Honduras, or Republic of Honduras, a country in Central America. It lies between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean and is bordered by Nicaragua. El Salvador, and Guatemala. Its area, including the Bay Islands in the Caribbean, is 43,277 square miles (112,087 km 2). Dimensions are about 400 miles (640 km) east-west and 200 miles (320 km) north-south.
|Facts in brief about Honduras|
|Official language: Spanish.|
|Area: 43,277 mi2 (112,088 km2). Greatest distances—east-west, 405 mi (652 km); north-south, 240 mi (386 km). Coastlines—Caribbean, 382 mi (615 km); Pacific, 48 mi (77 km).|
|Elevation: Highest—Cerro Las Minas, 9,347 ft (2,849 m) above sea level. Lowest—sea level along the coasts.|
|Population: Current estimate—7,691,000; density, 178 per mi2 (69 per km2); distribution, 53 percent rural, 47 percent urban. 2001 census—6,535,344.|
|Chief products: Agriculture—bananas, beans, beef and dairy cattle, coffee, corn, oranges, plantains, rice, sugar cane, tomatoes Manufacturing—cigarettes, clothing and textiles, lumber, processed foods and beverages. Mining—gold, silver, zinc.|
|National holiday: Independence Day, September 15.|
|National anthem: "Himno Nacional de Honduras" ("National Hymn of Honduras").|
|Flag and coat of arms: Honduras's flag, adopted in 1866, has three horizontal stripes of blue, white, and blue (top to bottom). Five blue stars in the middle white stripe represent the five Central American republics that formed a union in the early 1800's. The coat of arms describes Honduras as Free, Sovereign, and Independent, and shows the date of the nation's independence-September 15, 1821.|
|Money: Basic unit—lempira. One hundred centavos equal one lempira.|
Honduras is largely a mountainous country with lowlands along both coasts. The rugged interior is made up of numerous ranges with intervening fertile valleys and basins. The highest peaks are in the southwest, where elevations exceed 9,000 feet (2,740 m). Few of the ranges are volcanic, and there are no active volcanoes. The lowlands along the Caribbean are more extensive than those along the Pacific and are broadest in the east along the Mosquito Coast.
Except for the Choluteca, which flows to the Pacific, the major rivers of Honduras flow northeastward from the interior to the Caribbean. They include the Ula, Agun, Patuca, and Coco. Lake Yojoa, in west-central Honduras, is a scenic mountain lake; Caratasca Lagoon, on the Mosquito Coast, is a large brackish body of water.
Climate varies despite Honduras's tropical location. The coasts are oppressively hot and humid, while the mountains are more moderate and agreeable. In Tegucigalpa, situated at an elevation of about 3,200 feet (975 m), average monthly temperatures range between 85 and 65 F. (30 and 18 C.) in May, the warmest month, and about 76 and 60 F. (25 and 15 C.) in December, the coolest month. More than 80 inches (2,030 mm) of rain falls each year on the Caribbean coast, where there is no dry season. Elsewhere the annual rainfall ranges from 30 to 80 inches (760 to 2,030 mm) and comes mainly during May through October. Hurricanes occasionally strike the Caribbean coast, causing extensive damage.
The coastal lowlands and the low northern slopes of the mountains are covered by tropical rain forests. In the mountains there are grasslands and forests of evergreen and deciduous trees. Animals include anteaters, armadillos, deer, jaguars, monkeys, pumas, tapirs, alligators, crocodiles, and numerous kinds of birds, snakes, and insects.
Honduras is predominantly an agricultural country. Farming employs more than half of the nation's workers, although only about two-fifths of the land is used for agriculture. Along the Caribbean coast, large plantations grow bananas, the country's chief export. Coffee, also a major export, is raised on small farms in the mountains. Corn, beans, plantains, rice, and sorghum are the basic food crops. They are grown widely for subsistence; methods and equipment are often primitive. Tobacco, cotton, African palm nuts, and sugarcane are also significant crops. Poultry, cattle, and hogs are the most numerous farm animals.
Fishing is done mainly in the Caribbean. Shrimp and lobster are the most valuable portion of the catch. Lumber, long an important export, is of decreasing significance. Mineral resources include many metals and nonmetals, but only silver, lead, zinc, and small amounts of gold are mined.
Manufacturing is poorly developed, mainly because of lack of capital, inadequate transportation, and a largely unskilled population. Industries are small and mainly produce such consumer goods as meat and dairy products, sugar, milled grains, beverages, textiles, clothing, furniture, and tobacco products. San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa are the chief manufacturing centers.
Service industries are also important in Honduras, including community, government, and personal services such as education and health care, trade, restaurants, and hotels.
Transportation is difficult in most sections because of the mountainous terrain. Railway lines are concentrated in the north and are used chiefly to transport bananas. The road system, which is not extensive, radiates from Tegucigalpa. Only about a fifth of all the road mileage is paved. The main airports are at Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula. Ocean ports include those at La Ceiba, Tela, and Puerto Corts.
The basic currency unit is the lempira.
More than 90 per cent of the population is mestizo, of mixed Indian and Spanish descent. There is an admixture of freed black slaves and other groups, and some Hondurans are of pure Indian, black, or Spanish descent. About 62 per cent of the people live in rural areas.
Spanish is the prevailing and official language. English is spoken in some sections, especially on the Bay Islands and along the Caribbean coast. Indian dialects are spoken in a few remote regions. Roman Catholicism is the predominant religion.
Education is free and compulsory for children 7 to 15 years of age, but school attendance is low. Nearly half the adult population is unable to read or write. The National University is located at Tegucigalpa, with branches at San Pedro Sula and La Ceiba.
Under the constitution that went into effect in 1982, Honduras is a republic. The constitution provides for a president, elected to a four-year term. The president appoints a cabinet to help carry out government operations. The country's legislature is the National Congress. The judicial system consists of a supreme court and various lower courts.