Like all Latin American countries, Honduras can look back on an eventful history that extends into recent times. Poverty is terrifying, the gap between wealth and poverty very clear. Nevertheless, the residents of the country are usually open and hospitable towards visitors.
Honduras is one of the little-known countries in Central America. The Mayan ruins in Copán and the impressive diving areas on the Caribbean coast are certainly among the most famous highlights in the country. Tourism, which is largely limited to Copán and the Islas de Bahía, has only developed into a lucrative business in the last few years. But the other areas of Honduras also have many attractive sights, be it the still almost impenetrable Miskitia coast or the cloud forests in the interior.
|Name of the country
|Republic of Honduras, República de Honduras
|Form of government
|State in Central America
|Tu bandera es un lampo de cielo (German: “Your flag is a heavenly light”)
|September 15 (independence from Spain in 1821)
|approx. 9.5 million (Credit: Countryaah: Honduras Population)
|90% mestizo, 7% indigenous, 2% black, 1% white
|About 90% Catholic, the rest mostly Protestant sects
|Spanish, various indigenous languages, English influenced by Creole on the Caribbean coast
|Tegucigalpa with approx. 1.2 million residents
|Cerro Las Minas, with an altitude of 2,870 m
|Río Coco, with a length of 725 km
|Lago de Yoroja, with an area of 90 km²
|International license plate
|Time difference to CET
|– 7 h
|International phone code
|Mains voltage, frequency
|110 volts, 60 hertz; American flat plug
|Internet TLD (Top Level Domain)
Before the year 1000
Remains of Homo sperauliensis point to a settlement of today’s Honduras as early as 6,000 years before Christ. Around 2,000 BC Cr. the development of the Mayan ancestors began in Copán. The site developed into one of the most important centers of pre-Hispanic civilization, its astronomy, writing and architecture are now among the highlights of the world cultural heritage.
According to Abbreviationfinder website, from the year 1000 onwards, rainforest communities began to immigrate from northern South America.
From the year 1000 to the 17th century
Copán suddenly disappeared in the 13th century; dwindling food resources are assumed to be the reasons.
On July 30, 1502, Christopher Columbus discovered Honduras. At that time the Maya, Chortí, Lenca, Nahuatl, Xicaque, Pesen, Matagalpa and Chorotega lived in this area. The mosquitia and sumo that live on the north coast have not yet been discovered by the Spanish conquerors. The residents of the country lived from agriculture and fishing, gold was panned in the rivers and trade was carried out between the individual tribes. The first Spanish settlements were not established until the 1620s; Omoa, Triunfo de la Cruz and Trujillo. Triunfo de la Cruz (near today’s Tela) can be considered the first Spanish community, as it sought contact with the indigenous people in order to have the authority of Spain recognized. The Spanish Conquista began and did not end until the end of the 16th century, when all the indigenous people were brutally subjugated or destroyed. The first bishopric with a cathedral was in Trujillo and was moved to Comayagua in 1561.
Due to the increasing colonization by the Spaniards, more and more natives lost their land, they were forced to labor and the Christian faith. Resistance against the Spanish conquerors rose in almost all parts of the country. Outstanding was the young leader Lempira, who with about 30,000 men kept the Spaniards in check for two years until he was killed in an ambush in 1539. Lempira is still a folk hero for the Hondurans today. The province of Honduras was difficult to control at the time – not only the great distance to the headquarters in Guatemala and Mexico, but also the vastness of the forest landscapes and the interests of third parties made it impossible for the Spaniards to rule the country. At the end of the 16th century, pirate raids on the coasts by William Walker and Francis Drake increased.
From the 17th century the British had established themselves in the Moskitia. Due to the tremendous resistance of the tribes of that time against the Spaniards, mosquitia was no longer on the maps of the Spaniards. The English crown became interested in this region through reports from pirates. When the Spaniards wanted to take action against the cordoning off of the Central American province, however, it was already firmly in British hands.
In the 18th and 19th centuries
On September 15, 1821, the independence of the Central American provinces from Spain was declared. After internal struggles, Honduras leaned against the new Mexican monarchy, which fell apart in early 1823. This made it possible to reorganize the Central American Federation, which was now on its own and to which Francisco Morazán and other liberal reformers dedicated himself. Morazán and Valle used the first time to abolish slavery, to break up the feudal structures and, above all, to work out the country’s first constitution. The majority corresponded to the maxims of the French Revolution and took over essential passages of the American constitution. Soon there was a rival conflict of interest between England and the United States over a canal between the Atlantic and the Pacific.
In the meantime, Morazán repeatedly and successfully waged war against the insurgent conservative groups. In 1829 he became President of the Federation of Central American States and remained so until 1838. In 1837, civil marriage, divorce, inheritance law and others were anchored in the constitution for the first time.
Since many individual states allied with England because of the same canal interests, the international community disintegrated in April 1838.
On November 2, 1839, Honduras became independent and after the presidency of Morazán from 1841 to 1843 the reform phase was finally over. Since Honduras was almost completely insignificant internationally into the 20th century, it pursued a Central American federalist policy.
There were new reforms under President Soto from 1871 onwards. Among other things, he introduced framework laws for investment in agriculture. Honduras offered the natural resources and land to foreign investors before a middle class could develop. This decision was the step towards dependency: individual large foreign companies could and can decide the political and social fate of a country. The first wave of investments was limited to silver and gold mining, while the second wave consisted of the sale of fertile land for the cultivation of bananas.
In modern times
As early as the 1920s, three US companies owned 10% of the agricultural land.
After the end of Morazan’s presidency, the “Decade of Murder” began, which came to a head under President Tiburcio Andino (1876-1969) from 1933 to 1946. Paid by the companies, so-called “caudillos” murdered mayors and other politicians and carried out various coups. Andino, who had made himself popular with the banana companies through a tax exemption, enjoyed the full support of the transnational companies.
At the end of the 1940s, the dictatorships of all Central American states collapsed, Andino could not hold out either. In 1949 Manuel Galvéz (1887-1972) was the only candidate to emerge victorious from the presidential elections. Social development was strongly promoted by the strengthening of the trade unions and the movement of landless farmers. A strike broke out in Tela in 1954 and the armed forces were finally mobilized; The entire north coast was occupied for weeks. In the end, only modest wage increases could be won, but the movement achieved a complete legalization of the Honduran trade union movement.
This enabled President Ramon Villeda Morales (1908-1971) to set up a reform government, and in 1962 Morales undertook land reform in favor of the campensinos. But when the redistribution of the country began, the reluctance of the USA was over. In 1963, for example, there was a coup in which a military government took command; democratic elections were planned two years later, but they were stifled in repression.
In the chaos of the election consequences Oswaldo Lopez Arrelano (born 1921) came to power, under him the first land reform in favor of thousands of small farmers took place. At the beginning of the 1970s, Arrelano brought about a reform phase of the military government. In 1974, hurricane Fifi, which originated in the Caribbean, made around 100,000 families homeless and destroyed 10,000 lives. The economic damage amounted to 1 billion US dollars. One of the reasons for the replacement of President Arrelano was the misappropriation of part of the aid money.
On April 22, 1975, a new military government came to power in this way. The land reforms continued and the new president Juan Alberto Melgar Castro (1930-1987) issued a decree that withdrew the banana companies’ licenses for land and harbors. The measures were carried out, but legally withdrawn in 1977 and 1978.
Only since 1982 has democracy fully established itself in Honduras. However, under President Roberto Suazo Cordoba (1982-1986), Honduras suffered a relapse into dependence on the USA. This was reflected in the expansion of training camps for Salvadoran anti-terrorist units and in the stationing of US mercenaries to weaken the Sandinista government in Nicaragua.
The most serious human rights violations took place between 1982 and 1984, with 2,000 illegal arrests, 130 missing persons and 220 murders.
Under the liberal President José Simón Azcona del Hoyo (1927-2005) from 1986-1989, the government was almost paralyzed by disputes between the individual wings April 1988 culminated in the arson of the US Embassy in Tegucigalpa. The Honduran police stood by for two hours.
From 1990 austerity programs were imposed in the country, but without solving the structural problems. Under Carlos Roberto Reina (1926-2003) as president from 1994 to 1997, the government was given a “human face” in which he helped to meet the majority of the rural poor. His successor, Carlos Roberto Flores Facussé (born 1950 in Tegucigalpa) was President of Honduras from 1998 to 2002. Ricardo Maduro Joest (born 1946 in Panama) followed him as President of Honduras from 2002 to 2006.
José Manuel Zelaya Rosales (born 1952 in Catacamas) succeeded Ricardo Maduro in the office of President on January 27, 2006. On June 28, 2009, he was overthrown by the military and deported to Costa Rica. He wanted to change the constitution by means of a popular referendum so that the president could be re-elected.