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torstai 22. syyskuuta 2016

Belize, Cool Facts #143

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1. British Baymen

In 1638 a British sailboat was shipwrecked on the coast of Belize and the sailors of the boat became the country's first European settlers as they established a British settlement. The area hadn't been settled by Europeans before because of the strong Mayan resistance in Yucatan. The Baymen, who were buccaneers and pirates, established slavery in Belize.

In 1798 after the Battle of St. George's Caye against the Spanish the Baymen gained full control of the settlement. The Spanish controlled the neighboring colonies and they had chased out the Baymen four times between 1717 and 1780. The treaties of 1783 and 1786 had given the Baymen more security before gaining full control of the territory, where they lived and cut logwood.

In 1836 after the emancipation of Central America from Spanish rule, the British finally dared to claim the right to administer the area of Belize as Spain wasn't ruling in Latin America anymore. In 1862 Belize became a British crown colony as British Honduras.

Book about the Baymen

2. Belizean-Guatemalan Territorial Dispute  

In 1862 Belize became a British crown colony as British Honduras. Both Mexico and Guatemala claimed the area of British Honduras for themselves for historical reasons.

Mexico abandoned its claim to the area in 1893.

Guatemala agreed to recognized British Honduras in 1862 under the terms of the Wyke-Aycinena Treaty. In 1940 Guatemala started claiming Belize again as they thought that the British didn't keep all of its promises that it had made in the treaty.

The negotiations postponed the Belizean independence, which was achieved in 1981 as the territorial dispute remained unsolved. In 1991 Guatemala recognized the independence of Belize and a bit later in 1994 British soldiers were withdrawn from Belize.

In 1999 Guatemala renewed its claim on Belize as it claimed 53% of the country. The dispute is still on-going.

Belize-Guatemala territorial dispute

3. Demographics of Belize 

Belize's diverse society, composed of many ethnic groups and languages reflect its rich history.

Ethnic groups in Belize: 

Mixed Spanish and Maya descent, who speak Spanish as their main language. The mestizos originally came to Belize in 1847 escaping the Caste War in Yucatan.

The Maya are thought to have been in Yucatan region and Belize since 2000BC. Much of the original Maya population was wiped out by the Europeans and the diseases transmitted by them. Three Maya groups inhabit the country now: Yucatec, Mopan and Q'eqchi'

Descendants of the Baymen slave owners and slaves brought to Belize for the logging industry. They speak the Belizean Creole, which is derived mainly from English and it has been influence by the Miskito language and West African and Bantu languages.

The Garinagu are descendants of black people from West/Central Africa, who were never recorded as slaves. According to one study their ancestry is on average 76% Sub-Saharan African, 20% Arawak/Island Carib and 4% European.

The Mennonites are a German-speaking minority in Belize. The majority of them are so-called Russian Mennonites of German descent, who settled in the Russian Empire in the 18th and 19th centuries. Most of the Mennonites came from Mexico after 1958 and some came from Canada and USA in the late 1960s. The Mennonites speak Plautdietsh, which is a German dialect.

The remaining 5% of the population consists mainly of a mix of Chinese, Indians and whites from USA and Canada.

Belizean people

4. Hurricanes in Belize 

Hurricanes have played a devastating role in the Belizean history causing damages worth of hundreds of millions.

1931 Unnamed hurricane
Destroyed 2/3 of the buildings in Belize City and killed more than 1000 people.

1955 Hurricane Janet 
Damaged Corozal.

1961 Hurricane Hattie 
Struck the central coastal area of the country with winds over 300km/h. Belize City was struck by a hurricane for the second time in thirty years, so the capital was relocated 80km to the inland to the planned city of Belmopan.

1978 Hurricane Greta
Caused more than 25 million US dollar damages along the southern coast.

2001 Hurricane Iris 
The hurricane made a landfall at Monkey River Town, where it demolished most of the homes of the village and the banana crop.

2007 Hurricane Dean 
Made landfall as a Category 5 storm causing extensive damage in northern Belize.

2010 Hurricane Richard 
Caused damages worth over 17 million US dollars primarily from damage to crops and housing.

Hurricane in Belize

5. Nature in Belize 

- The Belize Barrier Reef the 2nd largest barrier reef in the world after Australia's Great Barrier Reef
- The Belize Barrier Reef is a UNESCO World Heritage Site 
- The highest point in Belize is at 1124m
- The Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary one of the best jaguar preservation sites in the world
- Over 60% of Belize's land area is covered by forest
- About 20% of the land area is covered by cultivated land and human settlements
- Belize is part of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor that stretches from southern Mexico to Panama
- 37% of Belize's land territory falls under some sort of official protection
- In 2010 Belize became the first country in the world to completely ban bottom trawling

Belize Barrier Reef
Cockscomb Wildlife Sanctuary


2500BC - 250AD Basic institutions of Maya civilization emerged
600-1000 Late Classic Era of Maya civilization
1506 Spanish conquistadors declared the land a Spanish colony but didn't settle it due to lack of resources like gold and the strong defense of the Mayans in Yucatan
1638 A British sailboat was shipwrecked on the coast of Belize and the sailors of the boat became Belize's first European settlers as they established a British settlement
1798 The Battle of St. George's Caye, the Spanish unsuccessfully tried to conquer the Baymen-controlled territory for Spain from a small force of Baymen and their slaves
1833 Slavery was abolished in the British Empire
1836 After the emancipation of Central America from Spanish rule, the British claimed the right to administer the area of Belize
1862 Belize became a British crown colony as British Honduras. Both Mexico and Guatemala demanded the area of British Honduras for themselves
1893 Mexico abandoned its claim to the area
1930s The Great Depression, Great Britain's demand for timber plummeted and caused nearly the collapse of the colony
1931 A devastating hurricane hit the country
1954 First election under universal suffrage
1964 Great Britain granted British Honduras self-government
1970 The capital city was removed from Belize City to Belmopan because the coastal areas were struck by hurricanes
1973 British Honduras was officially renamed Belize
1981 Belize became independent but Guatemala refused to recognize its independence
1991 Guatemala recognized Belize's independence
1994 British soldiers were withdrawn from Belize
2005 Unrest caused by discontent with the PUP government
2008 Dean Barrow became prime minister after his UDP won the general elections
2012 Barrow and UDP were re-elected 

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