U.S. Department of State
Background Notes: Honduras, March 1998
Released by the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs.
OFFICIAL NAME: Republic of Honduras
Area: 112,100 sq. km. (43,270 sq. mi.); about the size of Louisiana.
Cities: Capital--Tegucigalpa (850,000); San Pedro Sula (500,000);
metropolitan area of each city approximately 1 million.
Climate: Tropical to subtropical, depending on elevation.
Nationality: Noun and adjective--Honduran(s).
Population (1998 est.): 5.8 million.
Growth rate: 2.8%.
Ethnic groups: 90% mestizo (mixed Indian and European); others of
European, Arab, African, or Asian ancestry; and indigenous Indians.
Religions: Roman Catholic, Protestant minority.
Education: Years compulsory--6. Attendance--70% overall, but less than
16% at junior high level. Literacy--78.5%.
Health: Infant mortality rate--42/1,000. Life expectancy--68 yrs.
Work force: Services--32%. Natural resources/agriculture--38%.
Type: Democratic constitutional republic.
Independence: September 15, 1821.
Branches: Executive--president, directly elected to four-year term.
Legislative--unicameral National Congress, elected for four-year term.
Judicial--Supreme Court of Justice (appointed by Congress and confirmed
by the president); several lower courts.
Political parties: Liberal Party, National Party, Innovation and Unity
Party, Christian Democratic Party, and the Democratic Unification Party.
Suffrage: Universal adult.
Administrative subdivisions: 18 departments.
Economy (1997 preliminary data)
GDP: $4.68 billion.
Growth rate: 4.9%.
Per capita GDP: $806.
Natural resources: Arable land, forests, minerals, fisheries.
Agriculture (24% of GDP): Products--coffee, bananas, shrimp and lobster,
sugar, fruits, basic grains, livestock.
Industry (18% of GDP): Types--textiles and apparel, cement, wood
products, cigars, foodstuffs.
Trade: Exports--$2.2 billion: coffee, bananas, shrimp, citrus fruits,
textile products, lead/zinc concentrates, beef, lumber, sugar. Major
market--U.S.(53%). Imports--$2.6 billion: petroleum, manufactured goods,
machinery, chemicals. Major supplier--U.S. (43%).
Exchange rate (March 1998): 13.28 lempiras=U.S.$1.
U.S. POLICY TOWARD HONDURAS
U.S. policy toward Honduras is aimed at consolidating stable democracy
with a justice system that protects human rights and is fair and
effective. We promote a healthy and more open economy capable of
sustainable growth, improving the climate for business and investment
while protecting U.S. citizen and corporate rights. The U.S. works with
Honduras to meet transnational challenges, including the fight against
narcotrafficking. We encourage and support Honduran efforts to protect
the environment. The goals of strengthening democracy and promoting
viable economic growth are especially important given the geographical
proximity of Honduras to the United States. To the extent U.S. policy is
successful in helping democracy and economic opportunity to flourish in
Honduras, the pressures that compel many Hondurans to attempt to migrate
illegally to the U.S. will be reduced while creating export markets for
U.S. goods and services. U.S.-Honduran ties are further strengthened by
numerous private sector contacts, with an average of 110,000 U.S.
citizens visiting Honduras annually, and approximately 13,000 Americans
residing there. More than 100 American companies operate in Honduras.
U.S. Economic and Development Assistance
In order to help strengthen Honduras' democratic institutions and
improve living conditions, the U.S. has provided substantial economic
assistance. The U.S. has historically been the largest bilateral donor
to Honduras. Total aid from the U.S. to Honduras for the period 1991 to
1995 was $322 million. U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
obligations to Honduras totaled $24.3 million for development assistance
and $4.7 million for foodstuffs in 1997. Over the years, such
appropriations have been used to achieve such objectives as fostering
democratic institutions, increasing private sector employment and
income, helping Honduras fund its arrears with international financial
institutions, providing humanitarian aid, increasing agricultural
production, and providing loans to micro-businesses. Of the $29 million
in aid, more than $16 million is spent directly on goods and services
from the United States. In addition, since about half of Honduras'
imports come from the U.S., development assistance that stimulates
growth of the Honduran economy indirectly stimulates U.S. exports and
thus supports additional employment and growth in the U.S. economy.
Other forms of U.S. economic assistance to Honduras include the
Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act, Overseas Private Investment
Corporation financing and insurance against risks of war and
expropriation, U.S. Trade Development Agency grant loans for pre-
feasibility studies of projects with U.S. product and services export
potential, and U.S. Export-Import Bank short- and medium-term financing
for U.S. exports to Honduran importers. All of these provide greater
economic opportunity for U.S. and Honduran businessmen and women.
The Peace Corps has been active in Honduras since 1962, and at one time
the program there was the largest in the world. During that time some
5,000 American women and men, ranging in age from 22 to 65, have helped
the people of Honduras. In 1997, there were 200 Peace Corps volunteers
working in the poorest parts of Honduras.
The government of President Flores is committed to the full
implementation of a civilian police force, and the congress has taken
essential constitutional steps to effect that. The U.S. Government
strongly supports this action. The American Embassy in Tegucigalpa
provides specialized training to police officers through the
International Criminal Training Assistance Program (ICITAP).
The role of the Honduran armed forces has changed significantly in
recent years as many institutions formerly controlled by the military
have been taken over by civilians. The defense and police budgets have
hovered at around $30 million during the past few years. The abolition
of conscription resulted in a decrease in the size of the armed forces.
The volunteer system has helped to increase troop strength somewhat but
many military units are still significantly below authorized strength
levels. Formal security assistance has declined from over $500 million
provided between 1982 and 1993 to $500,000 annually in International
Military Education and Training (IMET) courses. Some residual credits
are still available from previous military aid, but will be exhausted
within the next few years.
In the absence of a large security assistance program, defense
cooperation has taken the form of increased participation by the
Honduran armed forces in military-to-military contact programs and
bilateral and multilateral combined exercises oriented toward
peacekeeping, disaster relief, humanitarian/civic assistance, and
counternarcotics. The U.S. Joint Task Force stationed at the Honduran
Soto Cano Air Base plays a vital role in supporting combined exercises
in Honduras and in neighboring Central American countries. JTF-Bravo has
been involved in several multilateral exercises and numerous smaller
humanitarian deployments, providing medical services and construction of
much-needed school and clinical facilities in remote areas of Honduras.
U.S. Business Opportunities
The United States has historically been, and remains today, Honduras'
largest trading partner. Bilateral trade between the two nations totaled
$2.29 billion in 1997. American business exported $1.1 billion worth of
goods and services to Honduras in 1997.
U.S. investors account for nearly three-quarters of the estimated $900
million in foreign direct investment in Honduras, and more than 100
American companies operate there. The largest U.S. investment in
Honduras is in the agribusiness sector. Other important sectors include
petroleum products marketing, maquiladoras (in bond assembly plants),
electric power generation, banking, insurance, and tobacco. U.S.
franchises have taken off in recent years, mostly in the fast food
Opportunities for U.S. business include agricultural machinery and
equipment, automotive parts and service equipment, tourism, medical
equipment, electrical power systems, and construction equipment and
products. Best prospects for agricultural products are corn, milled
rice, wheat, soybean meal, and consumer-ready products.
U.S. citizens contemplating investment in real estate in Honduras should
proceed with caution, especially in coastal areas or on the Bay Islands,
because of frequently conflicting legislation and problems with land
titles. Such investors, or their attorneys, should check property titles
not only with the property registry office having jurisdiction in the
area in which the property is located (being especially observant of
marginal annotations on the deed and that the property is located within
the area covered by the original title), but also with the National
Agrarian Institute (INA) and the National Forestry Administration
Honduras and the United States have close and friendly relations. In
Costa Rica in May 1997, former Honduran President Reina met with
President Clinton, his Central American counterparts, and the president
of the Dominican Republic to celebrate the remarkable democratic
transformation in the region and reaffirm support for strengthening
democracy, good governance, and promoting prosperity through economic
integration, free trade, and investment. The leaders also expressed
their commitment to the continued development of just and equitable
societies and responsible environmental policies as an integral element
of sustainable development.
Honduras is supportive of U.S. policy in the UN and other fora. In 1996,
Honduras' overall voting coincidence with the United States in the
United Nations was 44.3%, and in 1997 it was 40.3%. As a non-permanent
member of the UN Security Council, Honduras played a very helpful role
in 1996, most notably in advancing the process of selecting a new UN
Secretary General during its October presidency of the Council. The U.S.
also continued to be able to count on Honduras' strong support against
The U.S. favors stable, peaceful relations between Honduras and its
Central American neighbors. During the 1980s, Honduras supported U.S.
policy in Central America opposing a revolutionary Marxist Leninist
government in Nicaragua and an active leftist insurgency in El Salvador.
The Honduran Government also played a key role in negotiations that
culminated in the 1990 Nicaraguan elections. Honduras contributed troops
for the UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti, and continues to participate
in the UN observers mission in the Western Sahara.
The U.S. works with Honduras for sustained economic, political, and
social development and to combat drug trafficking in the region. Because
of economic needs and security concerns, U.S. material assistance and
political support are important to Honduras. USAID is active in
Honduras, although official U.S. assistance to the country has been
reduced--from $51 million in 1993 to $29 million in 1997--due to
worldwide reductions in U.S. bilateral assistance.
The United States is Honduras' chief trading partner, supplying 43% of
its imports and purchasing 53% of its exports. Leading Honduran exports
to the United States include coffee, bananas, textile products, other
fruits and vegetables, seafood, and beef.
The United States encourages U.S. investment that contributes to
Honduran development and bilateral trade. The United States accounts for
about 75% of total direct foreign investment in Honduras; this is worth
about $675 million. The largest U.S. investments in Honduras are in
fruit production--particularly banana and citrus--petroleum refining and
marketing, and mining. In addition, U.S. corporations have invested in
tobacco, apparel, shrimp culture, beef, poultry and animal-feed
production, insurance, leasing, food processing, brewing, and furniture
manufacturing. U.S. apparel facilities or maquilas are responsible for
the majority of the approximately 100,000 jobs in that sector of
The U.S. maintains a small presence at a Honduran military base; the two
countries conduct joint counternarcotics, humanitarian, and civic action
exercises. U.S. troops conduct and provide logistics support for a
variety of exercises (medical, engineering, peacekeeping,
counternarcotics, and disaster relief) for the benefit of the Honduran
people and their Central American neighbors. U.S. forces--regular,
reserve, and national guard--benefit greatly from the training and
U.S. troops--in collaboration with counterparts from Brazil and
Colombia--since 1994 have assisted Honduran soldiers in clearing land
mines from the country's border with Nicaragua. As of early 1998,
approximately 180,000 square meters had been cleared of mines and
approximately 2,000 mines had been destroyed.
Principal U.S. Embassy Officials
Ambassador--James F. Creagan
Deputy Chief of Mission--Deborah R. Schwartz
Political Counselor--David Adamson
Economic Counselor--Donald McNally
Consul General--Gregory Frost
USAID Director--Elena L. Brineman
Public Affairs Officer (USIS)--Stedman D. Howard
Defense Attache--Col. G. Keith Fennell, USAF
Military Group Commander--Col. Daniel Davis, USA
The U.S. Embassy in Honduras is located on Avenida La Paz, Tegucigalpa
(tel.: 011-504-236-9320; faxes: general--011-504-236-9037, USAID--011-
504-236-7776, USIS--011-504-236-9309, Military Group--011-504-233-6171,
Commercial Section--011-504-238-2888, Consulate--011-504-237-1792).
OTHER CONTACT INFORMATION:
Honduran-American Chamber of Commerce
Hotel Honduras Maya
Apartado Postal 1838
Tel: (504) 232-7043/232-6035
Fax: (504) 232-9959
(Branch office in San Pedro Sula)
Caribbean/Latin American Action
1818 N Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036
U.S. Department of Commerce
International Trade Administration
Office of Latin America and the Caribbean
14th and Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20230
Tel: 202-482-0057, 800-USA-TRADE
PEOPLE AND HISTORY
About 90% of the population is mestizo. There also are small minorities
of European, African, Asian, Arab, and indigenous Indian descent. Most
Hondurans are Roman Catholic, but Protestant proselytization has
resulted in significant numbers of converts. Spanish is the predominant
language, although some English is spoken along the northern coast and
on the Caribbean Bay Islands. Indigenous Indian dialects and the
Garifuna dialect also are spoken.
The restored Mayan ruins near the Guatemalan border in Copan reflect the
great Mayan culture that flourished there for hundreds of years until
the early 9th century. Mayan artifacts also can be found at the National
Museum in Tegucigalpa. Columbus landed at mainland Honduras (Trujillo)
in 1502. He named it "Honduras" (meaning "depths") for the deep water
off the coast. Spaniard Hernan Cortes arrived in 1524. The Spanish began
founding settlements along the coast, and Honduras came under the
control of the Captaincy General of Guatemala. The cities of Comayagua
and Tegucigalpa developed as early mining centers.
Honduras, along with the other Central American provinces, gained
independence from Spain in 1821; it then briefly was annexed to the
Mexican Empire. In 1823, Honduras joined the newly formed United
Provinces of Central America. Before long, social and economic
differences between Honduras and its regional neighbors exacerbated
harsh partisan strife among Central American leaders and brought on the
federation's collapse in 1838. Gen. Francisco Morazan--a Honduran
national hero--led unsuccessful efforts to maintain the federation, and
restoring Central American unity remained the chief aim of Honduran
foreign policy until after World War I.
Since independence, Honduras has been plagued with nearly 300 internal
rebellions, civil wars, and changes of government, more than half
occurring during this century. The country traditionally lacked both an
economic infrastructure and social and political integration. Its
agriculturally based economy came to be dominated in this century by
U.S. companies that established vast banana plantations along the north
coast. Foreign capital, plantation life, and conservative politics held
sway in Honduras from the late 19th until the mid-20th century.
During the relatively stable years of the Great Depression, Honduras was
controlled by authoritarian Gen. Tiburcio Carias Andino. His ties to
dictators in neighboring countries and to U.S. banana companies helped
him maintain power until 1948. By then, provincial military leaders had
begun to gain control of the two major parties, the Nationalists and the
From Military to Civilian Rule
In October 1955--after two authoritarian administrations and a general
strike by banana workers on the north coast in 1954--young military
reformists staged a palace coup that installed a provisional junta and
paved the way for constituent assembly elections in 1957. This assembly
appointed Dr. Ramon Villeda Morales as president and transformed itself
into a national legislature with a six-year term. The Liberal Party
ruled during 1957-63. At the same time, the military took its first
steps to become a professional institution independent of leadership
from any one political party, and the newly created military academy
graduated its first class in 1960.
In October 1963, conservative military officers preempted constitutional
elections and deposed Villeda in a bloody coup. These officers exiled
Liberal Party members and took control of the national police. The armed
forces, led by Gen. Lopez Arellano, governed until 1970.
A civilian president--Ramon Cruz of the National Party--took power
briefly in 1970, but proved unable to manage the government. Popular
discontent had continued to rise after a 1969 border war with El
Salvador; in December 1972, General Lopez staged another coup. Lopez
adopted more progressive policies, including land reform, but his regime
was brought down in the mid-1970s by scandals.
General Lopez' successors continued armed forces modernization programs,
building army and security forces, and concentrating on Honduran air
force superiority over its neighbors. The regimes of General Melgar
Castro (1975-78) and General Paz Garcia (1978-83) largely built the
current physical infrastructure and telecommunications system of
Honduras. The country also enjoyed its most rapid economic growth during
this period, due to greater international demand for its products and
the availability of foreign commercial lending.
Following the overthrow of Anastasio Somoza in Nicaragua in 1979 and
general instability in El Salvador at the time, the Honduran military
accelerated plans to return the country to civilian rule. A constituent
assembly was popularly elected in April 1980, and general elections were
held in November 1981. A new constitution was approved in 1982, and the
Liberal Party government of President Roberto Suazo Cordoba assumed
Suazo relied on U.S. support to help with a severe economic recession
and with the threat posed by the revolutionary Sandinista Government in
Nicaragua and a brutal civil war in El Salvador. Close cooperation on
political and military issues with the United States was complemented by
ambitious social and economic development projects sponsored by USAID.
Honduras became host to the largest Peace Corps mission in the world,
and non-governmental and international voluntary agencies proliferated.
As the November 1985 election approached, the Liberal Party had
difficulty settling on a candidate and interpreted election law as
permitting multiple presidential candidates from one party. The Liberal
Party claimed victory when its presidential candidates collectively
outpolled the National Party candidate, Rafael Leonardo Callejas, who
received 42% of the vote. Jose Azcona Hoyo, the candidate receiving the
most votes (27%) among the Liberals, assumed the presidency in January
1986. With strong endorsement and support from the Honduran military,
the Suazo Administration had ushered in the first peaceful transfer of
power between civilian presidents in more than 30 years.
Four years later, Rafael Callejas won the presidential election, taking
office in January 1990. Callejas concentrated on economic reform,
reducing the deficit, and taking steps to deal with an overvalued
exchange rate and major structural barriers to investment. He began the
movement to place the military under civilian control and laid the
groundwork for the creation of the public ministry (Attorney General's
Despite the Callejas Administration's economic reforms, growing public
dissatisfaction with the rising cost of living and with seemingly
widespread government corruption led voters in 1993 to elect Liberal
Party candidate Carlos Roberto Reina over National Party contender
Oswaldo Ramos Soto, with Reina winning 56% of the vote.
President Reina, elected on a platform calling for a "Moral Revolution,"
actively prosecuted corruption and pursued those responsible for human
rights abuses in the 1980s. He created a modern attorney general's
office and an investigative police force, and reduced Honduras' historic
and endemic corruption and elite impunity. As a result, a notable start
has been made in institutionalizing the rule of law in Honduras.
A hallmark of the Reina Administration was his successful efforts to
increase civilian control over the armed forces, making his time in
office a period of fundamental change in civil-military relations in
Honduras. Important achievements--including the abolition of the
military draft and passage of legislation transferring the national
police from military to civilian authority--have brought civil-military
relations closer to the kind of balance normal in a constitutional
democracy. Additionally, President Reina in 1996 named his own defense
minister, breaking the precedent of accepting the nominee of the armed
Reina restored national fiscal health. After a rough start in 1994-95,
the Reina Administration substantially increased Central Bank net
international reserves, reduced inflation to 12.8% a year, restored a
healthy pace of economic growth (about 5% in 1997), and, perhaps most
important, held down spending to achieve a 1.1% non-financial public
sector deficit in 1997.
Carlos Roberto Flores Facusse took office on January 27, 1998, as
Honduras' fifth democratically elected President since free elections
were restored in 1981. Like three of his four predecessors, including
his immediate predecessor, Flores is a member of the Liberal Party. He
was elected with a 10% margin over his main opponent, National Party
nominee, Nora de Melgar, in free, fair, and peaceful elections on
November 30, 1997. These elections, probably the cleanest in Honduran
history, reflected the maturing of Honduras' democratic institutions. On
the eve of his electoral victory, Flores presented a platform that is a
blueprint for reform and modernization of the Honduran Government and
economy, with emphasis on helping Honduras' poorest citizens while
maintaining the country's fiscal health and improving international
Honduras is one of the poorest and least-developed countries in Latin
America. The economy is based mostly on agriculture, which accounted for
24% of GDP in 1997. Coffee and bananas accounted for 37% of total
Honduran export revenues in 1997. Honduras has extensive forest, marine,
and mineral resources, although widespread slash-and-burn agricultural
methods continue to destroy Honduran forests. Hondurans, however, are
becoming more concerned about protecting their environmental patrimony.
Unemployment is estimated at 15%, and combined unemployment and
underemployment is about 40%.
Preliminary data show that the Honduran economy grew 4.9% in 1997, led
by strong growth in the manufacturing, financial services, utilities,
and mining sectors. The Honduran Government cut the inflation rate
nearly in half in 1997, bringing it from 25.3% in 1996 down to 12.8%.
The nation's balance of payments continued to strengthen in 1997, with
gross international reserves approaching $500 million at the end of the
year, equivalent to more than three months' imports. The government's
non-financial public sector deficit was brought down to 1.1% of GDP, a
significant improvement over the corresponding figure for 1996. A
particularly bright spot in the Honduran economy in 1997 was the
performance of the large and growing maquiladora sector. Maquiladoras
provided employment to almost 100,000 Honduran workers in 1997 and
generated more than $300 million in value added.
The economic outlook for Honduras in 1998 is positive. Government
authorities expect real growth to exceed 5%, inflation to be no higher
than the 12.8% recorded in 1997, and the government deficit to be in
line with the figures recorded last year. The Honduran Government will
be meeting in 1998 with the International Monetary Fund in an effort to
agree on an Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility, which could lead to
foreign bilateral debt forgiveness in the Paris Club. Honduran public
foreign debt is approximately $3.8 billion, and the service of that debt
consumes more than 30% of government revenues.
The 1982 constitution provides for a strong executive, a unicameral
National Congress, and a judiciary appointed by the National Congress.
The president is directly elected to a four-year term by popular vote.
The congress also serves a four-year term; congressional seats are
assigned the parties' candidates in proportion to the number of votes
each party receives.
The judiciary includes a Supreme Court of Justice, courts of appeal, and
several courts of original jurisdiction, such as labor, tax, and
criminal courts. For administrative purposes, Honduras is divided into
18 departments, with departmental and municipal officials selected for
Events during the 1980s in El Salvador and Nicaragua led Honduras, with
U.S. assistance, to expand its armed forces considerably, laying
particular emphasis on its air force, which came to include a squadron
of U.S.-provided F-5s. The resolution of the civil wars in El Salvador
and Nicaragua, and across-the-board budget cuts made in all ministries
have brought reduced funding for the Honduran armed forces. The
abolition of the draft has created staffing gaps in the now all
volunteer armed forces. The military now is far below its authorized
strength and further reductions are expected.
Reinforced by the media and several political watchdog organizations,
human rights and civil liberties are reasonably well protected. There
are no known political prisoners in Honduras, and the privately owned
media frequently exercises its right to criticize without fear of
reprisals. Organized labor now represents less than 15% of the work
force, and its economic and political influence have declined.
Honduras held its fifth consecutive democratic elections in November
1997, to elect a new president, unicameral Congress and mayors; for the
first time, voters were able to cast separate ballots for each office.
The two major parties--the Liberal Party and the National Party--run
active campaigns throughout the country. Their ideologies are mostly
centrist, with diverse factions in each centered on personalities.
The three smaller registered parties, the Christian Democratic Party,
the Innovation and Unity Party, and the Democratic Unification Party
remain marginal, slightly left-of-center groupings with few campaign
resources and little organization. Despite significant progress in
training and installing more skillful advisers at the top of each party
ladder, electoral politics in Honduras remain traditionalist and
Honduras will hold its next general elections--which will choose the
nation's next president, Congress, and mayors--in November 2001.
Principal Government Officials
President--Carlos Roberto FLORES Facusse
Minister of Foreign Relations--J. Fernando MARTINEZ Jimenez
Ambassador Designate to the U.S.--Edgardo DUMAS Rodriguez
Ambassador to the UN--Hugo NOE Pino
Ambassador to the OAS--Dr. Laura NUNEZ Flores
Honduras maintains an embassy in the United States at 3007 Tilden Street
NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-966-7702).
Honduras is a member of the United Nations, the World Trade Organization
(WTO), the Organization of American States (OAS), the Central American
Parliament (PARLACEN), the Central American Integration System (SICA),
and the Central American Security Commission (CASC). During 1995-96,
Honduras, a founding member of the United Nations, for the first time
served as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council.
President Flores consults frequently with the other Central American
presidents on issues of mutual interest. He has continued his
predecessor's strong emphasis on Central American cooperation and
integration, which resulted in an agreement easing border controls and
tariffs among Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and El Salvador. Honduras
also joined its six Central American neighbors at the 1994 Summit of the
Americas in signing the Alliance for Sustainable Development, known as
the Conjunta Centroamerica-USA, or CONCAUSA, to promote sustainable
economic development in the region.
In 1969, El Salvador and Honduras fought the brief "Soccer War" over
disputed border areas and friction resulting from the 300,000
Salvadorans who had emigrated to Honduras in search of land and
employment. The catalyst was nationalistic feelings aroused by a series
of soccer matches between the two countries. The two countries formally
signed a peace treaty on October 30,1980, which put the border dispute
before the International Court of Justice. In September 1992, the court
awarded most of the disputed territory to Honduras. In January 1998,
Honduras and El Salvador signed a border demarcation treaty that will
implement the terms of the ICJ decree. The treaty awaits legal
ratification in both countries. Honduras and El Salvador maintain normal
diplomatic and trade relations.
At the 17th Central American Summit in 1995, hosted by Honduras in the
northern city of San Pedro Sula, the region's six countries (excluding
Belize) signed treaties creating confidence and security-building
measures and combating the smuggling of stolen automobiles in the
isthmus. In subsequent summits (held every six months), Honduras has
continued to work with the other Central American countries on issues of
TRAVEL AND BUSINESS INFORMATION
The U.S. Department of State's Consular Information Program provides
Travel Warnings and Consular Information Sheets. Travel Warnings are
issued when the State Department recommends that Americans avoid travel
to a certain country. Consular Information Sheets exist for all
countries and include information on immigration practices, currency
regulations, health conditions, areas of instability, crime and
security, political disturbances, and the addresses of the U.S. posts in
Public Announcements are issued as a means to disseminate information
quickly about terrorist threats and other relatively short-term
conditions overseas which pose significant risks to the security of
American travelers. Free copies of this information are available by
calling the Bureau of Consular Affairs at 202-647-5225 or via the fax-
on-demand system: 202-647-3000. Travel Warnings and Consular Information
Sheets also are available on the Consular Affairs Internet home page:
and the Consular Affairs Bulletin Board (CABB). To access CABB, dial the
modem number: (301-946-4400 (it will accommodate up to 33,600 bps), set
terminal communications program to N-8-1 (no parity, 8 bits, 1 stop
bit); and terminal emulation to VT100. The login is travel and the
password is info (Note: Lower case is required). The CABB also carries
international security information from the Overseas Security Advisory
Council and Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security. Consular Affairs
Trips for Travelers publication series, which contain information on
obtaining passports and planning a safe trip abroad, can be purchased
from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office,
P.O. Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954; telephone: 202-512-1800; fax
Emergency information concerning Americans traveling abroad may be
obtained from the Office of Overseas Citizens Services at (202) 647-
5225. For after-hours emergencies, Sundays and holidays, call 202-647-
Passport Services information can be obtained by calling the 24-hour, 7-
day a week automated system ($.35 per minute) or live operators 8 a.m.
to 8 p.m. (EST) Monday-Friday ($1.05 per minute). The number is 1-900-
225-5674 (TDD: 1-900-225-7778). Major credit card users (for a flat rate
of $4.95) may call 1-888-362-8668 (TDD: 1-888-498-3648).
Travelers can check the latest health information with the U.S. Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A hotline at
(404) 332-4559 gives the most recent health advisories, immunization
recommendations or requirements, and advice on food and drinking water
safety for regions and countries. A booklet entitled Health Information
for International Travel (HHS publication number CDC-95-8280) is
available from the U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC
20402, tel. (202) 512-1800.
Information on travel conditions, visa requirements, currency and
customs regulations, legal holidays, and other items of interest to
travelers also may be obtained before your departure from a country's
embassy and/or consulates in the U.S. (for this country, see "Principal
Government Officials" listing in this publication).
U.S. citizens who are long-term visitors or traveling in dangerous areas
are encouraged to register at the U.S. embassy upon arrival in a country
(see "Principal U.S. Embassy Officials" listing in this publication).
Registering with the embassy may help you to replace lost identity
documents or help family members contact you in case of an emergency.
Further Electronic Information:
Department of State Foreign Affairs Network. Available on the Internet,
DOSFAN provides timely, global access to official U.S. foreign policy
information. Updated daily, DOSFAN includes Background Notes; Dispatch,
the official magazine of U.S. foreign policy; daily press briefings;
Country Commercial Guides; directories of key officers of foreign
service posts; etc. DOSFAN's World Wide Web site is at
U.S. Foreign Affairs on CD-ROM (USFAC). Published on an annual basis by
the U.S. Department of State, USFAC archives information on the
Department of State Foreign Affairs Network, and includes an array of
official foreign policy information from 1990 to the present. Contact
the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, P.O.
Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954. To order, call (202) 512-1800 or
fax (202) 512-2250.
National Trade Data Bank (NTDB). Operated by the U.S. Department of
Commerce, the NTDB contains a wealth of trade-related information,
including Country Commercial Guides. It is available on the Internet
(www.stat-usa.gov) and on CD-ROM. Call the NTDB Help-Line at (202) 482-
1986 for more information.
Return to Western Hemisphere Background Notes Archive
Return to Background Notes Archive Homepage
Return to Electronic Research Collection Homepage