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Land and Resources
climate of Honduras, Mosquitia, Mosquito Coast, Ulua, Miskito
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Honduras is one of the largest Central American republics, second only to Nicaragua. Its area of 112,492 sq km (43,433 sq mi) makes it slightly larger than the state of Tennessee. The country is bounded on the north and east by the Caribbean Sea, on the south by Nicaragua, on the southwest by the Pacific Ocean and El Salvador, and on the west by Guatemala.
Honduras is a primarily a highland plateau, consisting of broad, fertile plains broken by deep valleys, and traversed by mountain ranges in a northwestern to southwestern direction. The mountains, which are volcanic in origin, rise to their highest elevations of more than 2,800 m (9,200 ft) in west-central Honduras. Two lowlands line the coast, one extending about 640 km (about 400 mi) along the Caribbean Sea and the other extending 64 km (40 mi) on the Pacific Ocean. The Caribbean lowland, which extends into Nicaragua, is known as Mosquitia, or the Mosquito Coast. The name comes from the Miskito, indigenous people who once inhabited the region, and not from the insect.
Most of the country’s rivers drain to the Atlantic Ocean. Navigable Atlantic rivers include the Ulua, which drains approximately one-third of the country, and the Coco. The Coco forms part of the boundary between Honduras and Nicaragua. The Choluteca River flows to the Pacific Ocean.
Lake Yojoa, a beautifully situated mountain lake 900 meters (3,000 feet) above sea level, is the only large lake in Honduras. Caratasca Lagoon is the largest of the several lagoons along the Mosquito Coast.
Forests, covering 41.5 percent of the land, yield valuable hardwoods and softwoods. Fertile pasturelands provide the basis for increasingly productive dairy farming and livestock raising. Valuable mineral deposits, such as lead and zinc, are also present in Honduras.
The climate of Honduras is tropical but becomes milder at the higher elevations of the interior. The average annual temperature in the interior is 21°C (70°F). The low-lying coastal regions, however, are warmer, and the humidity is oppressive; the annual temperature here averages 27°C (80°F).
Rainfall is generally heaviest in eastern Honduras, where there is no dry season. The average annual rainfall ranges from 1,000 mm (40 in) in some mountain valleys to 2,500 mm (100 in) along the northern coast. A dry season lasting from November to May occurs in the south-central highlands and on the mountain slopes facing the Pacific.
Plants and Animals
Forests of oak and pine cover the cooler highlands. In the drier parts of the country, savanna grasses and low forest remains on what was once forested land. Mangrove and palms are found in the coastal regions.
Honduras has a wide variety of wildlife. The country’s mammals include bears, monkeys, wolves, anteaters, sloths, armadillos, and kinkajous. Members of the cat family found in Honduras include jaguar, puma, lynx, and ocelot. A wide variety of reptiles exists, and marine and bird life abound.
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