Honduras Ethnic Groups

Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

Honduras is a major nation of Central America, but not always the most stable. In this lesson, we'll talk about ethnicity in Honduras, and see what this means in the nation today.


In the middle of Central America is the nation of Honduras. Honduras is, like many Central American nations, a place defined by tropical jungles, deep ancestral traditions, and unfortunately, a great amount of political instability. Honduras is one of the poorest countries in Latin America, and holds the unfortunate record for highest rate of homicide in the world. Throughout the early 2000s, a series of coups and rebellions against corrupt government officials encouraged waves of Honduran refugees to spread across the Americas. While things are still tense, the government today is working to reign in crime and corruption, and quality of life is improving. However, there is still lots of work to be done. So, what does this mean for the Honduran people? Well, as in many areas, it can mean different things for different segments of society.


The Ethnic Majority of Honduras

Honduras is a relatively homogenous nation in terms of ethnicity. About 90% of Hondurans identify as mestizo, which is a person of mixed European (de facto Spanish) and Amerindian ancestry. Honduras, like many Latin American nations, embraces this as sort of the national standard, defining the identity of a nation with mixed European and Amerindian heritage. This means a few things. For one, the concept of being part-Amerindian is very important to the people of Honduras, even if very few Amerindian traditions are maintained. Mestizo Hondurans speak Spanish, practice Roman Catholicism, and live according to European standards- but that idea of Amerindian ancestry is still there. Certain festivals, practices, and especially foods are elevated as the appropriate ways for mestizos to embrace this side of their ancestry while still acting mostly European.

Honduran cuisine is a perfect representation of the mixed heritage of the nation
Honduran cuisine

Due to the high number of mestizos, and the importance of mixed ethnicity to the nation, Honduras is actually not often defined by ethnic conflict. There is some tension, but for the most part all people of any degree of European and/or Amerindian ancestry are treated as members of the nation. This being said, there are inequalities within the system. Some people have more economic and political opportunities than others, and while this is not generally directly targeted against people of any ethnicity, it does tend to fall along ethnic divisions.

Ethnic Minorities in Honduras

So, who are these other ethnic groups that make up the nation? About 2% of Hondurans identify as black. These are mostly Afro-Caribbeans who live along the nation's coast. Some, such as the Garifuna community, have strongly intermixed with Amerindian groups of the Caribbean over time.

The biggest ethnic minority of the nation, however, are Amerindians. Amerindians make up about 7% of the total population. To be clear, these are people who identify solely with an Amerindian ancestry and do not embrace any sense of mixed heritage. These are also the only groups to still largely speak Amerindian languages, although most speak Spanish as well.

Many Amerindian communities in Honduras are heavily impacted by poverty

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