|Honduras is a country that is six times larger than its Southern neighbourg of El Salvador with a slightly higher population. Its geography is much more varied than El Salvador, but was just as devastated by many natural and human tragedies throughout its history, including many dictators and a civil war. The country is relatively stable since the 1990s... although there was a major crisis in 2009 that was considered as a coup d'état by most foreign countries. Contrary to El Salvador, Honduras still has lots of natural untouched areas with many large national parks.|
Honduras' history is closely tied with
the one of El Salvador... until they parted ways in 1839, despite
many attempts of Honduras to re-institute a larger Central American
country or federation. The national politics always faced problems,
as illustrated by the fact there were no less than 74 Presidents of
Honduras since its independence in 1839. That's an average of just 2
years and 4 months per presidency. The country was mostly ruled by
the military from 1956 to 1982.
During the 1980s, the US set a number
of military bases in Honduras to support the Nicaraguan government
fight against the Contras, and injected money to improve transport
infrastructures. Despite the many civil wars affecting its
neighbours, Honduras never faced an outbreak of civil unrest on its
own territory, partly because it was doing preventive attacks and
assassinations on groups that could have become a treat.
The country has roughly 8.5 millions
inhabitants, with a median age of just above 21 years old, making it
the second youngest population in the area, barely older than
Guatemala's. 97% of the population is of catholic religion and about
half live in cities. Tegucigalpa, the capital, is the largest city
of the country with over a million people.
Honduras is on the North side of the
chain of volcanoes that string Central America and has only a few
volcanoes, mostly on islands in the Caribbean sea. With its vast
territory it was able to preserve many large areas for natural
preservation and prevent the deforestation issue now being faced by
El Salvador. In fact, the North East corner of Honduras is still
considered as a virgin territory and roads are very limited
But the absence of volcanoes doesn't mean the country
didn't have its share of natural disasters. It was hit on many
occasions by tropical storms and hurricanes from the Caribbean sea.
The most important one was probably Mitch in 1998. That single even
caused for many billions of dollars of damage of the country,
destroying 70% of the crops and about 80% of the transport
infrastructures (including almost every bridge of the country). To
date, the country hasn't recovered from it and the transportation and
communications infrastructures are still very weak and in poor
Honduras is really a third world
country with a very weak economy, without the benefits of having a
large diaspora in the US to send money in. Because of the historical
importance of the US in the local politics, it is still the main
economic partner, way beyond its neighbours.
The local currency is the Lempira (L),
which is worth about US$0.05 right now, divided in 100 centavos. You
have bills of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 500 Lempiras... and coins
of 5, 10, 20 and 50 centavos. That was the lowest value bills and
coins I ever handled... a currency bill with a value of 5 cents and a
coin with a value of one quarter of a cent.
Currency bills of Honduras.