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Honduras History

The Mayan civilization took control of the region in the fifth century AD and remained in control for the next 300 years after which several different ethnic groups moved into the area from Mexico and Colombia. The Europeans and Christopher Columbus landed on the Honduran coast in 1502. During the early 1520s, the region was subjected by a variety of conquistador expeditions, each of which laid claim to a part of it. Cortés, who arrived in 1525 via Mexico, imposed some order on the squabbling groups but after his departure, the local conflicts resumed as before. Only after the discovery of gold and silver deposits in the 1540s was some order imposed on the region; large numbers of slaves from Africa were then imported to work the mines. All the deposits dried up at the end of the 16th century and country remained in control of the Spanish, but it wasn’t as important to the Spanish anymore. In 1821, the Captaincy-General of Guatemala declared independence. Some efforts from Mexico were made to bring Honduras to heel but in 1823, the five provinces – now the modern states of Nicaragua, El Salvador, Panama, Costa Rica and Honduras – declared full independence as the United Provinces of Central America. Internal feuding led to the rapid dissolution of the United Provinces and in 1838; Honduras declared itself a sovereign state with a democratic system of government.

In the 20th century Honduras went on to become a strong American Ally in the region after the US used its bases to help fight the ‘Contra’ rebels fighting the Sandanista government in neighboring Nicaragua. After the war the new elected government tried to bring prosperity to the country, but Honduran foreign policy during much of the 1990s was heavily influenced by economic matters, in particular the conclusion of free trade and other economic agreements with El Salvador and Guatemala. Honduras is also involved in a number of complex disputes over territorial waters in the Caribbean Sea, involving Nicaragua and Colombia. To this day the country is still one of the poorest in the region.

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