Honduras Facts - Compassion International

Compassion has been working in Honduras since 1974. Through our work there, we gather Honduras facts about children in poverty. These Honduras facts and statistics provide a good picture of the reality of poverty and how Compassion is making a difference.

Poverty is a common problem in the country of Honduras but Compassion is working to change this. The Honduras facts tell a discouraging story, but Compassion is bringing hope in the midst of this discouragement. Our programs are changing the statistics one child at a time.

Don't let the hopelessness of Honduras facts overwhelm you. You can make a difference to a child in Honduras today!


Compassion partners with churches to help them provide Honduran children with the opportunity to rise above their circumstances and become all God has created them to be.

Compassion began its ministry in Honduras in 1974 when child development centers were opened by the Guatemala and El Salvador offices in Honduras. In 1998, Compassion Honduras officially opened in response to the impact of Hurricane Mitch. In 1999, operations began from the Honduras country office and the Child Sponsorship Program was started. Currently, more than 54,000 children participate in more than 200 child development centers.

Learn About Honduras

Mayan civilization flourished in Honduras in the centuries before Columbus arrived in 1502. Following independence from Spain in 1821 and from Mexico in 1822, Honduras joined the United Provinces of Central America. In 1839, the country declared its independence. Dictatorships and frequent revolution characterized the country through the rest of the 19th century and into the 20th.

During a stable period from 1955 to 1957, important social progress was made. Most notable were the passage of labor laws and the growth of labor unions. Ramón Villeda Morales, elected in 1957, also initiated programs for agriculture reform and education. He was followed by Colonel Osvaldo López Arellano in a 1963 coup. López held the reigns of government until he was ousted by the army in 1975 under the charge that government officials had accepted $250,000 in bribes.

Through the late 1970s and 1980s, the central problem for Honduras was political instability in neighboring countries. In 1993, Carlos Roberto Reina Idiaquez, a longtime human rights and political activist, was elected president with the promise to institute economic reforms and exert civilian control over the powerful Honduran army.

At the turn of the century, one of Honduras' major social problems was the involvement of youth in violent gangs. A law against illicit associations, such as gangs, was approved in 2003 and many have been put in jail since then. However, the country still faces challenges when atrocious acts are committed by gangs, and many citizens are still living in fear.

Source: The World Factbook, 2014.


The typical school year runs from February through November. Education is compulsory from ages 7 through 12.

In urban areas of the country, Hondurans are more aware than their rural neighbors of the importance of education. Although many parents desire education for their children, it is often more important for children to help provide for their families, especially in the country; and because of this, the dropout rate is higher. In addition, the education provided by the government is poor in most cases, from inadequate facilities to teachers going on strike. There is a sense of helplessness among parents who desire a good education for their children but can barely afford a public education.


There is no state religion in Honduras. However, the armed forces have an official Roman Catholic patron saint. The government consults with the Roman Catholic Church and occasionally appoints Catholic leaders to quasi-official commissions on key issues of mutual concern, such as anticorruption initiatives.

The government does not require religious groups to register but requires churches and organizations to register. Foreign missionaries must obtain entry and residence permits and a local institution or individual must sponsor a missionary's application for residency, which is submitted to the Ministry of Government and Justice. The ministry generally grants such permits.

There are both religious schools that provide professional training, such as seminaries, and church-operated schools that provide general education, such as parochial schools. They receive no special treatment from the government and do not face restrictions.

Source: International Religious Freedom Report, released in 2012 by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.


Honduran culture is laid back; this attitude is more pronounced among the people living in coastal areas. The majority of Hondurans are passionate about soccer and politics. In general, Hondurans, like those in other Latin American countries, are close to extended family and many families live either in the same house or close to each other. There is a friendly and welcoming attitude toward international visitors.

Many writers, such as José Trinidad Reyes and José Cecilio del Valle, have emerged in Honduras; however, many people cannot afford books, so the market for authors is limited. Many authors publish their work in newspapers to gain access to the public.


López Rodezno is a Honduran painter who founded the National School of Arts and Crafts in Comayagüela, which maintains a permanent contemporary art exhibit featuring many murals by various artists. A traditional Amerindian theme, the "rain of fish" (a "tornado" that travels over the ocean, sucks up fish and then drops them over villages), frequently occurs in Honduran art.

Brightly colored handicrafts, such as model animals of clay or wood and jewelry, are everywhere in Honduras.


Honduran music has a folk style with a Spanish beat and uses guitars and marimbas. Honduran folk music is played during traditional Honduran celebrations. However, in general, Hondurans prefer music from Mexico or the United States, in different rhythms.

Holidays and Festivals

The Feast Day of the Virgin of Suyapa, Feb. 3: Celebration in honor of the patron saint of Honduras
Easter, March or April: a two-week celebration with festivals and parades. All schools and most businesses shut down from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday. Traditionally, the majority of the population travels to the beaches during this time.
Carnaval at La Ceiba, held during the third week of May
Independence Day, Sept. 15
Columbus Day, Oct. 12
Christmas, Dec. 25; Hondurans celebrate with their families on Christmas Eve and rest on Christmas Day. Hondurans set up a nativity scene where they cover the baby Jesus with a blanket. On Christmas Eve, the blanket is removed to unveil the baby.

Sports and Games

Soccer is the main sport in Honduras. Baseball, volleyball and basketball are also popular. Children play a game similar to "jacks" using stones.

Typical Foods

Rice, beans, tamales and corn are included in the basic diet, along with a soup of beef or chicken stock. Black coffee and soft drinks are popular.

Sautéed Plantains Recipe

  • 2 ripe plantains
  • 1 jalapeno chili, seeded and sliced in thin rings
  • 2 Tb. butter, more if needed
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature

Peel plantains and cut into quarters. Cut each quarter in half lengthwise. Sauté plantains and chilies in butter over medium heat, turning frequently. Remove when browned. Drizzle sour cream over plantains. Serves 4.



  • ¿Qué ondas? (What's up?)
  • ¡Nos vemos! (See you!)
  • ¡Todo cheque! (Roughly translated, "It's all cool," when asked how things are going.)
  • Bendiciones. (Literally means "Blessings," but is used as "God bless you"; a common greeting within the Christian circle used to either say "hi" or "goodbye.")
Compassion in Honduras

Child Sponsorship Program

Children age 14 and younger attend the child development center 6 hours per week, spread out over 2 to 3 days after school. Older children attend 4 hours a week over the course of 2 days.

The process of giving Bibles to registered children takes place every two fiscal years. Each church partner identifies the children who need a new Bible, and each of those children receives a Bible appropriate to his age.

The children get a snack every time they attend the child development center. Malnourished children receive extra food or additional nutrients. Snacks are usually fruit, cereal and milk. Meals include meat, cereals, vegetables, fruit and natural juice. The center staff try to provide every child with a full meal every two to three visits.

Children participate in sports tournaments, service in churches, retreats, camps and educational visits as part of their extracurricular activities. The child development centers also offer a variety of workshops covering welding, beauty, sports, baking, music and computers.

Parents attend regular “School for Parents” meetings featuring such topics as domestic violence, child abuse, alcoholism and child discipline, among others. These meetings are planned every two to three months, depending on the church partner.

Visit the Compassion blog to learn more about our work in Honduras and see how life in Honduras is viewed through the eyes of a child.

Honduras Facts and Figures
Capital Tegucigalpa

8,598,561 (2014 estimate)

Note: Estimates for this country take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS, which results in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, and lower population growth rates than otherwise expected.
Languages Spanish, Amerindian dialects
Religions Christian 100% (Roman Catholic 97%, Protestant 3%)
Literacy rate
Definition: Age 15 and over can read and write.
Male: 85.3%
Female: 84.9%
(2011 estimate)
Percentage of population using improved drinking water sources Urban: 96.5%
Rural: 80.7%
(2011 estimate)
Percentage of population using adequate sanitation facilities Urban: 86.3%
Rural: 74.4%
(2011 estimate)
Climate Subtropical in lowlands, temperate in mountains
Percentage of population urbanized 52% (2010 estimate)
Life expectancy Male: 69.24 years
Female: 72.55 years
(2014 estimate)
Under-5 mortality rate 23/1,000 (2013 estimate)
GDP per capita $4,800 (2013 estimate)
Monetary unit Honduran lempira (HNL)
Number of people living with HIV/AIDS 25,600 (2012 estimate)
Percentage of population living below $1.25 a day 18% (2007-11 study)

Sources for facts: The World Factbook, 2014; The State of the World's Children, 2014