It's People and It's Creole Culture





Welcome to Belize..About the People







, formerly British Honduras, is a country in Central America Central America.

(pronounced /bəˈliːz/), formerly British Honduras, is a country in Central America.


Once part of the Mayan, and very briefly the Spanish Empire, it was most recently affiliated with the British Empire, prior to gaining its independence in 1981. The country is bordered to the south and west by Guatemala, to the north by Mexico, and to the east by the Caribbean Sea.

Belize has a diverse society, composed of many cultures and speaking many languages. It is the only country in Central America where English is an official language, although Kriol and Spanish are also widely spoken. With 8,867 square miles (22,960 km²) of territory and 320,000 people (2008 est.),[2] the population density is the lowest in the Central American region and one of the lowest in the world. The country's population growth rate, 2.21% (2008 est.),[3] is the highest in the region and one of the highest in the western hemisphere. It


the People of Belize



Belize is an ethnically diverse nation. Racial tension is rare because of constant admixture among the various ethnic groups


Typical Saturday market day in Punta Gorda, Belize

Colonisation, slavery, and immigration have played major roles in affecting the ethnic composition of the population and as a result, Belize is a country with numerous cultures, languages, and ethnic groups.[15][16][17] The country's population is currently estimated to be a little over 300,000.[18] Mestizos comprise about 34% of the population, Kriols 25%, Spanish 15%, Maya 11%, and Garinagu 6%.[19]


Maya and early settlers

The Maya are thought to have been in Belize and the Yucatán region since the second millennium BC; however, much of Belize's original Maya population was wiped out by disease and conflicts between tribes and with Europeans.

Three Maya groups now inhabit the country: The Yucatec (who came from Yucatán, Mexico to escape the Caste War), the Mopan (indigenous to Belize but were forced out by the British; they returned from Guatemala to evade slavery), and Kekchi (also fled from slavery in Guatemala).[20]

The latter groups are chiefly found in the Toledo District. White, initially Spanish conquistadors explored and declared the land a Spanish colony but chose not to settle due to the lack of resources such as gold. Later English and Scottish settlers and pirates known as the "Baymen" entered the area in the 16th and 17th century respectively and established a logwood trade colony.[21]


By 1724, the Baymen began importing African slaves from Jamaica, the Miskito Coast of Nicaragua and elsewhere in the Western Caribbean to cut logwood and later mahogany. They led a better life than their fellows in the West Indies, but were still mistreated, systematically raped and bullied. Even so, these slaves assisted in the defence of the fledgling settlement for much of the late 1700s, particularly in the 1798 Battle of St. George's Caye.

Due to the lack of women in the colony, slave women Intermingling with the Baymen whites was very common. This mixture created the Kriol ethnic group, accounting for as much as 60% of the colony's population until independence in 1981.[22] Today, identifying as a Kriol may confuse some; a blonde, blue-eyed Kriol is not an uncommon sight as the term also denotes a culture that distinguishes more than physical appearance.[23]

Kriol was historically only spoken by them, but this ethnicity has become synonomous with the Belizean national identity, and as a result it is now spoken by about 75% of Belizeans.[24][19] Found predominantly in urban areas such as Belize City, this group is also found in most coastal and central and towns and villages.[19]



The Garinagu, (singular Garifuna) are a mix of African, Arawak, and Carib ancestry. When the British took over Saint Vincent after the Treaty of Paris in 1763, they were opposed by French settlers and their Carib allies. The Carib eventually surrendered to the British in 1796. The British separated the more African-looking Caribs from the more indigenous looking ones.

Five thousand Black Caribs were exiled, but only about 2,500 of them survived the voyage to Roatán, an island off the coast of Honduras. Because the island was too small and infertile to support their population, the Garinagu petitioned the Spanish authorities to be allowed to settle on the mainland. The Spanish employed them as soldiers, and they spread along the Caribbean coast of Central America.They settled in southern Belize by way of Honduras in the early 1800s. In Belize, November 19, 1832 is the date offically recognized as "Garifuna Settlement Day".[25]

Mestizos and Spanish

Around the 1840s, Mestizo, Spanish, and Yucatec settlers from Mexico began to settle in the north due to the Caste War of Yucatán.[26] [27] They predominate in the Corozal, Orange Walk, and much of the Cayo district, as well as San Pedro town in Ambergris Caye.[19] The Mestizo areas of Belize have much more in common with neighboring Yucatan and most of Guatemala and Central America than central, southern or coastal Belize. Towns center on a main square, and social life focuses on the Catholic Church built on one side of it. The Spanish ethnic group in Belize are Kriol/English speakers who may or may not speak Spanish, but are of Mestizo or Spanish descent. Currently, the Mestizos are the largest ethnic group in the Belize, making up almost half the population. [28] Most Mestizos speak Spanish as a first language, and English or Kriol in multiethnic settings.[29]


Other groups

The remaining 9% is a mix of Mennonite farmers, Indians, Chinese, whites from the United States, and many other foreign groups brought to assist the country's development. During the 1860s, a large influx of Indians and American Civil War veterans from Louisiana and other Southern states established Confederate settlements in British Honduras and introduced commercial sugar cane production to the colony, establishing eleven settlements in the interior. The 1900s saw the arrival of Asian settlers from mainland China, India, Taiwan, Korea, Syria, and Lebanon. Central American immigrants and expatriate Americans and Africans also began to settle in the country.[19]

[edit] Emigration, immigration, and demographic shifts

Kriols and other ethnic groups are immigrating mostly to the United States, but also to the United Kingdom and other developed nations for better opportunities. Based on the latest U.S. Census, the number of Belizeans in the United States is appoximately 160,000, consisting mainly of Kriols and Garinagu.[30] Due to conflicts in neighboring Central American nations, Mestizo refugees from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras have fled to Belize in significant numbers during the 1980s, and have been further adding to this group.[31] These two events have been changing the demographics of the nation for the last 30 years.[32]



English is the only official language of Belize due to being a former British colony. It is the main language used in government and education.[33] Although only 5.6% of the population speaks it as the main language at home, 54% can speak it very well, and another 26% can speak some English.

37% of Belizeans consider their primary language to be Kriol, an English-based creole of words and syntax from various African languages (namely Akan, Igbo, and Twi),[34] and other languages (Miskito, Caliche). It is also a second or third language for another 40% of the multilingual country.[19] To speak Kriol is synonymous with being Belizean. Kriol shares similarities with many Caribbean English Creoles as far as phonology and pronunciations are concerned. Also, many of its words and structures are both lexically and phonologically similar to English, its superstrate language. Due to the fact that it is English-based, all Kriol speakers can understand English. A number of linguists classify Belizean Kriol as a separate language, while others consider it to be a dialect of English.

Spanish is the mother tongue of most Mestizo and Central American immigrants and is commonly spoken at home by 43% of the population. Maya languages such as Kekchi, Mopan and Yucatec are spoken.[19] Garifuna (which is Arawakan/Maipurean based, with elements of the Carib language, French, English and Spanish)[35] and the Plautdietsch dialect of the Mennonites are spoke as well. Literacy currently stands at nearly 80%. In 2001, UNESCO declared the Garifuna language, dance, and music a "Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity". English is the primary language of public education, with Spanish taught in primary and secondary school as well. Bilingualism is highly encouraged, and therefore, very common.



English & Spanish Language Proficiency[
Language Speaks Very Well Speaks Some Total




Languages in Belize according to 2000 census[
Language  ↓
Mother tongue speakers  ↓ Percentage  ↓ First language speakers  ↓ Percentage  ↓
Maya Kek'chi
Maya Mopan
Maya Yucateco
Others / no answer



Belize and its Creole People







The Creoles make up one-third of the entire population (about 40%), being classified as one of the two largest ethnic groups in the country. The Creoles are descendants of the interracial unions of Africans (who were brought over as slaves) and early European settlers of the Colonial era.

  The Creoles mainly reside in Belize City, with small groups unevenly scattered throughout the other five districts. The ‘Creole' dialect is the dominant language throughout Belize, even though English is declared the official language and is taught in all schools.

The Creoles are known for their contribution of the famous "rice and beans" dish that dominate the lunchtime cuisine throughout the





Creole culture

was the culture that established in Belize and then all the other groups that came to Belize just fitted into the Creole Culture and so because they fitted in they were able to also promote their own culture with elements of the Creole culture"

Good website on Belizes' Creole here








a rural Creole community

The village of La Democracia is located 30 miles west of Belize City and 20 miles east of Belmopan on Belize’s Western Highway. This rural Creole community was established in the early 1960s as logging camp to rebuild Belize City after the Category 5 Hurricane Hattie. Today there are 40 families (around 250 people) living in Democracia. Local industries include citrus agriculture, tilapia fish aquaculture, logging, and gravel mining. Some Democracia residents commute to office jobs in Belize City and Belmopan. 

Democracia’s elementary school serves 100 students, mostly from Democracia and the neighboring community of Mahogany Heights. The school is under-funded but thriving because of a dynamic and hard-working principal, Dyann Garnett. She is committed to improving the learning environment and upgrading the school's infrastructure. 

She has applied for and received grants for school projects. She plans and orchestrates fund-raising events involving parents and local businesses and arranges student field trips to other parts of the country. Garnett's vision for improving the school involves constructing a multi-purpose building that will serve first as a kitchen to supply meals for students who cannot afford lunch.

This kitchen will eventually be staffed by volunteer parents and supported by local businesses. She also wants to set up a computer lab and library building, which will require internet-connected computers. Students need to be trained on how to use computers and the library will need shelves, books and a catalog system. The school also needs a playground, sports field, secure fencing and lighting.

When not in schools, local kids play soccer and basketball, ride bikes around town, and swim and fish in the nearby Sibun River. There are two active youth groups in the village, Roots 4H (modeled after the 4H clubs in the U.S.) and Guardians of the Jewel, an environmental group aimed at protecting and managing natural areas and natural systems in and around Democracia. We will be planning our service projects with these youth groups.







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