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Honduras History

  • Carved macaw head in the ancient Mayan ruins of Copan
  • A stone head in Copan
  • UNESCO World Heritage Site

Although there is evidence of human habitation dating back between 6,000-8,000 years ago, the Maya didn’t arrive in Honduras until the 5th century AD. They established control in the area for the next three hundred years and the city of Copán became one of the great Maya city-states. Today, Copán contains more hieroglyphic inscriptions and stone monuments than any other Maya ruin site. While this once-great civilization experienced significant population declines, they did not wholly disappear, instead, the Maya became one of several groups that came to inhabit Honduras.

When Christopher Columbus landed in Honduras in 1502, he was the first European to arrive on the American mainland. During the decades that followed, many other conquistadors came to the area, each laying claim to different parts. When gold and silver were discovered in Honduras in the 1530s, more Spanish settlers embarked on the region. Indigenous populations were forced to work the mines and when they rebelled against poor treatment, Spanish colonists brought in slaves from Africa. Initially successful, mining in Honduras began to wane as silver prices declined. As a result, cattle and tobacco became increasingly important to the country’s economy before mining gained momentum again early in the 1700s.   

When the Napoleonic wars significantly decreased Spain’s power in the new world, the colonies were ultimately granted independence. On 15 September 1821, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica and Nicaragua declared independence, joining Mexico. This union however only lasted until 1823 when the same countries separated from Mexico, instead choosing to form the Federal Republic of Central America. Conflicts emerged between liberals and conservatives that forced the union to separate and Honduras became independent on 15 November 1838.

Power changed back and forth between liberals and conservatives and the country was ruled by various civilian and military regimes. In 1932, General Tiburcio Carías Andino was elected president of Honduras. While the world was experiencing a depression, Andino managed to create a somewhat peaceful existence with social and economic progress. Unfortunately, he served as a virtual dictator, repressing the people and bowing to international powers. He eventually stepped down in 1949. The 1950s witnessed weak civilian governments causing the army to become more involved with several coups.

Central America in the 1980s was characterized by civil wars, yet Honduras amazingly managed to avoid this. There was some unrest, but it never resulted in the wars experienced by Honduras’ neighbours. This was in part due to the fact that the country’s military was more democratic than other nations and looked to stabilise rather than repress citizens. Also, the United States was interested in using Honduras as a base for preventing the spread of communism in the Americas. Despite the United States providing aid for the country, many citizens resented the US militarization of Honduras. In March 1984, Honduras’ pro-American leader was ousted and by August, training of Salvadoran soldiers on Honduran soil was suspended.  

Hurricane Mitch devastated much of the country in 1998, but with the help of international aid, a great deal of Honduras’ infrastructure was rebuilt. Recent governments have worked to decrease crime rates and encourage tourism. A haven for biodiversity, Honduras is emerging as an ecotourism destination with world-class birdwatching and excellent national parks and protected areas. It also has a rich Mayan history that is celebrated in popular tourist attractions like Copán.  Still an up-and-coming destination, there is much to see and do in Honduras.



Honduras Travel Information

At Goway we believe that a well-informed traveller is a safer traveller. With this in mind, we have compiled an easy-to-navigate travel information section dedicated to Honduras.

Learn about the history and culture of Honduras, the must-try food and drink, and what to pack in your suitcase. Read about Honduras's nature and wildlife, weather and geography, along with 'Country Quickfacts' compiled by our travel experts. Our globetrotting tips, as well as our visa and health information, will help ensure you're properly prepared for a safe and enjoyable trip. The only way you could possibly learn more is by embarking on your journey and discovering Honduras for yourself. Start exploring… book one of our Honduras tours today!


Extend Your Trip

After your Honduras Tour, why not consider another of Goway's Latin America tours. These include a large selection of other exciting countries in Central and South America. We offer Chile vacation packages and Easter Island toursEcuador vacation packages which include Galapagos cruisesPeru vacation packages which include Machu Picchu tours and Brazil tours including Iguassu Falls tours among many others.



Book your Honduras tour with Goway! 

LATIN AMERICA by Goway is an exclusive division that specializes in planning and organizing Honduras tours and experiences. Choose from one of our independent stopover modules and more, We want to be your first choice when you next go globetrotting to Honduras.

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