The Republic of Honduras in Central America used to be referred to as Spanish Honduras to differentiate it from British Honduras, which became the state of Belize.
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 was home to several important indigenous cultures, most notably the Maya. Much of the country was conquered by Spain which introduced its now predominant language and many of its customs in the sixteenth century.
It became independent in 1821 and has been a republic since the end of Spanish rule.
The area of Honduras is about 43,500 sq miles and the population exceeds eight million. Its northern portions are part of the Western Caribbean Zone. Honduras is most notable for production of minerals, coffee, tropical fruit, sugar cane and recently for exporting clothing to the international market..
The Capital is Tegucigalpa, with a population of 1.25 million or 1/7 of the entire population of Honduras and established towards the western regions on a plateau between 3,000 and 5,000 ft. in the 16th century, offering a wealth of historical buildings.
Enjoying most tourism growth are the Islas de la Bahía ("Bay Islands"), one of the 18 departments into which the Central American nation of Honduras is divided. The departmental capital is Roatan, on the island of Roatán.
The department in 2013, had an estimated population of 71,500 people. It comprises three geographically separate groups:
Located on the Caribbean Sea, not far east of the entrance to the Gulf of Honduras, they are clearly visible from the mountainous mainland.
The group is made up of the three
large islands, Utila, Roatan, and Guanaja, and the smaller islands, or
island groups, St. Helena, Barbareta, Morat, and, closest to the
mainland, the two Hog Islands (Cayos Cochinos).
Roatan is the largest island with a length of about 40 miles and a maximum width of 9 miles at its widest point and is characterized by its mountainous backbone, composed of hilltops that run west-to-east across the entire island.
Flat, level areas are scarce throughout the central ridge of the island, and occur mainly along the coasts, though these are also limited in size.
The island's southern coast has an abundance of deep ports and wide inlets, or 'bights', protected by reefs, while its northern coast is, save for a few narrow passages, largely inaccessible due to extensive coral reef growth.
On the tail end of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, the Bay Islands offer a wealth of underwater sea life for any novice or experienced diver.
On Roatan, Juan Manuel Gálvez Roatan International Airport accommodates direct flights from Miami, Dallas, Atlanta, and Houston via American, Delta, and United Airlines respectively, with other domestic connections for international flights arriving into mainland Honduran cities like the capital Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula and San Salvador(El Salvador).
Utila (Isla de Utila) is the third largest of Honduras' Bay Islands, after Roatán and Guanaja, in a region that marks the south end of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, the second-largest in the world and currently enjoys growing tourism with emphasis on recreational diving.
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