Bay Islands - Encyclopedia


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BAY ISLANDS (IsLAS DE LA Bahia), a small archipelago in the Caribbean Sea, off the coast of Honduras, of which country it forms an administrative district. Pop. (1905) about 3000, including 50o Indians. The archipelago consists of Roatan or Ruatan, Guanaja or Bonacca, Utilla, Barbareta, Helena, Morat, the Puercos or Hog Islands, and many cays or islets. The Bay Islands have a good soil, a fine climate and an advantageous position. Roatan, the largest, is about 30 m. long by 9 m. broad, with mountains rising to the height of 900 ft., covered with valuable woods and abounding with deer and wild hogs. Its chief towns are Coxen Hole and Puerto Real. Its trade is chiefly with New Orleans in plantains, cocoa-nuts, pineapples and other fruit. Guanaja is 9 m. long by 5 m. broad; it lies 15 m. E.N.E. of Roatan. Wild hogs abound in its thicklywooded limestone hills. The other islands are comparatively small, and may, in some cases, be regarded as detached parts of Roatan, with which they are connected by reefs. Guanaja was discovered in 1502 by Columbus, but the islands were not colonized until the 17th century, when they were occupied by British logwood cutters from Belize, and pearlers from the Mosquito Coast. Forts were built on Roatan in 1742, but abandoned in 1749. In 1852 the islands were annexed by Great Britain. In 1859 they were ceded to Honduras.

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