Honduras: Natural Landscape

Honduras: Natural Landscape

Thu, 10/27/2022 - 22:06
Posted in:

Honduras, located in northern Central America, is mostly mountainous. Lowlands are located 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 in northern Central America, bordering Nicaragua in the southeast, El Salvador and the Pacific Ocean in the southwest, Guatemala in the west, and the Caribbean Sea in the north.

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 Honduras 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 has rich flora and fauna, including various endemic species. However, many of these are threatened by habitat destruction.

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.


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.

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). Honduras is also prone to natural disasters like hurricanes, tropical storms, and flooding.

Map of Central America

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

Topographic map of Honduras

Geographic Regions

Honduras can be divided into four distinct geographic regions:

  • the eastern Caribbean lowlands

  • the northern coastal plains and mountains

  • the central highlands

  • the Pacific lowlands

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 important 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.

Central Highlands

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.

Pacific Lowlands

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.

Honduras regions map

Map depicting the geographic regions of Honduras

Islands and Archipelagos


  • Bay Islands: a group of small islands located in the Gulf of Honduras

  • Cayos Cochinos: consists of two small islands (Cayo Menor and Cayo Grande) and 13 smaller coral cays off the northern coast of Honduras

  • Swan Islands: a chain of three uninhabited islands located in the Caribbean Sea, approximately 153 km (95 mi) off the coast of Honduras


  • Bobel Cay: an island located about 500 km (310 mi) off the east coast of Honduras in the Caribbean Sea

  • Cayo Sur: a small uninhabited island less than 2 ha (5 acres) in size located in the Caribbean Sea

  • Cayo Gorda: a cay off the east coast of Honduras in the Caribbean Sea

  • Isla Zacate Grande: a volcanic island in the Gulf of Fonseca

  • Isla del Tigre: a volcanic island in the Gulf of Fonseca

  • Isla Conejo: an island in the Gulf of Fonseca, disputed with El Salvador

Bodies of Water

  • Gulf of Fonseca: a sheltered inlet of the Pacific Ocean that is bounded in the northwest by El Salvador, the northeast by Honduras, and the southeast by Nicaragua

  • Gulf of Honduras: a wide inlet of the Caribbean Sea, indenting the coasts of Honduras, Guatemala, and Belize

Notable Rivers

  • Ulúa River

  • Goascorán River

  • Lempa River

  • Coco River

  • Tepemechín River

  • Chamelecón River

  • Aguán River

  • Sico River

  • Paulaya River

  • Platano River

  • Sigre River

  • Patuca River

  • Sumpul River

  • Goascoran River

  • Nacaome River

  • Choluteca River

  • Cruta River

  • Nakunta River

  • Warunta River

  • Jalan River

  • Telica River

  • Talgua River

  • Tinto River

Notable Lakes

  • Lake Yojoa

  • Caratasca Lagoon

  • Ticamaya Lagoon

  • Chiligatoro Lagoon

  • Guaimoreto Lagoon

  • Warunta Lagoon

  • Madre Vieja Lagoon

  • Losa Micos Lagoon

Hydrographic map of Honduras

Hydrographic map of Honduras

Natural Regions

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.

Ecological Regions

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

  • Central American dry forests

Tropical and subtropical coniferous forests


  • Gulf of Fonseca mangroves

  • Northern Honduras mangroves

Land use map of Honduras

Land use map of Honduras

Administrative Divisions

Honduras is administratively divided into 18 departments and 298 municipalities. Each department is headed by a governor appointed by the President of Honduras.

Following is a list of departments with their capital cities in parentheses:

  1. Atlántida (La Ceiba)

  2. Choluteca (Choluteca)

  3. Colón (Trujillo)

  4. Comayagua (Comayagua)

  5. Copán (Santa Rosa de Copán)

  6. Cortés (San Pedro Sula)

  7. El Paraíso (Yuscarán)

  8. Francisco Morazán (Tegucigalpa)

  9. Gracias a Dios (Puerto Lempira)

  10. Intibucá (La Esperanza)

  11. Islas de la Bahía (Roatán)

  12. La Paz (La Paz)

  13. Lempira (Gracias)

  14. Ocotepeque (Nueva Ocotepeque)

  15. Olancho (Juticalpa)

  16. Santa Bárbara (Santa Bárbara)

  17. Valle (Nacaome)

  18. Yoro (Yoro)

Map of the administrative divisions of Honduras

Map depicting the administrative divisions of Honduras