Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States
HONDURAS is one of the five republics of Central America. Its area is calculated to embrace 39,600 English square miles, with a population of 250,000 souls, consisting principally of Indians and half-breeds. Both area and population are only estimated. The state of Honduras, which, after its separation from Spain, at once became part of the confederation of Central America, together with Guatemala, San Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica, is bounded on the north and east by the Caribbean sea, on the west and south by Guatemala and San Salvador, and on the southwest by San Salvador. Its political organization is the same as that of most of the American republics. The executive power is vested in a president, elected for four years (constitution of 1863), aided by a council of state composed of two ministers, appointed by the president, one senator, elected by both houses of congress, and the judge of the supreme court. The legislative power is divided between a chamber of deputies composed of fourteen members, and a senate consisting of seven members.
—The public revenue of Honduras in recent years is valued at about $388,000, about one-third derived from customs duties, and another third from the government monopoly of the sale of aguardiente, or native rum. At the end of 1876 the foreign debt of Honduras amounted to a total of $29,950,540. It consists of three loans. The interest in arrear in 1875 was $6,150,820. If paid, the interest and sinking fund of the three loans would amount to an annual charge of $3,478,500 on the public revenue, or more than eight times the estimated total receipts of the government. The state of perpetual agitation in which these little republics exist is due to the imperfect condition of their military force. Public instruction is entirely in the hands of the clergy. The lower classes are almost utterly devoid of education. The total value of the exports of Honduras, which consist chiefly of mahogany, hides, tobacco, cattle and indigo, is estimated at about $1,000,000. The imports comprise cotton goods, silk and hardware. The resources of the country are at present wholly undeveloped. Comayagua, the capital of the state, has a population of 10,000, but most of the import trade is carried on in the seaport towns of Omoa and Trujillo on the Atlantic coast, and Amapala on the Pacific. Here, as in the other parts of Central America, the commerce is almost entirely in the hands of the English.
—British Honduras has an area of 13,500 English square miles. Its population, according to the latest census returns, is 24,710. In 1869 the public revenue was $183,150, and the expenditures amounted to $152,020. In the same year its imports were valued at $755,945, and its exports at $875,165. These figures are lower than those of the fifteen years previous. The value of the colony's commerce seems to be steadily diminishing, although the tonnage of the vessels entering and leaving its ports remains almost the same. In 1869 the total capacity of all the vessels entering and departing from its ports amounted to 58,116 tons.
—BIBLIOGRAPHY. Fröbel, Seven Years' Travel in Central America, London, 1853; Marr, Reise nach Central America, Hamburg, 1863; Pelletier, Honduras et ses ports. Documents officiels sur le chemin de fer interocéanique, Paris, 1869; Reichardt, Centro-America, Brunswick, 1851; Scherzer, Wanderungen durch die mittelamerikanischen Freistaaten Nicaragua, Honduras und San Salvador, Brunswick, 1857; Squier, Honduras, descriptive, historical and statistical, London, 1870.
A. D. H.
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