Honduras, located in northern Central America, is mostly mountainous. Lowlands are situated along its Pacific and Caribbean coasts and the river valleys of the interior. Most of the population resides in the central highlands, an economically important agricultural region.
The Natural Landscape of Honduras
Honduras is the second-largest country in Central America, with an area of approximately 112,090 sq km (43,300 sq mi). Its area includes the Bay Islands in the Gulf of Honduras off its roughly 700 km (430 mi) Caribbean coastline.
Much of the land area of the country is mountainous. Lowlands are found primarily along the coasts or river valleys. The Gulf of Fonseca forms its 153 km (95 mi) Pacific coastline in the southwest.
Honduras is known for its remarkable biodiversity, owing to its diverse landscapes that range from tropical rainforests to cloud forests, coastal areas, and mountain ranges. The country's biodiversity encompasses a wide variety of flora and fauna.
According to the Honduran Ministry of Environment, MiAmbiente, Honduras has 7,524 registered species of vascular plants, 718 species of birds, 228 species of mammals, 211 species of reptiles and 111 amphibians, 2,500 species of insects, and 672 species of fish.
Honduras recognizes the importance of conserving its rich biodiversity and has established protected areas and national parks to safeguard its natural heritage. These areas include the Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve, Cusuco National Park, Pico Bonito National Park, and Nombre de Dios National Park.
Despite these conservation efforts, the country faces deforestation, habitat degradation, and illegal wildlife trade challenges. Conservation organizations and local communities are actively working to address these issues and promote sustainable land use and conservation practices.
Honduras has a tropical climate characterized by distinct wet and dry seasons. The wet season, from May to October, brings heavy rainfall and is associated with the hurricane season. From November to April, the dry season offers more favorable weather conditions for tourism and outdoor activities.
Temperature variations occur with elevation, and the country's diverse landscapes contribute to microclimates and varying rainfall patterns. In the coastal lowlands, annual temperatures average 26 - 29 °C (79 - 84 °F), while in the highlands, annual temperatures average 16 - 24 °C (61 - 75 °F).
The climate of the tropical coastal lowlands is generally hot with high humidity. However, the weather becomes more temperate as it is modified by elevation toward the interior. The country is also prone to natural disasters like hurricanes, tropical storms, and flooding.
Location map of the countries of Central America
Natural Geography of Honduras
More than 75% of the land area of Honduras is mountainous. Lowlands are located along the Pacific and Caribbean coasts as well as the river valleys of the interior.
Numerous upland valleys and small peaks dissect the highlands of the interior. Its primary surface features are oriented in a general east-to-west direction.
The Volcanic Highlands in the southwest contain the highest peaks, with Pico Congolón at 2,500 m (8,200 ft) and Cerro Las Minas at 2,850 m (9,350 ft), the highest point in the country.
Topographic map of Honduras
Honduras can be divided into four distinct geographic regions:
Eastern Caribbean lowlands
Northern coastal plains and mountains
Eastern Caribbean Lowlands
This region is located along the Caribbean coast of Honduras and is characterized by its swampy, tropical terrain. The eastern Caribbean lowlands are home to various wildlife, including jaguars, monkeys, and crocodiles.
The eastern Caribbean lowlands, along with their mountain slopes, occupy about 20% of the land area of Honduras. In addition, the northern part of the Mosquito (Miskito) Coast is located here.
Hot and humid, this region is densely forested in the interior highlands. Lumber is an important industry. However, the scattered population is mainly supported by subsistence agriculture and fishing.
Northern Coastal Plains and Mountains
This region is located in the northeastern corner of Honduras, characterized by its rolling hills and coastal plains. The northern coastal plains and mountains are home to critical natural resources, including timber and gold.
These alluvial coastal plains and mountains of the north make up only about an eighth of the land area of Honduras. However, they contain approximately a quarter of the total population.
This is an economically important agricultural region. The rich, loamy soils are vital in crop production, including rice, cassava, palm oil, maize, bananas, citrus fruits, and beans. Cattle-raising is also prevalent.
The coastal region supports important ports of import and export and railroad lines to and from the interior. Located on the northern Caribbean coast of the country, Puerto Cortes is the largest seaport in Central America.
This region is located in the western and central parts of Honduras and is characterized by its mountainous terrain. The central highlands are home to various ecosystems, including rainforests, cloud forests, and pine forests.
The Sierra Madre de Chiapas runs east and west, taking up two-thirds of the country's territory. The central highlands contain the vast majority of the population. Here, the mountains are rugged. Cerro Las Minas, the highest point in the country, is located in the western part of the region.
Flat valleys lie between 600 - 1,200 m (2,000 - 4,000 ft). The soils, derived from lava and volcanic ash, are generally fertile. Agricultural production includes coffee, tobacco, wheat, corn, sorghum, beans, fruits, and vegetables and supports raising livestock such as cattle, poultry, and hogs.
This region is located along the Pacific coast of Honduras and is characterized by its flat, fertile land. The Pacific lowlands are home to several important crops, including coffee, bananas, and sugarcane.
The Pacific lowlands, located adjacent to the Gulf of Fonseca and the lower mountain slopes, constitute only a small part of the country's land area and support an equally small part of the population.
The fertile soils of the lowlands support agriculture that produces sesame seed, cotton, corn, and sorghum. In addition, cattle are raised on the lowland pastures, and coffee is grown on the nearby uplands.
Map depicting the geographic regions of Honduras
Islands and Archipelagos
Honduras has a diverse coastal geography, including several notable islands and archipelagos in the Bay of Honduras and the Caribbean Sea. Honduras's islands and archipelagos offer unique landscapes, cultural experiences, and natural wonders for visitors to explore.
See more: Islands and Archipelagos of Honduras
Bodies of Water
Honduras boasts diverse bodies of water that significantly contribute to the country's natural beauty, biodiversity, and economy.
Honduras is bordered by the Caribbean Sea along its northern coastline, with several notable features. The Gulf of Honduras, a vast body of water shared by Honduras, Belize, Guatemala, and a portion of Mexico, acts as a vital transportation route for shipping and trade.
The country is also graced with picturesque bays and lagoons, such as Trujillo Bay and Laguna de Alvarado, offering serene coastal landscapes and supporting various marine life.
See more: Water Bodies of Honduras
Honduras is administratively divided into 18 departments and 298 municipalities. Each department is headed by a governor appointed by the President of Honduras.
See more: Cultural Landscape of Honduras
Hydrographic map of Honduras
The natural landscape of Honduras includes rainforests, cloud forests, and mangroves, as well as savannas and mountain ranges with pine and oak trees. In addition, its Caribbean coast in the north hosts a portion of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System.
The following is a list of terrestrial ecoregions in Guatemala, as defined by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
Guatemala is in the Neotropical realm. Ecoregions are classified by biome type - the major global plant communities determined by rainfall and climate.
Tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests
Tropical and subtropical dry broadleaf forests
Tropical and subtropical coniferous forests
Miskito pine forests
Gulf of Fonseca mangroves
Northern Honduras mangroves
Land use map of Honduras