Belize is a small country of America Central which was a British colony and before part of the Spanish Colonial Empire and the Maya Empire. This country was called British Honduras. It is a natural paradise located in the Caribbean Coast between Guatemala and Mexico. The area of Belize is 22 960 square kilometers approximately.
The country is famous by its great natural rich. It highlights the world famous Belize Barrier Reef, which is the second largest Barrier Reef of the planet and the first and most diverse of the western hemisphere. The capital of the country is Belmopan and the largest town is Belize City.
Because of its past as British colony, Belize is the only country of Central America where English is the official language, but Spanish and Kriol (a local language which derived mainly of the English, but also from the Spanish) are also spoken.
The population of the country has many origins therefore Belize’s population like most countries of America is a mixture of ethnic groups, which includes Europeans, Africans, Maya descendants, Chinese, Hindu, Lebanese amongst other. The main religion is the Roman Catholic with around 49%, Protestants are 27 % of the population. Hinduism is the third religion in Belize, because of the great number of Indian immigrants.
In Belize there are only two seasons well differentiated the rainy season from June to November and the dry season occurs from December to May. The warmest period of the year occurs in May whereas the coldest time is in January. The average temperatures in country fluctuate between 21 ºC (69ºF) and 27ºC (81ºF). The average rate of humidity is 83%.
The first great civilization that occupied the current Belize’s territory was the Maya civilization, which ruled in this territory from 1500 BC to 900 AD. The great number of Maya remains found in the zone, such as Caracol, Lamanai, Lubaantun, Xunatunich or Altun Ha indicates that Belize’s territory sustained in ancient times a population between 400 000 and one million inhabitants.
First Europeans arrived to Belize around 1502 with one of the Columbus’s expeditions; nevertheless the first Spaniards invaders abandoned rapidly the zone because of local rebellions. The first successful Europeans settlements were constructed by British pirates, who found in this place an excellent location to establish an operation base to attack Spanish ships.
Nevertheless, by the year 1700, most inhabitants of the region became cutter logwood. The wood exportation became then the main activity of the zone. During this time a great number of slaves from Africa were brought to the current Belize to work in the wood cutting. In short time the population of African origin was the largest population of the country.
In the XVIII century British and Spanish had several confrontations for the Belize’s control. The main battle that decided the future of the region occurred in 1798 in St. George Cay. In this battle Spanish were defeated definitely and Belize’s control was taken by British. The anniversary of this battle is still today an important national day.
The slavery in Belize was declared in 1838 but only in paper, because the local landowners controlled the economy and the land, therefore former slaves had to continue working in the wood cutting. In the XIX century great part of South and Central America became independent from Spain, and then England declared officially Belize as a British colony.
In the XX century the decline in the economic conditions because of the great depression of the 1930s, the devastator hurricane that destroyed Belize in 1931 and some incorrect politic decisions taken by British in the World War II, caused the creation of a People’s Committee that demanded the Independence of the country.
Thanks to these civilian efforts in 1954 the Universal Adult Suffrage was instituted for first time in the country and in 1964 a Ministerial System of Government was initiated. In 1973 the local authorities decided to change the ancient name of the country “British Honduras” by its current name Belize. Finally Belize got its independence in 1981. Nevertheless, Nicaragua only recognized this Independence in 1992 and British troops departed of Belize in 1994.
Today Belize is a democratic and stable country that offers a great and varied culture and impressive natural rich. The economy of the country is currently in a diversification process.
In addition to traditional production of bananas, citrus and sugar; today Belize has also an important industry of services and tourism. It is a small and nice country is an ideal place for the diving lovers and who want to appreciate the nature and the history of Central America.