Honduras: San Pedro Sula

San Pedro Sula (Spanish pronunciation: [sam ˈpeðɾo ˈsula]) is the capital of Cortés Department, Honduras. It is located in the northwest corner of the country in the Sula Valley, about 50 kilometres (31 mi) south of Puerto Cortés on the Caribbean Sea. With a census population of 719,063 in 2013, and 1,445,598 people living in its metropolitan area in 2010, it is the nation's primary industrial center and second largest city after the capital Tegucigalpa.

San Pedro Sula was the "murder capital of the world" until early 2016 when Caracas, Venezuela surpassed its homicide rate. Since the 2009 Honduran military coup "unemployment and underemployment rates have doubled while the number of people living in extreme poverty has skyrocketed." In 2013, the city had 187 homicides per 100,000 residents. This surpassed Ciudad Juarez, Mexico's rate of 148 killings per 100,000, or an average of about three homicides per day; Ciudad Juarez had previously topped the list for three consecutive years. Both cities are major operational and strategic distribution points in the illegal drug trade, particularly to the United States, and have significant gang activity. In response, authorities launched Operation Lightning, saturating violence hotspots with police and soldiers. Meanwhile, arms trafficking has flooded the country, with just under 70% of all firearms being illegal. 83% of homicides in the city involve firearms.

According to the Los Angeles Times, "the homicide rate is stoked by the rivalry of the brutal street gangs, mostly descendants of gangs formed in Los Angeles and deported to Central America in the 1990s, including Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and the 18th Street gang. Their ranks are fed by the disastrous economy of Honduras, and emboldened more recently by alliances with Mexican drug traffickers moving cocaine through the country."

Crime and economic stress have led to the migration of large numbers of unaccompanied minors to the US border. The latest data from the CBP shows San Pedro Sula as the major source for Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) migrating from Honduras.

Barrio El Benque, the business district, is just to the west and south of the centre, and other neighbourhoods in the suroeste include Barrio Paz Barahona, Barrio La Guardia, Colonia Altamira, Colonia Mesetas, Barrio Rio de Piedras, Barrio Suyapa (from 12 Avenida S out to Avenida Circunvalacion, from 7 Calle S to 10 Calles S), Colonia Hernadez, Barrio Prado Alto, and Colonia El Chamelcon. The latter includes area from 23 Avenida S west to 27 Avenida S, from 1 Calle (named Bulevar Los Proceres there) south to 5 Calle S0. To the south of Colonia El Chamelecón are Colonia Dubon, Colonia Figueroa, Colonia Trejo (from 10 Calle S to 12 Calle S, from about Avenida Circunvalacion to 25 Avenida S, including the Consulate of Nicaragua), Colonia Altamira, and Colonia Altiplano. Colonia Las Mesetas runs from 12 Calle S to 14 Calle S, from 21 Avenida A (S) to past 24 Avenida S.

The Villa Olímpica is a multi-sporting complex that has facilities for most Olympic style games including soccer, boxing, swimming, baseball, cycling and multipurpose gymnasiums.

San Pedro Sula is the only city in the country to be home to two soccer stadiums. The Estadio Olímpico Metropolitano is located in the Villa Olímpica and is the largest in the country with a capacity of 42,000. The Estadio Francisco Morazán is located in the centre of the city and holds 23,000 people. The stadiums are home to San Pedro Sula's most popular professional soccer teams Marathón and Real CD España.

As of 2009, San Pedro Sula has been the home venue for Honduras national football team matches.

Cortés is one of the 18 departments into which Honduras is divided. The department covers a total surface area of 3,954 km² and, in 2015, had an estimated population of 1,612,762 people, making it the most populous department in Honduras. The Merendón Mountains rise in western Cortés, but the department is mostly a tropical lowland, the Sula Valley, crossed by the Ulúa and Chamelecon rivers.

It was created in 1893 from parts of the departments of Santa Bárbara and Yoro. The departmental capital is San Pedro Sula. Main cities also include Choloma, La Lima, Villanueva, and the sea ports of Puerto Cortés and Omoa. The Atlantic coast of the Department of Cortés is known for its many excellent beaches.

Cortés is the economic heartland of Honduras, as the Sula Valley is the country's main agricultural and industrial region. US banana companies arrived in the area in the late 19th Century, and established vast plantations, as well as infrastructure to ship the fruit to the United States. San Pedro Sula attracted substantial numbers of European, Central American, and Palestinian and Lebanese immigrants. Industry flourishes in the department, and Cortés today hosts most of the country's assembly plants, known as maquilas.

The World Bank categorizes Honduras as a low middle-income nation. The nation’s per capita income sits at around 600 US dollars making it one of the lowest in North America.

In 2010, 50% of the population were still living below the poverty line. By 2016 more than 66% was living below the poverty line. Estimates put unemployment at about 27.9%, which is more than 1.2 million Hondurans.

Economic growth in the last few years has averaged 7% a year, one of the highest rates in Latin America (2010). Despite this, Honduras has seen the least development amongst all Central American countries. Honduras is ranked 130 of 188 countries with a Human Development Index of .625 that classifies the nation as having medium development (2015). The three factors that go into Honduras' HDI (an extended and healthy life, accessibility of knowledge and standard of living) have all improved since 1990 but still remain relatively low with life expectancy at birth being 73.3, expected years of schooling being 11.2 (mean of 6.2 years) and GNI per capita being $4,466 (2015). The HDI for Latin America and the Caribbean overall is 0.751 with life expectancy at birth being 68.6, expected years of schooling being 11.5 (mean of 6.6) and GNI per capita being $6,281 (2015).

The 2009 Honduran coup d'état led to a variety of economic trends in the nation. Overall growth has slowed, averaging 5.7 percent from 2006–2008 but slowing to 3.5 percent annually between 2010 and 2013. Following the coup trends of decreasing poverty and extreme poverty were reversed. The nation saw a poverty increase of 13.2 percent and in extreme poverty of 26.3 percent in just 3 years. Furthermore, unemployment grew between 2008 and 2012 from 6.8 percent to 14.1 percent.

Inequality also exists between rural and urban areas as it relates to the distribution of resources. Poverty is concentrated in southern, eastern, and western regions where rural and indigenous peoples live. North and central Honduras are home to the country's industries and infrastructure, resulting in low levels of poverty. Poverty is concentrated in rural Honduras, a pattern that is reflected throughout Latin America. The effects of poverty on rural communities are vast. Poor communities typically live in adobe homes, lack material resources, have limited access to medical resources, and live off of basics such as rice, maize and beans.

The lower class predominantly consists of rural subsistence farmers and landless peasants. Since 1965 there has been an increase in the number of landless peasants in Honduras which has led to a growing class of urban poor individuals. These individuals often migrate to urban centers in search of work in the service sector, manufacturing, or construction. Demographers believe that without social and economic reform, rural to urban migration will increase, resulting in the expansion of urban centers. Within the lower class, underemployment is a major issue. Individuals that are underemployed often only work as part-time laborers on seasonal farms meaning their annual income remains low. In the 1980s peasant organizations and labor unions such as the National Federation of Honduran Peasants, The National Association of Honduran Peasants and the National Union of Peasants formed.

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