History of Honduras

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Honduras was already occupied by many indigenous peoples when the Spanish arrived in the 16th century. The area in extreme western Honduras was occupied by the Maya people; the western-central part of Honduras was inhabited by the Lencas, the central north coast by the Tol, the area east of Trujillo by the Pech and the Miskito and Sumo. These autonomous groups maintained commercial relationships with each other and with other populations as distant as Panama and Mexico.[1]


Pre-Columbian era

In pre-Columbian times, modern Honduras was part of the Mesoamerican cultural area. In the west, the Maya civilization flourished for hundreds of years. The dominant state within Honduras's borders was that based in Copán. Copán fell with the other Lowland centres during the conflagrations of the Terminal Classic, the early 9th century. The Maya of this civilization survive in western Honduras as the Ch'orti', isolated from their Choltian linguistic peers to the west.

Remains of other Pre-Columbian cultures are found throughout the country. Archaeologists have studied sites such as Naco and La Sierra in the Naco Valley, Los Naranjos on Lake Yojoa, Yarumela in the Comayagua Valley, La Ceiba and Salitron Viejo (both now under the Cajon Dam reservoir), Selin Farm and Cuyamel in the Aguan valley, Cerro Palenque, Travesia, Curruste, Ticamaya, Despoloncal in the lower Ulua river valley, and many others.

Spanish period

Christopher Columbus landed on the mainland near modern Trujillo in 1502 and named the country Honduras ("Depths") for the deep waters off its coast.

In January, 1524, Cortés directed captain Cristóbal de Olid to establish a colony for him in Honduras. Olid sailed with a force of several ships and over 400 soldiers and colonists. He sailed first to Cuba, to pick up supplies Cortés had arranged for him, where Governor Velázquez convinced him to go and claim the colony he was to found as his own. Olid sailed from Cuba to the coast of Honduras, coming ashore east of Puerto Caballos at Triunfo de la Cruz where he initially settled and declared himself governor.

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