Honduras, officially the Republic of Honduras (República de Honduras), is a country in Central America. In the past, it was sometimes referred to as "Spanish Honduras" to differentiate it from British Honduras, which later became modern-day Belize. The republic of Honduras is bordered to the west by Guatemala, to the southwest by El Salvador, to the southeast by Nicaragua, to the south by the Pacific Ocean at the Gulf of Fonseca, and to the north by the Gulf of Honduras, a large inlet of the Caribbean Sea.
Honduras was home to several important Mesoamerican cultures, most notably the Maya, before the Spanish invaded in the sixteenth century. The Spanish introduced Roman Catholicism and the now predominant Spanish language, along with numerous customs that have blended with the indigenous culture. Honduras became independent in 1821 and has since been a republic, although it has consistently endured much social strife and political instability, and remains one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere. In 1960, the northern part of what was the Mosquito Coast was transferred from Nicaragua to Honduras by the International Court of Justice.
The nation's economy is primarily agricultural, making it especially vulnerable to natural disasters such as Hurricane Mitch in 1998. The lower class is primarily agriculturally based while wealth is concentrated in the country's urban centers. Honduras has a Human Development Index of 0.625, classifying it as a nation with medium development. When the Index is adjusted for income inequality, its Inequality-adjusted Human Development Index is 0.443.
Honduran society is predominantly Mestizo; however, American Indian, black and white individuals also live in Honduras (2017). The nation had a relatively high political stability until its 2009 coup and again with the 2017 presidential election. Honduras has the world's highest murder rate and high levels of sexual violence.
Honduras spans about 112,492 km2 and has a population exceeding million. Its northern portions are part of the Western Caribbean Zone, as reflected in the area's demographics and culture. Honduras is known for its rich natural resources, including minerals, coffee, tropical fruit, and sugar cane, as well as for its growing textiles industry, which serves the international market.
The literal meaning of the term "Honduras" is "depths" in Spanish. The name could either refer to the bay of Trujillo as an anchorage, fondura in the Leonese dialect of Spanish, or to Columbus's alleged quote that "Gracias a Dios que hemos salido de esas Honduras" ("Thank God we have departed from those depths").
It was not until the end of the 16th century that Honduras was used for the whole province. Prior to 1580, Honduras referred to only the eastern part of the province, and Higueras referred to the western part. Another early name is Guaymuras, revived as the name for the political dialogue in 2009 that took place in Honduras as opposed to Costa Rica.
Hondurans are often referred to as Catracho or Catracha (fem) in Spanish. The word was coined by Nicaraguans and derives from the last name of the Spanish Honduran General Florencio Xatruch, who in 1857 led Honduran armed forces against an attempted invasion by North American adventurer William Walker. The nickname is considered complimentary, not derogatory.