Belize Information

People of Belize - A Melting Pot of Cultures

By Angela Wu 8/9/2018


As a little Central American/Caribbean country, Belize is home to only about three hundred ninety-eight thousand people. Although this number may be small compared to other countries, Belize’s demographic composition is actually one of the most diverse societies in the world. Often times, Belize is referred to as the “melting pot.” But what does this mean? What is the melting pot of Belize?

A Melting Pot

Well, in short, Belize’s melting pot describes our unique blend of different cultures, ethnic groups and communities residing in Belize. Although culturally different, we all are able to get along with one another and live in harmony. What is astonishing about our melting pot is the fact that all the different cultures can celebrate their own cultures, while still being able to appreciate other people’s cultures. And that’s what makes Belize and the people of Belize unique.

Majority of Belize’s population are Mestizo, which is a mixture of Spanish and Maya. It is then followed by Maya, Creole, and Garifuna, contributing to majority of population. But, let’s not forget that small percentages of the whole consist of Jamaicans, Lebanese and even American and European expats. There are so many ethnic groups in Belize! The Belizean race is not just one specific race, but rather multiple races, which means multiple cuisines of foods, multiple languages being spoken and multiple lifestyles that are being lived.

The other day I spoke to my neighbor, Ms. Sandra, about Belize and the people of Belize. Ms. Sandra is originally from Jamaica. And, she mentioned in our conversation that the diversity of people in Belize is just immense. Albeit there is some diversity in Jamaica, Belize is on a whole other level! And it is just absolutely beautiful! Everywhere you go, you get to meet many different faces, experience the different cultures, try different foods, and learn new languages and interesting things about culturally different people.

Cultural Groups

Several Cultural groups are represented in Belize, making it a very diverse country for such a small population of only around 399,000 people. The major cultural groups include:
  • Mestizo: persons of mixed Hispanic-Amerindian origin.
  • Garifuna: persons descended from African slaves mixed with Amerindian inhabitants of the eastern Caribbean islands.
  • Creole: persons descended wholly or in part from African slaves.
  • Maya: original inhabitants, mostly from one of three denominations - Ketchi, Yucatec, or Mopan Mayan.

We are truly a melting pot! Take the members behind Belizing.com for instance. We have myself, who is of Chinese background, Maria, Jared, Luis, and Nico of Mestizo, and Derrick who is of Creole and Maya decent. Being a diverse group working together, we tend to have a lot to share about our own cultures – and we love to learn something new every day. Whether you are living in Belize or planning to visit Belize, you will meet a lot of different people from the different cultures. People in Belize are warm and welcoming – we are always glad to share about our unique cultures.

Languages in Belize

Belize is the only English-speaking country in Central America. Although English is the official language of Belize, other languages such as Spanish, Mandarin, Hindi, German, Garifuna and Maya are also spoken in Belize – talk about multilingual!

This also makes it really convenient and easy for travelers to explore Belize. Locally, Belizeans speak in a patois, which is Creole (or Kriol). Kriol is known as broken-up English, but it’s not the same as any other Caribbean country’s patois. Again, we have our unique Belizean Creole language.

Here are some interesting facts about the languages of Belize according to the Statistical Institute of Belize:
  • In the Corozal, Orange Walk and Cayo Districts, Spanish is the dominant language spoken.
  • Creole is mainly spoken in Western and Southern Belize.
  • The majority of the population who speak Maya are located in Toledo and Stann Creek.
  • Apart from English, Spanish, Creole, and Maya, German is a popular second language.
Throughout the country, you will find someone who is bilingual or multilingual, speaking English, Creole and some other language. You will also find that there isn’t just one location where a specific ethnic group resides. Mestizo, Maya, Chinese, Garifuna, Mennonite and other communities are scattered from every corner of Belize. From north to south and east to west, you will encounter the melting pot of Belize.


Being Belizean does not label you as one certain race or color. Belizeans are a group of diverse, vibrant people and we are the melting pot of Belize. We have a lot of culture, food, music, and dance to share with everyone, so come along and immerse yourself in the many unique cultural tours listed on Belizing.com!

Experiences Belize's Culture

You can experience Belize's many cultures through various activities you can book on Belizing.com. Scroll down to find a few suggested cultural and food tours. Experience the Garifuna Culture in Hopkins, the Mayan Culture in Toledo, the Creole culture and history in Belize City, and the different ethnic foods in San Ignacio.


 
Learn More
Tours/Activities
$
55
-
$
110
/ Person
Departs From:
Hopkins
The Chocolate Making Sessions at a living Mayan Museum offers you the BEST of Real Mayan Culture and its authenticity. Experience the traditional Mayan way of making chocolate from ... morebean to bar. Cacao Beans are grown by local farmers in Maya Center Village and is certified Organic.

Take a short walk to the cacao farm to learn about how cacao trees are cultivated. The trained farmer will give you a detailed explanation and process of how the beans are extracted from the pods and then fermented and finally dried and ready to be processed into chocolate. You will roast your own cacao beans on the clay griddle, just like how the Mayans did.

Making chocolate on the Mayan grinding stone is a lot of fun! The cacao beans being ground on the grinding stone gets magical as you witness your chocolate beginning to unfold. What is more exciting is that you get to eat your own chocolate! The tour is very educational and hands on. You have got to do it.
$
70
/ Person
Departs From:
Hopkins
Learn about the many magical and beneficial properties of coconuts and the art of the traditional coconut milk extraction. Master the heat of traditional kitchen preparing a Garifuna ... moremeal over an open fire hearth rewarded by dinner and enjoying the labor of love! Delicious hudut!

Culminate your Garifuna Cultural Tour with a sensational drum roll- drumming, dancing and singing revitalizing your soul.
$
75
/ Person
Departs From:
Belize City
Your guide will meet you at your hotel of choice in Belize City and along the Philip Goldson Highway (only). If outside of Belize City you will need to contact us via email or by telephone ... morewith your pick up information. You will then be taken on a short city tour where your driver/tour guide will be pointing out historical sites and give you some interesting stories of Belize City. From there you will take an exit on the Philip Goldson Highway for an hour and a half drive where you will get a chance to see some wetlands and flora and fauna along the highway. Your guide will also give you some brief information about the different walks of life in the small villages that you will pass.

After arriving at the Toll Bridge in Orange Walk we meet another guide from that area who is well knowledgeable of the area and will proceed to the Cuello’s distillery and the Mayan site for about an hour.

After visiting the rum factory you will then take a short ride on an off-road to the nearby Mennonite Community where you will be stepping back into time when horse and carriage used to be the only mode of transportation in Belize. You will get a chance to experience first-hand the simple life that they live farming, tend to their livestock and also experience their food. 

Notes:

Gift shops in route.

This tour departs from and returns to Belize City unless there is a special request from our guests.
$
25
-
$
50
/ Person
Departs From:
Hopkins
Guests will learn conversational Garifuna, learn common slogans/greetings.
$
25
-
$
50
/ Person
Departs From:
Hopkins
Master the movement of your body induced by the pulsating rhythm of the Garifna drum beats.
$
25
-
$
50
/ Person
Departs From:
Hopkins
Fascinated by the pulsating rhythms of the Garifuna Drums. We are pleased to share in the fulfillment of your quest to learn to play the drums and become a member of our drummers club. ... moreGuests are taught the different Garifuna Rhythms and some folkloric songs.
$
85
/ Person
Departs From:
San Ignacio Town
Provider:
MAYA & MENNONITE CULTURAL VILLAGE TOUR Barton Creek Mennonites There are approximately 10,000 Mennonites living in Belize. Although originally of European descent and heritage, ... moremany Mennonite children and their parents have been born and raised in Belize, creating a unique blend of culture and spirituality. The Mennonites are much like the Amish, living a humble and religiously pious lifestyle. The Mennonites of Belize are peaceful, hardworking people and the more remote communities like Barton Creek retain a very traditional and simple way of life, relying on their knowledge and strength to farm and survive in the jungle with few modern amenities. Belizean Mennonites speak a dialect of German as well as the local languages or English, Kriol, and Spanish.

The communities are very conservative and the women wear bonnets and long dresses, while the men wear denim overalls and wide brim hats. The men may wear traditional suspenders and dark trousers. They use horse-drawn buggies for transportation and till their farm fields with horses. In the most remote communities, they still use horses to drive their sawmills.

The Mennonites of Barton Creek are very restrictive with their use of machinery and they produce many agricultural crops without any modern machinery. They are highly productive people and they produce honey, milk, eggs, poultry, beans, and other staple crops. Often confused with the Amish, the Mennonites are actually their own distinct religious group with strict Christian principals and their own language. They have many traditions and practices that date back hundreds of years, including arranged marriages. Come to explore this fascinating and reserved culture on a trip through the jungle and back in time to how things were before cell phones, cars, iPods, and even before electricity. San Antonio’s Womens Group Located on the road to the Mountain Pine Ridge, the village of San Antonio was named after St. Anthony of Padua when a Spanish Priest who visited regularly from the town of Benque Viejo del Carmen brought a statue of St. Anthony to the Village. The statue can be seen in the Catholic Church near the Village Square. Prior to the name change, San Antonio was known in the local Yucatec Maya dialect as “Osh Multun Kakab” which translates to “Three Mound Virgin Forest”. Today villagers simply refer to their village as “Tanah,” which is the Mayan term for “our home.”

This is a beautiful and productive community with various cultural activities throughout the year, especially in the months of June and December. June 13 marks St. Anthony Day and villagers celebrate for 13 days with traditional Mayan music, foods, such as tamales, and festivities. This is mainly an agricultural community and the local residents grow crops such as peanuts, corn, squash, and beans, much like their ancestors. There are currently three Women’s Groups in San Antonio. One group operates the community bakery, the other specializes in pottery, local jewelry, and embroidery, and the most recent group is making hammocks, embroidery, and clothing. Tour this lovely village and get a firsthand look at living Mayan culture. Local Mayan lunch included with your tour.
$
125
/ Person
Departs From:
Hopkins
Provider:
Belize Maya Cultural Tours This Belize Maya Cultural tour allows participants to learn more about the people who built the legendary cities of Xunantunich, Tikal, Lamanai, Caracol, ... moreand Altun Ha that still tower over the Belizean landscape today.

Participants will travel to a traditional Maya village in southern Belize to meet the descendants of the ancient Maya. Participants will learn about Maya life, including making medicinal compounds from plants found in the jungle, food, musical instruments, textiles, and furniture.

Participants will then be instructed on how to prepare a traditional Maya meal, including grinding corn for making tortillas and tamales. A full lunch of traditional Maya food will be served, including hot chocolate made from beans grown in the village.

Other activities include learning how to weave baskets and bags from local reeds as well as hammocks. Participants will also learn how the Maya make musical instruments from bamboo.
$
120
/ Person
Departs From:
Hopkins
Provider:
Belize Mayan Chocolate Tour You’ve probably enjoyed tasty chocolate treats your whole life without ever knowing where it came from. This tour is perfect for chocolate lovers ... moreas you’ll get to learn about the traditional Maya method of making chocolate, starting with the cocoa bean and continuing all the way to the finished chocolate bar.

This tour starts with learning how cocoa beans are extracted from the pods, fermented, dried, and then prepared for making chocolate. Participants will then be able to eat and enjoy their creations.

Note: All chocolate is grown by local farmers and is certified organic.

Angela Wu

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