6 Belize History Facts You Need To Know

history of belize

When you visit a new place, it’s always fun and helpful to understand the history. Belize is a country with a rich history from the ancient Maya civilization to the arrival of European settlers. Let’s explore six important historical facts about Belize.

1. What’s In a Name?

The name Belize has two possible origins. One theory says it comes from the Mayan word for muddy water, which was belix. This is thought to refer to the Belize River. Another theory suggests it may have been the Spanish pronunciation of a pirate’s surname who made the first Belize settlement. That happened in 1638 and the man’s name was Peter Wallace.

2. Belize Settlers

The ancient Maya flourished in Belize between 1500 BC and 900 AD. European settlers began to move in around 1638 as privateers explored the area. The first group of European settlers were called the Baymen. They were shipwrecked British sailors who decided to settle in the area. They worked in cutting logwood and soon exported it to Europe. Spain and England fought over Belize several times during this period.

3. Battle at St. George’s Caye

In 1798 on September 10th, there was a historic battle between the Spanish troops and the British Baymen. This was part of the war between England and Spain at the time. The Baymen were outnumbered and the odds were strongly against them, but somehow they prevailed and defeated the Spanish troops. That allowed England to take more control of the settlement. Today, the battle continues to be celebrated in Belize as a national holiday.

4. History of Belize Industry

The Baymen left another legacy in the history of Belize’s logwood industry. Logwood was highly prized in Europe at the time. Eventually, logwood export was overtaken by mahogany, which was another highly prized tropical wood. By the early 1900s, Belize exports began to take the form of crops such as sugarcane, bananas and citrus. Today, Belize continues to export mahogany as well as the edible crops.

5. Colonization

The earliest colonizing settlement of Belize was located in the Bay Of Honduras. It was eventually called British Honduras in the early 1800s. It became a Crown Colony in 1871. The original capital of Belize was Belize City, but it was severely damaged by a hurricane in 1961. This caused concern in the government that a coastal location was too risky. The capital trappings were slowly moved over to Belmopan and that was declared the new capital. British Honduras was renamed to Belize in 1973.

6. Disputed Territory

The land of Belize has long been disputed territory with Guatemala. The other country has continued being contentious on land borders, and the dispute is technically unresolved. However, last year, both Belize and Guatemala voted to take the issue to the International Court of Justice to resolve it.

If you’re planning to visit Belize, consider staying at the Chabil Mar in Placencia. Our full-service luxury beach resort offers you the relaxing, tropical vacation you deserve.

Visit our website chabilmarvillas.com for more information on Belize and don’t hesitate to send us an email, or call US/CAN Toll Free: 1-866-417-2377, Local: (011-501) 523-3606, if you have questions or need help in planning a Belize Vacation.

Photo courtesy: Wikipedia


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