Honduras: History and Culture
Honduras is a beautiful country located in Central America and has Tegucigalpa as its capital city. Spanish is the principal language spoken and is spoken throughout the country. English is spoken with a broad Caribbean accent especially in the Bay Islands. Indian dialects are spoken by a great number of people as the population consists of 90% Mestizo and 7% Indian. The
main industries in the Republic of Honduras are coffee, bananas, beef, sugar cane, tobacco and forestry. Other things that are a part of their culture are
Honduran crafts include wood carvings with wooden instruments being the more dominant ones being made. Some of the other features of Honduran culture are
exhibited in their textile arts, embroidery, basket making, ceramics and leather craft. The country's cuisine is like most places in the region that have a heavy Spanish influence and is therefore based around rice, beans, tortillas, meat, potatoes, fried bananas, cream and cheese.
Roman Catholicism is the predominant religion in Honduras and this is due in large measure to the high Spanish influence there. There are many other Christian sects and denominations, such as Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists, Baptists, Pentecostals, Assemblies of God, Evangelicals and Anglicans. The indigenous tribes have their own religions,
and have inculcated elements of African and Indian culture along with
ancestral worship in their religion.
There is evidence of Mayan settlement in the Republic of Honduras dating
back to 1000 B.C. and they lived in the western portion of the country. No
one is quite sure whey there is a paucity of information on this culture
after 900 A.D. Christopher Columbus landed at the northern side of Honduras
at a place called Trujillo in 1502, and named the country Honduras because of
the deep water off the Caribbean coast. The translation of Honduras means
depths. Spain established a capital at Comayagua in central Honduras in 1537
and this remained its capital for about three hundred and fifty years.
Teguciagalpa was named as the capital in 1880 and remains so today.
The Indians resisted Spanish colonialization and almost succeeded in
ridding themselves of them. Lempira, the chief of the Lenca tribe was
murdered at peace talks in 1538, which were held between the Indians and the
Spanish. The Indians were crushed by the next year. The discovery of gold and
silver near Teguciagalpa in 1570 brought the British and the Dutch to the
Trujillo area. The Dutch pirates sacked Trujillo in 1643 and the Spaniards
did not resettle there until nearly one hundred and forty years later. The
Spanish worked their way into the interior looking for gold and silver while
the British settled on the eastern Caribbean coast. The British imported
black people from Jamaica and other West Indian islands to harvest timber to
make mahogany furniture.
The United States has caused disruptions in the Honduran governments as
their banana corporations have regularly undermined the Honduran governments.
Somehow, around the end of the nineteenth century, the most fertile land was
'sold' to U.S. companies on very generous terms, so that bananas could be
sold to the southern states. Three U.S. companies (Standard Fruit, Cuyamel Fruit
and United Fruit) eventually owned 75% of all Honduran banana groves. This
gave these companies a stranglehold on Honduras' political government,
because by 1913, bananas accounted for 66% of all Honduran exports. These
companies allied themselves with different local political factions and
placed pressures on them that would be favourable to their corporations.
There was great turmoil and political instability in Honduras' neighboring
countries of Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala. The Sandinistas overthrew
Somozo's regime and forced Somoza into exile. The United States government
flooded Honduras with aid and military assistance to stabilize the
government. Large sums of money and thousands of troops were sent into
Honduras to undermine Nicaragua's government. The U.S. troops used Nicaraguan
refugee camps into Honduras as their bases to conduct the war. The U.S. also
trained the Salvadoran military at Salvadoran refugee camps inside Honduras.
Meanwhile, they were an inordinate number of political killings going on in
those countries. When the Iran-Contra scandal broke, the people of Honduras
rose up in opposition and marched on Tegucigalpa, the capital. The government
of Honduras rescinded its stand and refused to sign any new agreement with
the U.S. government.
This resulted in the cutting off of economic aid from the U.S. along with
falling prices of bananas and coffee and the increase in foreign debt as the
weaponry sold to the government must be paid back. Carlos Flores Facusse a
center-right Liberal party leader was elected in 1997 to lead the government.
Flores has very strong ties to the United States and is an owner of a large
newspaper called La Tribune.
There was a devastating hurricane in 1998, which killed thousands of
people. It caused devastating landslides and floods, which buried many towns.
Even the capital, Tegucigalpa was inundated with water, mud and debris when
the Choluteca River overflowed. The root problems that created the disaster
in Honduras have not been solved. Clear-cutting which is a method of
deforestation, one crop farming and most people opting for urban life have
contributed to much loss of life during the storm.
Spain granted Honduras its Independence in 1821 and it soon joined the Central American Federation. This did not last long as there were disputes
between the liberals and the conservatives led to the breaking up of the
union. Ever since then, there have been democratically elected governments,
which have been interspersed with several military regimes, as they have been several coups.