[20] (both now under the Cajón Dam reservoir), Selin Farm and Cuyamel in the Aguan valley, Cerro Palenque, Travesia, Curruste, Ticamaya, Despoloncal, and Playa de los Muertos in the lower Ulúa River valley, and many others.

In 2012, LiDAR scanning revealed that several previously unknown high density settlements existed in La Mosquitia, corresponding to the legend of "La Ciudad Blanca". Excavation and study has since improved knowledge of the region's history. It is estimated that these settlements reached their zenith from 500 to 1000 AD.

Spanish conquest (1524–1539)

Hernán Cortés, one of the conquerors of Honduras

On his fourth and the final voyage to the New World in 1502, Christopher Columbus landed near the modern town of Trujillo, near Guaimoreto Lagoon, becoming the first European to visit the Bay Islands on the coast of Honduras.[21] On 30 July 1502, Columbus sent his brother Bartholomew to explore the islands and Bartholomew encountered a Mayan trading vessel from Yucatán, carrying well-dressed Maya and a rich cargo.[22][23] Bartholomew's men stole the cargo they wanted and kidnapped the ship's elderly captain to serve as an interpreter[23] in the first recorded encounter between the Spanish and the Maya.[24]

In March 1524, Gil González Dávila became the first Spaniard to enter Honduras as a conquistador.[25][26] followed by Hernán Cortés, who had brought forces down from Mexico. Much of the conquest took place in the following two decades, first by groups loyal to Cristóbal de Olid, and then by those loyal to Francisco de Montejo but most particularly by those following Alvarado. In addition to Spanish resources, the conquerors relied heavily on armed forces from Mexico—Tlaxcalans and Mexica armies of thousands who remained garrisoned in the region.

Resistance to conquest was led in particular by Lempira. Many regions in the north of Honduras 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.

Spanish Honduras (1524–1821)

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.[27] Initially the mines were worked by local people through the encomienda system, but as disease and resistance made this option less available, slaves from other parts of Central America were brought in. When local slave trading stopped at the end of the sixteenth century, African slaves, mostly from Angola, were imported.[28] 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 on 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 in the northeast was particularly effective at resisting conquest. The Miskito Kingdom found support from northern European privateers, pirates and especially the British formerly English colony of Jamaica, which placed much of the area under its protection after 1740.

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

Independence (1821)

Honduras gained independence from Spain in 1821 and was a part of the First Mexican Empire until 1823, when it became part of the United Provinces of Central America. It has been an independent republic and has held regular elections since 1838. In the 1840s and 1850s Honduras participated in several failed attempts at 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 the hardest for a policy of regional unity.

Policies favoring international trade and investment began in the 1870s, and soon foreign interests became involved, first in shipping from the north coast, especially tropical fruit and most notably bananas, and then in building railroads. In 1888, a projected railroad line from the Caribbean coast to the capital, Tegucigalpa, ran out of money when it reached San Pedro Sula. As a result, San Pedro grew into the nation's primary industrial center and second-largest city. Comayagua was the capital of Honduras until 1880, when the capital moved to Tegucigalpa.

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

20th century and the role of American companies

In the late nineteenth century, Honduras granted land and substantial exemptions to several US-based fruit and infrastructure companies in return for developing the country's northern regions. Thousands of workers came to the north coast as a result to work in banana plantations and other businesses that grew up around the export industry. Banana-exporting companies, dominated until 1930 by the Cuyamel Fruit Company, as well as the 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. American troops landed in Honduras in 1903, 1907, 1911, 1912, 1919, 1924 and 1925.[29]

In 1904, the writer O. Henry coined the term "banana republic" to describe Honduras,[30] publishing a book called Cabbages and Kings, about a fictional country, Anchuria, inspired by his experiences in Honduras, where he had lived for six months.[31] In The Admiral, O.Henry refers to the nation as a "small maritime banana republic"; naturally, the fruit was the entire basis of its economy.[32][33] According to a literary analyst writing for The Economist, "his phrase neatly conjures up the image of a tropical, agrarian country. But its real meaning is sharper: it refers to the fruit companies from the United States that came to exert extraordinary influence over the politics of Honduras and its neighbors."[34][35] In addition to drawing Central American workers north, the fruit companies encouraged immigration of workers from the English-speaking Caribbean, notably Jamaica and Belize, which introduced an African-descended, English-speaking and largely Protestant population into the country, although many of these workers left following changes to immigration law in 1939.[36] Honduras joined the Allied Nations after Pearl Harbor, on 8 December 1941, and signed the Declaration by United Nations on 1 January 1942, along with twenty-five other governments.

Constitutional crises in the 1940s led to reforms in the 1950s. One reform gave workers permission to organize, and a 1954 general strike paralyzed the northern part of the country for more than two months, but led to reforms. In 1963 a military coup unseated democratically elected President Ramón Villeda Morales. In 1960, the northern part of what was the Mosquito Coast was transferred from Nicaragua to Honduras by the International Court of Justice.[8]

1969–1999 (Wars and corruption)

In 1969, Honduras and El Salvador fought what became known as the Football War.[37] Border tensions led to acrimony between the two countries after Oswaldo López Arellano, the president of Honduras, blamed the deteriorating Honduran economy on immigrants from El Salvador. The relationship reached a low when El Salvador met Honduras for a three-round football elimination match preliminary to the World Cup.[38]

Tensions escalated and on 14 July 1969, the Salvadoran army invaded Honduras.[37] The Organization of American States (OAS) negotiated a cease-fire which took effect on 20 July and brought about a withdrawal of Salvadoran troops in early August.[38] Contributing factors to the conflict were a boundary dispute and the presence of thousands of Salvadorans living in Honduras illegally. After the week-long war, as many as 130,000 Salvadoran immigrants were expelled.[10]

Hurricane Fifi caused severe damage when it skimmed 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.[39]

Part of the massive damage caused by Hurricane Mitch in Tegucigalpa, 1998

In 1979, the country returned to civilian rule. A constituent assembly was popularly elected in April 1980 to write a new constitution, and general elections were held in November 1981. The constitution was approved in 1982 and the PLH government of Roberto Suazo won the election with a promise to carry out an ambitious program of economic and social development to tackle the recession in which Honduras found itself. He 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. The Peace Corps withdrew its volunteers in 2012, citing safety concerns.[40]

During the early 1980s, the United States established a continuing military presence in Honduras to support El Salvador, the Contra guerrillas fighting the Nicaraguan government, and also develop an airstrip and modern port in Honduras. Though spared the bloody civil wars wracking its neighbors, the Honduran army quietly waged campaigns against Marxist–Leninist militias such as the Cinchoneros Popular Liberation Movement, notorious for kidnappings and bombings,[41] and against many non-militants as well. The operation included a CIA-backed campaign of extrajudicial killings by government-backed units, most notably Battalion 316.[42]

In 1998, Hurricane Mitch caused massive and widespread destruction. Honduran President Carlos Roberto Flores said that fifty years of progress in the country had been reversed. Mitch destroyed about 70% of the country's crops and an estimated 70–80% of the transportation infrastructure, including nearly all bridges and secondary roads. Across Honduras 33,000 houses were destroyed, and an additional 50,000 damaged. Some 5,000 people killed, and 12,000 more injured. Total losses were estimated at US$3 billion.[43]

21st century

President Ricardo Maduro with U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in August 2003

In 2007, President of Honduras Manuel Zelaya and President of the United States George W. Bush began talks on US assistance to Honduras to tackle the latter's growing drug cartels in Mosquito, Eastern Honduras using US Special Forces. This marked the beginning of a new foothold for the US Military's continued presence in Central America.[44]

Under Zelaya, Honduras joined ALBA in 2008, but withdrew in 2010 after the 2009 Honduran coup d'état. In 2009, a constitutional crisis resulted when power transferred in a coup from the president to the head of Congress. The OAS suspended Honduras because it did not regard its government as legitimate.[45][46]

Countries around the world, the OAS, and the United Nations[47] formally and unanimously condemned the action as a coup d'état, refusing to recognize the de facto government, even though the lawyers consulted by the Library of Congress submitted to the United States Congress an opinion that declared the coup legal.[47][48][49] The Honduran Supreme Court also ruled that the proceedings had been legal. The government that followed the de facto government established a truth and reconciliation commission, Comisión de la Verdad y Reconciliación, which after more than a year of research and debate concluded that the ousting had been a coup d'état, and illegal in the commission's opinion.[50][51][52]

Honduras History articles: 87

Geography

A map of Honduras

The north coast of Honduras borders the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean lies south through the Gulf of Fonseca. Honduras consists mainly of mountains, with narrow plains along the coasts. A large undeveloped lowland jungle, La Mosquitia lies 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 Honduras from Nicaragua.

The Islas de la Bahía and the Swan Islands are off the north coast. Misteriosa Bank and Rosario Bank, 130 to 150 kilometres (81 to 93 miles) north of the Swan Islands, fall within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Honduras.

Honduran rainforest

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

Climate

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.

Ecology

The region is considered a biodiversity hotspot because of the many plant and animal species found there. Like other countries in the region, it contains vast biological resources. Honduras 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 mammalian species, of which half are bats.[53]

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 3,000 metres or 9,800 feet 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.

Environmental issues

Deforestation resulting from logging is rampant in Olancho Department. The clearing of land for agriculture is prevalent in the largely undeveloped La Mosquitia region, causing land degradation and soil erosion.

Lake Yojoa, which is Honduras' largest source of fresh water, is polluted by heavy metals produced from mining activities.[54] Some rivers and streams are also polluted by mining.[55]

Honduras Geography articles: 42

Government and politics

Honduras is governed within a framework of a presidential representative democratic republic. The President of Honduras is both head of state and head of government. Executive power is exercised by the Honduran government. Legislative power is vested in the National Congress of Honduras. The judiciary is independent of both the executive branch and the legislature.

The National Congress of Honduras (Congreso Nacional) has 128 members (diputados), elected for a four-year term by proportional representation. Congressional seats are assigned the parties' candidates on a departmental basis in proportion to the number of votes each party receives.[1]

Political culture

Incumbent President Juan Orlando Hernández

In 1963, a military coup removed the democratically elected president, Ramón Villeda Morales. A string of authoritarian military governments held power uninterrupted until 1981, when Roberto Suazo Córdova was elected president.

The party system was dominated by the conservative National Party of Honduras (Partido Nacional de Honduras: PNH) and the liberal Liberal Party of Honduras (Partido Liberal de Honduras: PLH) until the 2009 Honduran coup d'état removed Manuel Zelaya from office and put Roberto Micheletti in his place.

The 2009 military coup ousted the country's democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya.

In late 2012, 1540 persons were interviewed by ERIC in collaboration with the Jesuit university, as reported by Associated Press. This survey found that 60.3% believed the police were involved in crime, 44.9% had "no confidence" in the Supreme Court, and 72% thought there was electoral fraud in the primary elections of November 2012. Also, 56% expected the presidential, legislative and municipal elections of 2013 to be fraudulent.[56]

Current Honduran president Juan Orlando Hernández took office on 27 January 2014. After managing to stand for a second term,[57] a very close election in 2017 left uncertainty as to whether Hernandez or his main challenger, television personality Salvador Nasralla, had prevailed.[58]

Foreign relations

Honduras and Nicaragua had tense relations throughout 2000 and early 2001 due to a boundary dispute off the Atlantic coast. Nicaragua imposed a 35% tariff against Honduran goods due to the dispute.

In June 2009 a coup d'état ousted President Manuel Zelaya; he was taken in a military aircraft to neighboring Costa Rica. The General Assembly of the United Nations voted to denounce the coup and called for the restoration of Zelaya. Several Latin American nations, including Mexico, temporarily severed diplomatic relations with Honduras. In July 2010, full diplomatic relations were once again re-established with Mexico.[59] The United States sent out mixed messages after the coup; Obama called the ouster a coup and expressed support for Zelaya's return to power. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, advised by John Negroponte, the former Reagan-era Ambassador to Honduras implicated in the Iran–Contra affair, refrained from expressing support.[60] She has since explained that the US would have had to cut aid if it called Zelaya's ouster a military coup, although the US has a record of ignoring these events when it chooses.[61] Zelaya had expressed an interest in Hugo Chávez' Bolivarian Alliance for Peoples of our America (ALBA), and had actually joined in 2008. After the 2009 coup, Honduras withdrew its membership.

This interest in regional agreements may have increased the alarm of establishment politicians. When Zelaya began calling for a "fourth ballot box" to determine whether Hondurans wished to convoke a special constitutional congress, this sounded a lot to some like the constitutional amendments that had extended the terms of both Hugo Chávez and Evo Morales. "Chávez has served as a role model for like-minded leaders intent on cementing their power. These presidents are barely in office when they typically convene a constitutional convention to guarantee their reelection," said a 2009 Spiegel International analysis,[62] which noted that one reason to join ALBA was discounted Venezuelan oil. In addition to Chávez and Morales, Carlos Menem of Argentina, Fernando Henrique Cardoso of Brazil and Columbian President Álvaro Uribe had all taken this step, and Washington and the EU were both accusing the Sandanista government in Nicaragua of tampering with election results.[62] Politicians of all stripes expressed opposition to Zelaya's referendum proposal, and the Attorney-General accused him of violating the constitution. The Honduran Supreme Court agreed, saying that the constitution had put the Supreme Electoral Tribunal in charge of elections and referenda, not the National Statistics Institute, which Zelaya had proposed to have run the count.[63] Whether or not Zelaya's removal from power had constitutional elements, the Honduran constitution explicitly protects all Hondurans from forced expulsion from Honduras.

The United States maintains a small military presence at one Honduran base. The two countries conduct joint peacekeeping, counter-narcotics, humanitarian, disaster relief, humanitarian, medical and civic action exercises. U.S. troops conduct and provide logistics support for a variety of bilateral and multilateral exercises. The United States is Honduras' chief trading partner.[39]

Military

Honduras has a military with the Honduran Army, Honduran Navy and Honduran Air Force.

In 2017, Honduras signed the UN treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.[64]

Administrative divisions

The departmental divisions 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

A new administrative division called ZEDE (Zonas de empleo y desarrollo económico) was created in 2013. ZEDEs have a high level of autonomy with their own political system at a judicial, economic and administrative level, and are based on free market capitalism.

Honduras Government and politics articles: 54