Honduras, the second poorest country in Central America, has an extraordinarily unequal distribution of income, and high unemployment. The economy relies heavily on a narrow range of exports, notably bananas and coffee, making it vulnerable to natural disasters and shifts in commodity prices.
The country still has not recovered from Hurricane Mitch in 1998, which caused $2 billion in damages, and in which over 5,600 people were reported dead or missing. Almost all — 90 percent — of its bridges and highway system were damaged or completely destroyed. Hardest hit was its agricultural sector, which has yet to recover.
Honduras has become increasingly dependent on the world community for assistance in combating hunger, starvation, malnutrition, and poverty. Unemployment, gang violence, and abandonment of children by families with scarce resources also contribute to its overall landscape. Malnutrition is widespread in Honduras and infant and child mortality rates are high.
Major diseases that affect Hondurans include malaria, typhoid, influenza, tuberculosis and pneumonia. Honduras has also now been categorized as the Central American country with the highest number of HIV/AIDS infections.
Once part of Spain’s vast empire in the New World, Honduras became an independent nation in 1821. After two and a half decades of mostly military rule, a freely elected civilian government came to power in 1982. During the 1980s, Honduras proved a haven for anti-Sandinista contras fighting the Marxist Nicaraguan Government and an ally to Salvadoran Government forces fighting leftist guerrillas. The country was devastated by Hurricane Mitch in 1998, which killed about 5,600 people and caused approximately $2 billion in damage.