Culture in Belize

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Culture in Belize

Belize is a country with a rich diversity of Culture, none of which is dominating. You will find a mixture of Maya, Garinagu also known as Garifuna, Mestizo a mixture of Spanish and Indian, Mennonites which are of German descent with a blend of many other cultures from Chinese to Lebanese (A former Prime Minister of Belize, equivalent to the President, was of Palestine decent).

The Maya built breathtaking temple complexes aligned to the movement of celestial bodies. Although they remained technically a Stone Age culture, they also developed sophisticated mathematics, astronomy and calendars. Then the Maya mysteriously disappeared, but their direct blood descendants are still living in Belize. Then in the 1500s, after Columbus found the Americas for the Europeans, the Spaniards came over and captured Mexico and Central America including Belize and constructed some plain stone churches. They mixed with the Mayas and created the Mestizo culture. Then British pirates came to Belize igniting a struggle for power and ending with a victory for the English Crown. The British brought slaves to Belize to cut logwood. In 1797 the entire Garinagu population (direct blood line descendants of African slaves) were deported from St. Vincent to Honduras and they spread along the entire coast of Central America with a large amount concentrating in Belize, that was called British Honduras in those days. In 1847 Refugees came to Belize by the thousands from Mexico, Maya, Mestizo and Spaniards. All the other cultures in Belize are people that fled their countries during the World Depression in the 1930 and the II World War.

The official language of Belize is English, but the Creoles (the largest ethnic group) speak their own colorful dialect as well as Standard English. Spanish is the main language in the north and some towns in the west. You may also hear Mayan, Chinese, Mennonite German, Lebanese, Arabic, Hindi and Garifuna (the language of the Garinagu people of Stann Creek district) being spoken. Most of Belize's population is Roman Catholic, but British influence has created a sizable and varied protestant congregation, including German Swiss Mennonites. The Mayan practice of Catholicism is a fascinating fusion of shamanism-animist and Christian ritual. Belize has never really developed its own national cuisine. Its cooking borrows elements from the UK, the USA, Mexico and the Caribbean. The most common food of the people in Belize is rice and beans. These are most often complemented with chicken, pork, beef, fish or vegetables; coconut milk and fried plantains add a tropical flavor.