About Honduras

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Honduras -- Geography --

Official Name: Republic of Honduras
Capital City: Tegusigalpa
Languages: Spanish
Official Currency: Lempira
Religions: Catholics-97%, Protestants-3%
Population: 6 975 200
Land Area: 112 090 sq km
Landforms: Honduras could be separated in 3 main topographic regions – Plateau with hills and mountaines, Carribean lowlands and Pacific lowlands. The land of Honduras is very high-water. The biggest rivers are Koko, Pathuka, Siko and Ulma. The highest point is Las Minaspeak-2870 meters.

Honduras -- History --

Honduras was originally inhabited by indigenous tribes, the most powerful of which were the Mayans. The western-central part of Honduras was inhabited by the Lencas. These autonomous groups had their conflicts but maintained their commercial relationships with each other and with other populations as distant as Panama and Mexico. On July 30, 1502, Christopher Columbus first saw Honduran soil and he claimed the territory in the name of his sovereigns, Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile. He named the area "Honduras" (meaning "depths") for the deep water off the coast. In 1523 the first expeditionary forces arrived under the command of Gil Gonzàles de Avila, who hoped to rule the new territory. In 1524, Cristóbal de Olid arrived with the same intent on behalf of Hernán Cortés. Olid founded the colony Triunfo de la Cruz and tried to establish an independent government. When Cortés learned of this, he decided to reestablish his own authority by sending a new expedition, headed by Francisco de las Casas. Olid, who managed to capture his rivals, was betrayed by his men and assassinated. Cortés then traveled to Honduras to firmly establish his government in the city of Trujillo before returning to Mexico in 1526 By October 1537, the Lenca chief, Lempira, a warrior of great renown, had managed to unify more than two hundred native tribes in order to offer an organized resistance against penetration by the Spanish conquerors. After a long battle, Governor Montejo gained the Valley of Comayagua and vanquished the indigenous peoples Honduras gained independence from Spain in 1821. The country was then briefly annexed to the Mexican Empire. In 1823, Honduras joined the newly formed United Provinces of Central America federation, which collapsed in 1838. Gen. Francisco Morazan--a Honduran national hero--led unsuccessful efforts to maintain the federation. Honduras' agriculture-based economy was dominated in the 1900s by U.S. companies that established vast banana plantations along the north coast. Foreign capital, plantation life, and conservative politics held sway in Honduras from the late 19th century until the mid-20th century. . Authoritarian Gen. Tiburcio Carias Andino controlled Honduras during the Great Depression, until 1948. In 1955--after two authoritarian administrations and a strike by banana workers--young military reformists staged a coup that installed a provisional junta and paved the way for constituent assembly elections in 1957. This assembly appointed Ramon Villeda Morales as President and transformed itself into a national legislature with a 6-year term. In 1963, conservative military officers preempted constitutional elections and deposed Villeda in a bloody coup. The armed forces, led by Gen. Lopez Arellano, governed until 1970. Popular discontent continued to rise after a 1969 border war with El Salvador, known as "the Soccer War." A civilian President--Ramon Cruz of the National Party--took power briefly in 1970 but proved unable to manage the government. In 1972, Gen. Lopez staged another coup. Lopez adopted more progressive policies, including land reform, but his regime was brought down in the mid-1970s by corruption scandals. Following the overthrow of Anastasio Somoza in Nicaragua in 1979 and general instability in El Salvador at the time, Hondurans elected a constituent assembly in 1980 and voted in general elections in 1981. A new constitution was approved in 1982, and the Liberal Party government of President Roberto Suazo Cordoba took office. Since then followed 6 consecutive democratic elections. In 1998, Hurricane Mitch caused such massive and widespread loss that former Honduran President Carlos Roberto Flores claimed that fifty years of progress in the country were reversed.

Honduras -- Economy --

Honduras, with a per capita gross national income of $1,600, is one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere. The economy grew 6% in 2006 or by about 3.2% on a per capita basis, and by an estimated 6.7% in 2007. Historically dependent on exports of agricultural goods, the Honduran economy has diversified in recent decades and now has a strong export-processing (maquila) industry, primarily focused on assembling textile and apparel goods for re-export to the United States, as well as automobile wiring harnesses. These industries employ about 130,000 Hondurans, out of an economically active population of 2.8 million. Honduras also has extensive forest, marine, and mineral resources, although widespread slash-and-burn agricultural methods and illegal logging continue to destroy Honduran forests. Remittances from Hondurans living abroad, particularly the U.S., totaled $2.56 billion in 2007--more than a quarter of GDP. Meanwhile, Honduras's fuel import bill rose sharply with the surge in world oil prices (Honduras produces no petroleum), and foreign reserves of the Central Bank fell by nearly $98 million--about 4%. The rise in global grain prices also put upward pressure on Honduran consumer prices in 2007, and the inflation rate accelerated to 8.9% from 6.2% in 2006. Remittances may decline in 2008 with the slowdown in the U.S. economy The official exchange rate has been fixed at 18.89 Honduran Lempiras to the dollar since 2005. About 40% of the Honduran workforce was considered either unemployed or underemployed in 2006. This does not include the roughly 1 million Hondurans who have migrated to the United States.

Honduras -- Culture --

The most renowned Honduran painter is Jose Antonio Velasquez. Other important painters include Carlos Garay, and Roque Zelaya. Two of Honduras' most notable writers are Froylan Turcios and Ramon Amaya Amador. Others include Marco Antonio Rosa, Roberto Sosa, Lucila Gamero de Medina, Eduardo Bahr, Amanda Castro, Javier Abril Espinoza, Teofilo Trejo, and Roberto Quesada. Some of Honduras' notable musicians include Rafael Coello Ramos, Lidia Handal, Victoriano Lopez, Guillermo Anderson, Victor Donaire, Francisco Carranza and Camilo Rivera Guevara. Honduran cuisine makes extensive use of coconut, in both sweet and savory foods, and even in soups.

Honduras -- Political system, law and government --

Òhe 1982 constitution provides for a strong executive, a unicameral National Congress, and a judiciary appointed by the National Congress. The president is directly elected to a 4-year term by popular vote. The Congress also serves a 4-year term; congressional seats are assigned the parties' candidates in proportion to the number of votes each party receives in the various departments. The judiciary includes a Supreme Court of Justice (one president and 14 magistrates chosen by Congress for a seven-year term), courts of appeal. For administrative purposes, Honduras is divided into 18 departments, with municipal officials selected for 4-year terms. Reinforced by the media and several political watchdog organizations, concerted efforts to protect human rights and civil liberties continue.. Honduras held its seventh consecutive democratic elections in 2005 to elect a new president, unicameral Congress, and mayors. For the first time, as a result of the newly reformed Electoral Law, voters were able to vote for individual members of Congress, with photos of each candidate on the ballot, rather than party lists. For the electoral period 2006-2010, 31 women were elected to Congress. Additionally, 27 of these 31 congresswomen chose women as their alternates. The two major parties are the slightly left-of-center Liberal Party and the slightly-right-of-center National Party. The three much smaller registered parties--the Christian Democratic Party, the Innovation and National Unity Party, and the Democratic Unification Party--hold a few seats each in the Congress, but have never come close to winning the presidency. With the cessation of the 1980s civil wars in El Salvador and Nicaragua, the Honduran armed forces refocused their orientation toward combating transnational threats such as narcoterrorism and organized crime. Honduras supports efforts at regional integration and deployed troops to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.. Honduras is a member of the United Nations, the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Organization of American States (OAS), the Central American Parliament (PARLACEN), the Central American Integration System (SICA), the Conference of Central American Armed Forces (CFAC), and the Central American Security Commission (CASC). Honduras is currently a member of the UN Human Rights Commission. Honduras is a party to all UN and OAS counterterrorism conventions and protocols.