Demographics of Belize

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This article is about the demographic features of the population of Belize, including population density, ethnicity, education level, health of the populace, economic status, religious affiliations and other aspects of the population.

Belize is the most sparsely populated nation in Central America. It is larger than El Salvador. Slightly more than half of the people live in rural areas. About one-fourth live in Belize City, the principal port, commercial centre, and former capital.

Most Belizeans are of multiracial descent. About 34% of the population is of mixed Maya and European descent (Mestizo), 25% are Kriols, 15% are Spanish, about 10.6% are Mayan, and about 6.1% are Afro-Amerindian (Garifuna).[1] The remaining population includes European, East Indian, Chinese, Middle Eastern, and North American groups. In the case of Europeans, most are descendants of Spanish and British colonial settlers, whether pure-blooded or mixed with each other. Most Spanish left the nation just after it was taken by the British colonists who, in the same way, left after independence. Dutch and German Mennonites settled Belize, most in the isolated areas.

Because Belize's original Maya peoples were decimated by disease and wars, many of the country's Maya today are descended from other groups. The current Maya population consists of several different tribes. The Yucatecs fled to Belize in the late 1840s to escape the Caste War in Yucatán, Mexico. They live in the Orange Walk and Corozal districts, which border on Mexico. In the 1870s-1880s, the Kekchi ran from Verapaz, Guatemala, where their lands were being stolen for coffee plantations, which then enslaved them. They settled villages in the Toledo district. Living near rivers and streams, their lifestyle is self-reliant. The Mopans originated in Belize, but most were driven out to Guatemala after the British assumed control from the Spanish in the late 18th century. They returned to Belize in 1886, running from enslavement and taxation in Petén. The Cayo district and San Antonio in the Toledo district are their homes now. Some of the Kekchi and Mopan have mixed together. About 80% of the population is Christian.

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