The state education in Honduras is free and the 6-year primary school compulsory. The secondary school is divided into two stages, the first of which is a 3-year general course, followed by a 2 or 3-year stage that is either university preparatory or vocational.
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Higher education was announced in the mid-1990s at five institutions, including a technological university and a teacher’s college. A significant vocational adult education program has been launched, but in 1995, one third of the adult population was illiterate. For the younger ones, the situation is a bit brighter, 70% of children go out of sixth grade, but still only 30% have the opportunity for further education.
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The area that today constitutes Honduras was inhabited by the Chibcha people (see Colombia), the Lenca and the Maya people even before the arrival of the Spaniards. Copán in the northwestern corner of the country was the country’s capital, leading a glorious life until the 9th century when it, like the rest of the empire, decayed.
The first European to arrive in Honduras was apparently Américo Vespucio, who arrived in 1498, but it was conquistador Pedro de Alvarado who claimed the conquest of the country in favor of the Spanish crown. The original population led by Chief Lempira waged a bloody resistance battle, but in vain. The land was laid under the Spanish province of Guatemala (Capitanía General de Guatemala).
Honduras flag source: Countryaah.com
Honduras disbanded with the other Central American countries from Spain in 1821 and was incorporated into the Mexican Empire under Emperor Iturbide, but this broke down two years later. Francisco Morazán and other Honduran leaders tried in vain to form a Central American federation, but Britain’s destabilizing influence in the area was far stronger.
With the liberal reform of 1880, the country’s economic focal point shifted to the mining sector – reinforced by the opening to foreign capital and technology. In the late 19th century, the North American group, United Fruit Co. (UFCO) into the country, bought large tracts of land, depended on almost all of the country’s fruit production, the railways, ships, ports, and by this way had extensive influence on fundamental political decisions.
In 1924, the United States invaded Honduras and introduced a formal democracy, under which the UFCO acquired its largest competitor, Cuyamel Fruit Co. and got a monopoly on banana production. Washington handed over power to Tiburcio Carías Andino, who ruled the country with a hard hand in the period 1933-49.
Border strife with Guatemala led to North American mediation in 1930. After World War II, a large number of Salvadoran peasants and rural workers emigrated to Honduras, where social tensions over the new immigration group gradually increased. In 1969, these tensions triggered a war between the two countries – in the wake of a football match between the two countries. The Organization of American States (OAS) negotiated a ceasefire in place between the two states, but only 23 years later was the state of war officially ended (see El Salvador).
In 1971, nationalists and liberals signed the so-called Unity Pact. General Osvaldo López Arellano who had been in power since 1963 allowed the holding of elections in which Ramón Ernesto Cruz of Partido Nacional prevailed.