Honduras is a great country that holds many interesting historical facts. Unfortunately, press and public opinion concentrate only on the negative facts. An example is the unfair title of “Murder Capital in the World” tag that San Pedro Sula managed to claim. This tag, by the way, is no longer valid, security in Honduras has improved during the last four years. San Pedro Sula is no longer the Murder Capital of the World! Although there is still much work to do, the truth is that things are improving in Honduras as far as safety and security.
But enough with the negative stuff… Lets get into some positive interesting facts. Following are 10 facts about Honduras that the press does not share with you!
#1: The Maya Civilization…
During pre-Columbian times, Honduras was home to the Maya Civilization. The largest and most important Mayan site in Honduras is Copan. This site offers the most artistic high relief sculptures in the whole Mayan World. Often referred too as the Paris of the New World, Copan is a site that every archaeology buff should visit. It is also interesting to note that Copan Ruinas is the site where you will find more reliefs of birds within the Mesoamerican region. This includes the magnificent macaw markers at the Copan Ball Court in the Grand Plaza.
#2. Christopher Columbus Discovered Honduras!
Did you know that Honduras was the first spot in continental America that Columbus reached? Yes Admiral Christopher Columbus landed in Punta Castilla, in the Bay of Trujillo. History records the date as August 14 1502 during his fourth and last voyage to the “Indies”. The poor fellow died without ever knowing he has discovered a Continent and not a route to Asia! As it turns out, Columbus was pretty sick during his last voyage and did not disembark in Castilla. He did send his brother, Bartholomew to claim the land for Spain and establish a settlement.
#3. The First European Settlement in America was in Honduras!
In other words, the first Spanish settlement on continental America was also in Honduras. Columbus named the settlement “Truxillo” and left a small number of settlers there. This means that the First Colonial settlement on mainland America was established in 1502! This is 19 years before the conquest of Tenochtitlan, the ancient Aztec capital!
#4. The History of Christianity in America Begins in Honduras!
As it turns out, the first Catholic Mass celebrated in America also took place in Trujillo! When Bartholomew Columbus disembarked at Punta Castilla, he did so with a priest, who celebrated the Holy Eucharist. Today, there is a cross marking the precise spot where this event took place. If you visit Trujillo, this is one of the most interesting places to visit!
#5. Honduras has the Richest Gold and Silver Mines in the Region.
Honduras was the most important gold and silver mining center in Central America during colonial times. The most important mines were in the vicinity of Tegucigalpa. The cities of Santa Lucia, Valle de Angeles and San Juancito have a rich mining heritage. This last town was home to the Rosario Mining Company. This was the largest mining operation in Central America at the turn of the XIX to the XXth century.
#6. The First Soda Bottling Plant in Central America was in Honduras!
The first soda bottling facility in Central America was put into operation in Honduras! Pepsi Cola had a bottling plant in San Juancito, Francisco Morazan. The facility was part of the Rosario Mining Company. Incredibly, today San Juancito is a ghost town, with only a fraction of the population that it had 120 years ago. Back in those days, San Juancito had a population of 40,000 persons, similar to the population of Tegucigalpa back then!
#7. The First Cinema in Central America Was in Honduras!
The first cinema in Central and South America was built in San Juancito by the Rosario Mining Company. Of course, there is nothing left of this old building which was a wooden construction. But it is interesting to note that the people of Tegucigalpa had to visit San Juancito to go to the movies!
#8. One of the First Hydroelectric plants in Central America was in Honduras.
The first hydroelectric plant in Honduras started operations in the town of San Juancito. Although it’s been years since it was operational, you can still visit the plant. Miraculously it survived a flash flood during Hurricane Mitch in 1998. It is an interesting visit. I loved seeing the old manometers and gauges that still have the dates of their patents clearly printed on them. They range from the 1890’s to 1912 or so. The hydroelectric facility is the pride of the community and despite the fact that is has not been functional, they care for it dearly.
#9. Honduras was the Original Banana Republic!
The term Banana Republic was first coined in Honduras. American writer William Sydney Porter, who’s pen name was O Henry coined the term in his short novel Cabbages and Kings. Porter lived in Trujillo back in 1897. This was when the American Fruit Companies were first establishing themselves in Honduras. They set up along the Caribbean Coast of Honduras, and had their headquarters in the different port cities. The Truxillo Railroad Company was one of the original fruit companies in Honduras. Their main export was the banana.
#10. Honduras is a Promoter of the Central American Federation
Honduras was the main promoter of the Central American Federal Republic. Over the years there were several different attempts to create a Central American Republic. The Honduras flag is a testimony to this effort. Each of the five stars represents one of the 5 participating Central American Republics. Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and of course, Honduras.
I trust that these 10 facts about Honduras the press does not share with you have shed some new light about our country. There are many more good reasons to visit Honduras. Far more that reasons to stay away from us. Come visit this lovely country with a rich heritage. Let its nature and beauty charm you. You will not want to leave!