Copán Ruinas is known for its detailed Mayan stone carvings

Honduras History and Politics

Honduras is a small and relatively sparsely populated country. The landscape can be divided into three zones: the highlands with coffee cultivation, the plain on the north coast with plantations and the Mosquitia jungle region in the northeast of the country. The climate is temperate to tropical.

History Overview

According to areacodesexplorer, the history of the country is closely linked to that of the other Central American states and is strongly shaped by the influence of the USA. The Honduran state is formally a democracy. De facto, however, there are major deficits in compliance with democratic and constitutional principles.

Independence Day: September 15, 1821

Head of State / Head of Government: Juan Orlando Hernández

Political system: Presidential democracy, multi-party system

Democracy Status Index (BTI): Rank 83 (out of 137, 2020)

Corruption Index (CPI): Rank 146 (out of 180, 2019)


Honduran history (chronological table) can be roughly divided into the following epochs:

  • pre-Hispanic period (including Maya history)
  • Conquest and colonial rule by the Spanish crown
  • Independence and the establishment of a state
  • Dictatorships and formal democratization
  • Coup and the time after the coup.

A special feature that is also decisive for the present is the close interweaving of Honduran history with the history of Central America as a region. The current state of Honduras emerged from the province of Honduras, which was part of the Spanish General Capitanate of Guatemala (from Chiapas in today’s Mexico to Costa Rica). The General Capitanate declared its independence in 1821 and after many attempts at separation and reunification that continued into the early 20th century, the present-day states of Central America were formed (which repeatedly violently fought their interstate conflicts, such as in the so-called “football war” between Honduras and El Salvador 1969).

Representative democracy was introduced in its current form after a transition process in 1982, after (military) dictatorships and (formal) democratic forms of government had alternated in the preceding decades.

Since independence from Spain until today, the relationship with the “big brother”, the USA, has played an elementary role. The American magazine current affairs provides a summary of the influence of the USA in Honduran politics.

Copán Ruinas is known for its detailed Mayan stone carvings

State building, political system, parties

Honduras is a centrally organized presidential republic. Elections have been held regularly (every four years) since 1982. According to its constitution, Honduras is a democracy. In practice, the country has enormous deficits when it comes to democracy and the rule of law, as shown by Freedom House and the Bertelsmann Transformation Index (BTI). In the country report of the BTI project it is stated that due to the lack of separation of powers “Honduras has said goodbye to the community of democracies”.

The state is divided into 18 administrative districts – departamentos – which have no political autonomy. As in almost all Latin American countries, the system of government is presidential: the president is both head of state and head of government. He is directly elected by the people and not dependent on parliament. The parliament has 128 seats.

Every four years, on the last Sunday in November, the president, parliament and mayors are elected. The next elections are in November 2021.

After the coup in 2009, four new political parties were founded. This was the first time that the traditional two-party system was broken in the 2013 elections. The 9 parties that stood for election are on the one hand the two parties that have dominated the two-party system so far – PN (Partido Nacional) and PL (Partido Liberal). On the other hand, there are the three small parties UD (Unificación Democrática, PINU-SD (Partido Innovación y Unidad – Social Demócrata) and DC (Partido Demócrata Cristiano), which have not had any notable influence on politics since their founding, except for the im Tow of the PL or PN (like the UD with Cesár Ham asHead of the National Agricultural Institute under the Lobo Government 2009-2013).

The party LIBRE (Libertad y Refundación) was formed from the resistance front in order to bring about the necessary changes in the country by participating in the political system.

Other parties are: PAC (Partido Anticorrupción). It was founded by Salvador Nasralla, a more conservative sports journalist who has not been a member since 2017. Nasralla wants to enter the race with a new party in 2021: the Partido Salvador de Honduras (PSH). The army chief Romeo Vásquez Velásquez, who was in office during the coup, founded the Alianza Patriótica Hondureña party. There are two more party foundations for the 2021 elections: Todos somos Honduras (TSH) and Liberación Democrática de Honduras (Liderh).

More data

Basic data on Honduras can be found in the World Factbook of the CIA and on the website of the US Department of State. The websites of the Foreign Office and the World Bank also provide information for an overview. The UN Development Program provides data on human development.