ancient city of Cahal Pech
the Europeans ever dreamt of coming to the new world, there
was a large region expanding from Mexico in the north to
Honduras and El Salvador in the south commonly referred
to today as "La Ruta Maya". Inhabiting this
diverse region was a vibrant culture sharing unique characteristics
that included an impressive calendar, hieroglyphic script,
intriguing ritualistic beliefs and a very well structured
empire. They were the Maya. Archeologists date the Maya
culture back as early as 2500BC. It is believed that
between 250 and 900AD, Mayan cities experienced the pinnacle
of their power and prosperity. (The ancient remnants of
these complex cities can be found scattered throughout the
country, quietly sitting in their forested homes.)
In the the sixteenth century, the Spaniards disembarked
on this sacred Mayan territory. In contrast to their
knowledge of the developed civilizations encountered in
North Mexico and Peru, the Spaniards saw the Maya as disorganized.
Their search for treasures in this newly discovered area
now appeared easier than they had anticipated, and the Spanish
conquest shattered what was left of the ancient Maya culture.
In their journey to colonize the lands of La Ruta
Maya, Christianity was spread. Hundreds of friars
were brought along and scattered throughout the area to
convert as many of the "uncivilized" Maya people
the Spaniards were unable to successfully inhabit the area
now known as Belize, buccaneers (primarily British) seized
the opportunity to conquer and loot Spanish treasure fleets
harboring along Belize's coastline. Between the late seventeenth
to mid-eighteenth centuries, numerous treaties were signed
between Spain and Britain. Originally the idea
behind the treaties was to forbid buccaneering activities,
but in the end the British, much to Spain's dismay, established
logwood camps along the riverbanks of Northern Belize. These
logwood cutters were later referred to as the Baymen.
Eventually, the demand for logwood decreased and rich plantation
owners decided to replace logwood with the abundant mahogany
wood thriving in pristine forests.
great fortunes being made from the forests of Belize, the
dangerous life of the Baymen soon brought about great apprehension
in the camps. Apart from worrying about poisonous
snakes, deadly tropical diseases and the discomfort of working
amongst clouds of mosquitoes, there was the predominant
threat of the Spanish raids of the timber camps, which occurred
throughout the seventeenth century.
The ultimate conflict
occurred on the 10th of September 1798, when the Spaniards
were finally conquered at the battle on St. George's Caye.
They finally relinquished their claim over the region.
Today, The Battle of St. George's Caye is still celebrated
as a national holiday.
was ruled by the British crown from 1798 and was declared
British Honduras in 1862. The standard of living was very
low and most Belizeans were granted very little rights.
After the terrible hurricane of 1931, which devastated the
city and other parts of the country, the economy was in
dire need of repair. In this desperate atmosphere there
existed the budding aspiration for independence.
On January 1, 1964, a group of Belizeans, led by George
Price, was able to successfully negotiate a new constitution,
which granted the colony full internal self-government.
Hon. George Price soon became the first Prime Minister.
The name was changed to Belize in 1975, then finally
on the monumental day of September 21, in the year 1981,
Belize finally gained her long-awaited independence.