Facts and Geography of Honduras

Flag of Honduras

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Honduras is a country located in Central America on the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. It is bordered by Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador and has a population of just under eight million. Honduras is considered a developing nation and is the second poorest country in Central America.

Fast Facts: Honduras

  • Official Name: Republic of Honduras
  • Capital: Tegucigalpa 
  • Population: 9,182,766 (2018)
  • Official Language: Spanish
  • Currency: Lempira (HNL)
  • Form of Government: Presidential republic 
  • Climate: Subtropical in lowlands, temperate in mountains 
  • Total Area: 43,278 square miles (112,090 square kilometers)
  • Highest Point: Cerro Las Minas at 9,416 feet (2,870 meters)
  • Lowest Point: Caribbean Sea at 0 feet (0 meters)

History of Honduras

Honduras has been inhabited for centuries by various native tribes. The largest and most developed of these were the Mayans. European contact with the area began in 1502 when Christopher Columbus claimed the region and named it Honduras (which means depths in Spanish) because the coastal waters surrounding the lands were very deep.

In 1523, Europeans began to further explore Honduras when Gil Gonzales de Avila entered the then-Spanish territory. A year later, Cristobal de Olid established the colony of Triunfo de la Cruz on behalf of Hernan Cortes. Olid however, tried to establish an independent government but was later assassinated. Cortes then formed his own government in the city of Trujillo. Shortly thereafter, Honduras became a part of the Captaincy General of Guatemala.

Throughout the mid-1500s, native Hondurans worked to resist Spanish exploration and control of the region but after several battles, Spain took control of the area. Spanish rule over Honduras lasted until 1821 when the country gained its independence. Following its independence from Spain, Honduras was briefly under the control of Mexico. In 1823, Honduras joined the United Provinces of Central America federation, which collapsed in 1838.

During the 1900s, Honduras's economy was centered on agriculture and particularly on United States-based companies that formed plantations throughout the country. As a result, the country's politics were focused on ways to maintain the relationship with the U.S. and keep foreign investments.

With the onset of the Great Depression in the 1930s, Honduras's economy began to suffer and from that time until 1948, the authoritarian General Tiburcio Carias Andino controlled the country. In 1955, the government was overthrown and, two years later, Honduras had its first elections. In 1963, however, a coup took place and the military again ruled the country throughout much of the later 1900s. During this time, Honduras experienced instability.

From 1975–1978 and 1978–1982, Generals Melgar Castro and Paz Garcia ruled Honduras, during which time the country grew economically and developed much of its modern infrastructure. Throughout the rest of the 1980s and into the next two decades, Honduras experienced seven democratic elections. The country developed its modern constitution in 1982.

Government

After more instability in the later 2000s, Honduras today is considered a democratic constitutional republic. The executive branch is made up of the chief of state and the head of state — both of which are filled by the president. The legislative branch is comprised of the unicameral Congress of Congreso Nacional and the judicial branch is made up of the Supreme Court of Justice. Honduras is divided into 18 departments for local administration.

Economics and Land Use

Honduras is the second poorest country in Central America and has a highly uneven distribution of income. Most of the economy is based on exports. The largest agricultural exports from Honduras are bananas, coffee, citrus, corn, African palm, beef, timber shrimp, tilapia, and lobster. Industrial products include sugar, coffee, textiles, clothing, wood products, and cigars.

Geography and Climate

Honduras is located in Central America along the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean's Gulf of Fonseca. Since it is located in Central America, the country has a subtropical climate throughout its lowlands and coastal areas. Honduras has a mountainous interior, which has a temperate climate. Honduras is also prone to natural disasters like hurricanes, tropical storms, and flooding. For example, in 1998, Hurricane Mitch destroyed much of the country and wiped out 70% of its crops, 70-80% of its transportation infrastructure, 33,000 homes, and killed 5,000 people. In 2008, Honduras experienced severe flooding and almost half of its roads were destroyed.