Mélange Travel & Lifestyle Magazine January 2019 - Page 120

The Ethnic Groups of Belize Mestizo Maya The Mestizo people are those of European (Spanish) and Mayan ancestry. Escaping from the Caste War of the Yucatan in the mid-19th century, they arrived in Belize around 1847 and now represent 48% of the Belizean population. They live primarily in the northern districts of Corozal and Orange Walk. Although the Mestizo speak English, they often communicate in Spanish. The Maya were the first people to live in Belize from about 250AD. Today, there are three groups living throughout the country. The Yucatec Maya, the Mopan Maya and the Kekchi Maya. Their communities are built in somewhat close proximity to the ancient Maya settlements. They represent about 11% of the population. Creole Garifuna The Belizean population consist of about 25% Creole who today live primarily in Belize City. Creoles are a mixture of African slaves (who were brought to Belize in the 18th century), and their European owners. The Garifuna, also known as Garinagu originated from the Caribbean island of St. Vincent and first came to Belize on November 19, 1802. They were also known as the black Caribs. This day is a national holiday in Belize which celebrates their arrival. The oldest Garifuna settlement is Barranco located in the south. East Indian Asian Indians arrived as indentured servants in 1838 after the abolition of slavery. They comprise about 3% of Belize’s population. Today, they live primarily in communities in the Toledo district. Asians arrived in Belize in 1865 as indentured servants. Comprising 0.7% of the population they now live mainly in the Belize District. Mennonite Central American Around 1958, the Mennonites arrived in Belize. They now comprise 3.6 % of the population and live within their own Mennonite communities with their own schools, churches and financial institutions. From since 1860, Central Americans have been arriving in Belize. They come from the neighbouring contries of Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua. Belize Botanic Gardens Covering 45 acres of old cattle pasture, the Belize Botanic Gardens allow visitors the opportunity to see not only over 2000 species of Belize’s local plants, including displays in the Orchid House and the Mayan House, but also catch glimpses of some of the bird life from the nearby jungle. Visitors can take leisurely self-guided tours around the garden to learn more about the local vegetation.