Land and Climate
Honduras covers 43,278 square miles compared to Oklahoma at 68,679 square miles. Honduras borders El Salvador, Guatemala, and Belize in the east and then Nicaragua in the west. With the Caribbean Sea in the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. In the eastern part of the country is covered by sub-tropic forest that can not be access by vehicle because of the lack of roads. All the road are on the West side of the country which contains the only recreational lake, finca las glorias, most of the population, national forest, and tourist sights.
While Honduras is mountainous, it is the only Central American country that does not have volcanoes, but is 80% mountains and 20% valleys. Lack of volcanoes is a factor in its low food production. Soil in volcanic regions is usually rich and good for agriculture. Due to the poor soil, many people have practiced migrating agriculture, moving every few years to clear new land and plant crops. This and timber operations have caused Honduras to lose 30% of its forest over the last 25 years. Today, in the year 2000, there is a vase majority of the people who still use wood as a source of heat, energy, and fuel. This is alarming the government to develop Nation Parks and Reserves, and work with their people on other ways to preserve the forest. One way is charcoal, and building smaller wood burning stove.
The climate varies according to elevation; subtropical in the low lands and temperate at higher levels. Tegucigalpa, the capital enjoys a relatively mild climate year round. The rainy season extends from May to November, although rain sometimes mat not begins to fall until late October. March through May are the hottest months.
The great Mayan Empire flourished in present-day Honduras until about AD 800 when the Mayan population began to decline. Columbus landed in 1502 and called the area Honduras (depths) because of the deep waters off the north coast. The natives battled against Spanish occupation until 1539, when the last of their chiefs, Lampira, was killed and the Spanish established a provincial capital at Comayagua. This meant Honduras was a colony of Guatemala.
The Misquito Natives of the Mosquitia region (Eastern border) received a British invasion, but troops were only able to occupy that area of the country. They withdrew in 1859. In 1821, Honduras and four other provinces declared independence from Spain and briefly joined the Mexican Empire. Complete independence for Honduras came in 1838 when a republic was established. By the end of the 1800s, the government had become unstable and went under Nicaraguan influence. In 1932 Tiburcio Carias Andino took power. His military rule ended in 1949, but military leaders continued to exercise control until 1981, when elections restored civilian rule.
The elections of 1989 marked the third free election in a decade, as well as the first peaceful transfer of power to an opposition political party in half a century. By 1993, there was an economic reform, attack towards corruption, and promotion of human rights.
More than 5.6 million people live in Honduras, growing annually at 2.6%. In the capital city there is either 700,000 or 1million people living there, depending on how you talk to. 90% are Spanish-native, 7% native, 2% black, and 1% white. Since Spain was a great influence, Spanish is the official language. Like other foreign countries, English is a required course in secondary schools, but few people are influenced. Span also influenced Christianity; therefore, the majority of Honduras is Roman Catholic.
The people have two general "attitudes". Machismo and Hora Latina. Machismo is indicated of a mail-dominated society in which women are expected to remain submissive. Hora Latina, refers to the concept of time and schedules. Since individuals needs are more important than schedules, being late for an appointment or social evens is a way of life.
Visiting or socializing is a common pass time on the weekend either in the Central Park or your neighbor's house. The host at their home always offers refreshments and snacks. If the visitor drops by dinnertime then the guest will be given an extended invite to eat with the family. If they are not hungry, the host will send a wrapped plate with them home. And in return the guest expresses respectfully towards the host and their hospitality.
Family ties are strong in Honduras. Parents, Grandparents, children, aunts/uncles, and cousins commonly occupy the same household. Even though the father is the head of the household, the mother is the one with the greatest responsibilities and influences in everyday life. Like other Spanish dominant countries, they carry both their paternal and maternal surnames. The fathers surname is the individual's family name, but the mothers surname appears at the end of the person's name. Both surnames follow one or two given names. When a woman marries, her name does not change.
The typical Honduran lives in what we consider poverty, a small two-room adobe home with dirt floors. Few people enjoy modern conveniences.
The common dinner plate would have rice, beans, corn; tortillas are the staple foods. Bananas fried bananas, mangos, citrus fruits, and coconuts avocados are the most common fruits and veggies at any meal. To drink is the common Coca-Cola, Fresca, water, coffee and beer.
After all the work is done and church is over, it is time for recreation. The most enjoyed national sport is Futbol, soccer. This is played almost anytime anywhere. In rural areas soccer is also popular along with cards and dice. The wealthy, like anywhere else, enjoy biking, baseball, golf tennis and swimming.
Holidays are among the socialized events of the year. They are; New Years, Day of the Americas (April 14th), Labor day (1 May), Independence Day (15 Sept), Columbus day (12 Oct.), Armed Forces Day (21 Oct.), and of course, Christmas. Independence Day is the most popular national holiday. There are parades and activities. In addition, to these holidays, Honduras has community celebrations honoring patron saints and regional festas such as Carnaval in La Ceiba. La Ceiba is like New York, the town that never sleeps.
Like all democratic countries, Honduras elects a president every four years.
Honduras is one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere, and income and productivity rates are low. The economy is largely based on agriculture, which employees more than 60 percent of the people. The two profitable exports are bananas and coffee.
The currency is the Lempira (L). It is about 14.6 L to the US dollar. We could buy a coke for 14 L. We visited a sawmill where the average pay was less than five dollars a day. And that is very well. Real gross domestic product per capita is about $2050. More than half of all people live in poverty. Most do not earn an income sufficient for their needs.
In rural areas, transportation is by foot, horse, bike, and maybe a car. Public transportation is by bus or by taxi. The bus will only go to certain stops like on a route. Usually at a mill or plant after work, the worker will all pile on the back of a pick up truck (about 20-30) will ride to a mutual neighborhood in order to walk the rest of the way home.
At age seven school starts, and last for six years. Many students, in rural areas, will drop out of school to help on the family farm. The literacy rate is currently 72%. Honduras has some of the best agricultural and forestry schools in Central America. (See student papers).