Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Can you know a country, its culture and people without a little history?

How did this tiny country wind up with a tossed salad mix of cultures?

With over 900 Mayan sites in ruin today, one can imagine the grandeur of the Maya civilization that flourished from 600BCE to the beginning of "the decline" in 900AD.

1000 - competition for dominance throughout Central America.
1250 - Mayapan, in the Yucatan, becomes the center of influence with trading between the Maya in Belize and those in the Yucatan.

The Spaniards arrived in the early 1500’s, brought with them smallpox, hookworm and malaria, and little tolerance for native culture.
The 1600’s ushered in Buccaneers and Pirates: "Admiral" Benbow, "Blackbeard" Teach, William Bannister and others. In their spare time, these villains were involved in logging (with the "Baymen") --for its black, red and gray dyes--but plundered galleons in the Caribbean as the notion took them.
Colonized by the British in the mid-1600’s.

The mahogany trade brought the first black slaves from Jamaica in the early 1700’s.
The territory was named British Honduras in 1765.
Early 1800’s found the Black Caribs, from Guatemala and Honduras, enter British Honduras, while the Kechki and Mopan Indians also found refuge as they left Guatemala's forced labor coffee plantations.
Mid-1800’s the Mestizo’s from southern Mexico fled into Belize as a race war raged in the Yucatan. Sepoys, deported from India after a rebellion showed up in 1857.
British Honduras was officially declared a British colony in 1862.
An influx of refugee Confederate supporters from the southern US settled in 1866.

The 1900’s ushered in a growth of the people’s politics, "Natives First" movement, Belizean Labour Party, and People’s United Party (PUP) and United Democratic Party (UDP) were all founded.
Riots in 1919 started by black Belizean soldiers over their bad treatment in WWI—Belize City looted.
Hurricane of 1931, killed 2,500.
Mennonites arrived from Mexico in 1958.
Hurricane Hattie destroyed most of the buildings in Belize City in 1961. Capital moved to Belmopan in 1970.
British Honduras was renamed Belize in 1973 and became independent in 1981.
1998 began a 10-year rule for the PUP.

2006 commercial oil drilling began.
In 2008 a landslide victory for the United Democratic Party (UDP) with Dean Barrow as the first black prime minister.

The above information was gathered through reading:
Insight Guides, "Belize", by the Discovery Channel
"Belize Guide", Paul Glassman

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