The Society and Its Environment
A typical village street in Honduras
HONDURAN SOCIETY is, for the most part, rural and poor.
standard of living in the country is one of the lowest in
Western Hemisphere. Foreign as well as domestic
assessments of the
country have focused on its poverty to the point where
assessment dominates the outlook of the Honduran people.
Almost all social indices show Honduras lagging in
The annual per capita income is low, health services are
deficient, infant mortality and child mortality rates are
literacy rates and other educational indicators are low.
the majority of the population in Honduras remained poor,
high rate of population increase made alleviation of that
in the near future unlikely.
Honduras's relatively low population density would seem
to be a
positive factor. An abundance of land, however, has not
availability of land for cultivation. The terrain consists
most part of mountains with only narrow coastal plains.
Much of the
arable land is used for export crops and is not available
farmers. Banana (and some pineapple) agribusinesses
the country's most fertile land in the Caribbean coastal
Land available for agriculture has actually decreased
1950s, as farmland has been converted to rangeland to
expanding cattle export industry.
The continued underdevelopment of the country produced
of confidence in Honduran society in the 1980s. Indeed,
decade, economic and social pressures produced an acute
disorientation in Honduran society. The combination of a
economic crisis, a sharp rise in crime, and the absence of
independent police force and judicial system left the
citizen with a pronounced sense of vulnerability.
Despite the depressing statistics, however, Honduran
numerous strengths. Among some of the positive factors are
relatively high number of grassroots organizations, a
movement that has continued even during periods of
a corporatist political system in which organizations and
instead of political parties make their political demands.
Positive, too, is the absence of civil war and the high
terrorism experienced by neighboring countries.
The question for Honduras in the future is how, given
country's limited resources, to deal with severe poverty
avoid the repression and violence that poverty often
Data as of December 1993