Roatán is an island surrounded by a coral reef off the north coast of Honduras.
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Musicians play on the island of Roatán in Honduras. Music and dance are widely enjoyed in the country.
Photograph by Danilo Mongiello, Dreamstime
The island of Roatán off the coast of Honduras is surrounded by a healthy coral reef abundant with sea creatures, such as sharks.
Photograph by Hotshotsworldwide, Dreamstime
The Cathedral of San Miguel in Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras
Photo by Leszek Wrona, Dreamstime
An elderly man sits beside pack mules on the streets of Honduras.
Photograph by William Lehman, Dreamstime
OFFICIAL NAME: Republic of Honduras
FORM OF GOVERNMENT: Democratic constitutional republic
OFFICIAL LANGUAGE: Spanish
AREA: 43,278 square miles (112,090 square kilometers)
MAJOR RIVERS: Patuca, Ulúa
MAJOR MOUNTAIN RANGES: Volcanic Highlands, Central American Cordillera
Map of Honduras
Honduras is bordered by Guatemala, Nicaragua, and El Salvador. On the north, the country shares a vast stretch of coast with the Caribbean Sea. On the south, it shares a small stretch with the Pacific Ocean. Several islands are also found off the country's coasts. Honduras is the second largest country in Central America, following Nicaragua.
Honduras has four distinct regions: the central highlands, Pacific lowlands, eastern Caribbean lowlands, and northern coastal plains and mountains. Mountains are plentiful in Honduras, with peaks as high as 9,347 feet (2,849 meters), though Honduras is the only country in Central America without volcanoes.
PEOPLE & CULTURE
The majority of people in Honduras live in the highlands and are Roman Catholic. Family life is considered very important. Many people in the country are poor and nearly half are unable to read or write.
Popular foods vary across the country and include cassava (tapioca), seafood, and chili peppers. The poor rely primarily on corn, beans, rice, and other staples, and eat very little meat.
Soccer is a very popular sport in Honduras and most communities have their own teams in addition to following the national team. While playing soccer is more common among boys, basketball, volleyball, and dancing are more common among girls. Western music and movies are also common forms of entertainment.
Plant life in Honduras varies with climate and elevation, ranging from mangroves to evergreen trees to Spanish cedar to oak.
Honduras is home to many colorful insects, including butterflies, beetles, and spiders. Reptiles, including snakes and crocodiles, are also plentiful in the country's tropical forests. Larger animals include deer, ocelots, and pumas. Birds are also common along the coast.
Honduras has several national parks and other protected areas to preserve its native plants and animls.
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GOVERNMENT & ECONOMY
Citizens of Honduras vote for a president who serves a single four-year term. The president appoints 18 governors to run administrative departments. The departments are further broken down with localities being the most local subdivision of government. People in each locality are able to elect a mayor.
A third of the economy in Honduras is derived from agriculture, with coffee being the biggest export. Bananas also contribute a significant percentage of the money brought into the country.
Christopher Columbus discovered Honduras in the 16th century, then home to the Maya and other indigineous people, and his discovery was soon followed by a Spanish conquest of the country.
In the early 19th century, Honduras gained independence from Spain and briefly became part of Mexico before joining the newly-formed United Provinces of Central America.
Following some political instability in the early 20th century, the United States took action to protect its investment of banana crops in the country.
In 1969, while Honduras was under military rule, a brief but serious war broke out with El Salvador as a result of a dispute over immigration and the lack of a clearly defined border between the two countries. Two decades later, Honduras returned to civilian rule and an agreement was reached with El Salvador.
In 1998, Hurricane Mitch took the lives of more than 5,000 people in Honduras and caused billions of dollars in damage. Political instability continues to trouble the country, with another military coup taking place as recently as 2009.