Belize – Between the Mayans and Garifunas

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Belize is the second smallest country in Central America, on the Yucatán Peninsula,bordering Mexico and Guatemala. With only 5 million inhabitants it offers a spectacular mixture of cultures, a variety of activities to choose from and a natural diversity that is hard to beat.

Belize, a former British colony (Colony of British Honduras), gained full independence as late as 1981 following 20 years of negotiations between Guatemala and Great Britain regarding border issues. It is said that the first settlement was established by shipwrecked English seamen in 1638.

 

Xunantunich Belize

 

 

Belize’s inhabitants are as diverse as its history. They are a mixture of 49% Mestisos, 25% Creoles, 11% Mayas and 6% Garifunas. Garifunas are a fusion of West African slaves and the Carib Indians from St. Vincent. Additionally there is a large Mennonite population near Orange Walk.

In contrast to its Central American neighbors, Belize’s official language is English; however, because of its mixed population, Spanish is heard just as often, as well as Creole, a modification of English that is spoken in all of the Caribbean countries.

Despite its size, Belize offers a breathtaking and diverse landscape. From the tropical forest in the North, along the Steppe and river landscapes of the interior to the agricultural South with its endless coconut plantations.

The northern part of Belize is generally flat, with low hills to the west. Lamanai, near Orange Walk, is a stunning example of the countries Mayan history and advanced civilization. Its remote location makes it an interesting and adventurous trip to the past. If you love bird watching and untouched nature, the northern coast boasts the Shipstern Nature Reserve, a protected habitat for the country’s abundant wildlife.

Lamanai Belize

 

Categories: Belize, Central America

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