Honduras is the second-largest country in Central America and has a Caribbean and Pacific coastline. It has a population of 8.2 million. The national language is Spanish, and 80% of the population is literate. The currency is the lempira; the exchange rate is roughly one US dollar to 18.9 lempiras.
Honduras is the second poorest country in Central America and one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere. The country has an extraordinarily unequal distribution of income and massive unemployment. The economy relies heavily on a narrow range of exports, notably bananas and coffee, making it vulnerable to natural disasters, but in recent years has experienced a rapid rise in exports of light manufacturers. Growth remains dependent on the economy of the US, its largest trading partner, and on reduction of the high crime rate, as a means of attracting and maintaining investment.
The República de Honduras is a democratic constitutional republic. Before the Spanish empire, Honduras was inhabited by the Maya. In 1502, Columbus explored the country. Honduras, with four other Central American nations, declared its independence from Spain in 1821 to form a federation of Central American states. Then in 1838 Honduras left the federation and became an independent nation. After two and a half decades of mostly military rule, a freely elected civilian government came to power in 1982.