Honduras is the second largest country of Central America and is bordered by Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua. To its north lies the Caribbean Sea and to south the Pacific Ocean. According to the World Bank, Honduras is the third poorest country in Latin America after Haiti and Nicaragua. Honduras covers an area of 112,459 km2, making it slightly larger than the state of Tennessee. The population of the country is approximately 7 million people. Spanish is the official language although it is a multicultural, multiethnic and multilingual country, with nine ethnic groups accounting for 14.5 % of the population.
82 % of Honduras’ territory is sloped; and land management is influenced by the presence of moderate (12-30 %) to pronounced (>30 %) inclines (IICA, 1999). Almost 53 % of the population lives in rural areas (Banco Mundial, 2002) and more than 60 % of the rural population lives in areas classified as sloped (PRONADERS, 2000). The average annual per capita income is $700 US, less than $2.00 US daily (Banco Mundial, 2002). Poverty is concentrated on the slopes, where 91 % of the people subsist on less than $1.00 US daily (PRONADERS-IFPRI-WURS, 2003). It is estimated that of the 300,000 families that live on slopes, 93 % are under the poverty line (PRONADERS, 2000).
It has been determined in Honduras that education and soil fertility are the main factors which affect family income, so programs and policies to combat poverty must focus on increasing education levels, improving soil quality, promoting market access and augmenting opportunities for diversification of income (PRONADERS-IFPRI-WURS, 2003). In the year 2000, agriculture represented 18 % of the Gross National Product (Banco Mundial, 2002), but yet, malnutrition is prevalent in 40 % of Honduran children under the age of five years (Banco Mundial, 2002). It appears this statistic is correlated to the fact that poverty in Honduras is concentrated in the population that lives on slopes and practice slash and burn agriculture, and where 91 % of the people subsist on less than $1.00 US daily (PRONADERS-IFPRI-WURS, 2003).
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