"The Central American nation of Honduras, one of the hemisphere's poorest countries, faces significant challenges in the areas of crime, human rights, and improving overall economic and living conditions. While traditional agricultural exports of coffee and bananas are still important for the economy, nontraditional sectors, especially the maquiladora, or export-processing industry, have grown significantly over the past decade. Among the country's development challenges are a poverty rate over 60%, high infant mortality, and a significant HIV/AIDS epidemic. Despite these challenges, increased public spending on health and education have reaped significant improvements in development indicators over the past decade. Current President Manuel Zelaya of the Liberal Party won a four-year term in the November 2005 elections. The country has enjoyed 27 years of uninterrupted elected civilian democratic rule. The economy, which grew 6.3% in 2007 and is expected to have grown 4% in 2008, has benefitted from significant debt reduction by the international financial institutions that is freeing government resources to finance poverty-reduction programs. However, the U.S. recession and global financial crisis will likely slow Honduran economic growth sharply in 2009."
CRS Report for Congress, RL34027