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Islas de la Bahía ("Bay Islands") is one of the 18 departments into which the Central American nation of Hondurasmarker is divided. The departmental capital is Coxen Holemarker, on the island of Roatánmarker.

The department covers a total surface area of 261 km² and, in 2005, had an estimated population of 43,018 people. It comprises three geographically separate groups:
  1. Islas de la Bahía (with the main islands Roatánmarker, Helene, Guanajamarker and Útila, and numerous satellite islands)
  2. Cayos Cochinosmarker, further south
  3. Swan Islandsmarker, 120 km to the north


History

The Bay Islands were first discovered by Christopher Columbus on his fourth voyage to America in 1502. They were later claimed, and successively held, by Great Britainmarker, Spainmarker, and the Dutchmarker United Provinces. Britain finally took control in 1643 and, with the exception of a one-month period of Spanish dominance in 1780, held onto them as a Crown colony, dependent on Jamaicamarker. In 1860, in the aftermath of the William Walker filibustering affair, the British crown recognized Honduran sovereignty and ceded possession of them. The department of Islas de la Bahía was officially incorporated into the nation on 14 March 1872.

Tourism and Infrastructure

There are several islands within the department, with three larger ones: Utila, Roatan and Guanaja.

Roatán has a paved road that connects the most important communities of the Island. Starting from the Western End of the Island, at the community of West Bay, the roads leads through the communities of West End, Sandy Bay, Coxen Hole, Brick Bay, Mount Pleasant, French Harbour and Oakridge - Punta Gorda. From here, the road becomes a dirt road and continues east for a distance, to the area of Paya Bay, Camp Bay, Port Royal, and other communities.

Municipalities

The department is divided into four municipalities (municipalidades):

Municipality description Capital Area(km²) Populationcensus 2001
Guanajamarker Guanaja island Guanaja 55.4 4,535
José Santos Guardiola eastern Roatán islandHelene Island, Morat,Barbaretta, Pigeon Cays Oak Ridge 64.6 7,613
Roatánmarker western Roatán islandSwan Islandsmarker?Cayos Cochinosmarker Coxen Holemarker 91.3 17,425
Útila Útila island Útila 49.3 1,979
Islas de la
Bahia
incl. Swan Islandsmarkerand Cayos Cochinosmarker Coxen Holemarker 260.6 31,552


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