Honduras Country Information
Honduras is a country where you can find vast expanses of nature with clear waters and pristine beaches, magnificent mountains, lush jungles, rugged rivers, and intriguing ancient ruins. Ecotourism is popular with river rafting, scuba diving, and hiking in spectacular Honduran mountains. Ancient ruins and the strong Mayan culture can still be found throughout the country.
Honduras is among the 5 poorest countries in the western hemisphere with a GDP per capita of $3,100 per year, with more than 50% of the population (2007 about 7 million people) below the poverty line and unemployment is about 30%.
In 2005 Honduras signed the free trade agreement of the Americas, or CAFTA, with the United States and that same year Puerto Cortes, the main port in Honduras was included in the U.S. Container Security Initiative, an unprecedented effort to build upon existing port security measures by enhancing the U.S. federal government’s ability to scan containers for nuclear and radiological materials overseas and to better assess the risk of inbound containers.
Honduras contains vast biological reserves like most of the countries throughout Central America, and for a small country of 43,000 square miles, boasts more than 6,000 species of plants, around 260 of which are classified Orchids, around 250 reptiles and amphibians, over 700 bird and 100 mammal species.
Honduras is a democracy and is considered a developing country whose national language is Spanish.
A passport valid for at least 3 months is necessary to enter the country and a visa is not required, however tourists must provide proof of return travel.
In June of 2006, Honduras entered the Central America or CA-4 Border Control Agreement between Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua which states that visitors may enter any of these countries and travel freely crossing borders without any additional visas or entry permissions as long as they honor their visit to the maximum 90 days.
Crime is prevalent in Honduras and foreigners must take precautions. With a wide range of crimes being committed including murder, kidnapping, rape, and assault, among others. Using common sense is the rule throughout the country and foreigners should be careful driving through rural areas and cities in the nighttime.
Medical care varies throughout the country with support staff and equipment not being up to U.S. standards anywhere in Honduras. Ambulance service is almost non-existent throughout the country and limited even in the cities. Medical Insurance is something that is of concern and travelers should make sure their insurance covers accidents abroad and also if their insurance covers evacuation. This cannot be overly expressed as the medical care in general throughout Honduras is less than adequate and a simple emergency could produce non-acceptable results.
Malaria is a constant concern and people visiting even for a short time are at risk from this Mosquito borne illness. Acute respiratory infections are also widespread with more than 100,000 cases being reported annually.
Honduras lacks the infrastructure for maintaining pure drinking water and visitors are advised not to drink the tap water in the country.
The roads in Honduras are generally in poor condition and because of high crime drivers should take precaution on the poorly lit and marked highways. Landslides are common especially during their rainy season which runs from May through December and drivers should always maintain locked doors and carry cellular phones for emergencies, especially in the cities where problems occur at stoplights and the congested downtown areas.
One of the poorest countries in Central America with an almost nonexistent manufacturing sector, the Honduras economy depends upon the exportation of Bananas and Coffee. Corn, Cotton, Cattle, sugarcane and Tobacco also make up for some of the exports of Honduras.
With a GDP of over $3.3 billion dollars and exports valued at $843 Million as of 1992, industry makes up 50% of the country’s total production and imports were valued at $983 Million.
Major trading partners are the U.S., European Union, Central American Common Market, Japan, Venezuela and Mexico, and the external debt amounts to $3 Billion as of 1993.
Returning to constitutional rule in 1982 after 10 years or military rule, Honduras drafted their new constitution, the country’s 16th.
Politics in Honduras
Evolving around the Liberal Party of Honduras and the National Party since the late 60’s, the armed forces have been the main political influence controlling national security, along with governing directly and influencing country policy.
With only 35,000 telephones throughout the country, the Honduras telecommunication system is hardly maintained, with service usually limited to the government offices. Outside of the major population areas, telephones don’t exist and there are many rural areas without communication at all. Radio broadcasts are the primary ways of passing information along to the Honduras population with at least one station in the remote areas.
Historically speaking, Honduras has been one of the poorest and most underdeveloped countries in Central America. The rugged terrain and lack of natural ports have kept this country isolated from the mainstream of world trading activity. Consequently, the social and political institutions have had a weak base to work from and much of its history has been plagued by social and political unrest. Crime has been a continuing problem while poor roads, lack of decent medical care and lack of infrastructure has kept mainstream tourism away.
However the adventerous traveler with street smart savy and nerve will find a vacation in Honduras to be well worth the effort. Friendly people, wide open clean spaces, awesome beach areas and low prices make for an all out great vacation experience!