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Tegucigalpa

History

The name Tegucigalpa (Teh-goos-ee-gal-pa) is a mouthful, and not just for newcomers to the city or the language. Hondurans themselves commonly shorten it to Tegus (teh-goos) or simply la capital (the capital). The modern name, which dates from the 16th century, is undoubtedly derived from the name of the original indigenous village here, and is most commonly translated as ‘silver hill’. The problem with that story, of course, is that the original residents did not mine silver and probably didn’t even have a word for the material before Spanish colonizers appeared on the scene. More recently, linguists have suggested the name means, roughly, ‘place of painted stones’ (which you can imagine being twisted into ‘Silver Hill’ by colonizers seeking to legitimize their presence). Tegucigalpa became the capital of Honduras in 1880, when the government seat was moved from Comayagua, 82km to the northwest. In 1938 Comayagüela, on the opposite side of the river from Tegucigalpa, became part of the city.