Formerly known as British Honduras, Belize lies in the American mainland, its eastern shores welcoming the waves of the Caribbean sea. Though part of Central America, Belize’s laid back lifestyle reflects more on its Caribbean neighbors.
It was the Amerindians who first inhabited Belize, but it was the Mayans who propelled its civilization. The Mayan skills was put to good use in farming Belize’s land for crops such as corn, chillies, and cocoa. As time pass, so did the Mayan expertise in architecture and stonework. Remains of the Mayan cities are still intact in Belize: ancient cities of Caracol, Lamanai, Lubaantun, Xunantunich, etc.
Similar to the Caribbean islands, it was Christopher Columbus who was the first European to set his sights on Belize, though he never set foot on land. Spanish shipwreck survivors were the first Non-Mayan to arrive in Belize. Of the twenty people who washed up on the shore, most were sacrificed to the Gods by the Mayans or taken as slaves. It was Gonzalo Guerrero, who became the first to defect to the Mayans and married into a noble family. His three children were the first mestizos in Belize.
Europeans were drawn to Belize because of the country’s abundance supply of logwood (a tree whose sap was used to dye clothing), as well as mahogany and other trees. The Spanish Empire, who had control over Belize, gave the British permission to set up logging camps. In time, the British area slowly grew. Spain and Britain eventually went to war over control of the country, with Britain emerging victorious over the Spaniards. Commonly known as the Battle of St. George’s Cayes, this event in history is celebrated in Belize September 10th of every year.
It was in 1840 that Belize was officially named as the Colony of British Honduras. In 1871, they became an official part of the Crown Colony. It wasn’t until 1973 that the name British Honduras was dropped, and the territory officially became known as Belize.