Honduras Culture

Honduras Culture

Typical Honduras culture is hard on those living in rural areas. More than one-quarter of rural families have no access to clean, safe water. And just more than half have adequate sanitation.

Honduras Rural Region

The Location


The Population


The Religion

Roman Catholic

The Weather

  • Rural communities in Honduras rarely have paved roads, garbage collection, electricity, or running water. Extreme poverty is much more prevalent in these communities than in the cities. Honduras Dirt Road Through Homes
  • Compassion centers are havens of love and care where children have the freedom to play and enjoy just being kids. Honduras Children on Playground
  • Because malnutrition is a problem for children growing up in rural communities, they receive regular, nutritious meals at their Compassion centers. Honduras Children with Plates of Food
  • Center workers are provided an age-appropriate curriculum of lessons and activities to use with the children in their care. Honduras Woman with Curriculum Books
  • Compassion-assisted child development centers are cheerful, stimulating places where children are encouraged to develop their skills, abilities and creativity. Honduras Children in Classroom
  • Honduras’ central region is a panorama of beautiful mountains and lush vegetation. Honduras Green Countryside and Mountains

Overview: Rural Region of Honduras

Honduras traditionally has been an agrarian country, and today it remains one of the least urbanized countries of Central America. More than half the population lives in the mountainous countryside. Most rural residents are farmers, cultivating their own small plots of land, working for meager daily wages on larger farms and estates, or a combination of both.

The poorest of farming families live and work on the sides of mountain slopes, the least productive land. Erosion and the loss of soil fertility in these locations combined with primitive farming techniques result in meager crops. And inadequate storage leaves even these small crops vulnerable to destruction by rodents and other pests.

Honduras has a rugged topography — more than three-fourths of the country is mountainous and wooded. Most of the population lives in isolated inland mountain communities, where the climate is generally hot and rainy.

Rural farmers are particularly vulnerable to tropical storms originating in the Caribbean Sea. Flooding caused by Hurricane Mitch in 1998 devastated the country, destroying crops and killing thousands of people. Then in 2001, the country was hit by a severe drought. Recovery and rebuilding from these two back-to-back crises is still ongoing.


Culture Corner


Try this delicious Honduran staple.


  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 red or yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 15-ounce cans black beans, drained
  • 2 c. stock
  • 1½ tsp. oregano
  • 1 yellow chili pepper
  • 1 jalapeño pepper
  • 1 15-ounce can whole tomatoes, not drained
  • Juice of ½ lime
  • Fresh chopped cilantro


In large stewpot, sauté onion, bell pepper and garlic in oil.

When onion is translucent, add beans, stock and oregano. Heat thoroughly.

Seed and chop peppers and put into a blender. Add lime juice and tomatoes. Puree.

Add black bean mixture to blender (in batches) and puree.

Return pureed soup to the pot. Simmer at least 1½ hours.

Serve hot, garnished with cilantro.

Life in the Northern Region

Honduras’ population of 8.2 million people is evenly split between rural and urban communities. However, poverty is more severe among rural families, with up to 50 percent living in conditions of great need.

Most rural families eke out a meager living from farming small plots of land and/or working as day laborers on larger farms. Here, impoverished families often farm land on the steep hillsides, where erosion, poor quality soil, and primitive farming methods mean low productivity.

Rural families are especially vulnerable to Honduras’ frequent hurricanes and flooding. Often these severe conditions cause widespread destruction of crops and homes.

Children at Home

Most rural Honduran families live in huts made of adobe or sugarcane stalks and mud. These homes typically have one or two small rooms, thatched roofs and dirt floors. There is also much “fence housing” in rural Honduras, where poor families, squeezed off land by plantations, live in tiny huts made of scrap materials in the narrow space between a public road and the landowner’s fence.


Community Issues and Concerns Community in Honduras

Poor food production and low incomes lead to an extremely low standard of living in the Honduran countryside, where malnutrition and illness are common.

The typical diet of rural families consists primarily of corn, made into tortillas, and beans. Common foods also include cassava, plantains, rice and coffee. Although families in the country usually raise a few pigs and chickens, meat is found infrequently in most rural diets. Green vegetables also are scarce.

More than one-quarter of rural families have no access to clean, safe water. And just more than half have adequate sanitation. As a result, children suffer from easily preventable diseases, such as bacterial diarrhea and hepatitis A. Children also commonly suffer from mosquito-borne malaria and dengue fever.

Local Needs and Challenges

Poverty is prevalent in central hillside areas in the interior highlands of Honduras, home to about 75 percent of the rural population. In these agriculturally based communities, economic needs stem from lack of access to land and basic services and low crop productivity. The lack of employment opportunities in rural areas has been a major driving force behind the country's high level of emigration from rural regions to cities.

The rural areas are also prone to hurricanes and flooding, particularly in communities located near the Caribbean coast.


Schools and Education Education in Honduras

Honduras had no public school system until the late 1950s. Today, education is free and compulsory for all children ages 7 to 14. However, the country still suffers from widespread illiteracy — more than 80 percent in rural areas. The rural-urban disparity in education is marked: Nearly 60 percent of urban youths, but only 25 percent of rural youths, are enrolled in grades seven through nine. For grades 10 through 12, about 38 percent of urban youths are enrolled, compared with 15 percent of rural youths.

In many rural areas, schools are not easily accessible. The schools often don’t have enough teachers, and multiple grades are taught together, by the same teacher. Some schools are so understaffed that teachers have up to 80 children in one classroom.

At the Compassion Child Development Center

At Compassion-assisted child development centers in Honduras’ rural communities, children receive the help and learning opportunities they need to reach their potential in Christ. Along with nutritious meals for healthy physical development, they also receive medical assistance and hygiene training to stay healthy. Tutoring helps to make up for any school deficiencies, and, most important, they learn about the love of their heavenly Father.


Working Through the Local Church

The ministry of Compassion in Honduras is delivered through local churches. The partnership works well in this country where the church is on the front lines of sharing the message of hope through Jesus in communities battling poverty and crime. The church provides a sense of belonging, spiritual safety, fellowship, and encouragement to people who desperately need peace and direction in their lives.

Compassion’s church partners in Honduras are dedicated to changing individual lives and, in that way, changing their communities from the inside out. Because of this dedication to improving their communities by ministering to children, they have earned the respect of those who are not followers of Christ, even some gang leaders.

How Compassion Works in Honduras Compassion in Honduras

Compassion’s work in Honduras began in 1974. Currently, more than 46,300 children participate in 200 child development centers.

Compassion partners with local churches, helping them provide Honduran children with a long-term program of physical, educational, socio-emotional and spiritual development. Through this partnership between Compassion and local churches, children in need have the opportunity to rise above their circumstances and reach their full, God-given potential.

The Role of a Partnership Facilitator

Compassion Honduras’ Partnership Facilitators are important liaisons between the national office and the individual local churches operating Compassion child development centers. One Partnership Facilitator, Vilma Canales, serves 13 centers in the western region of the country. One of these centers is the very one in which she grew up as a sponsored child and gave her life to Christ.

Because she considers herself a “product of Compassion,” she is committed to the ministry and working for the children in her home region. She says that it is a real blessing to continue her involvement with Compassion and to see so many children coming to their church-based centers with hopes and dreams for a better future.


Prayer Requests

  • Pray for abundant harvests for rural families who depend on small-scale farming.
  • Pray that families will be protected from hurricanes and other natural disasters.
  • Pray for the protection of children from malnutrition and illness caused by unsanitary conditions.
  • Pray that children will stay in school and that they will excel academically.
  • Pray for Compassion center staff members, who diligently strive to meet the needs of the children in their care.