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Thursday 18th April
Honduras Information - Page 2
The Spanish conquest of Honduras began in the 1520s. Despite fierce resistance, Spain controlled the country by 1539.

Although Spain ruled most of Honduras, a British Protectorate was established on the northern coast which lasted until 1860.

In 1821 Honduras gained independence from Spain but was annexed by Mexico. Two years later, Honduras left the Mexican union and joined Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua in the United Provinces of Central America. Honduras broke away from the United Provinces and declared independence in 1840.

During the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century, fruit companies from the USA bought land in Honduras and established banana plantations. Investment was also made in the country's infrastructure (railways and port facilities). Consequently, US companies played an important role in Honduras during the twentieth century.

Up until the middle of the 1980s much of Honduras' political history was dominated by the military. A dictatorship lasted between 1932 and 1949, and coups took place in 1963 and 1978.

In June 2009 President Zelaya was removed from office by the military and forced into exile; as a result of the coup the organisation of American states (OAS) suspended Honduras. In November Porfirio Lobo Sosa won the presidential election while congress rejected the proposal that Mr Zelaya be allowed to return to office.

In January 2010 Mr Zelya went into exile in the Dominican Republic. The following month the government announced that diplomatic relations had been restored with 29 countries and in March the US resumed its aid programme, which had been suspended after the coup.

Honduras is a member of the US-Central America Free Trade Agreement.

At the beginning of 2004 Honduras began a three-year IMF Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility program.

In October 2010 the government secured an IMF precautionary stand-by agreement, which helped renew donor confidence in Honduras following the 2009 coup.

Agriculture provides work for around a third of the working population. The main crops are bananas, coffee and sugarcane. Cattle are reared. Shrimps are also an important export.

Industries include timber, textiles, clothing and footwear.

The service sector is important to the economy accounting for over half the country's GDP. Tourism is a growing part of the economic development of Honduras and a major earner of foreign currency.

Honduran crafts are woven baskets and mats, ceramics, carvings, jewellery and textiles.

Music is important in Honduran culture. Traditional musical instruments include flutes, drums and whistles. Stringed instruments such as guitars, mandolins and violins were introduced by the Spanish. Folk dances are accompanied by marimba bands (the marimba is an instrument similar to a xylophone).

In the world of literature, famous writers include Jose Trinidad Reyes (1797-1855), a poet and playwright, and Lucila Gamero de Medina (1873-1964), the first Honduran novelist.

Football and baseball are the most popular team games in Honduras. Basketball is also played.

There are plenty of opportunities for water sports, such as sailing and sea kayaking, along the Caribbean coastline. The Bay Islands are particularly famous as dive destinations.

Religious holidays such as Christmas and Easter are celebrated. Other holidays include New Year's Day (1 January), Day of the Americas (14 April), Labour Day (1 May) and Independence Day (15 September).

News from Honduras is available from Newslink.

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