SPANISH CONQUEST AND SETTLEMENT
The Initial Explorations
European contacts with the indigenous population of
began with the final voyage of Christopher Columbus. In
Columbus sailed past the Islas de la Bahía (Bay Islands)
shortly thereafter reached the mainland of Central
at one of the islands, Columbus discovered and seized a
loaded with a wide variety of trade goods. Evidence seems
indicate that the canoe's occupants were Mayan traders and
their encounter with Columbus marked his first direct
the civilizations of Mexican and northern Central America.
the fact that the canoe had been observed coming from the
Columbus turned east and then south, sailing away from the
civilizations and doing little exploring on the Honduran
only direct legacy was the assigning of a few place names
Caribbean coast, notably Guanaja for one of the Islas de
Cabo Gracias a Dios for the eastern extremity of Honduras,
Honduras (depths in Spanish) for the overall region. The
name suggests the deep waters off the northern coast.
Little exploration took place for the next two decades.
navigators Juan Díaz de Solís and Vicente Yáñez Pinzón
touched on part of the Honduran coast in 1508 but devoted
their efforts to exploring farther north. Some expeditions
islands of Cuba and Hispaniola may have reached the
certainly began to decimate the population of the Islas de
in the second decade of the century, but otherwise the
Caribbean coast was a neglected area.
Interest in the mainland was dramatically revived as a
the expedition of Hernán Cortés to Mexico. While Cortés
completing his conquest of the Aztec, expeditions from
Panama, and the Caribbean began to move into Central
1523 part of an expedition headed by Gil González Dávila
the Golfo de Fonseca on the Pacific coast, naming it in
Bishop Rodríguez de Fonseca. The following year, four
Spanish land expeditions began the conquest of Honduras.
Data as of December 1993