Belize is an independent nation in North America. With the capital city of Belmopan, Belize 2020 population is estimated at 397,639 according to countryaah. Mayan culture flourished in Belize until the 9th century, when, for unknown reasons, it began to fall apart. The first Europeans came in the 16th century. Eventually the English gained control of the area, which became the colony of British Honduras. In the middle of the 20th century, demands for independence began to emerge. The colony gained internal autonomy in 1964 and the name was changed to Belize in 1973.
Although the high-ranking Mayan civilization had perished, the Mayan people remained in the area when Europeans, mainly Spaniards, arrived. The indigenous people fought the Spanish colonizers but were weakened by illnesses brought by the Europeans. For Belize political system, please check diseaseslearning.
In the 1600s, the Spaniards faced competition from English pirates, who settled on the coast. According to legend, one of the pirates, Peter Wallace, of the Spaniards called “Ballis” named the river Belize. The English acquired slaves from Africa who were set to cut down Kampesch trees, whose red dye was used in the English wool industry.
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Spain and England’s conflict over the area lasted until the end of the 18th century, when Spain gave up. At the beginning of the 19th century, both Mexico and Guatemala claimed territory. However, the British resisted all pressure. British Honduras became a British colony and was raised after eight years, 1871, to the crown colony.
The colony’s main export goods were battle wood and mahogany. When the prices of these goods fell sharply, the position of the local white elite weakened and capital companies from London bought up land. In 1875, Belize Estate and Produce Company was formed, which came to own half the country and dominate the economy for over a hundred years. In the late 1800s, well-ordered African-bred Creoles began to demand political rights, but not until the end of the 1920s were they admitted into the colonial legislature.
During the worldwide economic depression in the 1930s, mahogany exports almost completely ceased and unemployment rose sharply. Then only the wealthiest two percent of the population had the right to vote. Workers’ organizations that demanded political participation were formed.
In the 1940s, a nationalist movement emerged that demanded independence from Britain. In 1950, the movement was transformed into the left-wing People’s United Party (PUP) and under its pressure, voting rights for literate adults were introduced in 1954. The same year elections were held in Parliament and the PUP won a superior victory over the National Party (NP), the colonial establishment party.
British Honduras gained internal autonomy in 1964, but Britain continued to manage its internal security, defense and international relations. The Crown Colony’s name was changed to Belize in 1973, but independence would take another eight years.