What Is The Ethnic Composition Of Honduras?

Flag of Honduras, intergration of a multicultural group of young people.
Flag of Honduras, intergration of a multicultural group of young people.

Honduras is a Central American state that is surrounded by El Salvador, Nicaragua, Gulf of Honduras, Guatemala, and the Pacific Ocean at the Fonseca Gulf. It is the second-largest Central American state which occupies an area of about 43,590 square miles. Honduras has a 430 mile-long Caribbean coastline that extends from Rio Coco to the Rio Motagua. Before the Spanish colonization, the region was home to numerous crucial Mesoamerican cultures, including the Maya. One of the most dominant Mayan states in Honduras that flourished for hundreds of years was the Copan. Copan fell during the ninth century, and the descendants of the Maya community of Copan civilization are the Ch’orti’ people. Mestizo is the largest ethnic group in the country.

Arrival Of Europeans In Honduras

Christopher Columbus became the first European to visit Honduras when he landed at Bay Islands during his fourth voyage to American continents in 1502. The Spanish introduced various customs that blended with the native culture over time, including the Spanish language. Honduras became an independent state in 1821. Honduras was part of the First Mexican Empire until 1823 when the Federal Republic of Central America was formed. Honduras has endured much political instability and is still ranked among the Western Hemisphere’s poorest states.

The Demographics Of Honduras

The population of Honduras increased fivefold in six decades from 1,487,000 in 1950 to 9,112,867 in 2016. Over 4.3% of the residents were over 65 years old, 58.9% were between 15 to 65 years, and 36.8% of the population was below 15 years old in 2010. Emigration in the country has been high since 1975 as political refugees, and economic migrants opted to search for a better life in other nations. A considerable percentage of the expatriate Hondurans reside in the United States. As of 2012, about one million Hondurans were living in the United States. Over 60% of the population was living below the poverty line by 2014, with only 10% belonging to the higher social class. About 30% of the Hondurans are split between the upper-middle and lower-middle classes.

Ethnicity And Race

The largest ethnic group in Honduras in 2017 was the Mestizo (90%) followed by the Amerindians (6%), Blacks (2%), and Whites (1%). The 1927 census didn’t provide any racial data, but by 1930, the country had introduced five clusters system (Mestizo, Yellow, Negro, Indian, and White) which they used in the 1935 and 1940 census. The term ‘’Mestizo’’ refers to an individual of combined Indigenous American and European descent. The term Mestizos was used to classify individuals who didn’t fit in all the categories (mixed white-Indians, Yellow, Negro, Indian or Whites). A considerable percentage of the native population died of numerous illnesses like measles and smallpox during colonization. Currently, the government of Honduras recognizes nine African American and indigenous groups. Some of the most prominent Amerindians groups in Honduras include the Sumo, Pech, Tolupan, Miskito, and Lenca among others. Some of the main ethnic groups in Honduras include the Afro-Hondurans and the Amerindians.


The Afro-Hondurans are the descendants of the Creole people and the Garifunas. The Garifunas are the descendants of the West African people, Arawaks, and the Caribs. Garifunas converse using an Arawakan language and they reside on the entire Caribbean shoreline of Honduras. The Garifunas are from St. Vincent and the Grenadines, while the Creole people are from other Caribbean states including Jamaica. The Creole people and the Garifunas came to Honduras during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries to do work in the construction and banana export industry. The British exported about 4,000 Black Caribs to Roatan Island, Honduras in 1797 after they rebelled against them in Saint Vincent Island. The Spanish captured one of the British vessels that was transporting the Garifunas and brought it to Trujillo, Honduras and released them. The Spanish also captured over 1,700 Garifunas in Roatan Island and took them to Trujillo to work on their farms. Most Afro-Hondurans are culturally Ladinos (Hispanic).


The term ‘’Amerindian’’ was coined by the U.S. Anthropology Association in 1902 to refer to the American Indians. In French, Amerindians are the people who lived on the American continents before European contact. Honduras was home to over 381,495 Amerindians in 2001. Some of the Amerindian communities counted during the 2001 census include the Lenca (279,507), Miskito (51,607), Ch’orti’ (34,453), Tolupan (9,617), Pech (3,848), and Sumo (2,463). The Lenca people can be found in Lempira, Intibuca, and La Paz, while the Miskitos live along the Nicaragua-Honduras border. The Ch’orti is a Mayan community that resides in the northwestern part of the country right on the Guatemala-Honduras border.

Other Ethnic Groups

Honduras is home to an important Palestinian community (Christian Arabs). The Arab-Hondurans are also referred to as the ‘’Turcos’’ since they came to the country using Turkish documents as Palestine was part of the Ottoman Empire. The Arab-Hondurans arrived in Honduras during the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries and established a community in San Pedro Sula. Honduras was home to about 389 Italians in 2014. There is also a small Chinese community in the country.

Languages Spoken In Honduras

The national language of Honduras is Spanish. Other than Spanish, there are numerous other native languages used in the country, including the Creole English of the Bay Islands and the Honduran sign language. The main native languages include Garifuna, which is spoken by over 100,000 Hondurians and Miskito which has about 29,000 speakers. Other indigenous languages include the Mayangna (less than 1,000 speakers), Paya (1,000 speakers), Tol (less than 500 speakers), and Ch’orti (less than 50 speakers). The Lenca language lost its fluent-indigenous speakers during the twentieth century, but its currently being revived by a member of the Lenca community. The leading immigrant languages spoken in Honduras are Yue Chinese, Turkish, Armenian, and Arabic.

Religious Composition Honduras

Even though a considerable percentage of the Hondurans are Roman Catholics, the number of Catholics has been decreasing while that of Protestants has been increasing in the last few years. The leading religion in Honduras, which accounted for over 51.4% of Hondurans in 2008, was Roman Catholicism, followed by Protestantism (36.2%). 11.1% of the Hondurans had no religious affiliations, while 1.3% belong to the other religions (Rastafarians, Jews, Buddhists, and Muslims). 8% of the residents are either agnostics or atheists.


More in Society