I've been doing some research on Honduras for a project, and, while it's early days, I'm working toward a theory that would see the country, in many ways, as an African nation.
I've been mining the United Nations Human Development Report 2011, which I highly recommend for its exhaustive quantitative comparisons of 185 countries.
There are obvious findings. Northern Europe and North America are good places to live. Most of Africa isn't. And there are broad regional trends. Neighbours will generally be similar in a lot of ways.
Honduras, again based on first looks, seems an outlier.
Take income inequality. The HDR uses the relationship between the average income of the richest 20 per cent and the poorest 20 per cent as one measure.
In Honduras, the average income of the richest group is 30.4 times the income of the poorest. Only Namibia (52.2) and Angola (31) have greater inequality. (Canada's ratio is 5.5.)
That's partly because the poorest 20 per cent are really, really poor. But Honduras still has more in common with African states than its neighbours.
The other data supports the finding. On the Environmental Performance Index, based in 25 indicators across 10 categories, Honduras scores 49.9, on the average for countries with "Medium Human Development." But its peers in the Latin American and Caribbean group score an average 65.2, significantly better.
Honduras is below the medium development group for under-height and underweight children ("stunting and wasting," in the language of the reports. But the rate is almost twice as high as the average for the region.
About 64 per cent of the eligible population is attending high school, a little worse than the average for the medium group. But in Latin America, 90.7 per cent of potential students are in high school.
It's striking, across most measures, that Honduras is out of step with its neighbours and, perhaps, more like countries in Africa.
I'm not sure what that means. But I expect the nature of most things - aid, trade, government relations - is different for African nations than for countries in the Americas. And it might be time to think of Honduras as a lost piece of Africa.