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Belize History

  • Maya archtitecture

Belize was one of the homes of the Maya, a very sophisticated and very famous ancient civilization. These ancient people thrived from around 2000 BC to 1500 AD and left behind many ruins as well as many traditions that are still felt throughout Belize today. Part of the reason the Mayans began to decline was due to the arrival of Europeans during the 16th century.

The first Europeans to arrive in Belize were the Spanish who were in pursuit of the famed Mayan gold and hoped to convert the local populations to Catholicism. A great deal of damage was caused to the Mayan people through warfare with the Europeans, but also with the introduction of foreign illnesses to which the local population had no immunity. Despite declaring the area a Spanish colony, the Spanish chose not to settle the region, and it instead came to the attention of the British.

Belize’s coast became a popular Caribbean outpost for British pirates as it provided protective cover, as well as uninhabited land and resources. The British began to occupy the land in 1638 and the settlement became profitable and was a rich source of hardwoods like mahogany which was popular back in Britain. Although there were attempts by the Spanish to reclaim the land, it remained firmly in British control. The territory was officially recognized as a British colony in 1862 and was named British Honduras. 

During the early 20th century, a Belizean nationalism movement began to stir and the population began to set its sights on independence. The Second World War had a negative impact on Belize as export markets were suddenly closed causing an economic crisis that outlived the war. With the country in distress, anti-British sentiments began to grow and demonstrations began to occur, sometimes becoming violent. In the 1950s, a national independence party, the People’s United Party became active and in 1964, the country achieved internal self-government.  In 1973, the country’s name was changed to Belize, and a further eight years later, Britain agreed to grant Belize independence.

Despite being a relatively small country, Belize is gaining international recognition as a popular tourist destination. Tourism is the largest international revenue generator for the country as people come to explore the tropical climate and rich historical value. The many Maya ruins including Caracol, once the centre of one of the largest Maya kingdoms, attract archaeology and history buffs from around the world. 

Others come to see the Belize Barrier Reef, one of the largest barrier reefs in the world. With over 450 cayes (islands) and incredible wildlife viewing and recreational opportunities like snorkelling and scuba diving, Belize’s coast is truly fascinating. Ecotourism has been on the rise in recent years and Belize is fast becoming a favourite destination amongst nature lovers.



Belize Travel Information

At Goway we believe that a well-informed traveller is a safer traveller. With this in mind, we have compiled an easy-to-navigate travel information section dedicated to Belize.

Learn about the history and culture of Belize, the must-try food and drink, and what to pack in your suitcase. Read about Belize's nature and wildlife, weather and geography, along with 'Country Quickfacts' compiled by our travel experts. Our globetrotting tips, as well as our visa and health information, will help ensure you're properly prepared for a safe and enjoyable trip. The only way you could possibly learn more is by embarking on your journey and discovering Belize for yourself. Start exploring… book one of our Belize tours today!


Extend Your Trip

After your Belize tours, why not consider another of Goway's Latin America tours. These include a large selection of other exciting countries in Central and South America. We offer Chile vacation packages and Easter Island toursEcuador vacation packages which include Galapagos cruisesPeru vacation packages which include Machu Picchu tours and Brazil tours including Iguassu Falls tours among many others.



Book your Belize tour with Goway! 

LATIN AMERICA by Goway is an exclusive division that specializes in planning and organizing Belize tours, vacations and experiences. Choose from one of our independent travel modules and more. We want to be your first choice when next you go globetrotting to Belize.

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