Belize Ethnic Groups making Belize a Melting Pot of Cultures

On visiting Belize, you will encounter people from different cultures and traditions residing harmoniously with each other, a really wonderfull melting pot of cultures. Belize boasts of several distinct ethnic groups like Garifuna, Mestizo, Creole, Maya, Chinese, Mennonites and East Indians. This unique blend of the Belize ethnic groups ensures preservation of its varied ethnicity and individuality. Belize People are a warm, hospitable lot and have a rich array of customs and traditions.

The Mestizos in Belize

As the largest ethnic group in the country, the Mestizos make up about 44% of the population of Belize. Residing mainly in the three districts of Corozal, Cayo and Orange Walk, the Mestizos are the descendants of the early Spanish and Mayan settlers who immigrated to Belize at the time of the Castle Wars in the middle of the nineteenth century. They speak Spanish as well as Creole, but also the formal language of Belize, English, is not a problem. Their dishes are very popular among the tourists. 

The Creole people in Belize

As the second largest ethnic group in the country, the Creoles make up about a third of the population of Belize. These people of Belize have descended from the slaves from Africa and the European settlers of the Colonial era as a result of their interracial unions and live mainly in small clusters throughout the cities. ‘Creole’ is the main language spoken throughout Belize by the Creoles, although English is the official language. The rice and beans contribution of the Creoles is the dominant lunch time food in Belize.


The Mayan people in Belize

Constituting the third biggest ethnic group in Belize, which consists of 11% of the Belizean population, and divided into three diverse groups (Kekchi, Yucatecan and Mopan) are the Mayas. The Yucatecan migrated to Belize during the Castle Wars. They now occupy Corozal and Orange Walk. The Mopan migrated to Belize in 1880’s and lived in the mountain regions of the western and southern districts. The Kekchi entered Belize around 1870 and inhabited its southern lowlands. The Mayans now mainly reside in the southern part of Toledo and Stann Creek. Their rich tradition has a place of pride among the Belize People. 

The Garifuna people in Belize

The next biggest racial group of 7% of the Belizean population, the Garifuna arrived in Belize in the latter part of the eighteenth century. They originated from the slaves from Africa who mixed with the natives of a small Caribbean island called St. Vincent. 
 
Having been exiled by the British to the Golf of Honduras, the Garifuna entered the southern shores of Belize in 1832 again and every year on 19 November, the locals celebrate Garifuna Settlement Day to commemorate this arrival. The Garifuna Settlement Day is actually a public holiday of Belize. These Garifuna people have a vibrant tradition of music, dance, distinctive arts and crafts and cuisine. 

Arabics, Mennonites, East Indians and Chinese people in Belize

The rest of the population comprises of mostly East Indians who are descendants of the labourers who were brought from India, the Arabics originally from Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine (migrated in the late 18th century and early 20th century), the Chinese (migrated in the early 20th century), mainly engaged in businesses and last but not the least, the Mennonites who are a deeply religious and simple people and have maintained their distinct rural lifestyle. The Mennonites came to Belize between 1958 and 1962 from Mexico. Originally the Mennonites are from Europe (region of Germany, Poland, Russia and the Netherlands) and they have moved from Europe to Canada to Mexico and finally to Belize.