Departments of Honduras

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I have found sources for the populations of the departments in the censuses of 1881, 1895, and 2001, and more details of nineteenth-century changes.

Erratum: In "Administrative Divisions of Countries", page 165, the ISO code for Santa Bárbara was given incorrectly. The correct code is SB.

Country overview: 

Short nameHONDURAS
ISO codeHN
LanguageSpanish (es)
Time zone-6


Honduras has been an independent country during the entire 20th century.

Other names of country: 

  1. Danish: Honduras
  2. Dutch: Honduras, Republiek Honduras (formal)
  3. English: Republic of Honduras (formal)
  4. Finnish: Honduras
  5. French: Honduras, République f du Honduras m
  6. German: Honduras n
  7. Icelandic: Hondúras
  8. Italian: Honduras m
  9. Norwegian: Honduras, Republikken Honduras (formal)
  10. Portuguese: Honduras fp, República f das Honduras fp (formal)
  11. Russian: Республика Гондурас (formal)
  12. Spanish: Honduras, República f de Honduras f (formal)
  13. Swedish: Honduras
  14. Turkish: Honduras Cumhuriyeti (formal)

Origin of name: 

Spanish honduras: depths, after Cape Honduras

Primary subdivisions: 

Honduras is divided into eighteen departamentos (departments).

DepartmentHASC FIPSPopulationArea(km.²)Area(mi.²)Capital
AtlántidaHN.ATHO01344,0994,2511,641La Ceiba
CopánHN.CPHO05288,7663,2031,237Santa Rosa (de Copán)
CortésHN.CRHO061,202,5103,9541,527San Pedro Sula
El ParaísoHN.EPHO07350,0547,2182,787Yuscarán
Francisco MorazánHN.FMHO081,180,6767,9463,068Tegucigalpa
Gracias a DiosHN.GDHO0967,38416,6306,421Puerto Lempira
IntibucáHN.INHO10179,8623,0721,186La Esperanza
Islas de la BahíaHN.IBHO1138,073261101Roatán
La PazHN.LPHO12156,5602,331900La Paz
OcotepequeHN.OCHO14108,0291,680649Nueva Ocotepeque
Santa BárbaraHN.SBHO16342,0545,1151,975Santa Bárbara
18 departments6,535,344112,08843,278

Postal codes: 

The Universal Postal Union document says that Honduras uses postal codes of six characters: two letters, representing the department, followed by four digits. I have not observed these codes in actual use.

Further subdivisions:

See the Municipalities of Honduras page.

There is a special district called Distrito Central, which is included in Francisco Morazán in the table above. It has an area of 1,648 sq. km., and contains the cities of Tegucigalpa and Comayaguela. Distrito Central ranks as a department in some ways, but in others it is subordinate to Francisco Morazán. The standards don't list it as a separate department. Aside from that, the departments are further subdivided into 298 municipalities (282 in 1980, 291 in 1995). The municipalities are subdivided into aldeas (villages) in suburban areas and caseríos (hamlets) in rural areas.

Territorial extent: 

  1. Islas de la Bahía consists of islands in the Gulf of Honduras, of which the largest are Roatán, Guanaja, Utila, Barbareta; and, farther offshore, the Islas Santanilla.
  2. Valle includes Isla el Tigre, Isla Meanguera, and other islands in the Gulf of Fonseca.

The UN LOCODE page  for Honduras lists locations in the country, some of them with their latitudes and longitudes, some with their ISO 3166-2 codes for their subdivisions. This information can be put together to approximate the territorial extent of subdivisions.

Origins of names: 

  1. El Paraíso: = paradise
  2. Francisco Morazán: named for Francisco Morazán (1799-1842), Central American revolutionary
  3. Gracias a Dios: for Cape Gracias a Dios, = thanks to God
  4. Islas de la Bahía: = islands of the bay
  5. Lempira: for Lempira (1499?-1537), native leader in the resistance to the conquistadores; his name means "gentleman of the mountains".
  6. Tegucigalpa: Nahuatl for "silver mountain".
  7. Valle: = valley

Change history: 

  1. 1824: Tegucigalpa became alternate capital of Honduras (formerly Comayagua was the only capital).
  2. 1825-06-28: Honduras divided into seven departments. Choluteca corresponded roughly to modern Choluteca and Valle; Comayagua, to Comayagua and La Paz; Gracias, to Copán, Intibucá, Lempira, and Ocotepeque; Olancho, to Olancho; Santa Bárbara, to Cortés and Santa Bárbara; Tegucigalpa, to El Paraíso and Francisco Morazán; and Yoro, to Atlántida, Colón, Gracias a Dios, Islas de la Bahía, and Yoro. The capitals had the same names as their departments, except that Juticalpa was the capital of Olancho.
  3. 1869-05-28: Copán department split from Gracias. El Paraíso department split from Tegucigalpa, with the addition of Danlí and Teupasenti municipalities from Olancho department. La Paz department split from Comayagua.
  4. 1872-03-14: Islas de la Bahía department split from Yoro.
  5. 1880-10-30: Tegucigalpa became permanent capital of Honduras.
  6. 1881-12-19: Colón department split from Yoro.
  7. 1883-04-16: Intibucá department split from Gracias.
  8. 1893-07-04: Cortés department split from Santa Bárbara. It also acquired part of Yoro department, but that part was restored to Yoro on 1893-07-17.
  9. 1893-07-11: Valle department split from Choluteca. For a short period, the same area had previously been designated as La Victoria department.
  10. 1902-02-24: Atlántida department formed from parts of Colón (La Ceiba and El Porvenir municipalities) and Yoro (Tela municipality).
  11. 1906-02-17: Ocotepeque department split from Copán.
  12. 1909-08-17: Nueva Armenia municipality transferred from Colón department to Atlántida.
  13. 1934-06-07: Ocotepeque, the capital of Ocotepeque department, destroyed when the Márchala River flooded. A new city, Nueva Ocotepeque, was built five km. away. Its official date of foundation was 1935-09-17.
  14. 1943: Name of Gracias department changed to Lempira; name of Tegucigalpa department changed to Francisco Morazán.
  15. 1957-02-21: Gracias a Dios department formed from all of Mosquitia territory and part of Colón department.
  16. 1958: Official name of Nueva Ocotepeque, the department capital, changed to Ocotepeque; however, the longer name lingers on.
  17. ~1975: Capital of Gracias a Dios department moved from Brus Laguna to Puerto Lempira.

Other names of subdivisions: 

  1. Cortés: Cortez (obsolete)
  2. Lempira: Gracias (obsolete)
  3. Francisco Morazán: Tegucigalpa (obsolete)

Population history:

Atlántida  11,37220,90532,50643,86263,58292,914148,440238,742344,099
Cortés 13,66523,55930,31458,27387,269125,728200,099373,629662,7721,202,510
El Paraíso16,07531,24542,11840,85756,30067,74282,572106,823140,840254,295350,054
Francisco Morazán59,01558,98481,84486,119113,483158,918190,359284,428451,778828,2741,180,676
Gracias a Dios       10,90521,07934,97067,384
Intibucá 18,95727,28531,17339,00252,65059,36273,13881,685124,681179,862
Islas de la Bahía2,8343,9904,8935,5995,4807,0258,0588,96113,22722,06238,073
La Paz19,82920,61628,76430,60139,14048,51651,22060,60065,390105,927156,560
Ocotepeque  28,19029,78737,49446,02045,67352,54051,16174,276108,029
Santa Bárbara29,47426,01839,06443,02061,26080,36696,397146,909185,163278,868342,054
Valle 24,13330,47928,72340,25453,66665,34980,90790,954119,645151,841
  • Population of Mosquitia territory included in Colón until 1950.
  • Department: Gracias listed under Lempira, Tegucigalpa listed under Francisco Morazán (1881-1940).
  • Numbers are census years.
  • Sources: Instituto Nacional de Estadística  Website. 1895 data are from "Honduras: Estructura Territorial y Estadística
    según Censo 1895", William V. Davidson. Academia Hondureña de Geografía e Historia, Tegucigalpa, 2002.
    Davidson has analyzed the original census forms in the Honduran archives, and calculated the figures given above,
    which differ slightly from those shown on the official Website.


  1. [1] Library of Congress country study  (retrieved 1999).
  2. [2] Honduras en Cifras 1964. Dirección General de Estadística y Censos, Tegucigalpa, Dec. 1965.
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