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perjantai 27. maaliskuuta 2015

Angola, Cool Facts #24

23. Guinea-Bissau <=                                                                              => 25. Sao Tome and Principe 

1. Angola's name 

When the Portuguese came to Angola, there was a kingdom called Ndongo. The king of the Ndongo kingdom was Ngola. So the Portuguese named their colony according to the Ndongo Kingdom as Reino de Angola which means the Kingdom of Angola in Portuguese. The Kingdom of Ndongo was situated in the highlands, between two rivers, Kwanza and Lukala.

2. Huge amount of landmines

Between 1975-2002 during the civil war the once fertile countryside got destroyed and left with landmines. Angola is among the top3 countries that have the most landmines on its land. It's estimated that Angola has 10-15 million landmines. More than 70,000 people have been amputated. That's more injured people due to landmines than in anywhere else. The landmines also restrict people from farming and moving to other places because there are so many landmines in the soil.

3. One of the richest sub-Saharan countries

Angola has huge deposits of oil and diamonds. Angola is the biggest crude oil exporter for China and the 7th biggest for USA. Angola has also a lot of gold, coal, iron ore, uranium and copper. The economy has grown rapidly after the end of the civil war in 2002 but the wealth is concentrated to a small minority as the majority lives in poverty in this country which is abundant of natural resources and opportunities to create a wealthy nation.

4. Fight for freedom, 1961-1974

Angola had been part of Portugal since the 1600s. Different liberation movements started to be born after the 1950s.

MPLA: result of the unification of PCA and PLUA, wanted to liberate Angola
UPA: Congolese-Angolan movement to return the Kingdom of Congo
FNLA: evolved from the UPA, wanted to liberate Angola
UNITA: resigned from FNLA, it wanted independence but it resisted the marxist movements backed by USSR and Cuba

The independence war started in 1961 when the cottonworkers went into a strike. The Portuguese army started bombing and killing people. 1962 MPLA became more clearly marxist and got the support of Cuba and USSR. 1966 became stronger and did their first guerrilla attacks. After the Portuguese Revolution in 1974 Portugal abandoned Angola.

The MPLA got in power and after the independence the long lasting civil war started nearly immediately.

5. Civil War 1974-2002, Battlefield for the Cold War

The natural resources were a big reason for the civil war. The MPLA was the party in power when Angola became independent. MPLA was supported by Cuba and USSR and their opponents, the other liberation movement FNLA was backed by USA and South Africa. This Civil War became a part of the Cold War where capitalist countries tried to defeat the communist countries by supporting the opposite sides. UNITA is also a liberation movement which was on FNLA:s side. Important dates of the Civil War:

1974 The Portuguese Revolution, all Portuguese colonies become independent
1975 MPLA holds the power, backed by USSR and Cuba
1988 Cuban and South African troops pulled out of Angola
1992 USSR gets dismantled and stops arms exports with USA to Angola
1992 Short time of peace, the battles burst again during the elections even before having any results
2002 Peace after UNITA:s Jonas Savimbi dies in a battle

Angola is famous for

Capoeira - it's said that the Angolan slaves in Brazil brought capoeira to Brazil

Calandula Falls


2000 years ago Bantu people wander from the Congo basin high lands to Angola which is populated by the Khoisan people
1490s The Portuguese sail to the area which belonged to the Kingdom of Kongo
1641-1648 The Dutch occupy Angola during the Portuguese Restoration War
1671 The Kingdom of Ndongo is finally defeated
1800s Slavery is abolished after 300 years
1900s Portugal had gained control over the whole country
1940s WWII 500,000 white europeans to Angola
1961 Armed fight for freedom led by the left-wing MPLA
1974 Portuguese Revolution, abandons all its colonies
1975 Angola declares independence, civil war begins
1991 Peace agreement but after the elections the civil war breaks out again
1994 New peace agreement
1998 Fights start again
2002 Civil war end when UNITA:s Jonas Savimbi dies in a battle 

Maailman liput maat ja historia - Kimmo Kiljunen

torstai 19. maaliskuuta 2015

Guinea-Bissau, Cool Facts #23

22. East-Timor <=                                                                                                              => 24. Angola 

1. Slave Coast 

Guinea-Bissau was part of the Portuguese African colony. Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau were controlled as one unit under the name of Portuguese Guinea. It was called also Slave Coast because it was a center of slave trade. Slaves were shipped from Guinea-Bissau to Cape Verde and from there to the American continent. Guinea-Bissau was the center of slave trade for 400 years. 

2. Unstable political situation 

Since the independence of Guinea-Bissau (1974) no president has successfully served a full five year term. That's a pretty amazing fact and shows how hard it is to be the president there. The living conditions deteriorated after getting independence from Portugal and the  poor situation of the country has created optimal conditions for coups and unrests. 

3. Poor literacy rate 

The literacy rate in Guinea-Bissau is 55,3% which is one of the worst in the world. It's in the top20 worst countries in this statistic. The literacy rate was catastrophically bad in the beginning of their independence when it was just 5%, so some improvement has happened. 

4. Drugs and Guinea-Bissau 

Guinea-Bissau is becoming a narco-state. Since 2005 drug cartels from Latin America started to use Guinea-Bissau and some other West African nations, as a transshipment point to Europe for cocaine. Little has been done to stop drug trafficking by the military and the government. 

Drug trafficking routes

5. Business in Guinea-Bissau 

Guinea-Bissau is a great place to do business if you like uncertainty and waiting. On average it takes 233 days (about 33 weeks) to register a new business in Guinea-Bissau. According to The Economist this is longer than in any other country of the world except Suriname ! Besides that the GDP per capita is one of the lowest in the world in this country which is highly dependent on agriculture. Fish, cashew nuts and ground nuts are its biggest export products. 


1446 The Portuguese sail to the country which was part of the Mali Empire
1956 Freedom party PAIGC of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde
1963 PAIGC starts the fight for freedom
1974 War ends after 11 years in the Portuguese Revolution
1980 Coup, the relationship with Cape Verde ends
1991 Single party system is abandoned
1994 PAIGC wins the elections
1998 Civil war
2009 President Vieira murdered

Maailman liput maat ja historia - Kimmo Kiljunen

sunnuntai 15. maaliskuuta 2015

Mexico, Cool Facts #20

19. Spain <=                                                                                                     => 21. Equatorial Guinea 

1. Conquistadors destroying the Aztec Empire

The most classical conquistador story ever ! The year was 1519 and the Spanish conquistadors arrived at Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec Empire. The leader of the Aztecs, Montezuma, thought that the conquistador leader Hernan Cortes was the mythical god Quetzalcoatl, whose return to the Aztecs was profecized already in their mythology. It wasn't quite what the Aztecs expected, after 1521 the Spanish started killing them and forcing them into labour. Many Aztecs died into diseases that they didn't have any immunity against. 


2. Mexico and Spain 

The Spanish conquistadors established their capital on the ruins of Tenochtitlan. The city was named Mexico according to the Mexica-tribe. Their whole colony was called New Spain. After 300 years of Spanish rule, Mexico got independence in 1821. It was decided that the new independent country would use the name of its capital, thus it was named Mexico.

3. Giant Mexico 

Mexico extended from Oregon to Panama when it got independence from Spain in 1821. Mexico was a huge state for a while. After two years it lost a big chunk of land when Central America became independent in 1823. Then Mexico lost the current areas of California, Arizona, Texas, Utah and Nevada to USA in the war between 1846-48. That was a huge loss for Mexico. In addition Yucatan, the area in southern Mexico was independent in few occasions, first in 1821 and then in 1841-1848.

Mexico in 1821

4. Mexico's Austrian Emperor

Attention: If you think it's Arnold Schwarzennegger who went back in time as the Terminator and ruled Mexico I have to say it's not correct, I'm telling you the real story now.

The Reform War began in 1858 and it ended to the victory of the liberals in 1861. Benito Juarez Garcia was the new president with a Zapotec heritage. He interrupted paying foreign loans and as a result the troops of France, Spain and England attacked and occupied the capital. The conservatives who lost the civil war declare Mexico as a monarchy.  Second Mexican Empire was established and surprisingly the Archduke Ferdinand Maximillian of Austria was crowned as, Maximiliano I, the Emperor of Mexico in 1864. His supporters the Roman Catholic clergy and the conservatives switched sides and joined the liberals. Maximiliano I surrendered in 1867 and he was executed.

5. Huge Economic Power 

Mexico is among the top 5 biggest producers of silver in the world and it's a huge oil producer. The discovery of oil deposits in the 70s made Mexico a big oil exporter. With its huge 120 million population Mexico is the biggest economy in latin america after Brazil and Goldman Sachs estimated that it will be the 5th biggest economy by 2050. 80% of Mexico's exports are headed to USA.

Gulf of Mexico oil spill

Mexico is famous for

Frida Kahlo - artist 
Burritos and tacos
Chichen Itza and other pyramids
Mariachi music
Sombrero hats


9000 B.C Permanent agriculture 
1200 B.C The Olmecs create a thriving society
250-900 Mayas
1300 The last Indian empire Aztecs
1519 Hernan Cortes kills Aztec leader Montezuma in Tenochtitlan
1535 The Viceroyalty of New Spain is established in Mexico
1540 Silver mines are opened
1810 Uprising by the native people led by the priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla
1821 Mexico declares independence Agustin de Iturbide as the leader
1822 Iturbide crowns himself an emperor
1823 Iturbide is overthrown and killed, Mexico becomes a republic
1829 Slavery abolished
1846-48 Loses California, Arizona, Texas, Utah and Nevada to USA
1858-61 Civil War
1876 General Porfirio Diaz's 34-year dictatorship begins
1910-17 Revolution against Diaz led by Emiliano Zapata
1934-40 Land reform and nationalization of US oil companies

Maailman liput maat ja historia - Kimmo Kiljunen

keskiviikko 11. maaliskuuta 2015

East-Timor, Cool Facts #22

1. Symbolism in the flag 

The current flag is the same as in 1975 when East Timor was independent for 9 days. It was taken as the national symbol when East Timor finally got independence permanently in 2002.

Yellow: Wealth
Black: The forces of darkness that must be overcome
Red: The fight for freedom
White: Peace

2. Dominican Brothers from Portugal 

Little is known about East Timor before 1500s, but the first Europeans there were Portuguese dominican brothers who arrived there in 1512. The Portuguese established a Christian mission on the island in 1556. These actions have affected the country over centuries, Portuguese is spoken by one third of the population and Christianity is the majority religion with nearly 99% of the population practicing it. 

3. American backed genocide in East Timor 1975-1999

It started after the Portuguese Revolution when Portugal abandoned its all colonies in 1974, including East Timor. That started the civil war which ended in 1975 when FRETILIN party declared East Timor independent. That lasted for nearly 10 days before Indonesia occupied East Timor. USA supported and armed Indonesia because there was a threat that East Timor would become a communist state. In 1976 Indonesia declared East Timor its 27th province. During the occupation more than 200,000 people were killed out of the population of 600,000 people in the massacres carried out by Indonesian troops. The governments of USA and UK accepted this and helped in many ways in the genocide. In the referendum of 1999 78% voted for the independence, this started massacres by the opposition and the UN had to calm down things. Finally in 2002 under the protection of UN, East Timor became independent.

4. Most Oil-Dependent Country of the World

The most oil-dependent country of the world, that's what the IMF has said about East Timor. The Petroleum Fund pays nearly the whole annual budget of the government. All the oil and gas reserves are offshore reserves.

The second biggest export product is coffee, which generates about 10 million $ a year. Actually Starbucks purchases a lot of coffee from East Timor. Coffee and sandalwood were also the reasons why the Portuguese and Dutch wanted to stay in East Timor. They destroyed forests to export sandalwood and to establish coffee plantations.

During the Indonesian occupation East Timor wasn't developed and it can be still seen in the lack of infrastructure, incomplete regulatory system and in the human capital shortages. The population isn't educated enough to have a strong private sector. The fact that the agricultural sector employs 80% of the population sums it up that East Timor needs to develop its society and industries with their oil profits.

5. Timor Lorosa'e

East Timor has two official languages, Portuguese and Tetum. Here is the name of the country in these two languages and their meanings:

Timór Lorosa'e (Tetum): Lorosa'e means literally "rising sun" but in this case "east"
Timor Leste (Portuguese): Leste is east in Portuguese

Timor is a word that derives from "timur" which is "east" in Indonesian and Malay.

Tetum and Portuguese were important unifying elements during the Indonesian rule when Portuguese was banned and only Indonesian was allowed to be spoken in the government, schools and business.

Endangered languages:                     Most common mother tongues:

Adabe                                                   Tetum Prasa (36,6%)
Habu                                                     Mambai (12,5%)
Kairui-Midiki                                       Makasai (9,7%)
Maku'a                                                  Tetum Terik (6,0%)
Naueti                                                   Baikenu (5,9%)


1512 Portuguese dominican brothers (monks) arrived at the island
1656 The Dutch arrive at the island
1702 Official Portuguese colony status, name Portuguese Timor
1749 After a battle, the island is split into Dutch and Portuguese parts, in 1859 the border is formally determined between Portugal and the Netherlands.
1800s Timorese people are forced into labour in the plantations
1895-1912 Revolts end in an uprising which is suppressed violently by Portugal
II World War, The Netherlands occupy East-Timor then Japan and also Australia, after the war Portuguese power is reinstated
1974 Portugal waives its all colonies including East-Timor. Civil War begins
1975 Fretilin party wins the civil war and declares the country independent
1975 After 9 days of independence Indonesia occupies East-Timor
1999 Referendum about the independence, the result is followed by violence
2002 Independence under the protection of UN, Xanana Gusmao as the first president

Maailman liput maat ja historia - Kimmo Kiljunen

maanantai 9. maaliskuuta 2015

Equatorial Guinea, Cool Facts #21

20. Mexico <=                                                                                                             => 22. East-Timor 

1. Only Spanish speaking African country 

Equatorial Guinea is the only African country where Spanish is the official language, the other two official languages are French and Portuguese. Nearly 70% of the population can speak Spanish in Equatorial Guinea. In addition to these 3 official languages there are 5 recognized regional languages. Equatorial Guinea was first Portuguese territory until 1778 when Spain exchanged it with Portugal giving them some areas in Brazil. Equatorial Guinea got independence from Spain in 1968.

2. Crazy Dictator Francisco Nguema

When Equatorial Guinea became independent Spain handed the power to the Fang politician Francisco Macias Nguema. This dictator was the president of Equatorial Guinea between 1968-1979. 

Here's a list of the things he did or what happened in the country during his regime

1. Abolished political parties
2. Banned the word "intellectual"
3. Banned fishing and destroyed ships (tried to stop people fleeing the country)
4. Banned Western medicines, they were un-African according to him
5. Caused a brain-drain, killed 2/3 of the legislature and even his own family members

6. Ordered entire families and villages to be executed
7. Titled himself the "Unique Miracle" and "Grand Master of Education, Science and Culture"
8. Changed the country's national motto (1978): "There is no other God than Marcias Nguema" 
9. Soldiers in Santa Claus costumes murdered Nguema's opponents at the football stadium in Malabo
10. All Hispanic names were Africanized 

3. God of Equatorial Guinea 

Teodoro Mbasogo is still (2015) the president of Equatorial Guinea, he got the power after a coup and executing the former president, his uncle Francisco Nguema. 

Teodoro Mbasogo was nominated the "God of Equatorial Guinea" in 2003 and in the official announcement he was said to be given: 

"The right to kill without giving anyone an account and without going to hell."

The nephew of the first president is nearly as crazy as his uncle. The country is very corrupt and unequal. 

4. Richest African country 

Equatorial Guinea is the richest country of Africa if you measure the GDP per capita. These are the statistics:

Population: 760,000
GDP per capita: 20,500 (World Bank 2013)

The wealth is distributed very unevenly, 5% of the population has 80% of the wealth. The majority lives in poverty while president Mbasogo gathers the whole wealth for himself and his inner circle.

Equatorial Guinea became rich after vast oil and gas deposits were found after 1996. This is the reason why its GDP per capita is even higher than in Argentina, Russia, Uruguay, Brazil or Mexico which is quite surprising.

5. Symbolism in the Flag

Green: represents the lush nature and the jungle
White: represents peace
Red: the fight for freedom
Blue triangle: the sea that separates the different parts of the country
Tree: silk cotton tree, aka "God tree". The first treaty between Spain and the local African ruler was signed underneath this tree
Stars: the six stars represent the 5 islands and the mainland
Banner: Unidad, Paz, Justicia means Unity, Peace and Justice in English

Lake Biao


2000 years ago the Fang people moved to the area populated by Pygmies
1200s Bubi people move to the uninhabited island of Bioko
1471 Portuguese Fernando Pó arrive at the coast of Mbini islands
1778 Portugal exchanges Equatorial Guinea into areas in Brazil with Spain
1800s The British conquer Bioko island
1850s Spain re-establishes their power in Bioko and connects it with Mbini into a colony called Spanish Guinea
1959 The freedom movement MONALIGE starts fighting for freedom
1964 The country gets autonomy
1968 Independence
1979 Coup by Teodoro Mbasogo who executed the president, his uncle Macias Nguema
1990s The country shifted nominally into multiparty democracy
2003 Teodoro Mbasogo is declared the God of Equatorial Guinea

Maailman liput maat ja historia - Kimmo Kiljunen 

keskiviikko 4. maaliskuuta 2015

Spain, Cool Facts #19

1. Languages spoken in Spain

Spanish - When you speak of Spanish language it's the same as Castilian. It's the world's 4th most spoken language, it has more than 400 million native speakers. 

Catalan - 4,1 million native speakers. Romance language. 

Galician - 2,3 million native speakers. Romance language. 

Basque - 720,000 native speakers. The oldest language of Europe, it's not related to any language family. That means it's an isolate language.  

Occitan 100,000-800,000 native speakers Romance language.

Asturian - 100,000 native speakers. Romance language.

Aragonese - 54,000 native speakers. Romance language. 

Leonese - 20,000-50,000 native speakers. Romance language. 

2. Spanish symbols

A lot of history can be seen in the coat-of-arms of Spain. There are the symbols of the different regions:

Castile: up left
Leon: up right
Aragonia: down left
Navarra: down right
Granada: the pomegranate between Aragonia and Navarra

The columns of Hercules are on the sides. That's because in the ancient world the area between Gibraltar and Ceuta was considered the end of the world.

The banner around the columns says: "Plus Ultra" more in the outside. Before Columbus it said "Ne Plus Ultra" nothing outside. That shows how the world view has changed.

3. First World Power 

The current state of Spain was born in 1469. The prince of Aragonia, Ferdinand, married Isabella from Castile, which meant the unification of these two kingdoms. España was first time used to designate these two kingdoms as a whole. The root of the word is in "Hispania", which was Spain's name when it was a Roman province. This unification was the beginning of the Spanish Empire which extended its power all over the world after many conquests. It was Queen Isabella in fact who funded the voyage for Columbus, and the rest is history. 

Ferdinand and Isabella wedding portrait

4. Islamic rule in Iberia (800 years)

It was the year 1492 when two important events happened. Columbus started his first voyage to Latin America which was eventually the key why Spain became the world's first superpower. The other occurrence that year was the final collapse of the Muslim presence, when they lost the fort of Granada. Muslims had been nearly 800-years in the Iberian Peninsula from the year 711 and now it ended finally in 1492. Already after the battle of Tolosa in 1212 the muslims started to lose their power to the christian kingdoms who tried to expel them out of the Iberian Peninsula. 


5. The fall of the colonial power 

In 1825 Spain had lost all of its Latin American colonies except Cuba and Puerto Rico. It all started when Napoleon attacked Spain in 1807 and Spain got weakened in the war. Meanwhile the Latin American colonies started movements for independence when they saw the chance to strike against Spain. 
In 1898 after the Spanish-American War Spain lost its remaining colonies Cuba and Puerto Rico in Latin America and the Philippines and Guam in Asia. The days of glory had passed for Spain permanently. 

Famous Spaniards

Salvador Dali - artist 
Penelope Cruz - actor
Pedro Almodovar - film director
Antoni Gaudi - architect
Miguel de Cervantes - writer of Don Quijote


5000bc Iberian tribes inhabit the peninsula
1000bc The Celts from Central Europe mix with the Iberians
100 Christianity arrives
400 Western Roman Empire collapses 
500 Western Visigoths establish a kingdom
711 Berbers and arabs spread Islam from Africa
1212 Tolosa fight, Christians take the Peninsula back from the muslims
1230 Leon ja Castile merge 
1469 Current Spain borns as a state
1492 The last Moorish kingdom collapses and the 800 year Moslem reign comes to an end in the Iberian Peninsula for good
1492 Columbus sails to Central and South America backed by the queen Isabella
1513 Navarra is attached to Spain
1581 The Netherlands splits off from the Holy Roman Empire
1640 Portugal splits off from the union after 60 years 
1807 Napoleon attacks to Spain
1825 All Latin American countries independent besides Cuba and Puerto Rico 
1898 Spain loses Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines to USA
1939-75 General Francisco Franco's dictatorship 
1977 First parliament elections in 40 years 
1982 Spain joins NATO
1986 Spain joins the predecessor of EU

Maailman liput maat ja historia - Kimmo Kiljunen

tiistai 3. maaliskuuta 2015

Guatemala, Cool Facts #18

17. Honduras <=                                                                                                                   => 19. Spain

1. Maya culture

Guatemala is in the heart of the area where the great Maya culture thrived. The time of prosperity was between the years 300-900 and after that it started to crumble. Guatemala has a large amount of native people, 41% of the population are descendants of different Mayan tribes. The Mayans left a lot of great pyramids around Central America. Most of the pyramids are in Guatemala and Southern Mexico.

2. The meaning of Guatemala

Guatemala means the place of many trees. The name came from the Nahuatl-language word Cuauhtemallan which literally means "the place of many trees". This is true as half of the area is covered with rainforest in Guatemala. 

3. Independent Central America

First Central America was declared independent in 1821 when Spain got weaker after fighting with Mexico. Then Mexico occupied Central America for 2 years. in 1823 Central America separated from Mexico and the five countries created a Federation. The countries were Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. The capital was first Guatemala City. The federation lasted until 1840.

4. Quetzal, National Bird of Guatemala

Quetzal is one very cool and mystical creature. When quetzals are caught and caged they have been noted to kill themselves after losing their freedom. This is why they are the symbol of freedom and liberty. The Aztecs and Mayans thought that quetzals were divine and they were associated to the snake god Quetzalcoatl. The symbols of quetzals are everywhere in Guatemala and even their currency is called Quetzal (GTQ).

5. USA and Guatemala

Since the beginning of its independence Guatemala has been unstable country under the control of military dictators who drive the interests of the wealthy landowners. USA has been more on the side of the unfair military regimes because they weren't socialistic and they were favorable for the American corporations like the United Fruit Company. The United Fruit Company owned the biggest banana plantations in the early 1900s and they supported Manuel Estada Cabera's long dictatorship (1898-1920). If a socialist got the power even with democratic elections with the aim of helping the poor they were usually overthrown with the help of CIA and just because they were socialists, a good example of this is Jacobo Arbenz. Many times the CIA even trained and armed the opposition. 

Guatemala is famous for: 

Luis von Ahn - Duolingo founder
Mayan pyramids 
Rainforest and nature


300-900 The Mayan pre-colonial empire thrives
1500 The Mayan empire erodes
1523 The Spaniards conquer the area 
1821 Central America was declared independent from Spain. Mexico conquered the area then.
1823 Central America gets rid of Mexico and declares independance
1838-40 The Federal Republic of Central America disintegrates in Civil War
1871 Coup, Justo Rufino Barrios takes the power and separates the church from the state
1944 Coup
1950 President Jacobo Arbenz Guzman tries to carry out land reform. CIA supported troops displace him and the military Junta of Armas takes the power.
1954-96 Civil War. 200,000 died, 50,000 disappeared and 1,5M fled abroad
1986 Civil governments couldn't bring peace
1996 Peace agreement

Maailman liput maat ja historia - Kimmo Kiljunen 

maanantai 2. maaliskuuta 2015

Honduras, Cool Facts #17

16. El Salvador <=                                                                                                     => 18. Guatemala 

1. Origins of the name 

Honduras got its name from the depths of the surrounding ocean. The name Honduras comes from the Spanish word "hondura" which means "depth". It's alleged that Columbus said "Gracias a Dios que hemos salido de esas honduras" which means "Thank God we have departed from those depths". In the beginning Honduras was the name of the eastern part and Higueras the western part of the province. Later the whole province was called Honduras.

2. Tegucigalpa 

Tegucigalpa is the capital of Honduras. It means "silver mountain" in an indian language called Nahuatl. The Honduran mountains contained gold and silver which attracted the conquistadors.

3. Foreign Banana Companies

Most of the fertile lands are owned by the multinational banana corporations. They built also harbors, tax-free areas and also the country's only railway connections in the early 1900s. The companies had even their own security forces to secure the order in the property they owned. The exploitation of the cheap Honduran labour has caused a lot of coups and strikes. In the early 1900s the three biggest banana companies at the area were United Fruit Company, Standard Fruit Company and Cuyamel Fruit Company. The term banana republic was first applied to Honduras because of the high influence of the banana companies on the whole society and politics of the country.

4. Violence

Honduras has the most civil murders in the world. The rate is 90 murders/100,000 people. It's quite much since the second country Venezuela has 54/100,000 and countries like Irak and Afghanistan have 8 and 6,5 murders per 100,000 people.
The Honduran city San Pedro Sula is the most violent city in the world and the murder rate is approximately 170/100,000 there. Luckily I survived the one day I stayed in San Pedro Sula going towards the island of Utila.

5. Stars in the Flag

Between the years 1823 and 1840 Honduras was a part of the Federal Republic of Central America. The five stars in the current flag is a wish that the Federation would be re-established some day. The five countries in the Federation were Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Well Los Altos and Mosquito Coast were separate provinces in the federation but later Los Altos merged into Guatemala and Mosquito Coast into Nicaragua and a small part to Honduras.

Honduras is famous for: 

Cheap diving license
Deep waters
Copan ruins


1502 Columbus lands to Honduras and claims it to Spain. Mines are set up and slaves brought from Angola.
1700s British migrants rule together with the Miskito indians the Mosquito Coast.
1821 Honduras declares independence but Mexico conquers it.
1823 After the Mexican occupation the Federal Republic of Central America is established together with El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Costa Rica.
1838-40 Civil War and the Federation breaks up.
1851 and 1894 failed attempts to return the Federation with El Salvador and Nicaragua.
1821-76 The regime changes 85 times.
1900s Banana companies set up plantations in the north and build harbors and still the only railway connections.
1954 Banana workers' general strike.
1955 Military coup.
1969 Football War against El Salvador for 4 days.
1982 The contras of Nicaragua attack the sandinists from Honduras.
2009 The last military coup.

Maailman liput maat ja historia - Kimmo Kiljunen