GRACIAS, LEMPIRA is a small Honduran town/municipality that was founded in 1536, and has a population of approximately 25,000 people (12,000 in the urban center). It is found in the mountainous centre of western Honduras, in the Lempira departamento.
Elevation ranges from roughly 800 meters at the town square to 2,870 meters at the peak of Montaña Celaque (Celaque Mountain, also known as Cerro Las Minas). Climate is greatly influenced by elevation, with the low-lying portions having a wet-dry (monsoonal) pattern. Montaña Celaque is the highest mountain and largest cloud forest in Honduras, and is protected through Celaque Mountain National Park.
Gracias serves as a transportation hub for the immediate region. The town is connected to the northern city of Santa Rosa de Copan by a paved 2 lane highway, and construction of a paved 2 lane highway to La Esperanza has been underway for several years.
Agriculture is both subsistence and export based (primarily coffee). Agricultural crops vary with elevation and climate, with corn and beans grown at lower altitudes and fruits/vegetables grown at higher altitudes. Coffee harvest occurs in November and December.
The development of a tourist economy is seen as a driver of economic development. This tourism is based on the town's historic and natural attractions including colonial churches, Celaque Mountain and hot springs (aguas termales).
The word gracias means "thank you" in Spanish. It is said that upon arriving at the site of the city of Gracias, the Spanish explorers, tired after having trekked through the mountainous terrain, said "Gracias a Dios hemos llegado a tierra plana," meaning "Thank God we have arrived at flat land."