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The Profile and Tourist Attractions of Honduras

Honduras is a country located in Central America and bordering the North Pacific Ocean (the Gulf of Fonseca) and the Caribbean Sea. It is a great tourist attraction, “…a wonderland of Maya ruins, cloud forests full of toucans, monkeys and jaguars, tiny villages perched on hillsides” (Fiallos, 2006, 5). Though it can not offer visitors high-quality luxury hotel services, it is the place for all tastes, where tourists can enjoy diving, rafting, hiking, exploring the remains of ancient cities or getting pleasure from beautiful nature: gardens and forests with over 700 species of birds and 7,500 species of plants (Fiallos, 2006).

Total area of Honduras is 112,000 sq km, which is approximately as large as our State of Tennessee. The country has borders with Nicaragua to the southeast and with Guatemala and El Salvador to the west. Also, the country controls a number of islands in the Caribbean Sea, including the Bay Islands (Islas de la Bahia) and the Roatan Islands (Isla de Roatan), as well as some very small islands in the Gulf of Fonseca, including Isla Exposicion, Isla Zakate Grande and El Tigre. Honduras has 644 km of the Caribbean coastline and 153 km of the Pacific coastline (CIA, 2008).

About 80% of the country’s territory is covered with mountains, which elevate to the west of Honduras and have the highest peak at the Cerro de Las Minas (2,850 m). The majority of mountainous territories are covered with pine and broad-leaf forests. The north Caribbean coast is covered with plains and valleys, including a large underdeveloped area called La Mosquitia and heavily populated region San Pedro Sula. Pacific lowlands are quite narrow and swampy areas, which are used mostly for agriculture and seafood production.

The climate of Honduras varies from subtropical and tropical in lowlands to moderate in mountainous regions. Central and southern areas are hotter and less humid than northern regions. Seasonal temperature changes are not substantial and average temperature along the Caribbean coast is 80F in summer and 75F in winter. At that, this region can be characterized with a great amount of rainfalls. Central mountainous regions are colder, with average temperature 77F in summer and 72F in winter. The Pacific coast of Honduras has hot and relatively dry climatic conditions, with average temperature 78F.

Hurricanes and storms are quite frequent in Honduras: they occur along both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts. The population of Honduras totals 7,639,300 people and population density exceeds 65 per sq km. Overwhelming majority of the population (more than 90%) are people of Spanish origin (mestizo), 7% of the population is indigenous ethnic groups, 2% is people of African origin and 1% is people of European origin. Greater part of the population lives in the western regions of the country and San Pedro Sula valley, and the eastern parts are inhabited by indigenous groups Miskita and Pech.

Dominating religion is Catholicism (97%), the rest are Protestants and the adherents of local beliefs and traditions (CIA, 2008). The government type of Honduras is democratic constitutional republic ruled by the President, elected by national vote for a 4 year-term, and unicameral Parliament (Congresso Nacional). The President assumes the functions of the chief of the state and the head of the government, who appoints the Cabinet. Judicial system of Honduras is represented by the Supreme Court (Corte Suprema de Justicia), and the country’s legal system is based on Roman, British and Spanish legal traditions.

The country is divided for 18 departments (departamento). The official language of Honduras is Spanish. Honduras is a region where Maya and other pre-Columbus civilizations were developing. The first civil formations appeared there in the tenth century B. C. In 1502 Columbus stepped on those lands for the first time and gave a name of “Honduras” to the locality as “the country of deep waters”. Since 1524 the territories of modern Honduras were Spanish colonies, and under Spanish domination mining and industry were flourishing.

200 years later the lands were given to the British, who started developing trade and commerce. In 1821 Honduras obtained independence and was proclaimed a republic. During the nineteenth century, the development of the country was affected by constant tensions between ruling liberals and conservatives, as well as by territorial disputes with neighboring countries. In the middle of the twentieth century, two decades of military rule resulted in certain economic and social raise. The end of the century was marked by new territorial and military conflicts, which are now solved with the help of international intermediacy.

Honduras is among the poorest nations in the Western Hemisphere, with $24. 69 billion GDP and $3,300 GDP per capita. The country’s economy is heavily reliant on the exports of coffee and bananas (mainly to the U. S. ), which help to achieve 6% economic growth but make the economy dependent on the world’s commodity prices and weather conditions. Extremely high unemployment level (27. 8%) and huge inequality in income distribution (more than 50% of the country’s population live below poverty line) are two negative factors which seriously affect the country’s economic development (CIA, 2008).

Lately, great investments were made in reconstruction of the country’s infrastructure and reformation of service sector, where almost half of labor force is employed. Agriculture plays a key role in Honduran economy, contributing more than 13% GDP and involving 34% of the country’s workforce. Currently, the economy of Honduras is still recovering after a serious damage caused by the Hurricane Mitch, which took place in 1998. This natural disaster resulted in 5,000 human victims, 70% harvest loss, 75% damage of transportation infrastructure, and total damage estimated $ 3 million (Fiallos, 2006).

The main tourist attractions and destinations of Honduras include the following places. A great deal of people is interested in the world’s history and come to see the remains of ancient Maya cities in the Copan Ruins Archaeological Park (Copan Ruinas Sitio Arqueologico). Such monuments as the Great Plaza or the Acropolis allow every visitor to learn more about the development and culture of one of the most advanced ancient civilizations. Besides, many interesting architectural monuments and cathedrals are located in the country’s current capital city, Tegucigalpa, and its former capital city, Comayagua.

For true lovers of nature, there is a great opportunity to visit numerous natural parks, pine forests and cloud forests with beautiful landscapes, fresh breezy air and incredibly rich fauna and flora. El Cusuco National Cloud Forest Park, located next to San Pedro Sula, is recommended as the most developed tourist destination. This natural reserve is known for beautiful mountainous views, as well as for being a habitat for a variety of tropical birds. Another famous park is Reserva De la Biosfera De Rio Platano, a tropical rainforest with beautiful lagoons, savannas and grasslands, lovely beaches and rich wildlife.

Finally, all visitors of Honduras must enjoy beautiful Caribbean beaches and the Bay Islands provided with up-to-date facilities for active rest. Located among beautiful coral reefs, Roatan and Guanaja are perfect places for hiking, swimming, fishing and scuba-diving. Utila Island is known for its beautiful sunny beaches protected from the winds with cliffs and giant palm trees, as well as for Carambola botanic garden, where a great deal of exotic plants, including fruit and floral trees, ferns, bamboos, palms and many others, can be observed in their natural habitat (World Travel Guide).

Therefore, Honduras with its various tourist attractions, favorable climate and affordable prices, can satisfy the tastes of the most demanding visitors from around the world. The best time to come to Honduras is late spring or autumn, when the danger of storms and hurricanes decreases. One can get there by air or by sea. It is necessary to remember that, in order to have some quality time in this country and avoid disappointing surprises, it is preferable to buy a tour to Honduras only from trustable and experienced tour operators.

Works Cited:

Fiallos, Maria.Adventure Guide Honduras & the Bay Islands. Edison, NJ: Hunter Publishing, 2006. “Honduras. ” The World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency. 20 Mar. 2008. 17 Apr. 2008 <https://www. cia. gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ho. html>. “Honduras Tourism. ” Planet Ware. PlanetWare Inc. 17 Apr. 2008 <http://www. planetware. com/honduras-tourism-vacations-hon. htm>. “Honduras Travel Guide. ” World Travel Guide. Nexus Business Media Ltd. 17 Apr. 2008 <http://www. worldtravelguide. net/country/114/country_guide/Central-America/Honduras. html>.

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