The facts on Honduras
Honduras extends through Central America from the Caribbean to the Pacific, with stunning mountains, beaches, thriving cities and agricultural land producing coffee, bananas and coconut oil. Its cultural richness is determined by its past - indigenous Mayan civilizations, Spanish influences beginning with Columbus, and a long relationship with the United States.
But today, Honduras faces enormous challenges. It has the highest homicide rates in the world due to gangs and the country’s geographical position between the cocaine-producing countries of South America and consumers in other countries. It is the second-poorest country in the Western Hemisphere - only Haiti is poorer.
Honduras continues to struggle even while other countries in Latin America see significant improvements. Widespread poverty is compounded by high rates of crime in the three large cities. Deforestation reduced forest cover by 33 % between 1990 and 2008 and continues to be a major problem. Only six countries - all in Africa – have experienced a higher rate of deforestation.
More than two-thirds of the eight million people in Honduras live below the national poverty line, an increase of almost 15% in the last 20 years. A quarter of Honduran households live on the equivalent of less than $ 1.25 US per day per person.
Honduras is ranked 121 of 187 countries in the United Nations International Human Development Index. By comparison, the U.S. ranks fourth. Honduras consistently scores below the world average on the HDI and below its neighbors in Latin America; in the 2010 survey, Honduras was the only country in Latin America that lost ground.
It is a functioning democracy, but its government institutions are not working and the coup of 2009 has created deep social divisions, increasing the internal problems.
Some key facts about Honduras:
• The risk of death for women during childbirth is one in 240, nearly nine times the rate in the United States
• One in every 40 children dies before their fifth birthday, triple the U.S. rate
• One in 50 children die before their first birthday, almost three times the U.S. rate
• One in five Hondurans has no access to basic health services, and one in four struggles with chronic malnutrition. Children in Honduras are twice as likely to suffer from stunting (below normal height) or wasting (underweight ) than the average for the Latin American region.
• The average life expectancy is 73 – up from 66 in 1990 but still well below the average of 78 in the U.S.
• Gross domestic product per capita is $3,448. Only Haiti has a lower GDP among Latin American countries. In comparison, GDP per capita in Mexico is almost four times higher at $ 12,429, and the per-capita GDP in the U.S. is $ 41,761
• 10% of Hondurans received 43% of all income in 2010, which is more than the bottom 80% combined. Depending on the measure used, income inequality in Honduras is the third or fifth largest in the world
• Only 51% of the basic housing and education necessary to succeed in life are available and distributed equally among the children in Honduras
• The middle class in Honduras accounts for just over 16% of the population, but the household income of this class is still regarded as poor in a developed country like the U.S. (Annual income below $ 10,000)
• Hondurans living in the country's rural areas represent 42% of the population, but 75% of people living in poverty. 86% of Hondurans living in extreme poverty live in rural areas, where they mostly work as subsistence farmers growing corn and beans
• Up to 70% of rural women are illiterate, and only 20% have secondary education
• Basic education is financed by the state, but the additional costs and difficulties of transport, accommodation and food means that many children lack access to education. Few rural communities have secondary schools (and many do not have primary schools) and few families can afford the equivalent of $ 100 - $ 150 per month for room and board for a child who has to travel to school in an urban area
• Poor families often have no choice but to withdraw their children from school so they can work and contribute to family income
• The gross enrollment in school is 72%, compared to 92% in the U.S.
• The literacy rate is 84%, versus 97% in the U.S.
• Among poor families, children from age six frequently work in coffee plantations during planting and harvesting. During the growing season from June to August, children make up approximately 20% of the workforce. In the harvest season, November to February, children comprise 30-40% of the workforce
• Child labor has been increasing in the Honduras melon and watermelon industries, with an estimated 25% of workers reportedly children.
Sources: U.S. Department of Labour, UNICEF, International Index of Human Development, U.S. Congressional Research Service, World Vision, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the World Bank Honduras Fact Sheet