Bentley, Jeffery W. 2001 “Honduras,” pp. 979-990. In Melvin Ember & Carol R. Ember (eds.) Countries and their Cultures. New York: Macmillan Reference USA. 4 Vols. 2549 pp.


This article was written for an encyclopedia published with the Human Relations Area Files at Yale University to describe the culture of each of the world’s countries for a general audience. Each article was organized in the following outline:



1.      Culture Name

2.      Alternative Names

3.      Orientation

4.      History and Ethnic Relations

5.      Urbanism, Architecture, and the Use of Space

6.      Food and Economy

7.      Social Stratification

8.      Political Life

9.      Social Welfare and Change Programs

10.  Nongovernmental Organizations and Other Organizations

11.  Gender Roles and Statuses

12.  Marriage, Family, and Kinship

13.  Socialization

14.  Etiquette

15.  Religion

16.  Medicine and Health Care

17.  Secular Celebrations

18.  The Arts and Humanities

19.  The State of the Physical and Social Science



Some excerpts from the article:


The name Honduras means “depths.” It was so named by Christopher Columbus on his fourth voyage because of the deep waters at the mouth of the Tinto or Negro River, off the Mosquito Coast.


Food. … Beans and corn tortillas are the mainstays of the diet. The beans are usually fried, and the tortillas are small, thick, and usually handmade; ideally, they are eaten warm. A farm worker’s lunch may be little more than a large stack of tortillas, a few spoonfuls of beans, and some salt. The ideal meal includes fried plantains, white cheese, rice, fried meat, a kind of thickened semisweet cream called mantequilla, a scrambled egg, a cabbage and tomato salad or a slice of avocado, and a cup of sweet coffee or a bottled soft drink. These meals are served in restaurants and homes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner year-round. Plantains and manioc are important foods in much of the country, especially the north and the Mosquitia. Diners often have a porch or a door open to the street. Dogs, cats, and chickens wander between the tables, and some people toss them bones and other scraps. ….


Division of labor…. Campesino children begin playing in the fields with their parents, and between the ages of about six and twelve, this play evolves into work. Children specialize in scaring birds from cornfields with slingshots, fetching water, and carrying a hot lunch from home to their fathers and brothers in the field. Some villagers have specialties in addition to farming, including shopkeeping, buying agricultural products, and shoeing horses.


Military. …The Cold War was difficult for Honduras. In the past thirty years, the military has gone through three phases. The military government of the 1970s was populist and promoted land reform and tried to control the banana companies. The  governments in the 1980s were nominally civilian but were dominated by the military. The civilian governments in the 1990s gradually began to win control of the country from the military. In the 1980s, the United States saw Honduras as a strategic ally in Central America and military aid exceeded two hundred million dollars a year. The army expanded rapidly, and army roadblocks became a part of daily life. Soldiers searched cars and busses on the highways. Some military bases were covers for Nicaraguan contras. In the mid-1990s, the military was concerned about budget cuts. By 2000, the military presence was much more subtle and less threatening.


For several reasons, the Honduran military was not as brutal as that of neighboring countries. Soldiers and officers tended to come from the common people, and had some sympathies for them. Officers were willing to take United States military aid, but less keen to slaughter their own people or start a war with Nicaragua.


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