Honduras, officially 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 indigenous cultures, most notably the Maya. Much of the country was conquered by Spain which introduced its now predominant language and many of its customs in the sixteenth century. It became independent in 1821 and has been a republic since the end of Spanish rule. Comayagua was the capital of Honduras until 1880, when it was transferred to Tegucigalpa.
The population exceeds eight million. Honduras is most notable for production of minerals, coffee, tropical fruit, sugar cane and recently for exporting clothing to the international market. Mestizos (European mixed with Amerindian) make up more than 90% of the population, with only 6% Amerindians and 1% Afro-Honduran people. According to the 2001 census the Amerindian population made up 6.3% of the total population). Six different Amerindian groups were counted at the 2001 census: Lenca, Miskito, Ch'orti', Tolupan, Pech or Paya Indians, Sumo or Tawahka. The Afro-Honduran population consists of Garifuna and Creoles.
The climate varies from tropical in the lowlands to temperate in the mountains. The central and southern regions are relatively hotter and less humid than the northern coast. The Honduran territory consists mainly of mountains, but there are narrow plains along the coasts, a large undeveloped lowland jungle - La Mosquitia - region in the northeast, and the heavily populated lowland Sula valley in the northwest. In La Mosquitia, lies the UNESCO world-heritage site Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve, with the Coco River which divides the country from Nicaragua.