Honduras is divided into 18 departments, each with different municipalities. One of these departments is Atlántida, a region that is located on the Caribbean Sea, bordering the department of Yoro to the south, Cortes to the West and Colon to the East. The department was created in 1902, in an effort to provide the conditions necessary to promote the development of the Banana Companies that had just established themselves here: The Vacaro Brothers Company,( Today the Standard Fruit Company, a division of Dole) and the Tela Railroad Company, which is part of the United Fruit Company, that produces the Chiquita Bananas.
The region is snuggled between the massive Nombre de Dios mountain range, which reaches above 8000 feet at its highest point, known as Pico Bonito, and the Caribbean Sea. Today, Atlantida is subdivided into a total of eight municipalities: Tela, Arizona, Esparta, La Masica, San Francisco, El Porvenir, La Ceiba and Jutiapa. The Capital of the department, and most important city in the region is the City of La Ceiba, a population center for over 250,000 souls that boasts an international airport, a Ferry Terminal for passengers traveling to the Bay Islands of Honduras and is interconnected with the rest of the country through highway CA13, that goes from West to East interconnecting the cities of San Pedro Sula in Cortes with the city of Trujillo in Colon.
Atlantida boasts a unique natural environment, with a total of 8 protected areas or National Parks located within its territory. These are: Jeannette Kawas National Park (also known as Punta Sal National Park); Punta Izopo National Park, Pico Bonito National Park and Nombre de Dios National Park. In addition, you can find the Texiguat Wildlife Refuge as well as the Cuero y Salado Wildlife Refuge in the area. Finally, the Lancetilla Botanical Gardens, considered the second largest and most important tropical botanical garden in the World is just outside Tela, and the magnificent, pristine Caribbean jewel, Hog Keys, known locally as Cayos Cochinos are located just a few miles off the coast of Atlantida, and although politically part of Roatan, its social and economic liaisons are with Atlantida, not with Roatan.
Atlantida has two big jewels that crown it, Tela and La Ceiba, both the heart of the original Banana Republic, both coastal cities with a huge potential to develop tourism, both home to several Garifuna Villages, whose magnificent and unique culture has been declared a World Cultural Heritage by the UNESCO.
Ironically, the Congress of Honduras that created this department back in 1902 gave it an extremely appropriate name, Atlantida, which translated to English is Atlantis, truly a magical lost paradise, with exotic cultures, magnificent tropical rainforests and bathed by the waters of the Caribbean Sea!