La Ceiba

Infobox City
official_name = La Ceiba
native_name =
nickname = "La novia de Honduras" (Honduras' girlfriend/bride)
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image_caption = La Ceiba City Hall in the downtown area in 2007


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subdivision_type = Country
subdivision_name = Honduras
subdivision_type1 = Departament
subdivision_name1 = Atlántida
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government_type =
leader_title = mayor
leader_name = Milton Simon
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UrbanArea_sq_km = 650
area_metro_km2 = 25
area_metro_sq_mi = 4.251
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population_total = 140 000 (2000 Census);
180 000 (2008 estimate)
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timezone = Honduras
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La Ceiba is a port city on the northern coast of Honduras in Central America. It is located on the southern edge of the Caribbean Sea forming part of the south eastern boundary of the Gulf of Honduras. With a population of over 170,000 living in approximately 170 residential areas (called colonias or barrios) [ [http://www.holaceibita.com/hola_ceibita_english/La_Ceiba/LaCeiba_info.htm La Ceiba, Honduran Capital of Eco Tourism] ] , it is the third largest city in the country and the capital of the Honduran department of Atlántida. La Ceiba was officially founded on August 23, 1877. The city is named for giant ceiba trees which grew near the old dock, which finally fell into the sea in late 2007. Its climate is tropical, with a latitude of 15° 46.0 and a longitude of 086° 50.0. The city has been officially proclaimed the "Eco-Tourism Capital of Honduras" as well as the "Entertainment Capital of Honduras". Every year, on the third or fourth Saturday of May, the city holds its famous carnival. During this time, the city is host to over 200,000 tourists.

History

In 1872, a man named Manuel Hernandez built a small shack under the Ceiba tree that was at one point by the old docks. Over time, more and more people from all over present-day Honduras (especially the departments of Olancho and Santa Barbara), and from around the world settled in La Ceiba. These people were attracted by the cultivation of bananas that became popular in the region. In the late 19th century, the banana business caught the attention of big North American banana companies such as the Vaccaro Brothers' Standard Fruit Company from New Orleans. This new economic activity created a draw which caused La Ceiba to become more populated by national and international immigrants. The current neighborhood known as Barrio Ingles was the first recongnized neighborhood in the city and was named so by the number of people from England living in that area. At that point the main thorougfare of La Ceiba was present-day Avenida La Republica, which is where the train tracks were set. These train tracks were built by the Standard Fruit Company(now Standard Fruit de Honduras), a Dole subsidiary. This company is laregly responsible for the early growth of the city.

La Ceiba was declared a municipality on August 23, 1877. At that time Marco Aurelio Soto was the mayor. La Ceiba was the center of banana and pineapple business and the regional economy depended laregly on it. This led to the birth of newer and larger national companies such as:
* Cerveceria Hondureña, the national brewing company and holder of the Coca-Cola licence in Honduras. Founded in 1918
* Fabrica de Manteca y Jabon Atlantida, known as La Blanquita, at one point, the largest producer of consumer goods in Honduras, now defunct.
* Banco Atlantida, oldest Bank in the country, founded in 1913

The first municipal building or city hall was located in the corner of 2da Calle and Avenida Atlantida, where the present day Ferreteria Kawas warehouse is. The building was made of wood and in 1903 it was burnt down due to vandalism from people wanting to get rid of private property ownership records in La Ceiba. The municipal building was again set on fire on March 7th, 1914. The Municipal Corporation moved the offices more south of the city where it was again set on fire in 1924. It was shortly built in its current location, a piece of land donated by Manuel Mejia.

Currently La Ceiba is the third largest city in Honduras, the second most important port town after Puerto Cortes in the department of Cortes. It has the lowest percentage of illiteracy among inhabitants in the country and one of the largest concentration of bilingual education schools.

Economy

La Ceiba's economy is made up of mostly commerce and agriculture. Pineapple is the city's major export. Its largest producer is the Standard Fruit Company, a subsidiary of the Dole Food Company, which operates all over northern Honduras and is based in La Ceiba. Tourism also plays a large role in the city's economy (see below). Since its development in the late 20th century, the La Ceiba Sea Port has played an ever encreasing role in the economy of the city. Currently, this port represents a vital economic artery to La Ceiba's growing tourist industry. Additionally, the La Ceiba sea port is home to one of the finest boatyards in the north west Caribbean (According to “Western Caribbean Cruising Guidebook”). Known as the La Ceiba Shipyard, this company offers a complete group of marine services for all types of sea going vessels.

Education in La Ceiba

La Ceiba is home to many public schools, among the largest is Escuela Francisco Morazan along Avenida San Isidro, which is considered the main street of the city. Instituto Manuel Bonilla is the largest public High School in the City with over 5,000 registered students.

There are also many private schools, including the Instituto Maria Regina, a catholic private high school. It is also home to numerous private bilingual education schools, which offer education in both Spanish and English. Most of these offer both a Honduran Bachillerato Diploma (equivalent of High School diploma) and a U.S. accredited High School diploma. These schools usually offer grades 1 - 11/12 with some offering pre-school education.Mazapan School being the best school in La Ceiba. Its accredited by SACS and offers a full American Education.

The first university in the city was the Centro Universitario Regional del Litoral Atlantico (often called CURLA), which is a public University run by the larger Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Honduras (UNAH). The first private university to open in the city was Univerisidad Tecnologica de Honduras(UTH), which opened in 1995. At the time the college only offered night classes, using the classrooms in a local private high school. In 2002 the college built their own campus. 2002 also marked the opening of the Universidad Catolica de Honduras, run by the catholic church. Additionally, development of a new campus in La Ceiba for the Universidad Tecnologica Centroamericana - UNITEC is currently under way as of 2008.

Tourism

La Ceiba has long been known as the tourism capital of Honduras, due to its proximity to the beach, active night life, and a variety of parks and recreational areas in and around the city. Another factor contributing to the city's tourism is that besides by airplane from other cities, the only other way to get to the Islas de la Bahia in the Caribbean is by boat or ferry from La Ceiba.

The area around La Ceiba has many parks and natural reserves. Its most recognized is the Pico Bonito (Beautiful Peak) National Park. This park's most recognized feature is its 2435 meter mountain peak of the same name, and the Nombre de Dios mountain range, of which Pico Bonito is a part, provides a back drop to the city. The Cangrejal River, popular for its Class III-IV river rafting, borders the eastern edge of the city and the Cuero and Salado Wildlife Refuge is located a few miles to the west.

Semana Santa (Holy Week) is one of the cities busiest tourist seasons. During this week tourists from all over the country flock to the city to enjoy its sun, beach, and very active night life during that week.

The busiest tourist season by far is the week leading up to the internationally renowned "Carnaval de la Amistad" which is a city-wide celebration in honor of the city's patron saint St. Isodore (San Isidro). During this week (the week leading up to the third Saturday in May), many neighborhoods will have their smaller celebrations in one or a couple of their streets. On Saturday afternoon is when the big parade with elaborate floats takes place along Avenida San Isidro, the city's main thoroughfare. After the parade the locals and tourists all have a celebration along that same road, where there are stands that sell food, beer, drinks, and even souvenirs.

Transportation in La Ceiba

Buses and taxis make up most of the public transportation in the city, with numerous buses serving almost every available route in the city. Taxi-cabs are numerous in the city, costing as little as L.20.00 (around $1.00 as of 2008) if the destination is within the city limits.

The pier to the east of the city offers transportation via ferry to 2 of the 3 major islands that make up Islas de la Bahia; Roatan and Utila. The Golosón International Airport to the west of town offers flights to the other major cities in the country as well as other towns in the Mosquitia Region of Honduras in the east. This airport is hub to Islena Airlines (a local air carrier which is part of the Grupo Taca).

Distinguished natives of La Ceiba

* José Azcona del Hoyo - former Honduras President (1986-1990, deceased).
* José Rosario Bonano - current Secretary of Public Works, Transportation and Housing.
* Dunia Elvir - journalist, works for Telemundo in Los Angeles, United States.
* Margie Dabdoud - former mayor of La Ceiba
* Gonzalo Rivera - former mayor of La Ceiba for two consecutive terms and current congressman.
* Rodolfo "Fito" Irias Navas - former President of Honduras National Congress and current Congressman.
* Marcelino Ponce - former Vice President (known as "Designado Presidencial") of Honduras (1982-1986).
* Guillermo Anderson - Well-known singer

References

External links

* [http://www.la-ceiba.info/ Website of the "Tourism Chamber La Ceiba"]
* [http://www.infohn.com/laceiba/centro_ceiba.swf Interactive Map La Ceiba, Atlantida]
* [http://www.holaceibita.com/hola_ceibita_english/La_Ceiba/LaCeiba_info.htm Hola Ceibita]
* [http://laceiba.honduras.com La Ceiba, Honduras, Maps and Local Information]
* [http://www.laprensahn.com/sucesos_nota.php?id04962=7333&t=1144216800 1920 Hotel Los Angeles burns down]
* [http://railtrips.euweb.cz/c_hon_foto15_en.html Railroad pics in La Ceiba]
* [http://www.lazonaviva.com La Zona Viva in La Ceiba]
* [http://conozcalaceiba.sotechn.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=37&Itemid=49 History of La Ceiba (used as reference for this article)]


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