About Utila

Our research investigates health, growth, development, and stress among children and families living on Utila, the smallest of the Honduran Bay Islands. Utila is home to Utilian people of British and American ancestry, and immigrants from mainland Honduras. The Honduran Bay Islands consist of three major islands and 52 cays (Stonich, 2000). Between 1834 and 1836, the Utila cays were settled by a small number of British families from the Cayman Islands. These families, along with two American farmers settling around the same time, comprise the base of the island’s recent cultural and genealogical history (Rose, 1904).

The mid-twentieth century marked the start of a changing economy as well as an increase in the immigration of Hondurans from the mainland to Utila. Factors such as increased violence on the mainland and the destruction from Hurricane Mitch in 1998 led many Hondurans to seek out resettlement on Utila. According to the most recent census available (2012), the island’s total population was only 3,580, with approximately 1,000 Honduran immigrants (García et al., 2017). The unique context of Utila provides a natural experiment for examining how social differences and divergent developmental histories impact the health of different individuals living in the same environment. 

García, A. R., Gurven, M., & Blackwell, A. D. (2017). A matter of perception: Perceived socio‐economic status and cortisol on the island of Utila, Honduras. American Journal of Human Biology29(5), e23031.

Rose, R. (1904). Utila: Past and present. Dansville, New York: Owen Publishing Company.

Stonich, S. (2000). The other side of paradise: Tourism, conservation and development in the bay islands. Elmsford, New York: Cognizant Communication Corporation.