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Honduras Country Report

Country Risk Level

High

Overview

Executive Summary

President Juan Orlando Hernández began a second term in office in January 2018 despite the constitutionally imposed single-term limit. With his National Party (Partido Nacional: PN) holding the most seats in Congress, Hernández will continue to pursue his legislative agenda with only modest political negotiations required. Quarantine measures have been implemented since March over the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) virus; Phase 1 was launched at end-July to allow some sectors to reinitiate operations and was expanded through August. Protests have sprung up in Cortes department and Tegucigalpa over poor food distribution and water delivery during the lockdown, which is likely to continue periodically regularly through the rest of 2020. Periodic anti-government demonstrations driven by opposition demands for Hernandez’s resignation, regular electricity transmission failures, and the upcoming election in 2021 are likely in Tegucigalpa and on the highway to Puerto Cortés. Associated roadblocks cause periodic disruptions, during which typical financial losses amount to USD12.09 million per day over supply-chain delays. IHS Markit forecasts that GDP growth for 2020 will contract 5.35%, down from 3.3% growth in 2019 before rebounding to 2.54% in 2021. Honduras’s recovery depends significantly on a US economic turnaround, renewed manufacturing and textile contracts, as well as recovering remittance flows upon which domestic consumer spending is based.Companies operating in the hydroelectric and mining sectors are likely to face community unrest over environmental and water-access concerns as well as the disappearance of five indigenous leaders in 2020. Rising popularity of plebiscites to facilitate community consultation on concessions increase the risk of project delays and cancellation risks, especially in the southwest. Reputational risks for companies have been highlighted by the cancellation of financing for the Agua Zarca project after a local activist was killed. The homicide rate has decreased over the last five years but is rising again, and reached 42 per 100,000 in 2019.

Operational Outlook

Companies that operate in Honduras are likely to face operational delays and long bureaucratic procedures when dealing with municipal governments. These range from local approvals for concessions and land permits to bribery and protests from local community activists. Infrastructure is poor and long traffic delays can affect cargo delivery schedules, especially near customs processing points. This is counterbalanced by the country's positive attitudes towards foreign direct investment, easy port access, and a relatively liberal labour market. Investment incentives include tax exemptions or waivers and targeted programmes to facilitate new business ventures.

Terrorism

There are no known terrorist groups operating in Honduras. However, Honduran law currently defines street gangs as terrorists, which has permitted long custodial sentences for extortion and intimidation crimes. Criminal groups demand regular payment of a “war tax” from businesses and individuals but this represents only limited risks for property damage as a means of enforcement. There are persistent allegations that paramilitary death squads have resumed operations in Honduras, although this has been denied by the head of the Honduran armed forces.

Crime

The presence of structured gangs and transnational criminal organisations brings crime risks throughout the country with the most dangerous departments including Copán, Cortés, and Atlántida. Although homicide rates have decreased significantly through to 2020 since a peak in 2011, death and injury risks remain moderate in Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula. The primary risks are petty crime, armed hold-ups on urban streets during high-traffic periods, and express kidnappings. Extortion risks have increased, particularly along the Puerto Cortés corridor. Trafficking activities do not regularly affect civilian security but can present collateral risks along rural coastal regions popular for boat-to-air narcotic shipments.

War Risks

Ongoing border disputes with El Salvador and Nicaragua include disagreements over the demarcations of territorial water boundaries in the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Fonseca are unlikely to escalate. The military’s primary focus is on internal security, tackling narco-trafficking and organised gangs.

Social Stability

High

The frequency of politically motivated demonstrations has increased since President Juan Orlando Hernandez took office in January 2018. Typical protest issues include health and education sector salaries and funding, corruption, and electoral reform issues. Moderate installation damages and injury risks are likely during these events. Risks increase when police mobilise against protests with tear gas, batons, and rubber bullets to contain crowds. Persistent demonstration issues exist in the resource extraction and infrastructure sectors, where local activist groups countering hydro, solar, and mining activities use stones behind roadblocks against police armed with tear gas and water cannons, sometimes resulting in private property damage and operational delays.

Health Risk

Vaccines required to enter the country

Yellow fever: There is no risk of contracting yellow fever in Honduras. However, the government requires proof of vaccination for travelers arriving from countries with a risk of yellow fever transmission. A single dose of YF vaccine is sufficient to confer sustained life-long immunity against the disease.

Vaccines recommended for all travelers

Routine vaccinations: Consult your doctor to ensure all routine vaccinations - such as for diphtheria, tetanus, polio, tuberculosis, influenza, measles, mumps, pertussis, rubella, varicella, etc. - are up to date (include booster shots if necessary).

Vaccines recommended for most travelers

Hepatitis A: The vaccine is given in two doses, six months apart, and is nearly 100 percent effective. The WHO recommends the vaccine be integrated into national routine immunization schedules for children aged one year or older.

Typhoid fever: The typhoid fever vaccine can be administered via injection (administered in one dose) or orally (four doses). The vaccine is only 50-80 percent effective, so travelers to areas with a risk of exposure to typhoid fever, a bacterial disease, should also take hygienic precautions (e.g. drink only bottled water, avoid undercooked foods, wash hands regularly, etc.). Children can be given the shot beginning at two years of age (six for the oral vaccine).

Vaccines recommended for some travelers

Hepatitis B: The WHO recommends that all infants receive their first dose of vaccine as soon as possible after birth, preferably within 24 hours. The birth dose should be followed by two or three doses to complete the primary series. Routine booster doses are not routinely recommended for any age group.

Rabies: The rabies vaccination is typically only recommended for travel to remote areas and if the traveler will be at high risk of exposure (e.g. undertaking activities that will bring them into contact with dogs, cats, bats, or other mammals). The vaccination is administered in three doses over a three-to-four week period. Post exposure prophylaxis is also available and should be administered as soon as possible following contact with an animal suspected of being infected (e.g. bites and scratches).

Malaria: There is currently no malaria vaccine. However, various antimalarial prophylactics are available by prescription and can reduce risk of infection by up to 90 percent. Different medications are prescribed depending on the risk level and the strains of the virus present in the destination. Antimalarial tablets need to be taken throughout the trip to be effective and may need to be taken for as long as four weeks following the trip.

Natural Risks

Honduras (along with Myanmar and Haiti) has been the country most devastated by natural disasters over the past 20 years in terms of economic and human loss. Situational updates are available in Spanish on the website of the Honduran national civil protection (COPECO) in the event of storms or other natural disasters. 

The rainy season typically lasts from May/June through October/November. During this period, floods, landslides, and powerful storms can occur, often damaging infrastructure and causing subsequent travel disruptions.

The rainy season also coincides with the North Atlantic Hurricane season. Hurricanes, tropical storms, and storm remnants can hit the country during this period, with storms particularly common in August through October. In October 1998, Hurricane Mitch, one of the most powerful hurricanes to hit the region, left 7000 people dead and caused severe material damage.

There is also a risk of earthquakes. A 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck in May 2009, causing property damage and several deaths.

Forest fires can strike during the dry season.

Transportation

Driving conditions in Honduras are concerning due to aggressive driving habits, lax vehicle safety standards, and poor infrastructure (roads are often damaged by abundant rain, floods, and landslides). As such, vehicle collisions are relatively common.

Travel by car and bus after dark is therefore strongly advised against. As inter-city buses are often targeted by criminals, it is advisable to travel by air when possible for any long-distance journeys.

Due to risks associated with unlicensed taxis, it is advisable to only use "Radio Taxis" in Tegucigalpa and "Radio Taxi Barandillas" taxis in San Pedro Sula. In other towns and cities, choose taxis from taxi stations outside hotels and shopping centers, verifying that the driver's ID is displayed on the right-hand side of the windshield. Honduran taxis do not usually have meters; as such, it is advisable to agree to a price in advance.

Practical Information

Climate

The climate is tropical (hot and humid) along the coast and drier inland. Temperatures are much cooler in the interior of the country than along the coastline. The rainy season lasts from May until October (when the air is often stifling) but it rains regularly all year long along the Caribbean coast. The interior of the country and the Pacific coast region are dry from November until April. Temperatures and humidity levels are milder in the winter months.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +504
Police: 199
Fire Dept.: 198
Ambulance: 195

Electricity

Voltage: 110 V ~ 60 Hz

Outlets:

Risk Level
Critical High Medium Low Minimal