Society

Demographics and Ethnic Groups of Belize

The Maya peoples is one of the ethnic communities living in Belize.

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Belize is a country in the northeastern coast of Central America, bordering Mexico to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the west, and Guatemala to the north and east. It covers an area of approximately 8,867 square miles and has a population of about 388,000 people. Belize has the second highest population growth rate in Central America and among the highest in the Western Hemisphere at 1.87% annually. Most of the population of Belize is of multiracial descent. Being a former British Colony, the official language of Belize is English. Around 35% of the population is of mixed European and Maya descent. Here are some of the ethnic groups in Belize.

Maya

The Maya people are thought to have lived in Belize since the 2nd millennium BC. However, the majority of the original group were destroyed by diseases and war, and some fled to Guatemala and Mexico. The current Maya population consists of three language groups, namely Mopan Maya, Q’eqchi’ Maya, and Yucatec Maya. The Mayas account for about 11.6% of the population of Belize. The Maya people mainly speak Spanish and their native language and many can also speak Belize Kriol and English fluently.

Creole

Creoles (Kriols) accounts for approximately 25.9% of the population of Belize. They are the descendants of African slaves who were brought into the country by the Baymen to support the logging industry. The slaves were mainly of West and Central African descent. Over the years, the slaves intermarried with the Jamaicans, Miskitos, and East Indians who were also brought to Belize as laborers. The ethnic group speaks Belize Kriol, a language spoken by almost 75% of the total population.

Garinagu/Garifuna

The Garinagu people make about 6% of the population of Belize. The Garifuna are descendants of Island Caribs and Africans. They have often been incorrectly documented as Black Caribs. The Garinagu speak the Garifuna language. On November 19, 1832, is officially recognized in Belize as the Garifuna Settlement Day.

Mestizos

The Mestizos is a group of people comprising of a mix of Maya and Spanish descent. They first escaped Belize in 1847 when the Maya people opposed the state in Yucatan in the Caste War. The ethnic group is the largest in Belize, accounting for about 53% of the population and can be found throughout the country. The main language of most of the Mestizos is Spanish but a good number also speak Belize Kriol and English fluently.

Other Ethnic Groups

The other ethnic composition of Belize includes Mennonite who are of German descent. The group accounts for about 1.2% of the population. The other groups include a mix of White, Chinese, and Indians from the US, UK, and Canada. The East Indians are about 3.9% of the population while the Whites and Asians account for 1.2% and 1% of the population respectively. Most of the Whites are of Spanish and British descent. The ethnic origin of about 0.3% of the population is unknown.

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