Considered an inhospitable, malarial swamp by the Spaniards, Honduras ’s northern coastal plain has for the past century been the country’s most intensively exploited region, mainly producing bananas and pineapples for foreign fruit companies. For most of its length, the plain is quite narrow, in places only a couple of kilometers separating the ocean from the Cordillera Nombre de Dios.
The only places the plain extends inland a significant distance are the valleys of the Ríos Ulúa, Chamelecón, and Aguán and in the broad expanse of the Mosquitia. The Mosquitia plain, in the northeast corner of the country, encompasses more flat land than the rest of the country combined, but because of its thin, acidic soil, the region is unsuitable for agriculture.
The Pacific lowlands are on average only 25 kilometers wide, composed mainly of heavily cultivated alluvial soils tapering into mangrove swamps at the edge of the Golfo de Fonseca. After years of deforestation and poor farming techniques, the once-rich soils of these plains have long since eroded.