In Central America, the country of Honduras seems to attract trouble more than it likes to. The reputation of the place is pretty notorious enough to discourage travelers, but those who do pursue Honduras are awarded with memorable experiences, adrenaline- pumping activities, breathtaking, untouched landscapes and a walk down the memory lane with the historic sites available in the area. The country offers the best adventure sports at backpacking rates so the trip would not break your bank. Discovering Honduras may not be safe, especially in cities, but you will simply get high from the risk of adventure it poses.
Important and Interesting Facts about Honduras
- The country is bordered to the west by Guatemala, to the southwest by El Salvador, to the southeast by Nicaragua, to the south by the Pacific Ocean at the Gulf of Fonseca, and to the north by the Gulf of Honduras, a large inlet of the Caribbean Sea.
- Honduras is best known for the production of minerals, coffee, tropical fruit, and sugar cane, as well as for its growing textiles industry, which serves the international market.
- The Honduran territory consists mainly of mountains, but there are narrow plains along the coasts, a large undeveloped lowland jungle La Mosquitia region in the northeast, and the heavily populated lowland Sula valley in the northwest.
- The region is considered a biodiversity hotspot because of the numerous plant and animal species that can be found there. Like other countries in the region, Honduras contains vast biological resources. The country hosts more than 6,000 species of vascular plants, of which 630 (described so far) are orchids; around 250 reptiles and amphibians, more than 700 bird species, and 110 mammal species, half of them being bats.
- Honduras has rain forests, cloud forests (which can rise up to nearly three thousand meters above sea level), mangroves, savannas and mountain ranges with pine and oak trees, and the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System.
- Consisting of two main islands and several smaller cays, Cayos Cochinos provides a peaceful retreat for those who want to experience the natural beauty of Honduras without the hustle of tourist crowds. There are no roads or automobiles here, but there are hiking trails that link the beaches to the quiet villages. One of the popular hikes here is a climb to the lighthouse to enjoy panoramic views of the area. Additionally, the islands feature stunning beaches that are ideal for swimming and snorkeling.
- The picturesque island of Guanaja offers tourists an idyllic escape where they can relax or engage in fun outdoor activities. With its year-round warm temperatures, high levels of visibility and coral reef, the ocean waters surrounding Guanaja are ideal for diving and snorkeling. Other things to do include jungle trekking, hiking to Grant’s Peak, viewing a lovely waterfall, and exploring the shopping, cuisine and culture of the local villages.
- During the week between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday, the quiet colonial village of Comayagua bursts into a flurry of activity and color with its street carpet tradition. Made with layers of colored sawdust and other natural materials like rice and flower petals, the huge carpets are elaborately designed to depict Biblical figures and events leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
- Once used as a haven for pirates, the protected territory around Punta Sal is today a popular place to encounter the natural beauty and wildlife of Honduras. Amid diverse landscapes of sandy beaches, mangrove swamps, rainforests and coastal lagoons, tourists here can see a wide variety of wildlife species like tropical birds, sea turtles, dolphins, manatees, crocodiles, monkeys and boas. The reserve also features a traditional village of thatched huts where visitors can learn about the local culture.
- One of the Bay Islands, Utila is regarded as one of the best diving destinations in the Caribbean. With the cheapest Open Water courses available in the Caribbean, Utila certifies more new divers than any other place in the world. However, diving is not the only feature that makes Utila a popular tourist attraction. In addition to other water activities like swimming, snorkeling, paddle-boarding and kayaking, visitors can hike or horse ride through the jungle, explore caves and climb Pumpkin Hill to enjoy panoramic views.
- Located in western Honduras, Copán is a relatively small Mayan site famous for its remarkable series of portrait stelae. The stelae and sculptured decorations of the buildings of Copán are some of the very finest surviving art of ancient Mesoamerica. Some of the stone structures at Copán date back to the 9th century BC. The city grew into one of the most important Maya sites by the 5th century with more than 20,000 inhabitants but was mysteriously abandoned a few centuries later. The nearby town of Copán Ruinas has all types of accommodations and other facilities for tourists.
Cool, Funny, and Fun Facts about Honduras
- The term “Banana Republic” was first applied to Honduras by the American writer O. Henry, for the influence the U.S. banana companies had at some time.
- Christopher Columbus is said to have said after leaving behind a storm: “Thank God we’ve left these Depths.” And he called Depths (Honduras) the area, and Thank God (Gracias a Dios) the Cape he left.
- As “Soccer War” is known the armed conflict that occurred as a result of a military aggression of El Salvador against Honduras after a soccer match between the two countries in 1969. The real reason of the aggression was to contain the Salvadoran population pressure.
- Hondurans are also called “Catrachos” because of general Florence Xatruch, who fought in Nicaragua against the American filibuster William Walker. “Catrachos” is a corruption of the name Xatruch. “Here come the Xatruches” they said in the beginning; within a time they said: “Here come the Catrachos”.
- Platano Forest was nominated as one of the new seven new wonders of the world.
- There are no active volcanoes in Honduras, and there is only one natural lake: Lake Yojoa.
- Comayagua has one of the oldest clocks in the world.
- In Yoro there is the phenomenon of fish rain (lluvia de peces). Literally, fish fall from the sky.
- It’s completely normal to find blonde haired, blue eyed Hondurans on the bay islands. They are direct descendents of the British Pirates that came here over 500 years ago.
- Honduran cuisine’s most notable feature is that is uses more coconut than any other Central American cuisine in both sweet and savoury dishes.
- According to the United Nations, Honduras has the highest per capita homicide rate in the world, with 91.6 homicides for every 100,000 inhabitants. (By way of comparison the US rate is 4.2 per 100,000 and Australia’s rate is 1.0 per 100,000)
- The Honduran currency is the lempira, and it is named after an Indian chief that fought to death against the Spanish conquerors. It is assumed that a lempira bill has an image representing the face of the legendary chief Lempira, but instead contains the image of an American Red Indian.
Historical and Cultural Facts about Honduras
- The Mayan civilization collapsed long before the arrival of Christopher Columbus, who visited Trujillo in north-east Honduras in 1502 on his third voyage to the new world. The country was colonized by Spain after some resistance by the Lenca peoples of the central highlands.
- On independence in 1821 Honduras joined the Central American Federation, and the Honduran general, Francisco Morazán, became its first president. He also entered the phatheon of national heroes after he was killed in the break-up of the federation in 1839. Honduras’ liberal revolution took place in the 1870s under the presidency of Marco Aurelio Soto.
- In 1899 the first banana concession was granted to the Vacarro brothers; their company would later become Standard Fruit. In 1907 Sam Zemurray set up the Cuyamel Fruit Company; later bought by United Fruit. The unequal relationship that would exist between the companies and the Honduran state for the first half of the 20th century gave rise to the description “banana republic.”
- Honduras declared war on Japan, Germany, and Italy in December 1941. The wartime curtailment of shipping brought much economic distress; export surpluses of bananas, coconuts, and copra piled up, leading to widespread unemployment and consequent unrest. But the government was able to maintain itself, and it promulgated some beneficial reforms.
- Beans and corn tortillas are the mainstays of the diet. The beans are usually fried, and the tortillas are small, thick, and usually handmade; ideally, they are eaten warm. A farm worker’s lunch may be little more than a large stack of tortillas, a few spoonfuls of beans, and some salt. The ideal meal includes fried plantains, white cheese, rice, fried meat, a kind of thickened semisweet cream called mantequilla , a scrambled egg, a cabbage and tomato salad or a slice of avocado, and a cup of sweet coffee or a bottled soft drink.
- A firm handshake is the basic greeting, and people shake hands again when they part. If they chat a bit longer after the last handshake, they shake hands again just as they leave. Among educated people, when two women greet or when a man greets a woman, they clasp their right hands and press their cheeks together or give a light kiss on the cheek.
- There is a minor ritual called cruzando la milpa (“crossing the cornfield”) practiced in the Department of El Paraíso in which a magico-religious specialist, especially one who is a twin, eliminates a potentially devastating corn pest such as an inch-worm or caterpillar. The specialist recites the Lord’s Prayer while sprinkling holy water and walking from one corner to the other of the cornfield in a cross pattern. This person makes little crosses of corn leaves or caterpillars and buries them in four spots in the field.
- There is a modest tradition of serious literary fiction. The novel Prisión Verde ( Green Prison ) by Ramón Amaya is perhaps the best known work of fiction. It describes the sufferings of workers on an early twentieth century banana plantation.
- On the Day of the Cross ( Día de la Cruz ) in May in the countryside, people decorate small wooden crosses with flowers and colored paper and place the crosses in front of their homes in anticipation of the start of the rainy season.
- Honduran women may occasionally wear traditional dresses, which are handmade, often simple white dresses colored at the seams with various colors of yarn or fabric. This type of clothing, however, is usually only worn during festival celebrations of holidays, and when the clothing is made in Honduras, it is usually for export.
- A few days before 31st of December, the children and teenagers in the neighborhoods in the cities will fashion a life-size doll or mannequin of an old man, representing the year that is about to end: the “Año Viejo”. The doll is fashioned from whatever materials the children can gather and dressed with old clothes collected from the neighbors and stuffed with as many pyrotechnical devices as possible.
- The piñata is strung up from a tree branch or post so that it can swing about and children attending the party take turns to strike the piñata with a wooden stick. Usually the child at turn is blindfolded and the piñata is made to swing back and forth at random, whilst the rest of attendees help by shouting “Up!”, “Down!”, “Left!”, “Right!”, “Cold!”, “Warm!”, etc. This continues until the piñata has suffered enough damage to allow the contents to pour out for all the children to rush in and collect them.