Republic of Honduras
República de Honduras
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: 
  • "Libre, Soberana e Independiente" (Spanish)
  • "Free, Sovereign and Independent"
Anthem: Himno Nacional de Honduras
National Anthem of Honduras
Capital
and largest city
Tegucigalpa
Official languages Spanish
Recognised regional languages
  • Garifuna
  • Miskito
  • Bay Islands Creole English
  • other indigenous languages
Ethnic groups
Demonym
  • Honduran
  • Catracho
Government Presidential republic
 -  President Juan Orlando Hernández
 -  President of National Congress Mauricio Oliva
Legislature National Congress
Independence
 -  Declaredb from Spain 15 September 1821 
 -  Declared from the
First Mexican Empire
1 July 1823 
 -  Declared, as Honduras, from the Federal Republic of Central America 5 November 1838 
Area
 -  Total 112,492 km2 (102nd)
43,278 sq mi
Population
 -  2010 estimate 8,249,574 (94th)
 -  2007 census 7,529,403
 -  Density 64/km2 (128th)
166/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2014 estimate
 -  Total $40.983 billion
 -  Per capita $4,959
GDP (nominal) 2014 estimate
 -  Total $19.567 billion
 -  Per capita $2,368
Gini (1992–2007) 55.3
high
HDI (2013) Steady 0.617
medium · 129th
Currency Lempira (HNL)
Time zone CST (UTC−6)
Drives on the right
Calling code +504
Internet TLD .hn
a. Mixture of European and American Indian.
b. As part of the Federal Republic of Central America.
Population estimates explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected, as of July 2007.

Honduras is a republic in Central America. It was previously known as Spanish Honduras to differentiate it from British Honduras, which became the modern-day state of Belize. The country is bordered to the west by Guatemala, to the southwest by El Salvador, to the southeast by Nicaragua, to the south by the Pacific Ocean at the Gulf of Fonseca, and to the north by the Gulf of Honduras, a large inlet of the Caribbean Sea.

Honduras was home to several important indigenous cultures, most notably the Maya. Much of the country was conquered by Spain who introduced its predominant language and many of its customs in the sixteenth century. It became independent in 1821 and has been a republic since the end of Spanish rule.

Its size is just over 112,492 km² with an estimated population of almost eight million. Its capital is Tegucigalpa. Its northern portions are part of the Western Caribbean Zone.

It is notable for its production of minerals, tropical fruit, and recently for exportation of clothing for the international market.

History

CPN ST B 01
Mayan Stelae, an emblematic symbol of the Honduran Mayan civilization at Copan.

Pre-Colonial Period

In pre-Columbian times, modern Honduras was part of the Mesoamerican cultural area. In the west, the Maya civilization flourished for hundreds of years. The dominant state within Honduras's borders was that based in Copán. Copán fell with the other Lowland centres during the conflagrations of the Terminal Classic, the early 9th century. The Maya of this civilization survive in western Honduras as the Ch'orti', isolated from their Choltian linguistic peers to the west.

Remains of other Pre-Columbian cultures are found throughout the country. Archaeologists have studied sites such as Naco and La Sierra in the Naco Valley, Los Naranjos on Lake Yojoa, Yarumela in the Comayagua Valley, La Ceiba and Salitron Viejo (both now under the Cajon Dam reservoir), Selin Farm and Cuyamel in the Aguan valley, Cerro Palenque, Travesia, Curruste, Ticamaya, Despoloncal in the lower Ulua river valley, and many others.

Conquest Period

Cortes-Hernan-LOC
Hernán Cortés, one of the conquerors of Honduras.

On his fourth and the final voyage to the New World in 1502, Christopher Columbus became the first European to visit the Bay Islands on the coast of Honduras. Columbus landed near the modern town of Trujillo, in the vicinity of the Guaimoreto Lagoon.

In 1524 the Spanish arrived on Honduras led by Hernan Cortes, bring forces down from Mexico. Much of the conquest was done in the following two decades, first by groups loyal to Cristóbal de Olid, and then by those loyal of Francisco Montejo but most particularly by those following Alvarado. In addition to Spanish resources, the conquerors relied heavily armed forces from Mexico—Tlaxcalans and Mexica armies of thousands who lived on in the region as garrisons. Resistance to conquest was led in particularly by Lempira,and many regions in the north never fell to the Spanish, notably the Miskito Kingdom. After the Spanish conquest, Honduras became part of Spain's vast empire in the New World within the Kingdom of Guatemala. Trujillo and Gracias were the first city-capitals. The Spanish ruled the region for approximately three centuries.

Colonial Period

Honduras was organized as a province of the "Kingdom of Guatemala" and the capital was fixed, first at Trujillo on the Atlantic coast, and later at Comayagua, and finally at Tegucigalpa in the central part of the country.

Silver mining was a key factor in the Spanish conquest and settlement of Honduras. Initially the mines were worked by local people through the encomienda system, but as disease and resistance made this less available, slaves from other parts of Central America were brought in, and following the end of the local slave trading period at the end of the sixteenth century, African slaves, mostly from Angola were obtained. After about 1650, very few slaves or other outside workers arrived in Honduras.

Although the Spanish conquered the southern or Pacific portion of Honduras fairly quickly they were less successful in the northern or Atlantic side. They managed to found a few towns along the coast, at Puerto Caballos and Trujillo in particular, but failed to conquer the eastern portion of the region and many pockets of independent indigenous people as well. The Miskito Kingdom, located in the northeast was particularly effective in resisting conquest. The Miskitos, in turn found support from northern European privateers, pirates and especially the English colony of Jamaica, which placed much of it under their protection after 1740.

Independence and the nineteenth century

CatedraldeComayagua
The Cathedral of Comayagua

Honduras became independent from Spain in 1821 and was for a time under the Mexican Empire. After 1838 it was an independent republic and held regular elections.

Comayagua was the capital of Honduras until 1880, when it was transferred to Tegucigalpa.

In the decades of 1840 and 1850 Honduras participated in several failed attempts to restore Central American unity, such as the Confederation of Central America (1842–1845), the covenant of Guatemala (1842), the Diet of Sonsonate ( 1846), the Diet of Nacaome (1847) and National Representation in Central America (1849–1852).

Although Honduras eventually adopted the name Republic of Honduras, the unionist ideal never waned, and Honduras was one of the Central American countries that pushed hardest for the policy of regional unity.

Since independence, nearly 300 small internal rebellions and civil wars have occurred in the country, including some changes of government.

Liberal policies favoring international trade and investment began in the 1870s, and soon foreign interests became involved first in shipping, especially tropical fruit (most notably bananas) from the north coast, and then in railway building. In 1888, a projected railroad line from the Caribbean coast to the capital, Tegucigalpa, ran out of money when it reached San Pedro Sula, resulting in its growth into the nation's main industrial center and second largest city.

International influence in the 20th century

In the late nineteenth century United States-based infrastructure and fruit growing companies were granted substantial land and exemptions to develop the northern regions. As a result, thousands of workers came to the north coast to work in the banana plantations and the other industries that grew up around the export industry. The banana exporting companies, dominated by Cuyamel Fruit Company (until 1930), United Fruit Company, and Standard Fruit Company, built an enclave economy in northern Honduras, controlling infrastructure and creating self-sufficient, tax exempt sectors that contributed relatively little to economic growth. In addition to drawing many Central American workers to the north, the fruit companies also encouraged immigration of workers from the English-speaking Caribbean, notably Jamaica and Belize, who introduced an African descended, English speaking and largely Protestant population into the country, though many left after changes in the immigration law in 1939.

Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Honduras joined the Allied Nations on 8 December 1941. Along with twenty-five other governments, Honduras signed the Declaration by United Nations on 1 January 1942.

Constitutional crises in the 1940s led to reforms in the 1950s, and as a result of one such reform, workers were given permission to organize, which led to a general strike in 1954 that paralyzed the northern part of the country for more than two months, but which led to more general reforms.

Exterior Fuerte de Omoa Honduras
Fortaleza de San Fernando de Omoa is a Fort built by the Spanish to protect the coast of Honduras from English pirates.

Hurricane Fifi caused severe damage while skimming the northern coast of Honduras on 18 and 19 September 1974. Melgar Castro (1975–78) and Paz Garcia (1978–82) largely built the current physical infrastructure and telecommunications system of Honduras.

In 1979, the country returned to civilian rule.

During the early 1980s, the United States established a continuing military presence in Honduras with the purpose of supporting the Contra guerillas fighting the Nicaraguan government and also developed an air strip and a modern port in Honduras.

Roatan West End 95 we 006
Beach at Roatán.

In 1998, Hurricane Mitch caused such massive and widespread destruction that former Honduran President Carlos Roberto Flores claimed that fifty years of progress in the country were reversed.

21st century

The 2008 Honduran floods were severe and around half the country's roads were damaged or destroyed as a result.

Departments and municipalities

HondurasDivisions
Departmental division of Honduras

Honduras is divided into 18 departments. The capital city is Tegucigalpa Central District of the department of Francisco Morazán.

  1. Atlántida
  2. Choluteca
  3. Colón
  4. Comayagua
  5. Copán
  6. Cortés
  7. El Paraíso
  8. Francisco Morazán
  9. Gracias a Dios
  10. Intibucá
  11. Islas de la Bahía
  12. La Paz
  13. Lempira
  14. Ocotepeque
  15. Olancho
  16. Santa Bárbara
  17. Valle
  18. Yoro

Geography

Honduras rel 1985
Honduras is surrounded by the Caribbean Sea (top), Nicaragua, a gulf on the Pacific Ocean, El Salvador (lower left) and Guatemala (left).

Honduras borders the Caribbean Sea on the north coast and the Pacific Ocean on the south through the Gulf of Fonseca. It mostly lies between latitudes 13° and 17°N (a small area lies south of 13°, and the Swan Islands are north of 17°), and longitudes 83° and 90°W.

The climate varies from tropical in the lowlands to temperate in the mountains. The central and southern regions are relatively hotter and less humid than the northern coast.

The Honduran territory consists mainly of mountains, but there are narrow plains along the coasts, a large undeveloped lowland jungle La Mosquitia region in the northeast, and the heavily populated lowland Sula valley in the northwest. In La Mosquitia, lies the UNESCO world-heritage site Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve, with the Coco River which divides the country from Nicaragua.

The Islas de la Bahía and the Swan Islands (all off the north coast) are part of Honduras. Misteriosa Bank and Rosario Bank, 130 to 150 km (80–93 miles) north of the Swan Islands, fall within the EEZ of Honduras.

MontanasdelaSierradeAgalta Honduras
Honduran rainforest

Natural resources include timber, gold, silver, copper, lead, zinc, iron ore, antimony, coal, fish, shrimp, and hydropower.

Ecology

The region is considered a biodiversity hotspot because of the numerous plant and animal species that can be found there. Like other countries in the region, Honduras contains vast biological resources. The country hosts more than 6,000 species of vascular plants, of which 630 (described so far) are orchids; around 250 reptiles and amphibians, more than 700 bird species, and 110 mammal species, half of them being bats.

In the northeastern region of La Mosquitia lies the Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve, a lowland rainforest which is home to a great diversity of life. The reserve was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites List in 1982.

Honduras has rain forests, cloud forests (which can rise up to nearly three thousand meters above sea level), mangroves, savannas and mountain ranges with pine and oak trees, and the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System. In the Bay Islands there are bottlenose dolphins, manta rays, parrot fish, schools of blue tang and whale shark.

Economy

Honduras Export Treemap
A proportional representation of Honduran exports

Gold, silver, lead and zinc are produced by mines owned by foreign companies.

Bananas and coffee have also proven unreliable sources of income. Coffee exports, equally unreliable as a major source of economic support, surpassed bananas in the mid1970s as Honduras's leading export income earner.

Demographics

Copan
Village in Copán

Ninety percent of the Honduran population is Mestizo and white (a mixture of Amerindian and European ancestry). About 7% of the Honduran population are members of one of the seven recognized indigenous groups.

About 2% of Honduras's population is black, or Afro-Honduran, and mainly reside on the country's Caribbean coast. Most are the descendants of the slaves and indentured servants from the West Indian islands brought to Honduras. Another large group (about 150,000 today) are the Garifuna, descendants of an Afro-Carib population which revolted against British authorities on the island of St. Vincent and were forcibly moved to Belize and Honduras during the 18th century.

Talanga road Honduras
Talanga road, Honduras

Honduras hosts a significant Palestinian community (the vast majority of whom are Christian Arabs).

Culture

SopadeOlla
"Olla" Soup, made with beef broth, squash, yucca and common Central American vegetables

The most renowned Honduran painter is Jose Antonio Velásquez. Other important painters include Carlos Garay, and Roque Zelaya. Two of Honduras' most notable writers are Froylan Turcios and Ramón Amaya Amador. Others include Marco Antonio Rosa, Roberto Sosa, Lucila Gamero de Medina, Eduardo Bähr, Amanda Castro, Javier Abril Espinoza, Teófilo Trejo, and Roberto Quesada. Some of Honduras' notable musicians include Rafael Coello Ramos, Lidia Handal, Victoriano Lopez, Guillermo Anderson, Victor Donaire,Matilde Quan,Moises Canelo,Julio Quan Francisco Carranza and Camilo Rivera Guevara.

Hondurans are often referred to as Catracho or Catracha (fem) in Spanish.

Honduran cuisine makes extensive use of coconut, in both sweet and savory foods, and even in soups.

Celebrations

Saw dust carpet Comayagua Honduras (1)
Sawdust Carpets of Comayagua During the Easter Celebrations.

Some of Honduras' national holidays include Honduras Independence Day on 15 September and Children's Day or Día del Niño, which is celebrated in homes, schools and churches on 10 September; on this day, children receive presents and have parties similar to Christmas or birthday celebrations. Some neighborhoods have piñatas on the street. Other holidays are Easter, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Day of the Soldier (3 October to celebrate the birth of Francisco Morazán), Christmas, El Dia de Lempira on 20 July, and New Year's Eve.

Honduras Independence Day festivities start early in the morning with marching bands. Each band wears different colors and features cheerleaders. Fiesta Catracha takes place this same day: typical Honduran foods such as beans, tamales, baleadas, cassava with chicharron, and tortillas are offered. On Christmas Eve, the people reunite with their families and close friends to have dinner, then give out presents at midnight. In some cities fireworks are seen and heard at midnight. On New Year's Eve there is food and "cohetes", fireworks and festivities. Birthdays are also great events, and include the famous “piñata” which is filled with candies and surprises for the children invited.

La Feria Isidra is celebrated in La Ceiba at the end of May. La Ceiba is a city located in the east coast. It is usually called "The Friendship Carnival". People from all over the world come for one week of festivities. Every night there is a little carnaval (carnavalito) in a neighborhood. Finally, on Saturday there is a big parade with floats and displays with people from Brazil, New Orleans, Japan, Jamaica, Barbados and many other countries. This celebration is also accompanied by the Milk Fair, where many Hondurans come to show off their farm products and animals.

Transport

Carretera37
Highway in Honduras

Transportation in Honduras consists of the following infrastructure: 699 km of railways; 13,603 km of roadways; seven ports and harbors; and 112 airports altogether (12 Paved, 100 unpaved). Responsibility for policy in the transport sector rests with the Ministry of Public Works, Transport and Housing (SOPRTRAVI after its Spanish acronym).

National symbols

Ara macao - two at Lowry Park Zoo
National bird, Ara macao

The flag of Honduras is composed of 3 equal horizontal stripes, with the upper and lower ones being blue and representing the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea. The central stripe is white. It contains five blue stars representing the five states of the Central American Union. The middle star represents Honduras, located in the center of the Central American Union.

The national flower is the famous orchid, Rhyncholaelia digbyana (formerly known as Brassavola digbyana), which replaced the rose in 1969. The change of the National Flower was carried out during the administration of general Oswaldo López Arellano, thinking that Brassavola digbiana "is an indigenous plant of Honduras; having this flower exceptional characteristics of beauty, vigor and distinction", as the decree dictates it.

The National Tree of Honduras is the Honduras Pine (Pinus caribaea var. hondurensis). Also the use of the tree was regulated, "to avoid the unnecessary destructions caused by choppings or fires of forest."

The National Mammal is the White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus), which was adopted as a measure to avoid excessive depredation. It is one of two species of deer that live in Honduras. The National Bird of Honduras is the Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao). This bird was much valued by the pre-Columbian civilizations of Honduras.

Images


Honduras Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.