The Bay Islands are an archipelago belonging to the Republic of Honduras. They constitute one of the eighteen political departments of this Central American nation. The Bay Islands, is formed by 3 major islands that are Utila, Roatán and Guanaja. Likewise, the small islands of Barbareta, Morat and Santa Elena and more than 60 cays located only 10 and 40 miles from the mainland of Honduras in the blue waters of the Caribbean Sea are part of this archipelago. The archipelago was discovered by Christopher Columbus on his fourth and final voyage to the American continent on July 30,1502. More precisely, Columbus discovered the island of Guanaja which he called 'Isla de los Pinos'.
These islands were densely populated by Payas Indians, when they were discovered. However, these were captured, enslaved and sold to other islands of the Antilles such as Cuba. Since their discovery, these islands were dominated in different short periods by English, Dutch and Spanish. The English were followed by the English. In May of 1638 William Claibourne of Virginia received a patent from the Providence Company authorizing him to establish a colony on Roatán.
This marked the beginning of great interest on the part of the British in the Bay Islands, an interest that would last for more than two hundred years."Because they are on the route of Spanish shipments from New Spain to Spain, the settlements Spaniards and Indians were regularly preyed upon by pirates and buccaneers, however, Spanish military might allowed them to rule the islands for much of the 18th century, but between 1827 and 1834, Europeans again began to settle in Roatan, after slavery was prohibited in the English colonies in 1833. In 1859, England finally ceded control of the Bay Islands to the Republic of Honduras.