Christopher Columbus has embarked May 11 on a fourth voyage to the New World, this time with 150 men in 4 caravels that take 8 months to make the Atlantic crossing, forcing the crews to eat wormy biscuit (dried bread), sharkmeat, and ships' rats in order to survive. Columbus discovers St. Lucia, the island of Guanaja off Honduras, Honduras itself, Costa Rica, and the Isthmus of Panama. The People's Chronology is licensed from Henry Holt and Company, Inc. Copyright 1994 by James Trager. All rights reserved.

At one time an important center of Mayan culture, the region was colonized after 1524 by the Spanish, who established mines in the highlands. Honduras gained independence in 1821 and, after brief periods as part of the Mexican Empire and the CENTRAL AMERICAN CONFEDERATION, became a separate republic in 1838. Its history has been turbulent, marked by frequent coups (nearly one a year) and trouble with neighbors, most recently a four-day war with EL SALVADOR (1969) and border clashes with NICARAGUA (1981). Foreign influence and conservative government were the rule from the 1890s to the 1950s, when a labor code and other reforms were adopted. From 1963 to the early 1980s, rightist-to-moderate army elements dominated the nation's politics. A new constitution (1982) brought free elections, but the army remains the most important power in the country. Carlos Roberto Reina became president in 1994.
The Concise Columbia Encyclopedia is licensed from Columbia University Press. Copyright 1995 by Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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