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Honduras: Historical Background
Country Study > Chapter 5 > National Security > Historical Background


One of the most important aspects of the Armed Forces of Honduras (Fuerzas Armadas de Honduras -- FAH) is its political and economic influence. In some Central American countries, such as Guatemala and El Salvador, the armed forces emerged during the late nineteenth century as an appendage of powerful new coffee oligarchies. Its primary function was to maintain peace or to restore it in rural areas suffering from the major dislocations that coffee cultivation produced. In Honduras, however, it was the lack of government continuity and the desire of caudillos (political strongmen) to control the central government that eventually led to the creation of the Honduran military. This difference in origins is important because it explains differences in contemporary military behavior. The Honduran military never developed a strong and overriding allegiance to a landed oligarchy or to any other single economic interest group; it could thus play a mediating role when the interests of the oligarchy clashed with those of the less privileged classes.

Although the political role that the armed forces has historically performed has remained largely the same, major changes in military organization and structure have occurred since national independence was achieved in 1838. The evolution of the armed forces took place in three stages. From 1838 until 1922, the military was a tool of the political faction or party in power. Between 1922 and 1963, the military forged an independent institutional identity (with guidance and aid from the United States). After 1963 a number of national and international developments occurred that moved the armed forces farther along the road toward institutional consolidation and organizational sophistication.

Data as of December 1993

Last Updated: December 1993

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Honduras was first published in 1995. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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