Honduras formed Part of the great Mayan Empire with Belize and Guatemala. The astonishing ruins are mainly located in Copan, near the Guatemalan border. These ruins were discovered in 1839 and restored by the Carnagie Institute in the 1930's. These ruins contain the some of the best Mayan art in Central America. This is one of Honduras' main attraction sites for tourist, coupled with the Caribbean coast.
Christopher Columbus discovered Honduras in 1502. The country afterwards was the subject of land struggles among it's Spanish settlers until the conquistador Pedro de Alvarado arrived in 1536 and founded the city of San Pedro Sula , today the major industrial area.
After a prosperous colonial period, Honduras was incorporated into the General Captaincy of Guatemala established by the Spanish to facilitate political control over the region. With the discovery of small amounts of silver in 1578, the country rapidly colonized.
1821 the growing Central American nations proclaimed their independence from Spain and joined together over the next 17 years as the Federal Republic of Central America.
During the revolution in 1955, the army seized power from the chief of state and established a military council that pledged to return to freely elected constitutional rule.
1952 a new constitution was drafted. and the ruling Liberal party became the first elected congress. Discontent and demand for reform sparked two additional military coups. The country made great progress under General J.A. Melgar from 1975 to 1978. He was later ousted by the military and replaced with a three man junta led by General Policarpo Paz Garcia.
Garcia established a new constitution and free election. 1981 Roberto Suazo Cordova of the Liberal Party was the first elected president. Today, free elections are being exercised.
In 1982, the Constitution established a popularly elected executive branch and a government appointed judiciary, which is made of the Supreme Court of Justice, and Appeals Court, and several jurisdictional courts.
Congressional seats are assigned to party members based upon the number of votes the party receives, with proportional representation. Members of Congress and the President elect serve four year terms in office.
The country is divided into 18 political jurisdictions. Municipal and departmental officers serve two year terms.
Honduras is a developing country with agriculture as its economic base. The country has one of the lowest gross national products in Central America. The unemployment rate has improved at a current rate of 12 percent. The inflation rate on the rise is at 22 percent.
The nation's major exports being coffee, bananas, and lumber. These agricultural based industries employ over 60 percent of the common workers and provide 80 percent of the country's exports. The European Union purchases approximately 65 percent of the country's exports.
Non-traditional exports such as melons, shrimp, fish, and frozen fruits are gaining ground.
During Nicaragua's civil war in the 1980's, the United States supplied massive aid to Honduras in exchange for strategic border territories for deployment of the U.S. backed contras. Although the need has diminished, the countries still have strong economic ties.
U.S. agricultural companies such as Standard Fruit (Dole) and United Fruit are Honduras' major banana producers and own large tracts of Honduran land.