This Central American country was named Honduras, which means ‘depths’, by Christopher Columbus because of the deep waters at the mouth of the Tinto Negro River off the Mosquito Coast. During the conquest of Honduras, Spanish culture and language was introduced to the country, both of which are now dominant. However Honduras contains a diverse range of ethnic groups including the Anglo-African-Caribbean ‘Bay Islanders’, the Garífuna people, Miskito, Pech and Jicaque and Lenca people, and the main ethnic group the Chortí. Honduras is currently one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere; its economy is based primarily in agriculture and was dominated during the 20th century by North American companies like the United Fruit Company, which settled banana plantations across much of the country.
Honduras is a country beset by social problems including corruption, with a huge wealth gap and widespread gang violence and drug trafficking. It also has one of the highest murder rates in the world. There have also been political upheavals in recent years, following decades of stability. In 2009 the military staged a coup and deposed the left leaning Manuel Zelaya, replacing him with Roberto Micheletti. This coup divided the country and was condemned by the American States Organization, who expelled Honduras temporarily. In 2009, elections were held and Porfirio Lobo Sosa, a member of the National Party, gained the presidency.
The novel Prisión Verde (Green Priso) by Ramón Amaya is perhaps the best known work of fiction. It describes the sufferings of workers on an early twentieth century banana plantation. José Antonio Velásquez is the most important Honduran painter; he was also a sculptor, photographer and politician. Honduras and its habitants was the main inspiration for its work. He is considered the first primitivist American painter and his works were celebrated internationally. The first Honduran film director was Sami Kafati, who directed the first Honduran experimental movie Mi Amigo Ángel in 1962. One of his best known movies is No hay Tierra Sin Dueño; a story of landowner who commandeers property and leaves a path of human suffering and death in his wake.