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Tegucigalpa Travel Guide

Health and Safety

Health isn't a concern in the capital; stick with bottled water and you should be fine.

Tegucigalpa is generally safe, provided you dress down, don't wear flashy jewelry or watches, and avoid handling money in public. It's a good idea to keep your money in your front pocket rather than a back one, where it is easier to steal. In markets and other crowded areas, hold purses or handbags close to the body; thieves use knives to slice the bottom of a bag and catch the contents as they fall out. Avoid walking anywhere at night. Taxis should be your only mode of transportation after dark.

A Bit of History

Few traces remain today in Tegucigalpa of the original indigenous Lenca people who inhabited this region in precolonial times. (The western part of the country provides a better opportunity to acquaint yourself with Lenca culture.) Once Spanish colonists arrived, Tegucigalpa became the city that silver built. Local legend holds that the precious metal was discovered here on September 29, 1578, the feast day of St. Michael the Archangel, the city's patron saint and for whom the cathedral is named. Historians doubt the account, but it makes a good story and was enough to christen the city La Villa Real de Minas de San Miguel de Tegucigalpa (the Royal City of the Mines of St. Michael of Tegucigalpa).

Economic growth continued unabated through the 19th century. In 1880, the government moved the capital here from Comayagua in central Honduras, wanting to be closer to the economic action. But by the turn of the last century, Honduras had become known for another product. Its lucrative banana trade—Honduras was the original "banana republic"—meant a shift of the economic center of gravity to the northern coast and lowlands. With the boom days over, the 20th century was a rollercoaster ride for Tegucigalpa. It doubled in size with its 1932 incorporation of next-door Comayagüela. That sector of the city suffered terribly during 1998's Hurricane Mitch, which hung over Honduras for five days letting loose floods and mudslides. While no longer Honduras's economic center—that title belongs to San Pedro Sula these days—Tegucigalpa is still the country's political center and remains relevant on a national level.

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