In pre-Columbian times, modern Honduras was part of the Mesoamerican cultural area. In the west, the Maya civilization flourished for hundreds of years. The dominant state withinHonduras's borders was that based in Copán. Copán fell with the other Lowland centres during the conflagrations of the Terminal Classic, the early 9th century. The Maya of this civilization survivein western Honduras as the Ch'orti', isolated from their Choltian linguistic peers to the west.
Remains of other Pre-Columbian cultures are found throughout the country. Archaeologists have studiedsites such as Naco and La Sierra in the Naco Valley, Los Naranjos on Lake Yojoa, Yarumela in the Comayagua Valley, La Ceiba and Salitron Viejo (both now under the Cajon Dam reservoir), Selin Farm andCuyamel in the Aguan valley, Cerro Palenque, Travesia, Curruste, Ticamaya, Despoloncal in the lower Ulua river valley, and many others.
On his fourth and the final voyage to the NewWorld in 1502, Christopher Columbus became the first European to visit the Bay Islands on the coast of Honduras. Columbus landed near the modern town of Trujillo, in the vicinity of the GuaimoretoLagoon.
In 1524 the Spanish arrived on Honduras led by Hernan Cortes, bringing forces down from Mexico. Much of the conquest was done in the following two decades, first by groups loyal to Cristóbalde Olid, and then by those loyal of Francisco Montejo but most particularly by those following Alvarado. In addition to Spanish resources, the conquerors relied heavily armed forces fromMexico—Tlaxcalans and Mexica armies of thousands who lived on in the region as garrisons. Resistance to conquest was led in particularly by Lempira,and many regions in the north never fell to the Spanish, notably theMiskito Kingdom. After the Spanish conquest, Honduras became part of Spain's vast empire in the New World within the Kingdom of Guatemala. Trujillo and Gracias were the first city-capitals. The...