All things considered, history has not been particularly kind to Honduras . The list of foreigners taking advantage of the country and its peoples begins at least as early as the incursion of Mesoamerican warriors shortly after the time of Christ, who would found the Mayan dynasty in Copán, and continues through the Spanish conquistadors down to the banana companies and maquila factories of today.
With its daunting mountainous topography, and lacking the fertile volcanic soils of its Central American neighbors, Honduras never spawned a “home-grown” agricultural society of any significant size during the Spanish colony and modern era. No elite class based on coffee or cattle like those in neighboring Guatemala, Nicaragua, and El Salvador developed in Honduras during the colonial era, and the wealth produced from the gold and silver mines was quickly shipped abroad. Instead, Honduras remained a land of milpa farmers, who cultivated small patches of land planted with beans, corn, and vegetables to satisfy the immediate needs of their families.
Lacking any wealthy class of its own or a strong central government to defend itself, Honduras was an easy target for U.S. mining and banana companies, who arrived at the beginning of the 20th century and in effect became the country’s first ruling class. These days, Honduras  finds itself struggling to get by, one of the poorest nations in the Americas and stuck in a seemingly endless cycle of debt and anemic economic growth.
Yet, despite this relentless cycle of underdevelopment and exploitation, Honduras somehow managed to maintain overall social peace for most of the 20th century, a remarkable feat considering the appallingly violent civil wars elsewhere in Central America. Some social disturbances did occur, most notably the Great Banana Strike of 1954 and, later, land-invasion movements by campesinos. But because Honduran authorities did not view their society through the prism of a rigid class divide, political and military leaders did not react with the blind opposition characteristic of their more repressive neighbors. Labor unions were legalized and their limited demands met; the military even undertook a modest agrarian reform program when in power in the 1970s, which helped defuse a potentially explosive situation in the countryside.
It may come as a surprise that Honduras has the longest existing two-party political system in the hemisphere outside of the United States and Uruguay. True, they were both set up originally by the banana companies and are now basically ideological empty vehicles for political ambition and patronage. But for all its defects, the Honduran system has proved remarkably flexible in accommodating the needs of its people.