Honduras has a long history of military rule, corruption, poverty and crime which have left it one of the least developed and most unstable countries in Central America.

Until the mid-1980s, Honduras was dominated by the military, which supported US efforts to stem revolutionary movements in the region. Since then, civilian leaders have sought to curb the power of the military, with varying degrees of success.

Thousands of Hondurans leave to go to the US each year and the remittances they send home are a crucial source of income for many families.

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President: Xiomara Castro

Left-wing candidate Xiomara Castro won the November 2021 election on a platform of social justice and transparency.

She promised to tackle powerful drug trafficking gangs, and liberalise strict abortion laws.

Ms Castro’s husband, Manuel Zelaya, was president from 2006 to 2009, when he was ousted by a coup. She stood for the presidency on two intervening occasions.


Honduras can be a dangerous country for journalists. Reporters working for opposition media risk threats and physical attack.

Media ownership is highly concentrated and owners of outlets exert editorial influence.

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Some key dates in the history of Honduras:

1502 – Christopher Colombus lands in Honduras, a country originally inhabited by indigenous tribes, most notably the Maya. Spanish colonisation begins in 1524.

1821 Honduras declares independence, becomes part of Mexican Empire until 1823, when it joins United Provinces of Central America until federation collapses in 1838.

1839 – Republic falls under influence of US corporations, which establish vast fruit plantations.

1963 – President Ramone Morales is deposed in coup. Colonel Osvaldo Lopez Arellano heads first of string of military regimes in power until 1981.

1969 – Football War with El Salvador leads to 4,000 deaths in a 100-hour conflict.

1981-82 – First civilian government in over a century elected, but military remains influential.

1980s Honduras is a stronghold for the US in its proxy war against the pro-Soviet Sandinistas in Nicaragua, training and funding Contra rebels.

1998 – Hurricane Mitch devastates Honduras.

2009 – Several years of a weak but strengthening democracy are curtailed when President Manuel Zelaya is deposed in a military coup.

Related Topics

  • Juan Orlando Hernandez
  • Honduras

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