THE SPANISH LANGUAGE
is the second most spoken language in the world due to the number of speakers who claim it as their native tongue (after Mandarin Chinese). It is spoken as a first and second language amongst 450 and 500 million people. It is the third most spoken language as a first or second language after Mandarin Chinese and English combined, and is the mother tongue to 400 million people worldwide... Read more
America Country Profile
Christopher Columbus was the first person to set foot on Honduran soil on July 30th 1502. His new found land had deep coastal waters so he named it ‘Hounduras’ meaning ‘depths’. For the next 300 years, the land was largely under military rule and was Part of Spain’s vast ‘New World Empire’ However, Honduras successfully gained independence from Spain in 1821. Situated in Central America, this triangular shaped land covers an area of 112,090 sq km and lies between El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua. The Caribbean Sea lies in the north and the North Pacific Ocean in the south. The estimated population is 7.8 million, of which 90% are Mestizo (of mixed Indian and European origin), the minority being of European, Arab, African, or Asian ancestry, with indigenous Indians. The predominant religion is Roman Catholic with a Protestant minority and the predominant language is Spanish though other languages exist. The country’ GDP stands at 14.3 billion and its natural resources are: agriculture, forests, minerals, fisheries, coffee, bananas, shrimp and lobster, sugar, fruits and basic grains. The country has two major governmental parties: Liberal and National, the presidency running for a 4 year term. The current presidency is held by Jose Manuel ""Mel"" ZELAYA Rosales until his term of office ends in 2013. Honduras capital is Tegucigalpa, situated in the south and is home to a population of approximately 1,150,000 inhabitants.
.: Spanish, with other minority languages.
.: 112,090 sq km in total
.: land: 111,890 sq km
.: water: 200 sq km
.: Estimated population as at 2009; 7.8 million, with a growth rate of 1.96%.
.: Gained from Spain in 1821.
Honduras is bursting with culture, nature and history; a jewel for the discerning tourist, though as yet, relatively undiscovered for many. However, tourism is most definitely on the increase and proving a great asset to the country’s economy, with particular attention focused on eco-tourism. It boasts a wealth of national reserves, cloud forests and exceptional botanical gardens. It offers endless opportunities for hiking, bird watching, photography, rafting and kayaking. Then there are the breathtaking beaches, indeed some of the best in all of Latin America which are a magnet for tourism, offering snorkeling, incredible scuba diving (here you can obtain a PADI diving certificate at a better price than anywhere else in the world) and safe bathing. It is also home to Mayan ruins and a wealth of fascinating history. Easily accessible from many worldwide locations, Honduras is the perfect destination for the nature-driven enthusiast and whilst not as developed as destinations such as Costa Rica, it is by no means less worthy of a visit; it truly is nature in its purest form.
PEOPLE AND CULTURE
Honduras is a rich tapestry of culture formed over centuries of enthnic groups coming together: First there are the Mestizo people, of mixed ancestry; European and Indigenous. Then here are four major indigenous groups; The Chortí Maya who exist along the border of Guatemala, the Miskito of the East, the Lenca people of the west and south, and the Garifuna, of African and Caribbean backgrounds who have their own distinct culture and language and live along the Northern Coast. In addition, there are English-speaking Afro-Caribbean’s on the Caribbean coast, many of whom trace their roots to the Caymans. There also are English-speaking whites on the Bay Islands who descend from the English and Scottish. Lastly, there are Spanish-speaking descendents from the time of the conquest and Chinese and Palestinian decedents who arrived during the early 1900's. It is easy to see why Honduras is a melting pot of culture, the unfolding years have created an intriguing mix of language, religion, morals, beliefs, music and cuisine. Whilst western food is available, especially in the cities, a large part of the travel experience is to try the local cuisine and typical drinks. Burritas are a favourite, which consist of shredded meat, frejoles (beans), cheese and avocado rolled up in flour tortillas, these are quite different from Mexican burritos. Here are some more typical dishes worthy of a try; Tamales: these may include vegetables or potatoes as well as chicken or pork. Pastelitos de Carne: deep-fried flour pastries filled with meat, rice and/or potatoes.
Religion is an important part of life in Honduras. Catholicism has been prevalent since the Colonial period though experienced difficult times during the 1800’s when there was much tension between the church and the state, resulting in the church being stripped of some of its political power. Nonetheless, the Catholic Church still remains the strongest today with the majority of schools being Catholic run and subsidised by the government. Religious instruction is also a compulsory part of the school curriculum.
GEOGRAPHY AND ENVIRONMENT
Houduras is the second largest republic in Central America and is situated at its widest part. It is nestled between three neighbouring countries and two oceans, and covers an area of approximately 112,090 sq km. It has a 735km Caribbean coast to the north, running from the mouth of the Rio Motagua in the west, to the mouth of the Rio Coco in the east. The majority of the southern coast (769km) is land border with Nicaragua, however, the far south western border opens to the Pacific Ocean for a distance of 153 km at the Golfo de Fonseca. The western boundary is with El Salvado (stretching for 342km) and Guatemala (stretching for 256km). In addition, Houduras controls a number of small Carribean islands as its offshore territories.
Centuries of urbanization due to population expansion has resulted in extensive deforestation. Logging and the clearing of land for agriculture and development without adequate and lawful control has resulted in soil erosion and deterioration. In addition, non-regulated mineral mining has depleting natural resources. Such activities have resulted in the first signs of pollution of Lago de Yojoa, which is Honduras principal source of fresh water, as well as a number of rivers. To combat these alarming issues, a National Planning Workshop took place in April 2007 in the capital where 80 participants from various environmental agencies worked on formulating a future action plan to challenge the current problems and to safeguard the future of Honduras’ environment. As a result of the conference, a ’10 point action plan’ was set up in December 2008, and put into practice in February 2009. With government assistance the country now has a specific course of action with a with a strong support system in place
WEATHER AND CLIMATE
Honduras enjoys a hot climate year round, however, it can also be humid. The average high temperature is 32°C (90°F) and the average low is 20°C (68°F). Temperatures vary according to altitude as opposed to season and are coolest in the mountain areas. The country is tropical and therefore has dry and rainy seasons. From September to February, the Caribbean coast can experience a great deal of rain, and in the capital the temperature drops to 23°C (73°F), during December and January.
Honduras has its own currency: the lempira. It is advisable for visitors to Honduras to take US Dollars. These can be easily exchanged in airports, bureau de change banks and most major hotels. The bureau de change normally offers better rates than the banks. Major debit and credit cards are accepted; American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa. Some banks offer cash withdrawal with Visa or MasterCard. It is also advisable to take some travellers cheques in $US, however, it is worth bearing in mind that there are many ‘off the beaten track’ places that will only accept cash. Banking Hours are Monday-Friday 0900-1600 (some banks open until 1800). Some branches also open on Saturday 0900-1200.