In its earliest history, the country of Belize was home to the Mayan civilization. The civilization was spread throughout the Yucatan Peninsula. The Maya also emerged in Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras. Large amounts of the civilizations’ cultural history in the area have survived years of European domination. The Maya present in Belize were a hunter-gatherer society and domesticated crops such as corn, beans, and squash.
Maya Civilization in Belize
It is widely accepted that the Mayan civilization spread throughout Belize around 1500 B.C. Cultural hubs such as Caracol and Lamani along with several other centers across Belize are believed to have supported from 400,000 to 1,000,000 people. Spanish explorers arriving in the 16th century noted that there were three distinct Mayan territories.
These territories included the Chetumal Province, the Dzuluinicob Province, and the southern territory controlled by the Manche Ch’ol Maya.
Colonial Period in Belize History
The first permanent European settlement was created in Belize in 1716. However, before this, Spanish Conquistadors and English pirates sporadically visited Belize. Neither party could control the territory, due to a lack of resources and knowledge about the land.
In 1786, the British appointed a superintendent over Belize. This designation officially recognized Belize as a British colony. However, the lack of urgency in the British government allowed settlers to create and establish their own laws and forms of government.
British Empire of Belize
The early 19th century saw the British Empire exert its dominance on the people of Belize. The empire threatened to disband several important functions of the colonies society if it did not eliminate slavery from the territory.
Later, in 1836, the British officially named Belize a British Crown Colony and renamed it British Honduras. The Great Depression of the 1930s, along with World War II caused the colony’s economy to stagnate. This stagnation caused Belizean people to demand their independence through a new coalition named the People’s Committee. However, independence wouldn’t find the colony until 30 years later in 1981.
Granted its independence on September 21, 1981, Belize was still not recognized as its own nation by Guatemala, who had conflict after conflict with the British Empire regarding the colony. From 1981 to 1984, pro-independence activist George Cadle Price won all of the nation’s elections.
In the 1984 election, the United Democratic Party gained control of the country only to lose it back to Price and the People’s United Party in 1989. The following year, all British forces were removed from the country.
In the years that followed, government control has changed hands many times. The United Democratic Party won control of the country back in 1993 and retained control until the People’s United Party won national elections. After that, the government changed hands again.
Today, Belize is a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary.
Travel to Belize
Belize is considered a relatively safe place to travel. A popular destination for those seeking quiet and relaxation, it offers a wide range of activities for all. Whether snorkeling the Belize Barrier Reef or exploring the mysteries of the underworld, Belize is an adventurous place to visit with a rich history and culture to be learned.