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LOCATION

Honduras is approximately 1000 miles southwest of Miami and has a mainly mountainous area of 48,200 square miles. To the North it has a large coastal line with the Caribbean sea and to the South it enjoys a small access to the Pacific.
Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras, got its tongue twisting name from the ancient Nahuatl language, and translated means "silver mountain" In effect, Tegucigalpa came to being during colonial times as a mining center. "Tegus" as its inhabitants affectionately call it, is a mix of an old colonial city that has turned into the modern capital of Honduras.
San Pedro Sula is called the industrial capital of Honduras. 80% of all industrial parks are within 20 miles of the city.
The coastal city of Ceiba and El Progresso are the third and forth largest cities.

HISTORY

Honduras lies at what was the southern tip of the Mayan civilization that spread southwards from the Yucatán peninsula through modern Guatemala to the city of Copán, now in north-west Honduras. The Mayan civilization collapsed long before the arrival of Christopher Columbus, who visited Trujillo in north-east Honduras in 1502 on his third voyage to the new world. The country was colonized by Spain after some resistance by the Lenca peoples of the central highlands. Their chief, Lempira, who was murdered by the Spaniards, became a national symbol after independence.
On independence in 1821 Honduras joined the Central American Federation, and the Honduran general, Francisco Morazán, became its first president. He also entered the phatheon of national heroes after he was killed in the break-up of the federation in 1839. Honduras' liberal revolution took place in the 1870s under the presidency of Marco Aurelio Soto.
In 1899 the first banana concession was granted to the Vacarro brothers; their company would later become Standard Fruit. In 1907 Sam Zemurray set up the Cuyamel Fruit Company; later bought by United Fruit. The unequal relationship that would exist between the companies and the Honduran state for the first half of the 20th century gave rise to the description "banana republic." Between 1932 and 1948 Honduras was ruled by a dictator, Tiburcio Carias Andino.
After the fall of Carias, Honduras began an uneven process of political and economic modernization. In 1954, Honduras signed a military treaty with the US government, which was concerned for its strategic interests in the region following the rise of the Arbenz government in Guatemala.
In 1957 a Liberal president, Ramón Villeda Morales, was elected. His administration promoted the first agrarian reform and saw the beginning of social welfare legislation. He also took Honduras into the Central American Common Market, the Mercado Común Centroaméricano (MCCA), which was founded in 1960.
President Villeda was ousted from power by a military coup in 1963 and General Oswaldo López Arellano became president. General López Arellano tried to resolve growing land conflicts in the West at the cost of Salvadorian immigrants, and as a result, Honduras fought a brief war with El Salvador in 1967 that went into the history books as the "soccer war" since it was triggered by abusive treatment of the Honduran team during a World Cup qualifying game in San Salvador.
In his second presidency, from 1972 to 1975, General López Arellano supervised the most radical phase of the agrarian reform, which took the form of a colonization movement in the Aguán valley, during which rangers were cleared from the valley to make way for peasant cooperatives dedicated to bananas and African palm. A state forestry corporation, Corporación Hondureia de Desarrollo Forestal (Cohdefor), was established, marking the start of a period of military government that also saw the foundation of the Corporatión Nacional de Inversiones (Conadi). These initiatives led to a rapid increase in external debt, to US$1.5bn by the end of the 1970s.
The 1980s was a period of political and economic crisis in Honduras. The world recession of 1979 and the debt crisis of 1982 revealed the flaw in a development strategy that relied on foreign borrowing to pay for public spending.
The first half of the 1980s were dominated by the Contra war in Nicaragua. The Honduran army turned a blind eye to the Contras' presence in southern Honduras, and in return the liberal government of Roberto Suazo Córdova (1982-1986) received economic and military aid from the USA. This was a period of internal repression by the armed forces under the command of General Gustavo Alvarez Martínez, during which approximately 170 left-wing activists "disappeared." However, the focus of US policy gradually shifted towards supporting democratic governments in Central America. This helped to consolidate democratic rule in Honduras and put an end to the long tradition of military coups.
In the late 1980s, during the government of the Liberal president José Simón Azcona, as the Contra war waned, the US government pressed with increasing insistence for economic policy reforms on the lines of structural adjustment packages advocated by the World Bank.
The election of the Partido Nacional candidate, Rafael Leonardo Callejas, in 1989 set a seal on these developments, bringing to power a modernizing civilian president committed to the Structural Adjustment Program and keen to see a continued shift in the balance of power away from the military establishment toward the civilian administration. This trend has continued until today with a yearly improvement of the infrastructure.

THE HONDURAN PEOPLE

Over two thousand years of history are richly displayed in Honduras' numerous Mayan archaeological sites and vestiges of early Spanish colonialism. As a result of this diverse history, the Honduran people are an ethnic mix of native Indian, Spanish and other nationalities. Honduras has enjoyed long lasting cultural, economic and political ties with the United States. Visitors and foreign residents in Honduras are often pleasantly surprised by the welcoming attitude of Hondurans. Foreign residents live securely, and in pleasant surroundings, in all regions of the country.

POPULATION

Honduras has a population of over six million. It is growing at an average annual rate of 3%. The urban population is increasing at a much higher rate. Over 700,000 people live in the capital city of Tegucigalpa and 600,000 live in San Pedro Sula, the largest industrial city.

LANGUAGE

The official language is Spanish. English is widely used as a second language.

POLITICAL STRUCTURE

Today Honduras has a stable democratic government that is committed to private enterprise. In January 1994 president Carlos Roberto Reina of the Partido Liberal started his four year term. He replaced president Rafael Leonardo Callejas of the Partido Nacional. The president is elected for a single term as the head of state and the head of government. He appoints the governors of the eighteen departments of Honduras. There are three vice-presidents, who bear the title designado presindencial. The legislature is the National Assembly, with one member and a substitute elected for every 35,000 voters. There is a single national election on the bases of universal adult suffrage for the president and the legislature. Seats in the legislature are allocated to each party according to its vote in each region. This tends to make for domination of the political system by the president, which enforces party loyalty. Honduras has a US-style legal system with a Supreme Court at its apex.
Two parties, the Partido Liberal (PL) and the Partido Nacional (PN), have dominated electoral politics throughout the 20th century. The PL's origins lie in the anti-clerical reform movement of the 1880s. The party has a strong rural base linked to conservative land owners and to small peasants. It also has an important urban base, which tends to be more radical in Tegucigalpa and more business based in San Pedro Sula. The PN originated in a split in the PL and emerged as a coherent group in the 1920s. Its strongholds tend to be in rural areas and the backward departments of the west and south. By tradition politically more conservative then the Liberals, the PN has rarely won elections. When the party came under the leadership of Rafael Leonardo Callejas, a young technocrat who managed to reorganize it as a potent electoral force and to establish support for a radical Structural Adjustment Program among its leading factions. At the same time, he shored up private business support for the party, and it is now much better organized and financed than its rivals.
There are two other legally established political parties, the Partido Demócrata Cristiana de Honduras and the Partido de Innovación y Unidad (PINU). Each of them is left of center and neither is a serious electoral force. January 2006 Manuel Zelaya was elected President of the republic.

CURRENCY AND BANKING

The Honduran currency is the lempira. Having been set at Lps2 : US$1 since 1919, the lempira was effectively devalued in the March 1990 economic package of the Callejas government. Almost all transactions were shifted to an inter bank rate of Lps4 : US$1. Further adjustment took the rate to Lps5.3 : US$1 by the end of 1990. A new law requiring exporters to repatriate their foreign exchange earnings; and renewed flows of balance-of-payments support from the IMF, World Bank, IDB and USAID stabilized the rate. In 1992 congress approved a law allowing the establishment of casa de gambio (exchange houses), which institutionalized the free-market rate for the first time. In mid 1992 the exchange rate was fully liberalized and by year end it had depreciated to Lps5.9 : US$1, a level that held stable into early 1993. In January 1994 the rate was Lps7.3 : US$1 and in January 1996 it jumped to 10.1 : US$1. In January of 1997 it was 13 : US$1 and today it is Lps19 : US$1. There are about 20 private banks in Honduras, including two foreign banks: Citibank, whose local subsidiary is the Banco de Honduras, and Lloyds Bank. Apart from the Central Bank, the main state banks include the agricultural development bank, Banco Agricola de Desarrollo (Banadesa) and a municipal development bank. The Central Bank plans to rely increasingly on open market operations to regulate credit conditions.

ENTRY FORMALITIES AND RESIDENCE

There is no tourist visa required. Working and resident visas are easily arranged.

EDUCATION

Accredited bi-lingual schools from kindergarten through high school provide a quality education to children of US residents. Graduates are regularly accepted in US Ivy League colleges.

LIFESTYLE

Foreign Investors, managers, and technical staff living in, or temporarily visiting Honduras, will find living conditions comfortable, and a wide variety of pleasurable activities easily available. Spacious housing of brick and masonry construction, usually with atriums or inner patios, in well cared for residential areas, is the norm. Apartment complexes offer fully equipped one to three bedroom apartments, to those who prefer a more central location. Domestic help is plentiful at a modest cost. International standard hotels and apart-hotels offer single rooms and small suites to those who make short visits.

CULTURAL ACTIVITIES

Shopping malls and supermarkets are conveniently located, with ample parking space. They carry products similar to those sold in the US. A wide selection of restaurants offers continental and Asiatic cuisine as well as local specialties. Modern movie houses feature first run films about the same time they are shown in the US. Cable TV is available in the principal cities, with more then twenty English language channels. Satellite TV distributors will install and service individual home units at a reasonable cost.

RECREATION

From sight seeing to scuba diving, Honduras has a range of attractions within a short distance of all major Honduran cities. Country clubs have swimming pools, tennis courts and golf courses. Lake Yojoa, an uncrowded volcanic lake with world class bass fishing, is only a few miles from the main Tegucigalpa-San Pedro Sula highway. The National Energy Company arranges visits to an other beautiful lake, created when the El Cajón hydroelectric project was build.
Mayan archaeological sites are scattered throughout the country. The most renowned is Copán, a two hour drive from San Pedro Sula. This uniquely preserved site, in a sylvan setting, presets not only the Mayan monuments and stele, but also the living areas and life style of the ancient Mayas.
Caribbean beaches are an hour's drive from San Pedro Sula and the Bay Islands are only a twenty minute flight. These verdant Caribbean islands are noted for their barrier reef, second in length only to Australia's. Well-equipped resorts such as Anthony Keys provide excellent scuba diving and snorkeling.

HEALTH

Adequate health care facilities are provided by over twenty-five hospitals and clinics. If necessary, specialized US care in Miami, New Orleans or Houston, is only two hours flight time from Honduras. Dental clinics with up to date equipment are numerous. Many Honduran physicians and dentists received training in the US and Europe.

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