La Ceiba (Spanish pronunciation: [la ˈseiβa]) is a port city on the northern coast of Honduras in Central America. It is located on the southern edge of the Caribbean, forming part of the south eastern boundary of the Gulf of Honduras. With an estimated population of over 200,000 living in approximately 170 residential areas (called colonias or barrios), it is the fourth largest city in the country and the capital of the Honduran department of Atlántida. La Ceiba was officially founded on August 23, 1877. The city was named after a giant ceiba tree which grew near the old dock, which itself finally fell into the sea in late 2007. The city has been officially proclaimed the "Eco-Tourism Capital of Honduras" as well as the "Entertainment Capital of Honduras". Every year, on the third or fourth Saturday of May, the city holds its famous carnival to commemorate Isidore the Laborer (Spanish San Isidro Labrador). During this time, the city is host to approximately 500,000 tourists.
In 1872 Manuel Hernandez built a small shack under the Ceiba tree that was at one point by the old docks. Over time, more and more people from all over present-day Honduras (especially the departments of Olancho and Santa Barbara), and from around the world settled in La Ceiba. These people were attracted by the cultivation of bananas that became popular in the region. In the late 19th century, the banana business caught the attention of big North American banana companies such as the Vaccaro Brothers' Standard Fruit Company from New Orleans. This new economic activity attracted national and international immigrants to La Ceiba. The current neighborhood known as Barrio Ingles was the first recognized neighborhood in the city and was named so because of the number of English speaking people living in the barrio. At that point the main thorougfare of La Ceiba was present-day Avenida La Republica, which is where the train tracks were set. These train tracks were built by the Standard Fruit Company (now Standard Fruit de Honduras, a Dolesubsidiary). This company was largely responsible for the early growth of the city.
La Ceiba was declared a municipality on August 23, 1877. At that time Marco Aurelio Soto was the Honduras President. La Ceiba was the center of banana and pineapple business and the regional economy depended largely on it. This led to the birth of newer and larger national companies such as:
- Cerveceria Hondureña, the national brewing company and holder of the Coca-Cola licence in Honduras. Founded in 1918
- Fabrica de Manteca y Jabon Atlantida, known as La Blanquita, at one point, the largest producer of consumer goods in Honduras, now defunct.
- Banco Atlantida, oldest Bank in the country, founded in 1913
- Mazapan School, the first bilingual school of the nation, the oldest high school and second oldest elementary school in the city.