The people of Honduras total approximately 7.5 million and are mix of various ethnic groups. Reigning supreme in terms of number are the mestizos, or ladinos, as they are also known. Of mixed American Indian and Spanish descent, they represent an estimated 85-90 percent of the total population. As a result of their strong numbers, mestizos dominate both the political and economic landscapes of Honduras. Complementing the mestizos are another eight major ethnic groups, the likes of which inhabit various regions around the country. Together, all of the country’s ethnic groups combine to create a human tapestry that is as interesting as it is diverse.
No discussion about the people of Honduras would be complete without covering some of the country’s more famous individuals from both past and present. A good place to start such a discussion is with Francisco Morazan (1792-1842). Born in Honduras, Morazan (pictured) served as the head of state of Honduras before serving as the first president of the Central America Federation. Among the things that bear his name is the Plaza Morazan in Tegucigalpa. Many of the other famous people of Honduras were either artists or writers. Examples of artists include two primitivist painters – Jose Antonio Velasquez (1906-1983) and Pablo Zelaya Sierra (1896-1933). Some of their works are on display at Tegucigalpa’s National Art Museum. Examples of Honduran writers include Juan Ramon Molina, Roberto Sosa, Ramon Amaya Amador, and Rafael Heliodoro Valle.
Steve Van Buren, Rafael Leonardo Callejas, and America Ferrera round out this list of famous Honduran people. Van Buren was born in La Ceiba and moved to New Orleans to live with relatives after he was orphaned as a young boy. He went on to play halfback for the Philadelphia Eagles and was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1965. Rafael Leonardo Callejas was born in Tegucigalpa and studied at Mississippi State University before eventually serving as the President of Honduras from 1990-1994. He is currently the president of the Honduras Federacion Nacional Autonoma de Futbol. As for America Ferrera, she is an actress and producer who is best known for her leading role as Betty Suarez on the television show Ugly Betty. She was not actually born in Honduras, though her parents were.
Lenca People & Garifuna People
Lenca People & Garifuna People
With an estimated population of 100,000, the Lenca people comprise the largest major ethnic group of Honduras. They reside in the southwestern part of the country, particularly in the mountains and valleys that are found near the city of Gracias. They also have a presence in eastern El Salvador. The Lenca are descendants of the Chibcha-speaking Indians, who migrated to Central America from the Colombia and Venezuela regions of South America. Among the things that the Lenca are best known for are their pottery and ceramics. The Garifuna people are the second-largest ethnic group in Honduras and number around 95,000. They are found along the entire North Coast of the country and in the Bay Islands. Descendants of Carib and Arawak Indians who mixed with escaped African slaves, they were forcibly transplanted by the British to the Cayman Islands and the Honduran island of Roatan in 1787. They eventually spread out onto other islands and the Honduran mainland. Among the things that the Garifuna people are known for are their music and dance.
The culture of Honduras is very much influenced by the country’s association with the rest of Latin America and by its multi-ethnic nature. Honduran food is certainly related to Latin American cuisine on the whole, and thanks to the fact that the country borders the sea, you can easily find fresh seafood, especially at coastal eateries. In relation to religion, Honduras is a predominantly Catholic country. This is a result of the colonial era, during which Spain was the overseeing power. Many of the major festivals in Honduras are tied to the country’s Catholic identity. Examples include Semana Santa (Holy Week) and the Feria de la Virgen de Suyapa. Comayagua is where you will encounter the most passionate Semana Santa celebrations, and the country’s capital city of Tegucigalpa plays host to the main Feria de la Virgen de Suyapa festivities. Also worth noting when it comes to the main festivals in Honduras is the La Ceiba Carnival. Held in May, this annual event is internationally renowned and attracts thousands of Hondurans and foreigners alike to the North Coast.
People on the Streets
People on the Streets
As is true of any other country, one of the main joys that comes with visiting Honduras is having the opportunity to view its people as they are in their natural environments. This is really the only way to get a true appreciation for the people of Honduras. Where you go will have a lot to do with the kind of people that you see. Visit the North Coast and the Bay Islands, for example, and you will see Garifuna people in strong number, while the southwest is a good place to encounter Lencas. In the extreme western part of Honduras near the Guatemala border, the Chorti have a strong presence, while the Tolupan are found in the west-central Yoro region. Other ethnic groups include the Pech, the Tawahka, and the Miskito, who are all found in the east. Should you have the opportunity to travel the whole of Honduras, you can see firsthand how these people differ in appearance and customs.
The photographic opportunities are wonderful in Honduras, especially when it comes to the people. Local festivals, celebrations, and performances are among the best times to photograph Hondurans. If you also hope to photograph people on a smaller scale, you can really capture moments of everyday life. It is important to note that it is always a good idea to ask for permission before you photograph small groups or individuals. You might also offer to give them a small tip. In general Spanish, a phrase that you can use to ask for such permission is "puedo tomar una fotografia de usted?" You can substitute the word "usted" for "ti" if it is a younger person that you wish to photograph.