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Honduras Country Information

Background:
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
Location: Central America, bordering the Caribbean Sea, between Guatemala and Nicaragua and bordering the Gulf of Fonseca (North Pacific Ocean), between El Salvador and Nicaragua

Area: total: 112,090 sq km
Water: 200 sq km
Land: 111,890 sq km
Area - comparative: slightly larger than Tennessee

Border countries: Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua

Climate: subtropical in lowlands, temperate in mountains
Terrain: 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

People
Population: 6,823,568
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: 19 years
Population growth rate: 2.24%
Life expectancy at birth: male: 64.99 years
female: 67.37 years (2004 est.)

Ethnic groups: mestizo (mixed Amerindian and European) 90%, Amerindian 7%, black 2%, white 1%
Religions: Roman Catholic 97%, Protestant minority

Languages: Spanish, Amerindian dialects
Literacy (age 15 and over can read and write): total population: 76.2%

Government
Country name: Republic of Honduras
Government type: democratic constitutional republic
Capital: Tegucigalpa
Independence: 15 September 1821 (from Spain)
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal and compulsory

Executive branch: chief of state: President Ricardo (Joest) MADURO (since 27 January 2002); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
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)
Judicial branch: Supreme Court of Justice or Corte Suprema de Justicia (judges are elected for seven-year terms by the National Congress)

Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Mario Miguel CANAHUATI
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

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

Economy
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.

Population below poverty line: 53% (1993 est.)
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture 34%, industry 21%, services 45% (2001 est.)
Unemployment rate: 27.5% (2004 est.)

Agriculture - bananas, coffee, citrus; beef; timber; shrimp

Industries: sugar, coffee, textiles, clothing, wood products

Exports - commodities: coffee, bananas, shrimp, lobster, meat; zinc, lumber (2000)

Currency: lempira (HNL)

Communications
Telephone system: general assessment: inadequate system
international: country code - 504



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