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. Since then, the economy has slowly rebounded.
chief of state: President Juan Orlando HERNANDEZ Alvarado (since 27 January 2014); Vice Presidents Ricardo ALVAREZ, Maria RIVERA, and Olga ALVARADO (since 26 January 2018); note – the president is both chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Juan Orlando HERNANDEZ Alvarado (since 27 January 2014); Vice Presidents Ricardo ALVAREZ, Maria RIVERA, and Olga ALVARADO (since 26 January 2018)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by president
elections/appointments: president directly elected by simple majority popular vote for a 4-year term; election last held on 26 November 2017 (next to be held in November 2021); note – in 2015, the Constitutional Chamber of the Honduran Supreme Court struck down the constitutional provisions on presidential term limits
election results: Juan Orlando HERNANDEZ Alvarado reelected president; percent of vote Juan Orlando HERNANDEZ Alvarado (PNH) 43%, Salvador NASRALLA (Alianza de Oposicion conta la Dictadura) 41.4%, Luis Orlando ZELAYA Medrano (PL) 14.7%, other .9%
description: unicameral National Congress or Congreso Nacional (128 seats; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by closed, party-list proportional representation vote; members serve 4-year terms)
elections: last held on 27 November 2017 (next to be held on 28 November 2021)
election results: percent of vote by party – PNH 47.7%, LIBRE 23.4%, PL 20.3%, AP 3.1%, PINU 3.1%, DC 0.8%, PAC 0.8%, UD 0.8%; seats by party – PNH 61, LIBRE 30, PL 26, AP 4, PINU 4, DC 1, PAC 1, UD 1; composition – men 101, women 27, percent of women 21.1%
highest courts: Supreme Court of Justice or Corte Suprema de Justicia (15 principal judges, including the court president, and 7 alternates; court organized into civil, criminal, constitutional, and labor chambers); note – the court has both judicial and constitutional jurisdiction
judge selection and term of office: court president elected by his peers; judges elected by the National Congress from candidates proposed by the Nominating Board, a diverse 7-member group of judicial officials and other government and non-government officials nominated by each of their organizations; judges elected by Congress for renewable, 7-year terms
subordinate courts: courts of appeal; courts of first instance; justices of the peace
Political parties and leaders
- Alliance against the Dictatorship or Alianza de Oposicion conta la Dictadura [Salvador NASRALLA] (electoral coalition)
- Anti-Corruption Party or PAC [Marlene ALVARENGA]
- Christian Democratic Party or DC [Lucas AGUILERA]
- Democratic Unification Party or UD [Alfonso DIAZ]
- Freedom and Refoundation Party or LIBRE [Jose Manuel ZELAYA Rosales]
- Honduran Patriotic Alliance or AP [Romeo VASQUEZ Velasquez]
- Liberal Party or PL [Luis Orlando ZELAYA Medrano]
- National Party of Honduras or PNH [Reinaldo SANCHEZ Rivera]
- Innovation and Unity Party or PINU [Guillermo VALLE]
Honduras, the second poorest country in Central America, suffers from extraordinarily unequal distribution of income, as well as high underemployment. While historically dependent on the export of bananas and coffee, Honduras has diversified its export base to include apparel and automobile wire harnessing.
Honduras’s economy depends heavily on US trade and remittances. The US-Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement came into force in 2006 and has helped foster foreign direct investment, but physical and political insecurity, as well as crime and perceptions of corruption, may deter potential investors; about 15% of foreign direct investment is from US firms.
The economy registered modest economic growth of 3.1%-4.0% from 2010 to 2017, insufficient to improve living standards for the nearly 65% of the population in poverty. In 2017, Honduras faced rising public debt, but its economy has performed better than expected due to low oil prices and improved investor confidence. Honduras signed a three-year standby arrangement with the IMF in December 2014, aimed at easing Honduras’s poor fiscal position.
Unless otherwise specified, the information above comes from the Central Intelligence Agency’s The World Factbook. All photos and text reproduced here are in the public domain. Last updated March 17, 2020.