Honduras

Honduras
If you are interested in Central America history, Central American cultures, colonial history, ruins, you should go to Honduras. And you should do the same if your interests run more along the lines of beaches, nice architecture, great nightlife, natural parks of snorkeling. To put it simply, Honduras is one of those countries where anyone, regardless of what they’re interested in, will find something to like. If you haven’t given much thought to visit this interesting country before, here are top 11 reasons to visit Honduras that might just convince you. 

1. The Ocean

More specifically, the Caribbean Sea. Because part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef – the world's second-longest – is off Honduras's eastern coast, the Honduran Caribbean flourishes with undersea life. The Bay Islands are famous for their Scuba diving (and snorkeling, if you're inclined to stay closer to the surface), and divers will likely spot dolphins, sea turtles, rays, sharks (typically the non-frightening kind), octopuses, squids, fish and coral of astounding variety, eels, and so much more. Best of all, whale sharks enters Bay Island waters yearly. They're the world's largest fish, and whale shark tours allow the chance for travelers to get up close and personal with them. 

2. The nature

Cusuco National Park is one of the most amazing and exotic parks in the world, and for many people it is the chief reason for traveling to Honduras. The park is incredibly varied in terms of flora, faun and landscape (the altitude ranges from sea level to almost 2500 meters), and trekking though its rainforests is an unforgettable experience. La Tigra National Park, Cerro Azul de Copán National Park or Montaña Santa Bárbara National Park are only a few of the many parks in Honduras.

3. Size and Diversity

Honduras is big – at least, in Central American terms. But it's not too large to see the highlights of in a couple weeks. As a vacation or travel destination, it's incredibly diverse, whether you're seeking forest adventures (Pico Bonito, Cerro Azul, Capiro-Calentura, Celaque), Mayan ruins (Copan), colonial cities (Gracias) or bumming around Caribbean islands. There's never a lack of things to do in Honduras. 

4. Maya ruins

Some of the most impressive and best preserved Maya ruins in Central America can be found in Copan, one of the former centers of Maya civilization. If you are interested in pre-Columbian art, then look no further than Copan – the stellae, the intricate hieroglyphs and the amazing Las Sepulturas that many people fail to visit – it is just (if not more) interesting than the larger complexes such as Chichen Itza.

5. The Prices

For the most part, Honduras travel is cheap. Super cheap. The most expensive destination in Honduras is Roatan, and even that's a major bargain compared to other Caribbean islands. Neighboring Utila islandis known as one of the most inexpensive places to achieve PADI Scuba certification in the world (it's where I was certified myself). Inland, travelers often enjoy sticker shock in the best way, especially if they shop locally and opt for local cuisine. I remember the time I bought something like two mangoes, a bunch of bananas, an avocado, some lychees and a pineapple for the equivalent of $1.25 US. 

6. The nightlife

Some say that the best nightlife in Honduras can be found in San Pedro Sula, which is indeed a great place to go out and party until morning, or to have a quieter time in a pleasant cafe and then go and catch a movie. But the other cities in Honduras also have a great deal to offer – Tegucigalpa for example has great rum and even better bars where to drink it, and even the quiet colonial towns of Comayagua or Cracias have a nice selection of small but entertaining bars.
Honduras is not the only great vacation spot in Central America. Browse the below deals and pick your favorite:

7. Copan

The town has a lot of tourist attractions and activities which capture the essence of Honduras. Simply put, your trip won’t be complete unless you stay here for a while. The Copan Mayan Ruins is the town’s main attraction. It is often regarded as one of the most impressive ruins of the ancient Mayan civilization. Copan ruinas, as what locals call it, is best known for its well-preserved sculptures. And yet Copan has a lot more to offer than just these ruins. For example, you have the choice to take a zip line tour over them.
Hacienda San Lucas is a 100-year old restaurant. The historic site is perched on a hill to provide you with great views of Copan. While you’re there, you might as well savour some local delicacies and wait for sunset. By nightfall, you can head for local bars and party until the wee hours of the morning. Horseback riding is also something you can do in Copan. Given all these sights and things to do, surely Copan is one of the top reasons to visit Honduras.

8. The food

Having not emphasized it earlier, Honduran cuisine is another good reason to visit the country. After a couple of meals you’ll notice that they usually use beans and rice since these two staple foods. But they also use a lot of fresh fruits, tortillas, sour cream, plantains, and eggs.

9. Pulhapanzak Waterfall

It is 30 feet shorter than the Niagara Falls but unlike Niagara, it offers free back massages. Yes, you can let the strong current falling down Pulhapanzak beat unto your back and even your head. It’s nature’s way of giving back. Even if you choose not to swim under the Pulhapanzak Waterfall, it’s a beautiful sight and one of the top reasons to visit Honduras.

10. Comayagua Street Carpets

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. The community then joins in a procession of reenacting the events of the crucifixion by walking on the carpets in costumes, carrying religious icons and reading from scripture. Even for non-religious visitors, the tradition is a must-do to see the artistic beauty of the carpets.

11. Lago de Yojoa 

A hot spot for many tourists, the largest natural lake in Honduras offers many things to see and do. With its abundance of fish and bird species, Lake Yojoa is ideal for fishing and birdwatching. Travelers can also enjoy dipping in nearby hot springs, exploring caves, hiking to stunning waterfalls, touring coffee plantations and investigating ancient Mayan ruins. What’s more, visitors will find plenty of restaurants and hotels in the lake area.



Highlights
- Mayan ruins
- Mosquito coast
Geography
Honduras, in the north-central part of Central America, has a Caribbean as well as a Pacific coastline. Guatemala is to the west, El Salvador to the south, and Nicaragua to the east. The second-largest country in Central America, Honduras is slightly larger than Tennessee. Generally mountainous, the country is marked by fertile plateaus, river valleys, and narrow coastal plains.
Language
Spanish (official), Amerindian dialects; English widely spoken in business.
Money
Lempira (HNL; symbol L) = 100 centavos. Notes are in denominations of L500, 100, 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1. In February 2015 1 US$ is L 21
Climate
The northern Caribbean area and the southern coastal plain have a wet, tropical climate, but the interior is drier and cooler. Temperature varies with altitude. The coastal lowlands average 31°C (88°F); from 300 to 760 m (1,000 to 2,500 ft) above sea level the average is 29°C (84°F); and above 760 m (2,500 ft) the average temperature is 23°C (73°F). There are two seasons: a rainy period, from May through October, and a dry season, from November through April. Average annual rainfall varies from over 240 cm (95 in) along the northern coast to about 84 cm (33 in) around Tegucigalpa in the south. The northwest coast is vulnerable to hurricanes, of which the most destructive, Hurricane Fifi in September 1974, claimed some 12,000 lives, caused $200 million in property damage, and devastated the banana plantations.
Gastronomy
Hondurans have a variety of traditional dishes: The baleada is one of the most representative dishes of the Honduran gastronomy. It is basically made up of a flour tortilla which is folded and refilled with refried beans, quesillo or Parmesan cheese and sour cream. Many people however add to the baleadas roast meat or scrambled eggs to the taste.
In addition to the baleadas, the following are also popular: The meat roasted with chismol carne asada, chicken with rice and corn, fried fish with pickled onions and jalapeños. In the coastal areas and in the Bay Islands, seafood and some meats are prepared in many ways, some of which include coconut milk.
Among the soups the Hondurans enjoy are: Bean soup, Mondongo Soup, or soup of intestine, Seafood soups, Beef Soups, all of which are mixed with plaintains, yucca, cabbage among other things, and complemented with corn tortillas.
Other typical dishes are the montucas or corn tamale, stuffed tortillas, tamales wrapped up with banana leaves, among other types of food. It is also part of the Honduran typical dishes an abundant selection of tropical fruits such as: Papaya, pineapple, plums, zapotes, passion fruits, and bananas which are prepared in many ways while they are still green. All of which makes of the Honduran cuisine something different and especial. Soft drinks or beer are often drunk with lunch or dinner.

History
During the first millennium, Honduras was inhabited by the Maya. Columbus explored the country in 1502. Honduras, with four other Central American nations, declared its independence from Spain in 1821 to form a federation of Central American states. In 1838, Honduras left the federation and became independent. Political unrest rocked Honduras in the early 1900s, resulting in an occupation by U.S. Marines. Dictator Gen. Tiburcio Carias Andino established a strong government in 1932.
In 1969, El Salvador invaded Honduras after Honduran landowners deported several thousand Salvadorans. Five thousand people ultimately died in what is called “the football war” because it broke out during a soccer game between the two countries. By threatening economic sanctions and military intervention, the Organization of American States (OAS) induced El Salvador to withdraw. After a decade of military rule, parliamentary democracy returned with the election of Roberto Suazo Córdova as president in 1982. However, Honduras faced severe economic problems and tensions along its border with Nicaragua. “Contra” rebels, waging a guerrilla war against the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua, used Honduras as a training and staging area. The U.S. also used Honduras for military exercises, and it built bases to train Honduran and Salvadoran troops.
In 1997, Carlos Flores Facussé of the Liberal Party was elected president. He began to reform the economy and modernize the government. In recent years, Honduras has faced high unemployment, inflation, and economic overdependence on coffee and bananas. In Oct. 1998, Hurricane Mitch killed some 13,000 Hondurans, left 2 million homeless, and caused more than $5 billion in damage.
In 2002, Ricardo Maduro became president, promising to lessen crime and corruption, but his hard-line efforts, growing increasingly more repressive, did not improve these problems. In 2006, a new president, Manuel Zelaya, also vowed to fight corruption and gang violence, but he promised to do so with a more humane approach. A free-trade agreement (CAFTA) with the U.S went into effect in April 2006
Religion
According to estimates based on a 2002 poll of citizens 18 or older, only 63% of the population identify themselves as Roman Catholic. Approximately 23% report themselves to be evangelical Christians, and 14% designate themselves as belonging to other religious groups. The remainder were either "others" or provided no answer. The primary faiths include Roman Catholicism, Judaism, Greek Orthodox, Episcopalian, Lutheran, Jehovah's Witnesses, Mennonite, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the Union Church, and about 300 evangelical Protestant churches (including the Abundant Life, Living Love, and the Grand Commission church).
Culture
The art and architecture of the pre-Columbian and Spanish colonial periods are strongly evident in Honduran culture. Of special interest is the great Mayan city of Copán, which represents the height of the Mayan Classic period. Discovered in the early 16th century, Copán was partly excavated and restored in 1839. Spanish architecture reflects Moorish, Gothic, and, especially, Baroque styles. Modern Honduran culture has not produced many strong representatives of its art, the country's widespread poverty being a major impediment. Most contemporary artists reflect their colonial heritage, and the pre-Columbian heritage is seen mainly in Indian crafts. Social themes may also be reflected in paintings and literary works, the latter generally represented by poetry and short fiction.
The interaction of both Native American and Spanish strains in Honduran cultural history is clearly visible in the architecture. Many colonial buildings show strong Native American influences combined with baroque, Renaissance, and Moorish styles imported by the Spanish.
The family is central to Honduran daily life and society, and strong emphasis is placed on family loyalty. Not only do family ties form a vital part of social identity, but they provide assistance in business and in finding one's path through government bureaucracy and red tape. Particularly close, trusted friends are often brought into family circles by being designated compadres (“godparents”), an honour (and a mark of responsibility) that is often conferred at marriages and baptisms. In addition to religious marriages, civil ceremonies are common, as are free unions. Many couples eventually have a religious ceremony, but typically only after their funds allow for a grand wedding celebration.
Music
Some of the most notable Honduran musicians include: Rafael Coello Ramos, Lidia Handal, Victoriano López, Guillermo Anderson, Victor Donaire, Francisco Carranza, Camilo Rivera Guevara, Moisés Canelo, among others.
At the internationally level stood out, the musical group: Banda Blanca with their hits "Soup of Caracol", "Fiesta", "Do you Know Who Came?", among many others. Although the group produces merengueros rhythms, the calypso and other Caribbean rhythms, their specialty is the rhythm 'Punta', which they popularized during the 1990s.
All of Banda Blanca's took them to participate in several festivals such as: The Carnival of 8th Street of Miami, Carnival of Broadway Street, Los Angeles, California; Carnival of Acapulco, Mexico; Carnival of Barranquilla, Colombia; Carnival of Tenerife, Spain; Festival of Jazz Aruba and many more.
Other musical groups include: The Professionals, The Gran Banda, The Rolands, the rocker group Black Devils, Trilogy, etc. They stood out nationally and some of them internationally.
Wildlife
Honduras has a rich and varied flora and fauna. Tropical trees, ferns, moss, and orchids abound, especially in the rain forest areas. Mammal life includes the anteater, armadillo, coyote, deer, fox, peccary, pocket gopher, porcupine, puma, tapir, and monkeys in several varieties. Fish and turtles are numerous in both freshwater and marine varieties. Among the reptiles are the bushmaster, coral snake, fer-de-lance, horned viper, rattlesnake, and whip snake, caiman, crocodile, and iguana. Birds include the black robin, hummingbird, macaw, nightingale, thrush, partridge, quail, quetzal, toucanet, wren, and many others.
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