Brief history of Belize summarized
A brief review of the history of Belize, in a summarized way.
Belize in its early days
The Mayans created a great civilization in what is now Belize. The ancestors of the Mayans were hunters, but around 2,000 BC they adopted agriculture as a way of life. In the years 300 BC to 250 AD, organized Mayan kingdoms arose.
Then, from 250 to 600 AD, an advanced civilization emerged. The Mayans invented writing and made great advances in astronomy and mathematics.
The Mayan civilization was at its height between 600 and 900 AD However, after 900 AD it declined. In the central jungle the cities were abandoned. We’re not sure why. Perhaps there were ecological changes and famines.
Or maybe the war between the different Mayan kingdoms caused a disaster. In any case, in the far north and south, people still lived in cities. The Mayan civilization did not die completely.
Beginning in the 1540s, the Spanish attempted to control Belize, but the Mayans fiercely resisted. The Spanish never gained effective and lasting control of Belize. However, they brought new diseases that the natives did not resist. The population fell dramatically and the surviving Mayans retreated into the interior.
In the 17th century, British loggers began settling the Belizean coast in search of valuable timber, although the Spanish still claimed the territory. Initially British settlers sold firewood, but in the late 18th century they began exporting mahogany.
Several times during the 18th century the Spanish attacked and forced British loggers, known as Baymen, out. However, the Spanish never settled and the British baymen always returned. Meanwhile, large numbers of African slaves were brought to Belize.
The Spanish made one last attempt to take control of Belize and drive out the British baymen in September 1798. However, their fleet was defeated at the Battle of St George’s Caye and they abandoned the attempt. However, Britain did not formally take responsibility for Belize until 1862, when it became British Honduras.
Meanwhile, the British Parliament voted to abolish slavery in 1833. During the 19th century, fighting against the Mayans continued in the interior. Intermittent warfare continued until 1882.
At the end of the 19th century, mahogany was still Belize’s main export, although there was also a significant sugar industry.
In 1901 there were more than 37,000 people living in Belize. Many of them were very poor.
In the 1950s, an independence movement grew in Belize. The United People’s Party was formed in 1950. It was led by George Price. In 1954 elections were held by universal suffrage.
The Price-led PUP won the election in a landslide. Then, in 1964, Belize became a self-governing colony with Great Britain responsible for its foreign and defense policy. Finally, on September 21, 1981, Belize became an independent country.
After independence, the population of Belize grew rapidly. Tourism in Belize also skyrocketed. Tourism is now Belize’s most important industry, although the country also exports sugar and bananas. Belize’s population is currently 367,000.
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