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 it is the second poorest country in Central America.

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 (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 and he 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 later 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, a government overthrow occurred and in 1957, Honduras had its first elections. However, in 1963, a coup took place and the military again ruled the country throughout much of the later 1900s. During this time, Honduras experience instability.
From 1975 to 1978 and from 1978 to 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 1990s and 2000s, Honduras experienced seven democratic elections and in 1982, it developed its modern constitution.

Government

After more instability in the later 2000s, Honduras today 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 addition in 2008, Honduras experienced severe flooding and almost half of its roads were destroyed.

Facts

Population: 7,989,415 (July 2010 estimate)
Capital: Tegucigalpa
Bordering Countries: Guatemala, Nicaragua, and El Salvador
Land Area: 43,594 square miles (112,909 sq km)
Coastline: 509 miles (820 km)
Highest Point: Cerro Las Minas at 9,416 feet (2,870 m)