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MHz Networks - Country Backgrounds (Page 2)

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MHz Networks - Country Backgrounds
The second largest country in Central America (after Nicaragua), Honduras was once part of
Spain's vast empire in the new world. The ancient Mayan culture extended into part of present-
day Honduras and it remains a subject of intense study by anthropologists and archeologists.
There are still tiny pockets of indigenous populations living in remote areas of the country, trying
to sustain themselves by living off the land. Honduras has a long history of military and political
struggles, and during much of the twentieth century the country was ruled by military
strongmen. A freely elected civilian government came to power for the first time in 1982.
Honduras has a mixed climate--subtropical in the lowlands and temperate in the mountains.
Earthquakes are frequent, but generally mild. Honduras is extremely susceptible to damaging
hurricanes and floods along the Caribbean coast. Hurricane Mitch devastated the country in
1998, killing about 5,600 people and causing almost $1 billion in damage.
Education is compulsory for six years, starting at age seven. About 93% of Honduran children
attend elementary school, but only about 30% go on to high school, and only about 8% attend
college. Most schools are generally in poor condition. Add to that the high cost of school
materials and a lack of trained teachers, and a good education is largely the privilege of those
who can afford to go to private schools.
Honduras is one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere, with a per capita income
of only $900. There is a large supply of unskilled labor and a high rate of unemployment (28%).
Thousands of people flock to the Asian-owned assembly firms, or maquiladoras, that have
sprung up in recent years, looking for work. Others find work in agriculture, helping to grow
and harvest the country's two main crops--bananas and coffee. But prices for these products
on the world market have fluctuated greatly, keeping wages low.
For most Hondurans, hot running water and air conditioning are luxuries. Plumbing and
sanitation, especially outside of the cities, is primitive by U.S. standards. While television is
available throughout the country, such things as computers and cell phones are beyond the
reach of most of the people. The same is true of owning a private automobile and a frequent
site along the roads of Honduras--especially in the countryside--are former U.S. yellow school
buses that provide low-cost public transportation.
There are lots of movie theaters in the large cities and towns, many showing films from the U.S.
But by far, the most popular activity in Honduras is soccer, which has been described as a
national passion. Not only are the stadiums packed for professional games during the season
(from September though March), but games are played in every city and town throughout the
country all year round.
More information on Honduras can be found at the following web sites:

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