Culture Name


Alternative Names

Hondureño catracho (the national nickname; can be amusing, insulting, or friendly, depending on the context. "Catracho" comes from the name of Florencio Xatruch, the general who led the Honduran expeditionary force against William Walker in Nicaragua in 1856.)


Identification. The name of the country means "depths." It was so named by Christopher Columbus on his fourth voyage because of the deep waters at the mouth of the Tinto o Negro River off the Mosquito Coast. Regional traditions exist in the south (Choluteca and Valle) and the north coast as well as among the minority ethnic groups. All these people self-identify as Hondurans, however. Spanish-speaking people in the center of the country are the most numerous and are culturally dominant. They do not use a special name to refer to themselves or their region.

Location and Geography. The nation has an area of 43,266 miles (112,492 square kilometers). Honduras is in the middle of Central America. The physical environment is tropical, with a long dry season (six months or more) in the south and the interior and a shorter dry season in the north. The center of the country originally was covered with pine and broadleaf forests of oak and other trees, but much of the pine forest has been logged and much of the oak forest has been cut for farming. The north coast was once primarily rain forest, but much of it has been cleared for commercial banana plantations. The northeast is called the Mosquitia. It includes the "Mosquito Coast," which is actually a long series of white sand beaches and freshwater lagoons. Inland from the coast, the Mosquitia has one of the last great stands of tropical rain forest left in North America, plus pine woods and grasslands.

Different ethnic groups live in specific environments. The Anglo-African-Caribbean "Bay Islanders" live on the Bay Islands off the north coast. The Garífuna people live along the Caribbean Coast of Central America, from Belize to Nicaragua. The Miskito and Tawahka people live in the rain forests of the eastern lowlands, and in similar lands in neighboring areas of Nicaragua. The Pech and Jicaque people live in some of the more remote areas in the central highlands. The Chortí and Lenca peoples live in the rugged western highlands. Hispanic-Hondurans live in the north, south, and center of the country.

The capital city, Tegucigalpa, was chosen because it is near the geographic center of the country. It completely fills a small, deep valley in the headwaters of the Choluteca River, in the central highlands.

Demography. Honduras had a population of 5,990,000 in 1998. In 1791, the population was only 93,501. The pre-Hispanic population was probably much higher, but conquest, slavery, and disease killed many people. The population did not reach one million until 1940.

The major ethnic group include the Chortí, a native people with a population of about five thousand in the department of Copán. There may still be a few people who can speak the Chortí language, which belongs to the Mayan family. The Lenca are a native people in the departments of La Paz, Intibucá, and Lempira, as well as some other areas. The Lenca language is extinct, and culturally the Lenca are similar in many ways to the other Spanish-speaking people in the country. The Lenca population is about one hundred thousand. The Jicaque are a native people who live in the department of Yoro and the community of Montaña de la Flor (municipality of Orica) in the department of

Francisco Morazán. Only those in Montaña de la Flor still speak the Tol (Jicaque) language, which is in the Hokan family. The Jicaque group in Yoro is much larger and has been almost completely assimilated into the national culture. There are about nineteen thousand Jicaque in Yoro and about two hundred in Montaña de la Flor. The Pech are a native people in the departments of Olancho and Colón, with a few living in Gracias a Dios in the Mosquitia. They speak a Macro-Chibchan language and have a population of under three thousand. The Tawahka are a native people in the department of Gracias a Dios in the Mosquitia. Tawahka is a Macro-Chibchan language that is very closely related to Sumo, which is spoken in Nicaragua. Most Tawahkas also speak Misquito and Spanish. The Tawahka population is about seven hundred. The Misquitos are a native people with some African and British ancestry who reside in the department of Gracias a Dios in the Mosquitia. Misquito is a Macro-Chibchan language, although most Misquitos speak fluent Spanish. The Misquito population is about thirty-four thousand. The Garífuna are a people of African descent with some native American ancestry. They originated on the Caribbean island of Saint Vincent during colonial times from escaped slaves who settled among a group of Arawak-speaking Carib Indians and adopted their native American language. In 1797, the Garífuna were forcibly exiled by the British to Roatán in the Bay Islands. The Spanish colonial authorities welcomed the Garífuna, and most of them moved to the mainland. The Garífuna population is about one hundred thousand. The Bay Islanders are an English-speaking people who are long settled in the Caribbean. Some are of African descent, and some of British descent. The Bay Islanders population is about twenty-two thousand.

Linguistic Affiliation. Spanish is the dominant national language. Although originally imposed by the conquistadores, it has been widely spoken in Honduras for over two hundred years. Almost all residents speak Spanish, although some also speak English or one of the Native American languages discussed in the previous paragraph. Honduran Spanish has a distinct accent. Hondurans use some words that are not heard in other Spanish-speaking countries, and this gives their speech a distinctive character.

Symbolism. In spite of the 1969 war with El Salvador and tense relations with Nicaragua, the Honduran people feel that they are part of a larger Central American community. There is still a sense of loss over the breakup of Central America as a nation. The flag has five stars, one for each Central American country (Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica). Factory goods are not labeled "made in Honduras," but "Central American product, made in Honduras." Independence Day (15 September) is shared with the other Central American countries, and is a fairly muted national holiday. Some people complain that there is little point celebrating independence from Spain, since Honduras has become virtually a colony of the United States. By 1992, Columbus Day had become a day of bereavement, as Hondurans began to realize the depth of cultural loss that came with the Spanish conquest. May Day is celebrated with parades and speeches. In the 1990s, the national government found this symbol of labor unity threatening and called out the army to stand with rifles before the marching workers.

History and Ethnic Relations

Emergence of the Nation. Francisco Morazán led the fight for independence from Spain (achieved in 1821) and resistance to the breakup of Central America (1830). In 1855, North American soldiers of fortune (filibusterers) led by William Walker tried to convert Central America into a United States colony. They held Nicaragua until they were expelled in 1857 by Nicaraguan regular troops and volunteer fighters. In 1860 Walker invaded Honduras, at Trujillo, where he ended up before an army firing squad. United States banana companies dominated Honduran politics after 1911. Fruit companies were able to choose presidents and as late as the 1970s were powerful enough to refuse to pay higher taxes imposed on banana exports by the military government. A 1920 letter by a U.S. fruit company executive describing how easily Honduran politicians could be bribed and dominated is still a source of national embarrassment.

National Identity. Because of the relationship of Honduras with the United States, the national culture often is defined in opposition to that of the United States. Hondurans feel an affinity with other Latin Americans and Central Americans, although this is mixed with fear and resentment of some neighboring countries, especially El Salvador and Nicaragua.

The Spanish conquest was a violent episode of genocide and slavery. It produced a people with blended European, native American, and African ancestry. Many Latin American countries have a similar large ethnic group called mestizos or criollos, but what is unusual about Honduras is that the Spanish-speaking people of mixed ancestry, who make up about 88 percent of the population, proudly call themselves indios (Indians). Hondurans call indigenous peoples indígenas, not indios.

Ethnic Relations. Music, novels, and television shows circulate widely among Spanish-speaking countries and contribute to a sense of Latin culture that transcends national boundaries. Ethnic relations are sometimes strained. For centuries, most indigenous peoples lost their land, and the nation did not value their languages and cultures. The Indian and Garífuna people have organized to insist on their civil and territorial rights.

The Bay Islanders (including those of British decent and those of African descent) have ties with the United States. Because the Islanders speak English, they are able to work as sailors on international merchant ships, and despite their isolation from the national culture, they earn a higher income than other residents.

Arab-Hondurans are descended from Christian Arabs who fled Muslim persecution in the early twentieth century after the breakup of the Ottoman Empire. Many have successful businesses. Some Hispanic-Hondurans envy the economic status of Arab-Hondurans, who are usually called turcos, a name they dislike since they are not of Turkish descent. (Many of the original Arab immigrants carried passports of the Ottoman Empire, whose core was Turkey.)

Urbanism,Architecture, and the Use of Space

In the cities, houses are made of store-bought materials (bricks, cement, etc.), and some of the homes of wealthy people are large and impressive. In the countryside, each ethnic group has a distinct architectural style. Most of the homes of poor rural people are made of local materials, with floors of packed earth, walls of adobe or wattle and daub, and roofs of clay tiles or thatch.

The kitchen is usually a special room outside the house, with a wood fire built on the floor or on a

Rural homes vary in style but are usually made of local materials.
Rural homes vary in style but are usually made of local materials.
raised platform. Porches are very common, often with one or more hammocks. The porch often runs around the house and sometimes connects the house to the kitchen. When visiting a rural home, one is received on the breezy porch rather than inside the house. The porch is used like the front parlor. The house is often plastered with mud, and people paint designs on it with natural earths of different colors.

A central plaza forms the heart of most towns. Important government buildings face it, as does a Catholic chapel or cathedral. Successful businesses are situated on or near the plaza. People are attracted to their city centers, and some municipal governments have started converting inner-city streets to pedestrian walkways to accommodate the crowds. Plazas are formal parks. People sit on benches under the trees and sometimes chat with friends or strangers. Villages have an informal central place located near a soccer field and a few stores and a school. In the afternoon, some people tie their horses to the front porch of the store, have a soft drink, and watch children play ball.

Food and Economy

Food in Daily Life. 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. These meals are served in restaurants and homes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner year-round. Plantains and manioc are important foods in much of the country, especially the north and the Mosquitia. Diners often have a porch or a door open to the street. Dogs, cats, and chickens wander between the tables, and some people toss them bones and other scraps. There are Chinese restaurants owned by recent immigrants. In the early 1990s, North American fast-food restaurants became popular.

Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. Special and holiday foods are an improved version of the typical meal but feature more meat and perhaps more of an emphasis on cream and fried plantains. Christmas food includes torrejas , a white bread soaked in hot syrup, and nacatamales, which are like the Mexican tamales, but are larger and moister with a more gelatinous dough and are wrapped in banana leaves.

Basic Economy. Fifty-four percent of economically active people work in agriculture. Most are smallholder farmers who call themselves campesinos . Because the internal food market is irregular, campesinos try to grow their own maize (corn), beans, and plantains. Once they have achieved that goal, they raise a cash crop. Depending on whether they live in a valley, the mountains, or along the coast and on whether they live near a good road, a campesino household may raise a cash crop of coffee, cattle, cabbage, tomatoes, citrus fruit, maize, beans, or other vegetables. Long-term donations of wheat from the United States have kept food prices low but have provided a disincentive for grain farmers. Some large-scale commercial farmers produce melons, beef, coffee, and shrimp for export.

Land Tenure and Property. Land may be private, communal, cooperative, or national. Private land includes buildings and most of the agricultural and grazing land and some forested land. Communal land usually consists of the forest or rough pasture traditionally used by a rural community. Forest trees are owned by the government even if an individual owns the land. Many smallholders and rural communities do not have clear title to or ownership papers for their land even though their families have worked it for generations.

Cooperatives were formed in the mid-1970s to manage land taken from large landowners under agrarian reform policies. Much of this land is of good quality, and cooperatives can be several hundred acres in size. Most of the members or their parents once worked on large estates that were expropriated, usually by the workers and occasionally with some violence, and often suffered some repression while doing so. These farms are still owned cooperatively, although in almost all cases the farmers found it too difficult to work them collectively, and each household has been assigned land to work on its own within the cooperative's holdings. By 1990, 62,899 beneficiaries of agrarian reform (about 5 percent of the nation, or 10 percent of the rural people) held 906,480 acres of land (364,048 hectares, or over 4 percent of the nation's farmland). In the 1970s and 1980s, wealthy people, especially in the south, were able to hire lawyers to file the paperwork for this land and take it from the traditional owners. The new owners produced export agricultural products, and the former owners were forced to become rural laborers and urban migrants or to colonize the tropical forests in eastern Honduras.

As late as the 1980s there was still national land owned but not managed by the state. Anyone who cleared and fenced the land could lay claim to it. Some colonists carved out farms of fifty acres or more, especially in the eastern forests. By the late 1980s, environmentalists and indigenous people's advocates became alarmed that colonization from the south and the interior would eliminate much of the rain forest and threaten the Tawahka and Miskito peoples. Much of the remaining national land has been designated as national parks, wilderness areas, and reserves for the native peoples.

Commercial Activities. In the 1990s, Koreans, Americans, and other foreign investors opened huge clothing factories in special industrial parks near the large cities. These maquilas employ thousands of people, especially young women. The clothing they produce is exported.

Major Industries. Honduras now produces many factory foods (oils, margarine, soft-drinks, beer), soap, paper, and other items of everyday use.

Trade. Exports include coffee, beef, bananas, melons, shrimp, pineapple, palm oil, timber, and clothing. Half the trade is with the United States, and the rest is with other Central American countries, Europe, Japan, and the rest of Latin America. Cotton is now hardly grown, having been replaced by melon and shrimp farms in southern Honduras. Petroleum, machinery, tools, and more complicated manufactured goods are imported.

Division of Labor. Men do much of the work on small farms. Tortilla making is done by women and takes hours every day, especially if the maize has to be boiled, ground (usually in a metal, hand-cranked grinder), slapped out, and toasted by hand, and if the family is large and eats little else. Campesino children begin playing in the fields with their parents, and between the ages of about six and twelve, this play evolves into work. Children specialize in scaring birds from cornfields with slingshots, fetching water, and carrying a hot lunch from home to their fathers and brothers in the field. Some villagers have specialties in addition to farming, including shopkeeping, buying agricultural products, and shoeing horses. In the cities, job specialization is much like that of other countries, with the exception that many people learn industrial trades (mechanics, baking, shoe repair, etc.) on the job.

Social Stratification

Classes and Castes. Large landholdings and, to a lesser extent, successful businesses generate income for most of the very wealthy. Some of these people,

In cities such as Tegucigalpa, extended families may share the same house until the younger couple can afford their own home.
In cities such as Tegucigalpa, extended families may share the same house until the younger couple can afford their own home.
especially in the city of Danlí, consider themselves a kind of aristocracy, with their own social clubs and old adobe mansions downtown. These people import new cars and take foreign vacations.

Educated, professional people and the owners of mid size businesses make up a group with a lifestyle similar to that of the United States middle class. However, some professionals earn only a few hundred dollars a month. They may work several jobs and tend to have old cars and small houses that are often decorated with much care.

Urban workers are often migrants from the countryside or the children of migrants. They tend to live in homes they have built for themselves, gradually improving them over the years. Their earnings may be around $100 a month. They tend to travel by bus.

Campesinos may earn only a few hundred dollars a year, but their lifestyle may be more comfortable than their earnings suggest. They often own land, have horses to ride, and may have a comfortable, if rudimentary home of wood or adobe, often with a large, shady porch. If a household has a few acres of land and if the adults are healthy, these people usually have enough to feed their families.

Symbols of Social Stratification. As in many countries, wealthier men sometimes wear large gold chains around their necks. Urban professionals and workers dress somewhat like their counterparts in northern countries. Rural people buy used clothing and repair each garment many times. These men often wear rubber boots, and the women wear beach sandals. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, many men carried pistols, usually poked barrel-first into the tops of their trousers. By 2000 this custom had become somewhat less common. Many campesinos, commercial farmers, and agricultural merchants carried guns at that time.

There is a subtle difference in accent among the different classes. The highest-status people pronounce words more or less as in standard Spanish, and working-class pronunciation uses a few systematic and noticeable modifications.

Political Life

Government. The most important political offices are the national president, members of congress ( diputados ) and city mayors. In addition to the executive branch (a president and a cabinet of ministers) and a unicameral congress, there is a supreme court.

Leadership and Political Officials. Honduras still has the two political parties that emerged in the nineteenth century: the Liberales and the Nacionalistas. The Liberales originally were linked to the business sector, and the Nacionalistas with the wealthy rural landowners, but this difference is fading. Both parties are pro–United States, and pro-business. There is little ideological difference between them. Each is associated with a color (red for Liberals and blue for Nationalists), and the Nationalists have a nickname ( los cachurecos which comes from the word cacho, or "horn," and refers to the cow horn trumpet originally used to call people to meetings). People tend to belong to the same party as their parents. Working on political campaigns is an important way of advancing in a party. The party that wins the national elections fires civil servants from the outgoing party and replaces them with its own members. This tends to lower the effectiveness of the government bureaucracy because people are rewarded not for fulfilling their formal job descriptions but for being loyal party members and for campaigning actively (driving around displaying the party flag, painting signs, and distributing leaflets).

Political officials are treated with respect and greeted with a firm handshake, and people try not to take up too much of their time. Members of congress have criminal immunity and can literally get away with murder.

Social Problems and Control. Until the 1990s, civilians were policed by a branch of the army, but this force has been replaced by a civil police force. Most crime tends to be economically motivated. In cities, people do not leave their homes unattended for fear of having the house broken into and robbed of everything, including light bulbs and toilet paper. Many families always leave at least one person home. Revenge killings and blood feuds are common in some parts of the country, especially in the department of Olancho. Police are conspicuous in the cities. Small towns have small police stations. Police officers do not walk a beat in the small towns but wait for people to come to the station and report problems. In villages there is a local person called the regidor , appointed by the government, who reports murders and major crimes to the police or mayor of a nearby town. Hondurans discuss their court system with great disdain. People who cannot afford lawyers may be held in the penitentiary for over ten years without a trial. People who can afford good lawyers spend little time in jail regardless of the crimes they have committed.

Until after the 1980s, crimes committed by members of the armed forces were dismissed out of hand. Even corporals could murder citizens and

Rural children help with farm chores in addition to their school work.
Rural children help with farm chores in addition to their school work.
never be charged in court. In 1991, some military men, including colonels, raped and murdered a university student. Her school and family, the press, and the United States embassy exerted pressure until two men were sent to prison. This event was the start of a movement to modernize and improve the court system.

Military Activity. The Cold War was difficult for Honduras. In the past thirty years, the military has gone through three phases. The military government of the 1970s was populist and promoted land reform and tried to control the banana companies. The governments in the 1980s were nominally civilian, but were dominated by the military. The civilian governments in the 1990s gradually began to win control of the country from the military.

In the 1980s, the United States saw Honduras as a strategic ally in Central America and military aid exceeded two hundred million dollars a year. The army expanded rapidly, and army roadblocks became a part of daily life. Soldiers searched cars and buses on the highways. Some military bases were covers for Nicaraguan contras. In the mid-1990s, the military was concerned about budget cuts. By 2000, the military presence was much more subtle and less threatening.

For several reasons, the Honduran military was less brutal than that of neighboring countries. Soldiers and officers tended to come from the common people and had some sympathies with them. Officers were willing to take United States military aid, but were less keen to slaughter their own people or start a war with Nicaragua.

Social Welfare and Change Programs

The most important social change in the last few years has been the influence of Evangelical Protestant missionaries, who have converted many Hondurans to Pentecostal religions. There are also urban social change agencies, and many that work in the villages. Their fields of activity include soil conservation, gardening, and natural pest control. One of the most important reformers was an agronomist educator-entrepreneur named Elías Sánchez, who had a training farm near Tegucigalpa. Sánchez trained tens of thousands of farmers and extension agents in soil conservation and organic fertilization. Until his death in 2000, he and the people he inspired transformed Honduran agriculture. Farmers stopped using slash-and-burn agriculture in favor of intensive, more ecologically sound techniques.

Nongovernmental Organizations and Other Associations

United States military aid was accompanied by economic aid. Much of this money was disbursed to nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and during the 1980s there were over two hundred of these groups. About a hundred worked in agricultural programs. CARE, Catholic Relief Services, World Neighbors, and Habitat for Humanity were some of the many international organizations that opened offices in Honduras. By the early 1990s, Honduran biologists and some foreign scientists and activists were able to attract attention to the vast forests, which were often the homes of native peoples and were under threat from logging, colonial invasion and cattle ranching. The Miskito people's NGO, Mopawi, was one of several native people's organizations that attracted funding, forged ties with foreign activists, and were able to reverse destructive development projects. Most native peoples now have at least one NGO that promotes their civil rights. In the large cities there are some organizations that work in specific areas such as street children and family planning. Rural people receive much more attention from NGOs than do the urban poor.

Gender Roles and Statuses

Division of Labor by Gender. Men are more prominent than women in public life, but women have served as judges, big city mayors, trial lawyers, members of congress, cabinet members, and heads of the national police force. Women have been especially active in religious life. To counter the inroads made by Evangelical missionaries, the Catholic Church encourages lay members to receive ecclesiastical training and visit isolated communities, to perform religious services. These people are called celebradores de la palabra ("celebrators of the word"). They hold mass without communion. Many of them are women. Women also manage stores and NGOs and teach at universities. Male-only roles include buying and trucking agricultural products, construction, bus and taxi drivers, and most of the military.

The Relative Status of Women and Men. Honduran people occasionally say that theirs is a machista (macho, sexist) country. This is mostly a stereotype, but some men shout catcalls at women on the street, especially when the men are in groups. There are also cases of sexual harassment of office staff. However, most men are fond of their families, tolerant of their behavior, and sensitive to women, who often have jobs outside the home or run small stores. Adolescents and young adults are not subject to elaborate supervision during courtship.

Marriage,Family, and Kinship

Marriage. Marriage is based on the Western ideal of falling in love. There are few formal rules prohibiting marriage with people of different social backgrounds, although people tend to marry neighbors or people they meet at school or work. Almost everyone eventually marries or lives with someone and has children. Founding a household is a financial struggle for most couples, and so women's earnings are appreciated. Divorce and remarriage are fairly common and are slightly stigmatized. Monogamy is the formal rule, although a middle-aged man who can afford to may set up a separate house with a younger woman. If they find out about the younger women, most wives find the idea disgusting and threatening to the marriage.

Domestic Unit. The ideal household of a couple and their children is not always possible. When young couples cannot afford housing, they may live with their parents until they have several children of their own. As in other Latin American countries,

Horses and mules provide transportation for some small landholders.
Horses and mules provide transportation for some small landholders.
when a couple marries, their new family assumes both of their names. For example, if a woman named María García marries a man named Carlos Martínez, they and their children become the Martínez-García family. In many households, men and women make major decisions together regarding household expenses, children's education, etc. In the cities, many households with only a moderate income include a live-in domestic servant who does the housekeeping.

Inheritance. Inheritance practice varies widely, but in general when a person dies the widow or widower inherits half the property (called the parte conyugal, or "the spouse's part") and the children get the other half, unless a will was made to the contrary. The spouse's part provides economic security for widows and helps preserve farms more or less intact. Sometimes there is a preference for the oldest son to inherit a larger share. There is also a tendency for sons to inherit land and daughters to inherit livestock, furniture, and money.

Kin Groups. In the cities, families tend to spend Sunday afternoon having an elaborate meal with the wife's parents. The ideal is for married children to live near their parents, at least in the same city, if not in the same neighborhood or on a contiguous lot. This is not always possible, but people make an effort to keep in touch with the extended family.


Child Rearing and Education. Urban professionals and elites are indulgent toward children, rarely punishing them and allowing them to interrupt conversations. In stores, middle-class shoppers buy things their children plead for. Obedience is not stressed. Bourgeois children grow up with self-esteem and are encouraged to feel happy about their accomplishments.

The urban poor and especially the campesinos encourage children to play in small groups, preferably near where adults are working. Parents are not over protective. Children play in the fields where their parents work, imitating their work, and after age of six or seven they start helping with the farm work. Campesinos expect children to be obedient and parents slap or hit disobedient children. Adults expect three- to four-year-old children to keep up with the family while walking to or from work or shopping, and a child who is told to hurry up and does not may be spanked. Campesino children grow up to be disciplined, long-suffering, and hard working.

Higher Education. Higher education, especially a degree from the United States or Europe, is valued, but such an education is beyond the reach of most people. There are branches of the National University in the major cities, and thousands of people attend school at night, after work. There are also private universities and a national agricultural school and a private one (Zamorano).


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. Campesinos shake hands. Their handshakes tend to be soft. Country women greeting a person they are fond of may touch the right hand to the other person's left elbow, left shoulder, or right shoulder (almost giving a hug), depending on how happy they are to see a person. Men sometimes hug each other (firm, quick, and with back slapping), especially if they have not seen each other for a while and are fond of each other. This is more common in the cities. Campesinos are a little more inhibited with body language, but city people like to stand close to the people they talk to and touch them occasionally while making a point in a conversation. People may look strangers in the eye and smile at them. People are expected to greet other office workers as they pass in the hall even if they have already greeted them earlier that day. On country roads people say good-bye to people they pass even if they do not know each other. In crowded airports and other places where people have to wait in a long, slow line, some people push, shove, cut in front of others, go around the line, and attract attention to themselves to get served first.


Religious Beliefs. Almost all Hondurans believe in God and Jesus Christ, though sometimes in a vague way. In a traditionally Catholic country, many people have joined Evangelical Protestant churches. People usually keep their religious beliefs to themselves but Catholics may wear a crucifix or religious medal around their necks. Many people have a sense of divine destiny. Accidental death is attributed to the will of God rather than to a seat belt that was not buckled or another physical cause. The upper classes are still predominantly Catholic, while many of the urban poor are now Evangelical. Newspapers carry stories of witchcraft, writing about people who were ill until a healer sucked a toad or a sliver of glass from their bodies.

Religious Practitioners. The Catholic Church is the national religion, as stated in the Constitution. However, the liberal reforms of the 1820s led to the confiscation of Church property, the closing of the seminary, and a great decline in the number and morale of the Catholic clergy. By the 1960s mass was only heard regularly in the larger towns. At that time, foreign clergy, including French Canadians, began revitalizing the Honduran Church. Many priests supported campesino movements in the 1970s, and some were killed for it by the military. In the 1980s the bishops were strong enough to play a key role in resisting pressure from the United States for Honduras to go to war with Nicaragua. Various Protestant churches have been active in Honduras since the early twentieth century, especially since the 1970s, and have gained many converts. The Evangelical clergy is an informal lay clergy for the most part and small Pentecostal chapels are common in villages and in poorer neighborhoods in the cities.

Rituals and Holy Places. Most Catholics go to church only on special occasions, such as Christmas and funerals. Evangelicals may go to a small chapel, often a wood shack or a room in a house, for prayer meetings and Bible readings every night. These can be important havens from the pressures of being impoverished in a big city.

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.

Death and the Afterlife. Beliefs about the afterlife are similar to the general Western tradition. An additional element is the concept of the hejillo , (standard Spanish: hijillo ) a kind of mystic contagion that comes from a dead human body, whether death was caused by age, disease, or violence. People who must touch the body wash carefully as soon as possible to purify themselves.

Commercial agriculture is an important part of the Honduran economy.
Commercial agriculture is an important part of the Honduran economy.

Medicine and Health Care

Sickness or an accident is a nightmare for people in the countryside and the urban poor. It may take hours to get a patient to a hospital by traveling over long dirt roads that often lack public transportation. Doctors may be unable to do much for a patient if the patient's family cannot afford to buy medicine. If the patient is an adult, the household may have to struggle to make a living until he or she recovers. Some traditional medical practitioners use herbal medicines and set broken bones.

Secular Celebrations

Independence Day falls on 15 September and features marches and patriotic speeches. Labor Day, celebrated on 1 May, includes marches by workers. During Holy Week (the week before Easter), everyone who can goes to the beach or a river for picnics and parties. 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. Christmas and the New Year are celebrated with gift giving, festive meals, dancing, and fireworks.

The Arts and Humanities

Support for the Arts. Some art is publicly supported through the Ministry of Culture, as well as through sales of tickets, CDs, etc. Some artists also have day jobs.

Literature. 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.

Graphic Arts. There is a Honduran school of impressionist painting whose favorite themes include village street scenes. This style was first developed by Antonio Velázquez of the historic mining village of San Antonio de Oriente, department of Francisco Morazán, in the 1950s. Velázquez was the barber at the nearby agricultural college at Zamorano. He was self-taught, and Hondurans refer to his style as "primitivist." Newspaper cartoons are popular and important for social critique. The cartoonist Dario Banegas has a talent for hilarious drawings that express serious commentary.

Performance Arts. There are various theater groups in San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa, of which the most important is the National Theater of Honduras (TNH), formed in Tegucigalpa in 1965. Its directors have been faculty members of various public schools and universities. Other groups include University Theater of Honduras (TUH) and the Honduran Community of Theater Actors (COMHTE), formed in 1982. These groups have produced various good plays. Honduras also has a National School of Fine Arts, a National Symphonic Orchestra, and various music schools. There are a handful of serious musicians, painters, and sculptors in Honduras, but the most well-known group of artists may be the rock band Banda Blanca, whose hit single "Sopa de Caracol" (Conch Soup) was based on Garífuna words and rhythms. It topped Latin music charts in the early 1990s. There are still some performances of folk music at fiestas and other events, especially in the country. The accordion, guitar, and other string instruments are popular.

The State of the Physical and Social Sciences

Perhaps the most highly developed social science is the archaeological study of the ancient Maya at the site of Copán and elsewhere in western Honduras. Much of this work is done by foreigners, but many Hondurans also conduct research. Among the applied sciences, the best known institution is the Pan-American School of Agriculture (Zamorano), near Tegucigalpa, where scientists and students conduct agricultural research. Zamorano attracts an international student body and faculty and offers the best practical education in commercial agriculture in Latin America. The Honduran Agricultural Research Foundation (FHIA) on the north coast, was once a research center for the banana industry. It is now supported by the Honduran and United States governments and other donors and conducts research on tropical crops.


Aguilar Paz, Jesús. Tradiciones y Leyendas de Honduras, 1972.

Becerra, Longino. Evolución Histórica de Honduras, 1999.

Beneditt, Leonardo, Ismael Zepeda, JoséAntonio Montoya et al. Enciclopedia Multimedia Honduras Nuestro País, 1999.

Bentley, Jeffery W. Diccionario Campesino Hondureño, in press, probable date of publication 2001.

Chapman, Anne. Masters of Animals: Oral Traditions of the Tolupan Indians, Honduras, 1978.

——. Los Hijos del Copal y la Candela, 1992.

Coelho, Ruy Galvão de Andrade. Los Negros Caribes de Honduras, 1995.

Durham, W. H. Scarcity and Survival in Central America: The Ecological Origins of the Soccer War, 1979.

Fash, William L. & Ricardo Agurcia Fasquelle. Visión del Pasado Maya, 1996.

Gamero, Manuel. "Iberoamérica y el Mundo Actual." In A. Serrano, O. Joya, M. Martínez, and M. Gamero (eds.), Honduras Ante el V Centenario del Descubrimiento de América, 1991.

Joya, Olga. "Identidad Cultural y Nacionalidad en Honduras." In A. Serrano, O. Joya, M. Martínez, and M. Gamero (eds.), Honduras Ante el V Centenario del Descubrimiento de América, 1991.

Martínez Perdomo, Adalid. La Fuerza de la Sangre Chortí, 1997.

Murray, Douglas L. Cultivating Crisis: The Human Cost of Pesticides in Latin America, 1994.

Pineda Portillo, Noé. Geografía de Honduras, 1997.

Pineda Portillo, Noé, Fredis Mateo Aguilar Herrera, Reina Luisa Portillo, José Rolando Díaz, and Julio Antonio Pineda. Diccionario Geográfico de América Central, 1999.

Salinas, Iris Milady. Arquitectura de los Grupos Étnicos de Honduras, 1991.

Salomón, Leticia. Poder Civil y Fuerzas Armadas en Honduras, 1997.

Stonich, Susan C. I Am Destroying the Land: The Political Ecology of Poverty and Environmental Destruction in Honduras, 1993.

Tucker, Catherine M. "Private Versus Common Property Forests: Forest Conditions and Tenure in a Honduran Community." Human Ecology, 27 (2): 201–230, 1999.


Also read article about Honduras from Wikipedia

User Contributions:

I couldn't agree more with Mary Norman about the education in schools
private or public in Honduras compared with schools in the U.S.
I agree with this article because it is true what it said
you need to research a little more about why the country was called HOnduras. The "thanks GOd we have come out of those depths" its no more than a myth
very accurate information for someone that is not from Honduras, the country I love.
Matt McBride
All this information is very interesting to me.
Thank you so much for all this.

Your buddy,
rasheeda brown
great for a project this info can really come in handy well thank you
diana grace
this was very helpful to my 7th grade country project. but it needed a little more about Honduras' background (how it came to be).
i'm glad you made this website because i'm doing research on honduras for my spanish project. you guys had all the information i needed thank you so very much!
Thank you for putting this up I was worried that I wasn't going find something on my contry but this website is great. Helped me on my project.
I am happy just to find a website related to my country.
Very thourogh report, i'm impressed. Thank you for compiling all this information.
This is a great article. I'm from honduras and I am impressed on how accurate this is coming from someone from a foreign country.
thanks for all the info this site is so accurate that i feel as if where in Honduras
Chelsea Martinez
This information on Honduras helped me get a good grade on my essay thank you sooo much!!
this website help me find everything i needed for my spanish project
this site had great information and was very helpful, but citing it was hard! is there any way to find the citation information?
thanks i enjoyed the article couldve had more info. on their customs and talked about their famous places.
can I informed about HONDURAS custom and tradition of police service? thank you.
this info is so helpful i might get an A for english plus i am from honduras so yeah
wow this web site is cool becuse u learn more about HONDURAS CULTURE
Hey, thanks a lot for the info; shows you did a thorough research and is much appreciated.
This is a great article with a ton of info. My son is doing Honduras for Multicultural Day. Does anyone know how I can find out about Traditional Costume/Dress for Honduras because he also has to dress up.
i found everything i needed to find for my spainish project.
Honduras has a lot of information that you can look up on,and if u had 2 do a 100 or more page essay u can do honduras im just sayin.when i did honduras for my project I got an A because i did my best and honduras has a lot of great facts,it tells alot about their culture.
thanks so much for doing this; it helped me a lot on my Honduras project!
Thanks for your information about my country but I would like to add more information about the religion part.
Yes, about 30 years ago it looked like only poor people will become protestant, now is a different history, we represent about 39% evangelicals that include poor people, upper class, businessmen, college students, even Arab people are becoming evangelicals, we have the second largest church for Central America ( 30,000 people La cosecha) and many large churches that now are shaping a new identity for Honduras since they are helping spiritually, physical and emotionally, plus they are changing the socioeconomic contexts of the country for example many of these evangelicals churches have started Educations centers from Kinder to college and much more, orphanages, microbussiness, etc. A new time to Honduras.
you report has amaze me how accure it is. good job
you have gave me alot of info for my home work Thank u x
I appreciate all the info and research. I am browsing to learn more about Honduras before I visit there in September!
Alexander Ayala
This was perhaps the most thorough description of Honduras I've ever read. Very nice research, especially with the touch of authenticity only a Honduras would understand. You have really captured Honduran culture, even things that we wouldn't normally want to hear.
Nory Giselle
I disagree with this post at certain point: I'm from Honduras and WE DO NOT ENVY any immigrant in Honduras. We oppose the Arabs because they have separated from the rest of local Hispanics in Honduras. They've lived and worked in seclusion for many yrs marrying people from their own Middle Eastern countries not from Honduras (except the wealthy from Honduras). They keep the bottom line(business profits) for their own people and enforce disguised slavery for the low class workers. It is not fair to live this way. In other Central American countries like EL Salvador, they were not allowed to take-over and control the country. EL Salvador now has wealthy and prosperous Hispanics and maintains a reasonable balance of wealth from locals and immigrants.
i want to look honduras costume especially for kids
In response to Nory Giselle: As an Arab-Honduran myself, I find Hondurans INDEED ENVY the economic success of Arabs. Your posted comment is a riot, as you say you harbor no envy but your tone and word choice reeks of resentment. Also, your statements are incoherent, first you charge that Arabs live and marry in seclusion, shunning non-Arabs, but then you say they marry rich Hondurans...make up your mind, are we seclusive or not? Second, there is no slavery in Honduras, noone is forcing you to work in a specific place, people are free to search other jobs, so please refrain from such poorly worded accusations. It is true that wages are low in Honduras, but guess what, they are low across the board, in Arab and non-Arab businesses. Third, nobody "allowed" us to "take over," your use of these words denotes paranoia and is more a reflection of your feelings of inferiority than anything else. I hate to break it to you, but there is no secret, evil club of Arabs running Honduras, large business interests come in many ethnic flavors.
Very good information, it was interesting accurate and abundant.
thank u so much. i am from honduras and needed some info cause i am doing a project on hunduras. everything is so acurata thanks again.
Thanks.This really helped me do my Spanish project on Honduras.Thanks again!
This thing was verry helpfull!!! I mean I loved all the info it gave me and all, but I still need to know what they used to wear in the old days. Hey, did you no they wore thie kind of clothes that we wear today.well anyway I'm done talkin now... BYE PEOPLE WHO READ THE COMMENTS!!!
very helpful for this AP Spanish project that I am finishing up at 2 am. when I have school the next day lol
If your dad was from Honduras, but you aren't do you still get an inheritance? The dad is deceased and had another family in Honduras.
I enjoyed reading this article on Honduras but I was trying to find a specific school for kids to read about information on the school. I have to do a research paper on a spanish speaking country and the difference between american school and spanish schools. But didnt find what i was looking for.
Wel, I am very pleased to see this article, very impressed too. Beacuse it is very down to earth and realistic. As a Honduran I think you should expand more on the private education and on the culture itself, the gastronomy and all of the Honduran celebrations and traditions, talk a little bit more about the love people have for football(soccer) and how hospitalarian and warm Honduran people are.
Yes if your dad is from Honduras and you are not, you still have Honduran inheritance.
Very good article, it's accuarate and interesting to read. As a honduran, I'm impressed with all the research that went into Honduras. Nice job! The only thing I'm not so sure about are these 2 quotes:"The Misquitos are a native people with some African and British ancestry who reside in the department of Gracias a Dios in the Mosquitia." and "The Garífuna are a people of African descent with some native American ancestry." The statements aren't far off, but I'm pretty sure that the Misquitos have more than "some" african ancestry although to most people it might not look like it. And the Garifuna people/Garinagu have more than "some" native american ancesrty. I'm not saying that the Misquitos are "pure" Africans, or that Garinagu are "pure" native americans; but people shouldn't be so quick to say that a group of people has "some" share of ancestry just because it might visually show up in the average features of that ethnic group. No hard feelings though, the article is very well written.
For the most part the article is accurate, I must disagree with the concept that parents do not discipline there children. I was raised in Honduras and I can not recall ever hearing a child talk back to there parents or remain in a room where adults were engaged in conversation. I visit frequently, (3-4)per year and the aforementioned is still practice. The respect that was instilled not only at home but in the schools is my source of pride, FYI between 1975-1984, 44 of us migrated to the USA, 37 of us graduate from college.
i have to research honduras for my spanish project and this site is really helpful. thanks for posting it.
WOW this is a VERY PRETTY place i would love to visit honduras
This is great information, I really enjoyed it and was amazed by the information thankyou.
alyssaa melice
no information from this website at all and it dosnt help for what i need to learn about honduras
Barney The Dinosaur
Really Great Info but it goes on forever; a notice to alyssaa melice:
this is about the CULTURE not the COUNTRY
Thank you for the info. Doing a project about this my country.
i think honduras is a wonderful place and reading this has really put their lives into perspective. i never really knew a lot about honduras before reading this thank you
This piece is very well done and informative. I am going to use it for a research project, as it contains a great deal of very helpful and informative facts. Thank you for providing this!
THanxz 4 all da help... it helped alot. im surprized how many things i didn't know about honduras... and its funny cause im from honduras. thanxz again.
this website gave me all the information i needed to get for my project!! thanks(:
this was thebest web site so far i got all my work done with it!
this was the best web site so far i got all my work done with it! thought you could add more on the architecture part though but over all it was good. if i have another project on Hondras I will come but to this website right away.
thank you for putting this website because this is helping a lot an i needed to do something with the tradictions of honduras. :)
i have just retired and looking to move and can live in means of my social security .i am muslim pl tell me which place will b good to live and i can b near my religeous place . i am usa citizen .the info were great .how is the SanPedro Sula or hondoru in cortes area where i read about a mosque or you can give e mail adress to whom i can ask more about.a medium living expenses would how much for a couple.thanks and regards
Im doing a speech on Honduras and I have pretend that I an taking a group of hiker's there and need to exsplain their cultural differences to ours in america. Such as Hand shakes, eye contact, body language,etc. If you can send me any info you can give me that would help me for my speech that would be great. Thank You Trevor
um...i thought Honduras had a deep relation with the Mayans. it was kind of disappointing that i couldn't find anything about the Maya here. if there were mor info about food and history, it might've made my life a whole lot easier. but thanks anyways! it really was kind of interesting to read and research about. i think my paper on Honduras would go well. thank you! and if you know any more cool facts about Honduras, it would be great if you are willing to tell me some more facts. thank you!
thanks to who ever did this help me and my friend so much with my history culture with out this i wouldent no what to do i recomend this 100%
I am doing a culture credit thing for spanish on honduras and i was wondering is i can get some help on finding some important authors or important people in honduras
if anyone knows post on here please it will help a lot please and thank you
Thank you for the help i really appreciate the help:)
thank you so much for the help i will come to this site more often
thanks for making this it helped me a lot with my geography project!!!:)
im from honduras and this article knoes more than me!! :) good!
thanks sooo much for this site, great for school proyects, i got just the right info for my daughter homework,,, : )
thanks so much this information really help me with my assigment
I am from Honduras and everything is very true. Everything happens in my country, but I think they should update some data.The report was a very well developed and the person who did know a lot about our country ;) I'm glad that many people want to know the beautiful country where I live!
im from honduras , so could i say i have native african and european and white in me ?
thank you so much because my research when i found this article.
my name is bob and i really appreciate your information thank you
Michael Joe Thannisch
Good article. My only criticism is that it is stated that the majority of Miskito Indians speak Spanish. That was not my experience when living on the Miskito Coast. Now a lot of people in the major cities speak Spanish (Pto. Lempira and Brus Laguna), but when you get out in the coutry, there is not a whole lot of Spanish.

Otherwise quite accurate.
this site is very neat i am part honduran. and who ever did this did a very nice work!
Jasmine Andrea Martinez
this really did help me alot on my honduras project it has alot of intresting facts and alot od details i like this site !!! :)
I love this site. In-depth description of Hondura's culture and people.
thanks for the info needed it. No offense but id rather stay in America
Mikaila Prince
Ha this is kinda like a book with 1000 pages. hope that it turns out fine
there no tradition that dome i hate that they say stuff but thats not fair
I am going back 2 copan on a medical mission trip and looking forward to it. The people are fantastic.
Overall I agree with the author. However, the Bay Islands predominantly speak English. Roatan was a British colony for a long time and most islanders, Caracols, are white and their first language is English. Caracols only use Spanish when talking to someone from the mainland. The culture of the islands is completely different from that of the rest of Honduras. In the past few years, there has been a huge influx of Hondurans from the mainland, thus Spanish has become more common.

I would also like to note that the Bay Islands contribute a very large extent to the Honduran economy.
Excellent piece of work! very informative but still needs to mention the actual situation of the country. (gangs, political and military corruption etc...)Moreover give emphasis to the lack of hospitals and need of direct help from other countries. Maybe the word envy were not appropriate, but definitively , the Arabs are an example in our society , they don't approve slavery but they create jobs and provide with plenty of resources to charities and to the poorest people.
So thank you for the information
this is amazing! You have everything you need to know about this country!
For my geography project, this site helped me with every single question! I really recommend it.
this helped me a lot! I forgot my science/social studies project Ms.Mcgarrah won't be so mad at me after all!
Well I am Honduran and there is anothet reason why Christopher Columbus decided to put my country the name Honduras and that is because in spanish the word "honduras" is the deep part between two mountains.So when Christopher Columbus "discovered" Honduras he saw that there was many mountains so he decided to call the land Honduras!!! :-) well that is at least what my Honduran teacher told me when I had to learn the history of Honduras (by memory) in order to pass the sixth !!! But thanks anyway for being interested in my country!!! ;-)
jason valerianp
I want too know all of the traditions of Honduras ?
I loved this source so much it helped alot with this project called the personal project for 10th graders. thanks so much
my boyfriend is from Honduras he said he use to struggle alot over there he crossed over here with his brother and it was really bad but know he said that when his brother and him came over here that it is different here but one thing he is 3 years older than me but hes so sweet and nice and when we are a little bit older we are probably going to move over there because his family his whole family lives over there but depends on how it is
This is so helpful for spanish projects. I needed to learn and type up a 3 page essay about Honduras and this is exactly the information i was looking for. thank you so much!
Anyone know of any american-honduran wedding traditions that would be helpful?

I was born in Honduras and my fiance was born in America, but I was taken away at an early age to grow up in America. I wanted to know any traditions that may help connect me with my roots.
This is very interesting website instead of marriage things maybe add more clothing information because that's what I'm looking for. So that's my idea but otherwise this is a very nice website.
Joycelyn Medrano
My granddaughter is part Honduras. I was very interested to learn of the culture and ways of life. I can further help my granddaughter embrace her culture and people. The information was very informative and easy to understand. I even found out that I knew the meaning of some of the Garifuna language. I have never heard or seen the language but I took the quiz and scored 80%.
I Love this article, it is very accurate and contains very updated information. I am from La Ceiba,Honduras and I am helping a Mexican friend who has to do a cultural presentation from Honduras. I found a lot of info in this article, very helpful.
Thanks a lot
This was very helpful for my report, but I wish there had been more on culture. I got some on the arts and etiquette and such, but what about clothing, special celebrations, etc.? I found it confusing that it wasn't all in the same place and you had to search for it.
This really helped me but what i really needed was HONDURAS TRADITIONS I am writing a paper on the traditions and religion of Honduras. So thank you and include that.
This website was very helpful for my spanish project at dan f long thanks a lot.
This website is really helpful for my social studies project.
This website was lots of history of Honduras i love this website
I have to do a project about a country and I chose HONDURAS my fave so this info is good and helpful.
Its, Uhh really beautiful, I was planning on going to Honduras but after reading this whole article I think i am fully aware of everything that happens in Honduras.
Happy Trails -T-Swizzle
Sue Matt
Thank you for this article. Unfortunately there is crime in Honduras due to the drug trade and gangs is no denial, but many other countries such as Mexico, El Salvador, etc. if you live as long as I have in Illinois. The murder capital name can be also applied to the south side of Chicago. For some reason Honduras social economic situations have been always exaggerated. There is a strong sense of despite in the Media and it tends to fluctuate, usually is merely political. Honduras has a great asset their people and natural resources and tourisms for such a small country. If planning to visit just practice safety measures like you would anywhere else. Address people respectfully you will do fine. If you plan to learn great Spanish Honduras has bi-lingual schools. This article is very accurate. Honduras is a melting pot of cultures.
Thanks Again
This was so helpful because I'm doing a project for World Studies and this artical helped
Hey I have a lot of new customers for you. can i contact by phone?
Thank you for making this really helpful for my projects.
Genesis Mendez-
You should do more on the Miskito language.

Genesis MEndez-Garcia
Im part hondoran and all this is true. so glad people want to know about honduras
I would love if their was a tradition section. Other than that it was perfect for re-search!
My husband and I sponsor a child in a small town in Honduras through Compassion Int'l. I am looking for true information about this country to better know about the child and her family and how they live. I was very worried when I read an article about this country now being the most dangerous on earth:( I would like more information without involving the child, of course, to know how to pray for them and their country. Also knowing about their country helps me to understand those who live there. Does anyone know for certain how true this article is--search "Welcome to Honduras, the most dangerous country on the planet". This article is from 2013--there seems to be no change from 2013 to the present--according to articles I've read. How true is this?
Gary Ungaro
I was there in the 90s Could go anywhere in town in a taxi 20 cents in a bar 4 drinks and really big tip all for a dollar could not spend 50 bucks trying my hardest in one night that was paying for 4 people I loved it down there people was so nice had so much fun there
I am going there in march and is supper excited hoping to have a blast good article by the way.

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic: