Honduras - Tips

Honduras Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs
June 2007

Background Note: Honduras

Mayan ruins at Copan Ruinas,
Honduras. May 1995. [© AP Images]

Flag of Honduras is three equal horizontal bands of blue (top), white, and
blue with five blue, five-pointed stars arranged in an X pattern centered in
the white band; the stars represent the members of the former Federal
Republic of Central America -- Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras,
and Nicaragua.

PROFILE

OFFICIAL NAME:
Republic of Honduras

Geography
Area: 112,090 sq. km. (43,278 sq. mi.); slightly larger than Virginia.
Cities: Capital--Tegucigalpa (1,150,000); San Pedro Sula (800,000-900,000).
Terrain: Mountainous.
Climate: Tropical to subtropical, depending on elevation.

People
Nationality: Noun and adjective--Honduran(s).
Population (2006 est.): 7.3 million.
Growth rate (2006 est.): 2.16%.
Ethnic groups: 90% mestizo (mixed Indian and European); others of European,
Arab, African, or Asian ancestry; and indigenous Indians.
Religions: Roman Catholic, Protestant minority.
Language: Spanish.
Education (2003): Years compulsory--6. Attendance--88% overall, 31% at junior
high level. Literacy--76.2%.
Health: Infant mortality rate--29.64/1,000. Life expectancy--66.2 yrs.
Work force: Services--42.2%; natural resources/agriculture--35.9%;
manufacturing--16.3%; construction/housing--5.6%.

Government
Type: Democratic constitutional republic.
Independence: September 15, 1821.
Constitution: 1982; amended 1999.
Branches: Executive--president, directly elected to 4-year term.
Legislative--unicameral National Congress, elected for 4-year term.
Judicial--Supreme Court of Justice (appointed for a 7-year term by Congress
and confirmed by the president); several lower courts.
Political parties: National Party, Liberal Party, Innovation and National
Unity Party, Christian Democratic Party, and the Democratic Unification
Party.
Suffrage: Universal and compulsory at age 18.
Administrative subdivisions: 18 departments.

Economy (2006 est.)
GDP: $22.3 billion (PPP) or $9.3 billion (official exchange rate).
Growth rate: 5.5%.
Per capita GDP: $2,900 (PPP).
Per capita income: $ 894.00
Natural resources: Arable land, forests, minerals, and fisheries.
Agriculture (14.1% of GDP): Products--coffee, bananas, shrimp and lobster,
sugar, fruits, basic grains, and livestock.
Manufacturing (18% of GDP): Types--textiles and apparel, cement, wood
products, cigars, and foodstuffs.
Services (53.2% of GDP).
Trade: Exports (goods)--$1.95 billion: apparel, coffee, shrimp, bananas, palm
oil, gold, zinc/lead concentrates, soap/detergents, melons, lobster,
pineapple, lumber, sugar, and tobacco. Major market--U.S. (54.4%). Imports
(goods)--$5.00 billion: fabrics, yarn, machinery, chemicals, petroleum,
vehicles, processed foods, metals, agricultural products, plastic articles,
and paper articles. Major source--U.S. (37.5%).

PEOPLE
About 90% of the population is mestizo. There also are small minorities of
European, African, Asian, Arab, and indigenous Indian descent. Most Hondurans
are Roman Catholic, but Protestant churches are growing in number. While
Spanish is the predominant language, some English is spoken along the
northern coast and is prevalent on the Caribbean Bay Islands. Several
indigenous Indian languages and Garífuna (a mixture of Afro-indigenous
languages) are also spoken. The restored Mayan ruins near the Guatemalan
border in Copan reflect the great Mayan culture that flourished there for
hundreds of years until the early 9th century. Columbus landed at mainland
Honduras (Trujillo) in 1502, and named the area "Honduras" (meaning "depths")
for the deep water off the coast. Spaniard Hernan Cortes arrived in 1524.

HISTORY

Independence
Honduras and other Central American provinces gained independence from Spain
in 1821. The country was then briefly annexed to the Mexican Empire. In 1823,
Honduras joined the newly formed United Provinces of Central America
federation, which collapsed in 1838. Gen. Francisco Morazan--a Honduran
national hero--led unsuccessful efforts to maintain the federation. Honduras'
agriculture-based economy was dominated in the 1900s by U.S. companies that
established vast banana plantations along the north coast. Foreign capital,
plantation life, and conservative politics held sway in Honduras from the
late 19th century until the mid-20th century.

Military Rule
Authoritarian Gen. Tiburcio Carias Andino controlled Honduras during the
Great Depression, until 1948. In 1955--after two authoritarian
administrations and a strike by banana workers--young military reformists
staged a coup that installed a provisional junta and paved the way for
constituent assembly elections in 1957. This assembly appointed Ramon Villeda
Morales as President and transformed itself into a national legislature with
a 6-year term. The Liberal Party ruled during 1957-63. In 1963, conservative
military officers preempted constitutional elections and deposed Villeda in a
bloody coup. These officers exiled Liberal Party members and took control of
the national police. The armed forces, led by Gen. Lopez Arellano, governed
until 1970. Popular discontent continued to rise after a 1969 border war with
El Salvador, known as "the Soccer War." A civilian President--Ramon Cruz of
the National Party--took power briefly in 1970 but proved unable to manage
the government. In 1972, Gen. Lopez staged another coup. Lopez adopted more
progressive policies, including land reform, but his regime was brought down
in the mid-1970s by corruption scandals. The regimes of Gen. Melgar Castro
(1975-78) and Gen. Paz Garcia (1978-82) largely built the current physical
infrastructure and telecommunications system of Honduras. The country also
enjoyed its most rapid economic growth during this period, due to greater
international demand for its products and the availability of foreign
commercial lending.

Seven Consecutive Democratic Elections
Following the overthrow of Anastasio Somoza in Nicaragua in 1979 and general
instability in El Salvador at the time, Hondurans elected a constituent
assembly in 1980 and voted in general elections in 1981. A new constitution
was approved in 1982, and the Liberal Party government of President Roberto
Suazo Cordoba took office. Suazo relied on U.S. support during a severe
economic recession, including ambitious social and economic development
projects sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
Honduras became host to the largest Peace Corps mission in the world, and
nongovernmental and international voluntary agencies proliferated.

As the 1985 election approached, the Liberal Party interpreted election law
as permitting multiple presidential candidates from one party. The Liberal
Party claimed victory when its presidential candidates, who received 42% of
the vote, collectively outpolled the National Party candidate, Rafael
Leonardo Callejas. Jose Azcona Hoyo, the candidate receiving the most votes
among the Liberals, assumed the presidency in 1986. With the endorsement of
the Honduran military, the Azcona administration ushered in the first
peaceful transfer of power between civilian presidents in more than 30 years.

Four years later, Nationalist Rafael Callejas won the presidential election,
taking office in 1990. The nation's fiscal deficit ballooned during Callejas'
last year in office. Growing public dissatisfaction with the rising cost of
living and with widespread government corruption led voters in 1993 to elect
Liberal Party candidate Carlos Roberto Reina with 56% of the vote. President
Reina, elected on a platform calling for a "moral revolution," actively
prosecuted corruption and pursued those responsible for human rights abuses
in the 1980s. He created a modern attorney general's office and an
investigative police force, increased civilian control over the armed forces,
transferred the police from military to civilian authority, and restored
national fiscal health.

After winning the 1997 election by a 10% margin, Liberal Carlos Roberto
Flores Facusse took office in 1998. Flores inaugurated programs of reform and
modernization of the Honduran government and economy, with emphasis on
helping Honduras' poorest citizens while maintaining the country's fiscal
health and improving international competitiveness. In October 1998,
Hurricane Mitch devastated Honduras, leaving more than 5,000 people dead and
1.5 million displaced. Damages totaled nearly $3 billion. President Flores
and his administration successfully managed more than $600 million in
international assistance. Flores also moved judicial and penal reforms
forward, establishing an anticorruption commission, and supporting passage of
a new penal code based on the oral accusatorial system and a law that created
an independent Supreme Court. Flores also established a civilian Minister of
Defense.

Ricardo Maduro Joest of the National Party won the 2001 presidential
elections, and was inaugurated in 2002. During his campaign, President Maduro
promised to reduce crime, reinvigorate the economy, and fight corruption.
Maduro's first act as President was to deploy a joint police-military force
to the streets to permit wider neighborhood patrols in the ongoing fight
against the country's massive crime and gang problem. Maduro was a strong
supporter of the global war on terrorism and joined the U.S.-led coalition in
Iraq with an 11-month contribution of 370 troops. Under President Maduro's
guidance, Honduras also negotiated and ratified the U.S.-Central America Free
Trade Agreement (CAFTA), received debt relief, became the first Latin
American country to sign a Millennium Challenge Account compact with the
U.S., and actively promoted greater Central American integration.

Jose Manuel "Mel" Zelaya Rosales of the Liberal Party won the November 27,
2005 presidential elections with less than a 4% margin of victory, the
smallest margin ever in Honduran electoral history. Zelaya's campaign theme
was "citizen power," and he has vowed to increase transparency and combat
narcotrafficking, while maintaining macroeconomic stability. The Liberal
Party won 62 of the 128 congressional seats, just short of an absolute
majority. Zelaya was inaugurated on January 27, 2006.

GOVERNMENT
The 1982 constitution provides for a strong executive, a unicameral National
Congress, and a judiciary appointed by the National Congress. The president
is directly elected to a 4-year term by popular vote. The Congress also
serves a 4-year term; congressional seats are assigned the parties'
candidates in proportion to the number of votes each party receives in the
various departments. The judiciary includes a Supreme Court of Justice (one
president and 14 magistrates chosen by Congress for a seven-year term),
courts of appeal, and several courts of original jurisdiction--such as labor,
tax, and criminal courts. For administrative purposes, Honduras is divided
into 18 departments, with municipal officials selected for 4-year terms.

POLITICAL CONDITIONS
Reinforced by the media and several political watchdog organizations,
concerted efforts to protect human rights and civil liberties continued.
Organized labor now represents approximately 8% of the work force and its
economic and political influence has declined. Honduras held its seventh
consecutive democratic elections in 2005 to elect a new president, unicameral
Congress, and mayors. For the first time, as a result of the newly reformed
Electoral Law, voters were able to vote for individual members of Congress,
with photos of each candidate on the ballot, rather than party lists. For the
electoral period 2006-2010, 31 women were elected to Congress; 27 of them
chose women as their alternates for a total of 58 women in the legislature,
an unprecedented number in the political history of the country.

Political Parties
The two major parties are the slightly left-of-center Liberal Party and the
slightly-right-of-center National Party. The three much smaller registered
parties--the Christian Democratic Party, the Innovation and National Unity
Party, and the Democratic Unification Party--hold a few seats each in the
Congress, but have never come close to winning the presidency.

Principal Government Officials
President--Jose Manuel "Mel" ZELAYA Rosales
Minister of Foreign Relations--Milton JIMENEZ Puerto
President of Congress--Roberto MICHELETTI
Ambassador to the United States--Roberto FLORES Bermúdez
Ambassador to the United Nations--Ivan ROMERO Martinez
Ambassador to the OAS--Carlos SOSA Coello

Honduras maintains an embassy in the United States at 3007 Tilden Street NW,
Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-966-7702).

ECONOMY
Honduras is one of the poorest and least developed countries in Latin
America, with nearly two-thirds of Hondurans living in poverty. Although
historically dependent on exports of coffee and bananas, the economy has
diversified over the past 20 years with the development of non-traditional
exports such as oriental vegetables, cultivated shrimp, melons, and tourism,
and the establishment of a growing maquila industry (primarily assembly of
apparel for re-export). The maquila industry employs approximately 130,000
Hondurans. Honduras also has extensive forest, marine, and mineral resources,
although widespread slash-and-burn agricultural methods and illegal logging
continue to destroy Honduran forests. Family remittances from Hondurans
living abroad (mostly in the United States) have risen significantly, to an
estimated $2.3 billion in 2006, which represents 15% of the country's foreign
exchange earnings and over 20% of its GDP.

The exchange rate through the first quarter of 2007 was 18.89 Honduran
Lempira to the dollar, a slight devaluation from the 2005 rate of 18.92.
Inflation, as measured by the consumer price index, was estimated at
approximately 6.0% in 2006 and was projected to remain at that rate in 2007.
International reserves totaled $2.6 billion in 2006, up from an estimated
$2.23 billion in 2005. Unemployment was estimated at around 28% in 2005.

In 2005, Honduras reached completion point under the Heavily Indebted Poor
Countries (HIPC) initiative, qualifying the country for multilateral debt
relief.

NATIONAL SECURITY
With the cessation of the 1980s civil wars in El Salvador and Nicaragua, the
Honduran armed forces refocused their orientation toward combating
transnational threats such as narcoterrorism and organized crime. Honduras
supports efforts at regional integration and deployed troops to Iraq in
support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In 1999, the constitution was amended to
abolish the position of military commander in chief of the armed forces, thus
codifying civilian authority over the military. Former President Flores also
named the first civilian Minister of Defense in the country's history.

FOREIGN RELATIONS
Honduras is a member of the United Nations, the World Trade Organization
(WTO), the Organization of American States (OAS), the Central American
Parliament (PARLACEN), the Central American Integration System (SICA), the
Conference of Central American Armed Forces (CFAC), and the Central American
Security Commission (CASC). During 1995-96, Honduras--a founding member of
the United Nations--served as a nonpermanent member of the UN Security
Council for the first time. Honduras is currently a member of the UN Human
Rights Commission. Honduras is a party to all UN and OAS counterterrorism
conventions and protocols.

Honduras is a strong proponent of Central American cooperation and
integration, and continues to work towards the implementation of a regional
customs union and Central American passport, which would ease border controls
and tariffs among Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and El Salvador.

In 1969, El Salvador and Honduras fought the brief "Soccer War" over disputed
border areas. The two countries formally signed a peace treaty in 1980, which
put the border dispute before the International Court of Justice (ICJ). In
1992, the Court awarded most of the disputed territory to Honduras, and in
January 1998, Honduras and El Salvador signed a border demarcation treaty to
implement the terms of the ICJ decree although delays continue due to
technical difficulties. However, Honduras and El Salvador maintain normal
diplomatic and trade relations. Honduras also has unresolved maritime border
disputes with El Salvador, Nicaragua, Jamaica, and Cuba.

U.S.-HONDURAN RELATIONS

Overview
The United States and Honduras have close and friendly relations. Honduras is
supportive of U.S. policy in the United Nations and other fora, as well of
the war on terrorism. Honduras was among the first countries to sign an
International Criminal Court (ICC) Article 98 Agreement with the U.S., and
the Honduran port of Puerto Cortes is part of the U.S. Container Security
Initiative (CSI).

The United States favors stable, peaceful relations between Honduras and its
Central American neighbors. During the 1980s, Honduras supported U.S. policy
opposing a revolutionary Marxist government in Nicaragua and an active
leftist insurgency in El Salvador. The Honduran Government also played a key
role in negotiations that culminated in the 1990 Nicaraguan elections.
Honduras continues to participate in the UN observer mission in the Western
Sahara, contributed 370 troops for stabilization in Iraq, and remains
interested in participating in other UN peacekeeping missions.

The United States is Honduras' chief trading partner, with two-way trade in
goods increasing to over $7 billion in 2006. U.S.-Honduran trade is dominated
by the Honduran maquila industry, which imports yarn and textiles from the
United States and exports finished articles of clothing. Other leading
Honduran exports to the United States include coffee, bananas, seafood
(particularly shrimp), minerals (including zinc, lead, gold, and silver), and
other fruits and vegetables.

U.S. investors account for nearly two-thirds of the foreign direct investment
(FDI) in Honduras. The stock of U.S. direct investment in Honduras in 2005
was $402 million, up from $339 million in 2004. The overall flow of FDI into
Honduras in 2005 totaled $568 million, $196 million of which was spent in the
maquila sector. The United States continued as the largest contributor of
FDI. The most substantial U.S. investments in Honduras are in the maquila
sector, fruit production (particularly bananas, melons, and pineapple),
tourism, energy generation, shrimp aquaculture, animal feed production,
telecommunications, fuel distribution, cigar manufacturing, insurance,
brewing, leasing, food processing, and furniture manufacturing. Many U.S.
franchises, particularly in the restaurant sector, operate in Honduras.

In 2004, the United States signed the U.S.-Central America Free Trade
Agreement (CAFTA) with Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Costa
Rica, and the Dominican Republic. The legislatures of all signatories except
Costa Rica ratified CAFTA in 2005, and the agreement entered into force in
the first half of 2006. CAFTA eliminates tariffs and other barriers to trade
in goods, services, agricultural products, and investments. Additionally,
CAFTA is expected to solidify democracy, encourage greater regional
integration, and provide safeguards for environmental protection and labor
rights.

In June 2005, Honduras became the first country in the hemisphere to sign a
Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) compact with the US Government. Under the
compact, the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation will invest $215 million
over five years to help Honduras improve its road infrastructure, diversify
its agriculture, and get its products to market.

The United States maintains a small presence at a Honduran military base; the
two countries conduct joint peacekeeping, counternarcotics, humanitarian,
disaster relief, and civic action exercises. U.S. troops conduct and provide
logistics support for a variety of bilateral and multilateral
exercises--medical, engineering, peacekeeping, counternarcotics, and disaster
relief--for the benefit of the Honduran people and their Central American
neighbors. U.S. forces--regular, reserve, and National Guard--benefit greatly
from these exercises.

U.S. Policy Toward Honduras
U.S. policy toward Honduras is aimed at consolidating democracy, protecting
human rights, and promoting the rule of law. U.S. Government programs are
aimed at promoting a healthy and more open economy capable of sustainable
growth, improving the climate for business and investment while protecting
U.S. citizen and corporate rights, and promoting the well-being of the
Honduran people. The United States also works with Honduras to meet
transnational challenges--including the fight against terrorism, narcotics
trafficking, money laundering, illegal migration, and trafficking in
persons--and encourages and supports Honduran efforts to protect the
environment. The goals of strengthening democracy and promoting viable
economic growth are especially important given the geographical proximity of
Honduras to the United States. Approximately 800,000 to 1 million Hondurans
reside in the United States; consequently, immigration issues are an
important item on our bilateral agenda.

U.S.-Honduran ties are further strengthened by numerous private sector
contacts, with an average of between 80,000 and 110,000 U.S. citizens
visiting Honduras annually and about 15,000 Americans residing there. More
than 150 American companies operate in Honduras.

Economic and Development Assistance
In order to help strengthen Honduras' democratic institutions and improve
living conditions, the United States has provided substantial economic
assistance. The United States has historically been the largest bilateral
donor to Honduras. The USAID budget for Honduras is $37 million for fiscal
year 2007. Over the years, U.S. foreign assistance has helped advance such
objectives as fostering democratic institutions, increasing private sector
employment and income, helping Honduras manage its arrears with international
financial institutions, providing humanitarian aid, increasing agricultural
production, and providing loans to microbusinesses.

1998's Hurricane Mitch left hundreds of thousands homeless, devastated the
road network and other public infrastructure, and crippled certain key
sectors of the economy. Estimates show that Hurricane Mitch caused $8.5
billion in damages to homes, hospitals, schools, roads, farms, and businesses
throughout Central America, including more than $3 billion in Honduras alone.
In response, the United States provided more than $461 million in immediate
disaster relief and humanitarian aid spread over the years 1998-2001. This
supplemental assistance was designed to help repair water and sanitation
systems; replace housing, schools, and roads; provide agricultural inputs;
provide local government crisis management training; grant debt relief; and
encourage environmental management expertise. Additional resources were
utilized to maintain anti-crime and drug assistance programs.

In 2001, the United States also provided food aid in response to a short
drought and the depressed state of the agriculture sector. Subsequently, the
United States provided $265,000 in disaster assistance after Tropical Storm
Michelle inundated the north coast with floods. Most recently, the United
States provided assistance for Honduras' recovery from 2005's devastating
storms, including Hurricane Beta and Tropical Storm Gamma.

The Peace Corps has been active in Honduras since 1962, and currently the
program is one of the largest in the world. In 2005, there were 220 Peace
Corps Volunteers working in the poorest parts of Honduras.

The U.S. Government strongly supports the professionalization of the civilian
police force as an important element in strengthening the rule of law in
Honduras. The American Embassy in Tegucigalpa provides specialized training
to police officers.

Security Assistance
The role of the Honduran armed forces has changed significantly in recent
years as many institutions formerly controlled by the military are now under
civilian authority. The annual defense and police budgets have hovered at
around $35 million during the past few years. Honduras receives modest U.S.
security assistance funds and training.

In the absence of a large security assistance program, defense cooperation
has taken the form of increased participation by the Honduran armed forces in
military-to-military contact programs and bilateral and multilateral combined
exercises oriented toward peacekeeping, disaster relief, humanitarian/civic
assistance, and counternarcotics. The U.S. Joint Task Force Bravo (JTF-B),
stationed at the Honduran Soto Cano Air Base, plays a vital role in
supporting combined exercises in Honduras and in neighboring Central American
countries. JTF-Bravo plays a critical role in helping the United States
respond to natural disasters in Central America by serving as a platform for
rescue missions, repairing critical infrastructure, and in meeting high
priority health and sanitation needs. JTF-Bravo forces have helped deliver
millions of dollars worth of privately donated goods to those in need.

U.S. Business Opportunities
Bilateral trade between the two nations totaled $7.4 billion in 2006, up from
$7 billion in 2005. Exports of goods and services from the U.S. increased
from $3.24 billion in 2005 to $3.69 billion in 2006, while Honduran exports
to the U.S. fell slightly from $3.75 billion in 2005 to $3.72 billion in 2006
More than 150 American companies operate in Honduras; U.S. franchises are
present in increasing numbers.

Opportunities for U.S. business sales include textile machinery, construction
equipment, automotive parts and accessories, telecommunications equipment,
pollution control/water resources equipment, agricultural machinery, hotel
and restaurant equipment, computers and software, franchising, and household
consumer goods. The best prospects for agricultural products are corn, milled
rice, wheat, soybean meal, and consumer-ready products.

U.S. citizens contemplating investment in real estate in Honduras should
proceed with extreme caution, especially in the Bay Islands or coastal areas,
because of frequently conflicting legislation, problems with land titles, and
a weak judicial system. Investors or their attorneys should check property
titles not only with the property registry office having jurisdiction in the
area in which the property is located (being especially observant of marginal
annotations on the deed and that the property is located within the area
covered by the original title), but also with the National Agrarian Institute
(INA) and the National Forestry Administration (COHDEFOR). Investors in land
should be aware that even clear title is not a guarantee that a future
dispute over land would be resolved equitably.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials
Ambassador--Charles A. Ford
Deputy Chief of Mission--Jim Williard
Political Counselor--Frank Penirian (Acting)
Economic Counselor--Martin Healy (Acting)
Consul General--Rachel Schofer (Acting)
Management Counselor--Jesse Coronado
USAID Director--Harry Birnholz
Public Affairs Officer--Chantal Dalton
Defense Attache--COL Derek Dickey
Military Group Commander--COL Jeffrey Moragne
Peace Corps Director--Trudy Jaycox

The U.S. Embassy in Honduras is located on Avenida La Paz, Tegucigalpa (tel.:
011-504-236-9320; faxes: general--011-504-236-9037, USAID--011-504-236-7776,
Consulate--011-504-237-1792). Internet: http://honduras.usembassy.gov/english
/index_e1.htm

Contact Information
American Chamber of Commerce
Hotel Honduras Maya
Apartado Postal 1838
Tegucigalpa, Honduras
Tel: (504) 232-7043/232-6035
Fax: (504) 232-9959
Branch office in San Pedro Sula
Tel: (504) 557-6402/559-6412
Fax: (504) 557-6402

U.S. Department of Commerce
International Trade Administration
Office of Latin America and the Caribbean
14th and Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20230
Tel: 202-482-0057
800-USA-TRADE
Fax: 202-482-0464
Internet: http://trade.gov

U.S. Agency for International Development
1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20523-0001
Tel: 202-712-4810
Fax: 202-216-3524
Internet: www.usaid.gov

TRAVEL AND BUSINESS INFORMATION
The U.S. Department of State's Consular Information Program advises Americans
traveling and residing abroad through Consular Information Sheets, Public
Announcements, and Travel Warnings. Consular Information Sheets exist for all
countries and include information on entry and exit requirements, currency
regulations, health conditions, safety and security, crime, political
disturbances, and the addresses of the U.S. embassies and consulates abroad.
Public Announcements are issued to disseminate information quickly about
terrorist threats and other relatively short-term conditions overseas that
pose significant risks to the security of American travelers. Travel Warnings
are issued when the State Department recommends that Americans avoid travel
to a certain country because the situation is dangerous or unstable.

For the latest security information, Americans living and traveling abroad
should regularly monitor the Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet
web site at http://www.travel.state.gov, where the current Worldwide Caution,
Public Announcements, and Travel Warnings can be found. Consular Affairs
Publications, which contain information on obtaining passports and planning a
safe trip abroad, are also available at http://www.travel.state.gov. For
additional information on international travel, see http://www.usa.gov/
Citizen/Topics/Travel/International.shtml.

The Department of State encourages all U.S citizens who traveling or residing
abroad to register via the State Department's travel registration website or
at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. Registration will make your
presence and whereabouts known in case it is necessary to contact you in an
emergency and will enable you to receive up-to-date information on security
conditions.

Emergency information concerning Americans traveling abroad may be obtained
by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. and Canada or the regular
toll line 1-202-501-4444 for callers outside the U.S. and Canada.

The National Passport Information Center (NPIC) is the U.S. Department of
State's single, centralized public contact center for U.S. passport
information. Telephone: 1-877-4USA-PPT (1-877-487-2778). Customer service
representatives and operators for TDD/TTY are available Monday-Friday, 7:00
a.m. to 12:00 midnight, Eastern Time, excluding federal holidays.

Travelers can check the latest health information with the U.S. Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A hotline at 877-FYI-TRIP
(877-394-8747) and a web site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel/index.htm give the
most recent health advisories, immunization recommendations or requirements,
and advice on food and drinking water safety for regions and countries. A
booklet entitled "Health Information for International Travel" (HHS
publication number CDC-95-8280) is available from the U.S. Government
Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402, tel. (202) 512-1800.

Further Electronic Information
Department of State Web Site. Available on the Internet at http://
www.state.gov, the Department of State web site provides timely, global
access to official U.S. foreign policy information, including Background
Notes and daily press briefings along with the directory of key officers of
Foreign Service posts and more. The Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC)
provides security information and regional news that impact U.S. companies
working abroad through its website http://www.osac.gov

Export.gov provides a portal to all export-related assistance and market
information offered by the federal government and provides trade leads, free
export counseling, help with the export process, and more.
STAT-USA/Internet, a service of the U.S. Department of Commerce, provides
authoritative economic, business, and international trade information from
the Federal government. The site includes current and historical
trade-related releases, international market research, trade opportunities,
and country analysis and provides access to the National Trade Data Bank. ***********************************************************
See http://www.state.gov/r/pa/bgn/ for all Background notes
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