The lands of Honduras were long inhabited by a mixture of indigenous Indian peoples, with the Maya culture certainly recognized as the most progressive, and justifiably celebrated yet today.
European invaders selfishly fought among themselves for control, and this new Spanish colony was in total disarray and all but abandoned; then gold and silver were discovered in the 1530s, new settlers arrived by the boat load, and typically, the indigenous Indians and imported slaves were forced into hard labor.
Despite a revolt of the native people in 1537, one led by Lempira, a local chieftain, and revered national hero, the spread of colonization and mining continued across the land. The initial prosperity from precious metals soon waned, and eventually the rural agricultural industries proved the only real revenues in this struggling colony.
Adding to the financial dismay of the Spanish Crown, the English aggressively entered Honduras, building small settlements along the Nicaragua formed the United Provinces of Central America, but that federation quickly dissolved, and Honduras became an independent republic in 1838.
In this new upstart country, chaos soon followed, and over the next 150 years the country suffered through countless coups, citizen rebellions and revolts, a long line of military regimes and rulers, incursions and regional wars.
Just as stressed-out Honduras appeared to stabilize, Hurricane Mitch ravished the country in 1998, leaving over 11,000 people dead and all but destroying major cities such as San Pedro Sula and even Tegucigalpa. Recovery costs have now exceeded 4 billion US dollars.
Volcanoes are long dormant in Honduras, but the political system still flares, and the next major eruption could be just around the corner.
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