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A coat of arms, more properly called an armorial achievement, armorial bearings or often just arms for short, in European tradition, is a design belonging to a particular person (or group of people) and used by them in a wide variety of ways. Historically, they were used by knights to identify them apart from enemy soldiers. In Continental Europe, commoners were able to adopt burgher arms. Unlike seals and emblems, coats of arms have a formal description that is expressed as a blazon. In the 21st century, coats of arms are still in use by a variety of institutions and individuals (for example several universities have guidelines on how their coats of arms may be used and protect their use).
The art of designing, displaying, describing and recording arms is called heraldry. The use of coats of arms by countries, states, provinces, towns and villages is called civic heraldry.
In the heraldic traditions of England and Scotland an individual, rather than a family, had a coat of arms. In those traditions coats of arms are legal property transmitted from father to son; wives and daughters could also bear arms modified to indicate their relation to the current holder of the arms. Undifferenced arms are used only by one person at any given time. Other descendants of the original bearer could bear the ancestral arms only with some difference: usually a color change or the addition of a distinguishing charge. One such charge is the label, which in British usage (outside the Royal Family) is now always the mark of an heir apparent.
Because of their importance in identification, particularly in seals on legal documents, the use of arms was strictly regulated; few countries continue in this today. This has been carried out by heralds and the study of coats of arms is therefore called "heraldry". Some other traditions (e.g., Polish heraldry) are less restrictive — allowing, for example, all members of a dynastic house or family to use the same arms, although one or more elements may be reserved to the head of the house.
In time, the use of coat of arms spread from military entities to educational institutes, and other establishments. According to a design institute article, "The modern logo and corporate livery have evolved from the battle standard and military uniform of medieval times".
In his book, The Visual Culture of Violence in the Late Middle Ages, Valentin Groebner argues that the images composed on coats of arms are in many cases designed to convey a feeling of power and strength, often in military terms. The author Helen Stuart argues that some coat of arms were a form of corporate logo. Museums on medieval coat of arms also point out that as emblems they may be viewed as a pre-cursors to the corporate logos of modern society, used for group identity formation.
The American Great Seal is often said to be the coat of arms of the United States. The blazon ("Paleways of 13 pieces, argent and gules; a chief, azure") is intentionally improper to preserve the symbolic number 13.
Most American states generally have seals, which fill the role of a coat of arms. However, the state of Vermont (founded as the independent Vermont Republic) follows the American convention of assigning use of a seal for authenticating official state documents and also has its own separate coat of arms.
Many American social fraternities and sororities, especially college organizations, use coats of arms in their symbolism. These arms vary widely in their level of adherence to European heraldic tradition. Organizations formed outside the United States with U.S. membership also may have a coat of arms. Roman Catholic dioceses and cathedrals have a coat of arms.
Note that not all personal or corporate insignia are heraldic, though they may share many features. For example, flags are used to identify ships (where they are called ensigns), embassies and such, and they use the same colors and designs found in heraldry, but they are not usually considered to be heraldic. A country may have both a national flag and a national coat of arms, and the two may not look alike at all. For example, the flag of Scotland (St Andrew's Cross) has a white saltire on a blue field, but the royal arms of Scotland has a red lion within a double tressure on a gold (or) field.
The Vatican has its own coat of arms. As the Papacy is not hereditary, its occupants display their personal arms combined with those of their office.
Some Popes came from armigerous (noble) families; others adopted coats of arms during their career in the church. The latter typically allude to their ideal of life, or to specific Pontifical programmes. A well known and widely displayed example in recent times was Pope John Paul II's coat of arms. His selection of a large letter M (for Mary) on his coat of arms was intended to express the message of his strong Marian devotion.
Roman Catholic Dioceses also are assigned a coat of arms. A Basilica, or papal church also gets a coat of arms, which is usually displayed on the building. These may be used in countries which otherwise do not use heraldic devices.
In Scotland, the Lord Lyon King of Arms has criminal jurisdiction to enforce the laws of arms. In England, Northern Ireland and Wales the use of arms is a matter of civil law and regulated from the College of Arms.
In reference to a dispute over the exercise of authority over the Officers of Arms, Arthur Annesley, 1st Earl of Anglesey, Lord Privy Seal, declared on 16 June 1673 that the powers of the Earl Marshal were "to order, judge, and determine all matters touching arms, ensigns of nobility, honour, and chivalry; to make laws, ordinances, and statutes for the good government of the Officers of Arms; to nominate Officers to fill vacancies in the College of Arms; to punish and correct Officers of Arms for misbehaviour in the execution of their places". It was further declared that no patents of arms or any ensigns of nobility should be granted and no augmentation, alteration, or addition should be made to arms without the consent of the Earl Marshal.
Today, the term "coat of arms" is frequently applied in two different ways. In some uses, it may indicate a full achievement of arms or heraldic achievement, which includes a variety of elements — usually a crest sitting atop a helmet, itself sitting on a shield; other common elements include supporters holding up the shield and a motto (beneath in England, above in Scotland). Some people wrongly use "coat of arms" or "arms" to refer to the escutcheon (i.e., the shield itself), or to one of several designs that may be combined in one shield. (Note that the crest is one specific part of a heraldic achievement and that "crest of arms" is a misnomer.) The "coat of arms" frequently are adorned with a device - a motto, emblem, or other mark used to distinguish the bearer from others. If a motto is a part of the achievement, it sometimes has some punning allusion to the owner's name. A device differs from a badge or cognizance primarily because it is a personal distinction, and not a badge borne by members of the same house successively.
Heraldry is the profession, study, or art of devising, granting, and blazoning arms and ruling on questions of rank or protocol, as exercised by an officer of arms. Heraldry comes from Anglo-Norman herald, from the Germanic compound *harja-waldaz, "army commander". The word, in its most general sense, encompasses all matters relating to the duties and responsibilities of officers of arms. To most, though, heraldry is the practice of designing, displaying, describing, and recording coats of arms and badges. Historically, it has been variously described as "the shorthand of history" and "the floral border in the garden of history."The origins of heraldry lie in the need to distinguish participants in combat when their faces were hidden by iron and steel helmets. Eventually a formal system of rules developed into ever more complex forms of heraldry.
The system of blazoning arms that is used in English-speaking countries today was developed by the officers of arms in the Middle Ages. This includes a stylized description of the escutcheon (shield), the crest, and, if present, supporters, mottoes, and other insignia. Certain rules apply, such as the Rule of tincture, and a thorough understanding of these rules is a key to the art of heraldry. The rules and terminology do differ from country to country, indeed several national styles had developed by the end of the Middle Ages, but there are some aspects that carry over internationally.
Though heraldry is nearly 900 years old, it is still very much in use. Many cities and towns in Europe and around the world still make use of arms. Personal heraldry, both legally protected and lawfully assumed, has continued to be used around the world. Heraldic societies exist to promote education and understanding about the subject.
Honduras (Spanish: República de Honduras, pronounced [reˈpuβlika ðe onˈduɾas]) is a republic in Central America. It was formerly known as Spanish Honduras to differentiate it from British Honduras (now Belize). The country is bordered to the west by Guatemala, to the southwest by El Salvador, to the southeast by Nicaragua, to the south by the Pacific Ocean at the Gulf of Fonseca, and to the north by the Gulf of Honduras, a large inlet of the Caribbean Sea. Its size is just over 112,000 km² with an estimated population of almost 8,000,000. Its capital is Tegucigalpa.
Archaeologists have demonstrated that Honduras had a rich, multi-ethnic prehistory. An important part of that prehistory was the Mayan presence around the city of Copán in western Honduras, near the Guatemalan border. A major Mayan city flourished during the classic period (150–900) in that area. It has many carved inscriptions and stelae. The ancient kingdom, named rtyu, existed from the fifth century to the early ninth century, with antecedents going back to at least the second century. The Mayan civilization began a marked decline in the ninth century, but there is evidence of people still living in and around the city until at least 1200. By the time the Spanish came to Honduras, the once great city-state of Copán was overrun by the jungle, and the surviving Ch’orti’ were isolated from their Choltian linguistic peers to the west. The non-Maya Lencas were then dominant in western Honduras.
On his fourth and the final voyage to the New World in 1502, Christopher Columbus reached the Bay Islands on the coast of Honduras. Columbus landed near the modern town of Trujillo, in the vicinity of the Guaimoreto Lagoon. After the Spanish discovery, Honduras became part of Spain's vast empire in the New World within the Kingdom of Guatemala. Trujillo and Gracias were the first city-capitals. The Spanish ruled the region for approximately three centuries.
Spain granted independence to Honduras along with the rest of the Central American provinces on September 15 1821. In 1822 the United Central American Provinces decided to join the newly declared Mexican Empire of Iturbide. The Iturbide Empire was overthrown in 1823 and Central America separated from it, forming the Federal Republic of Central America, which disintegrated in 1838. As a result the states of the republic became independent nations.
Silver mining was a key factor in the Spanish conquest and settlement of Honduras. The American-owned Barger Mining Company was a major gold and silver producer but shut down its large mine at San Juancito in 1954.
Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Honduras joined the Allied Nations on December 8, 1941. Along with twenty-five other governments, Honduras signed the Declaration by United Nations on January 1, 1942.
In 1969, Honduras and El Salvador fought what would become known as the Football War. There had been border tensions between the two countries after Oswaldo López Arellano, a former president of Honduras, blamed the deteriorating economy on the large number of immigrants from El Salvador. From that point on, the relationship between the two countries grew acrimonious and reached a low when El Salvador met Honduras for a three-round football elimination match as a preliminary to the World Cup. Tensions escalated, and on July 14, 1969, the Salvadoran army launched an attack against Honduras. The Organization of American States negotiated a cease-fire which took effect on July 20 and brought about a withdrawal of Salvadoran troops in early August.
Contributing factors in the conflict were a boundary dispute and the presence of thousands of Salvadorans living in Honduras illegally. After the week-long football war, many Salvadoran families and workers were expelled. El Salvador had agreed on a truce to settle the boundary issue, but Honduras later paid war damage costs for expelled refugees.
Fortaleza de San Fernando de Omoa
Hurricane Fifi caused severe damage while skimming the northern coast of Honduras on September 18 and 19, 1974.
Melgar Castro (1975–78) and Paz Garcia (1978–82) largely built the current physical infrastructure and telecommunications system of Honduras.
In 1979, the country returned to civilian rule. A constituent assembly was popularly elected in April 1980 and general elections were held in November 1981. A new constitution was approved in 1982 and the PLH government of Roberto Suazo assumed power. Roberto Suazo won the elections with a promise to carry out an ambitious program of economic and social development in Honduras in order to tackle the country's recession. President Roberto Suazo Cordoba did launch ambitious social and economic development projects, sponsored by American development aid. Honduras became host to the largest Peace Corps mission in the world, and nongovernmental and international voluntary agencies proliferated. During the early 1980s, the United States established a continuing military presence in Honduras with the purpose of supporting the Contra guerillas fighting the Nicaraguan government and also developed an air strip and a modern port in Honduras. Though spared the bloody civil wars wracking its neighbors, the Honduran army quietly waged a campaign against Marxist-Leninist militias such as Cinchoneros Popular Liberation Movement, notorious for kidnappings and bombings, and allegedly some non-militants. The operation included a CIA-backed campaign of extrajudicial killings by government-backed units, most notably Battalion 316.
In 1998, Hurricane Mitch caused such massive and widespread loss that former Honduran President Carlos Roberto Flores claimed that fifty years of progress in the country were reversed. Mitch obliterated about 70% of the crops and an estimated 70–80% of the transportation infrastructure, including nearly all bridges and secondary roads. Across the country, 33,000 houses were destroyed, an additional 50,000 damaged, some 5,000 people killed, 12,000 injured – for a total loss estimated at $3 billion USD. 
The 2008 Honduran floods were severe and around half the country's roads were damaged or destroyed as a result.
In 2009, a constitutional crisis culminated in a transfer of power from the president to the head of Congress. Countries all over the world condemned the action and refused to recognize the new government.
The most renowned Honduran painter is Jose Antonio Velásquez. Other important painters include Carlos Garay, and Roque Zelaya. Two of Honduras' most notable writers are Froylan Turcios and Ramón Amaya Amador. Others include Marco Antonio Rosa, Roberto Sosa, Lucila Gamero de Medina, Eduardo Bähr, Amanda Castro, Javier Abril Espinoza, Teófilo Trejo, and Roberto Quesada. Some of Honduras' notable musicians include Rafael Coello Ramos, Lidia Handal, Victoriano Lopez, Guillermo Anderson, Victor Donaire, Francisco Carranza and Camilo Rivera Guevara.
Hondurans are often referred to as Catracho or Catracha (fem) in Spanish. The word was coined by Nicaraguans and derives from the last name of the Spanish Honduran General Florencio Xatruch, who, in 1857, led Honduran armed forces against an attempted invasion by North American adventurer William Walker. The nickname is considered complimentary, not derogatory. The main language is Spanish spoken by a 94% as first language. The other languages that are minorities and are spoken by less than 4%, are Amerindian languages, and in the islands next to the coast English (spoken by less than 0.3%).
Honduras This Week is a weekly English language newspaper that has been published for seventeen years in Tegucigalpa. On the islands of Roatan, Utila and Guanaja, the Bay Islands Voice has been a source of monthly news since 2003.
Honduran cuisine makes extensive use of coconut, in both sweet and savory foods, and even in soups.
The José Francisco Saybe theater in San Pedro Sula is home to the Círculo Teatral Sampedrano (Theatrical Circle of San Pedro Sula)
Some of Honduras' national holidays include Honduras Independence Day on September 15 and Children's Day or Día del Niño, which is celebrated in homes, schools and churches on September 10; on this day, children receive presents and have parties similar to Christmas or birthday celebrations. Some neighborhoods have piñatas on the street. Other holidays are Easter, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Day of the Soldier (October 3 to celebrate the birth of Francisco Morazán), Christmas, El Dia de Lempira on July 20, and New Year's Eve.
Honduras Independence Day festivities start early in the morning with marching bands. Each band wears different colors and features cheerleaders. Fiesta Catracha takes place this same day: typical Honduran foods such as beans, tamales, baleadas, yucca with chicharron, and tortillas are offered. On Christmas Eve, the people reunite with their families and close friends to have dinner, then give out presents at midnight. In some cities fireworks are seen and heard at midnight. On New Year's Eve there is food and "cohetes", fireworks and festivities. Birthdays are also great events, and include the famous “piñata” which is filled with candies and surprises for the children invited.
La Feria Isidra is celebrated in La Ceiba in the end of May A city located in the coast. It is usually called "The Friendship Carnival". People from all over the world come for one week of festivities. Every night there is a little carnaval (carnavalito) in a neighborhood. Finally, on Saturday there is a big parade with floats and displays with people from Brazil, New Orleans, Japan, Jamaica, Barbados and many other countries. This celebration is also accompanied by the Milk Fair, where many Hondurans come to show off their farm products and animals.