Virtue is a municipality in the department of Lempira in Honduras.
The first settlers were Spaniards who came from El Salvador in search of land for cultivating jiquilite, used in the extraction of indigo. It is believed that the founder was the Spanish priest Doroteo Alvarenga in the year 1775. It was granted municipality status in the year 1859.
The town is located in a valley, approximately 313 meters above sea level. Its vegetation corresponds to a dry subtropical forest. For the rest of the municipality, there are some mountains and hills, but they have the same type of forest.
Virtue has the following boundaries: to the north with the municipality of Valladolid; to the south with the Republic of El Salvador. To the east also with the Republic of El Salvador; to the west with the municipalities of Gualcince and Mapulaca.
- Territorial extension: 83 km²
This municipality is one of the closest to the Republic of El Salvador, so it is far from important cities in Honduras. There are three routes to reach it:
- The first route starts from the intersection of San Juan Intibucá (coming from Gracias, Lempira, or La Esperanza Intibucá), heading south of the department through Cerro Congolón and the hills of Cerquín, Coyocutena, and Piedra Parada, passing through the access points of the municipalities of Erandique – Santa Cruz – San Andrés – Gualcince – Candelaria – Mapulaca – Virtue. The road is unpaved, in good conditions during the dry season (November – May) and regular conditions during the rainy season (May – November). Approximate time: 6 hours.
- The second route is through the CA-4 highway starting from Santa Rosa de Copán-San Marcos de Ocotepeque -Cololaca- Tambla- Valladolid-La Virtud. The road is asphalt concrete from Santa Rosa de Copán to Cololaca, and currently, the project to complete the CA-4 highway with hydraulic concrete from Cololaca to Valladolid and a third phase to Virtue is underway. Approximate time: 4 hours.
- The third route is through the CA-5 and the newly built Longitudinal Highway of the North in El Salvador. From Tegucigalpa towards Choluteca – El Amatillo Customs border with El Salvador – Sensuntepeque – Nombre de Jesús, with an approximate time of 6 hours. To reach Virtue from El Salvador, there are two routes. Via Chalatenango – Guarsila, San Isidro, Nombre de Jesús, Plazuelas (where there is no customs control but a military post from El Salvador), from there it is a short stretch (4 km) to Virtue. The other route is through Sensuntepeque, Ciudad Victoria, San Antonio, and then reaching the new bridge (Integración) over the Lempa River. The road continues to Mapulaca, and heading west, it continues to Virtue. In that stretch, the Mocal River is crossed, a very important tributary of the Lempa River.
The main activity in this town is trade with El Salvador, so the United States dollar is commonly used as a currency. In second place is cattle farming and dairy products, the cultivation of basic grains such as corn and beans, and to a lesser extent, fishing and forestry.
The town has electricity, hardware stores, mobile phone signal from Honduran companies, grocery stores, poultry farms, a gas station, and three fully equipped hotels.
A high percentage of the population in this municipality is of mestizo origin, with indigenous descendants in a lesser degree.
- Population: This municipality had a population of 6,582 people in 2013. According to estimates from the National Institute of Statistics (INE) for the year 2016, it is expected to reach 6,966.
- Villages: 13
- Hamlets: 48
- Historic Center: It has the typical Spanish colonial distribution for its urban center. Although the houses in the central square had colonial designs, they have been modified with modern designs.
- Rivers: The community has nearby rivers for swimming, one of them being the Lempa River and its tributaries (Jorón River, Gualgüis River).
- Source of Blood: Approximately 4 kilometers from the Virtue community, towards El Salvador, in the surroundings of the Los Hernández hamlet, in the slopes of the Gualcuquín River, there is a cave from which a liquid flows with all the appearance of blood. Rodents and birds of prey roam the area, and the smell is similar to that of a decomposing body. There are not many written records except those kept in the Journal of the National Archive and Library of Honduras. Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Source or Blood Mine (Pedro Rivas, 1927) National Typography, Vol. No. 2, 1927. Natural Phenomena – Lempira – Virtue, and those collected in the book Folklore and Education Honduras (Jesús Muñoz Tábora, 1982). Although there are no tourist agencies in the area, the residents of Los Hernández hamlet are very friendly and can serve as guides to the site, which is difficult to access as it requires traveling along the river slopes.
- Waterfalls: Due to the rugged terrain of the hamlets, there are the El Salto and El Cacahuatal waterfalls in the homonymous hamlets, with approximate heights of 10 meters.
- Hot Springs: Located in the La Haciendita hamlet, on the banks of the Lempa River, they correspond to the classification of superthermal waters (100°C and above). Due to their high temperature, they are visited for educational purposes, and some residents attribute therapeutic effects to them.
- Market Day: On Saturdays, there is a sale of fruits, grains, and food in the central square of the municipality. Local merchants and those from neighboring municipalities and El Salvador participate.
- July 20: In the month of July, specifically on July 20, the National Identity Month is celebrated in honor of the National Hero, Chief Lempira. It is one of the weeks with the most cultural activities of the year, including a Torch Parade, the Election of the Queen of Honduran Culture, which usually ends with a dance party, as well as the sale of traditional foods and drinks from the area, such as chicha and corn-derived products.
Finally, one of the events that attracts the most residents from neighboring hamlets is the dramatization of the Death of Lempira, a theatrical play that recounts the events of the death of the indomitable chief, the first defender of national sovereignty.
- Patron Saint Festival: December 12, the day of the Virgin of Guadalupe.