"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 70%, 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 25 years of uninterrupted elected civilian democratic rule. The economy, which grew 6% in 2006 and is forecast to grow 6% in 2007, has benefitted from significant debt reduction by the international financial institutions that is freeing government resources to finance poverty-reduction programs. A key challenge for the government is curbing violent crime and the growth of youth gangs. The United States has a close relationship with Honduras, characterized by an important trade partnership, a U.S. military presence in the country, and cooperation on a range of transnational issues. Some 78,000 Hondurans living in the United States who have been provided temporary protected status (TPS) since 1998 when the country was devastated by Hurricane Mitch. […]. The Millennium Challenge Corporation approved a five-year $215 million compact with Honduras in 2005."
CRS Report for Congress, RL34027