Belize City is the largest city in Belize and was once the capital of the former British Honduras. According to the 2010 census, Belize City has a population of 57,169 people in 16,162 households, it is at the mouth of the Haulover Creek, a tributary of the Belize River. The Belize River empties into the Caribbean Sea five miles from Belize City on the Philip Goldson Highway on the coast of the Caribbean; the city is the country's principal port and its financial and industrial hub. Cruise ships drop anchor outside the port and are tendered by local citizens; the city was entirely destroyed in 1961 when Hurricane Hattie swept ashore on October 31. It was the capital of British Honduras until the government was moved to the new capital of Belmopan in 1970. Belize City was founded as "Belize Town" in 1638 by English lumber harvesters, it had been a small Maya city called Holzuz. Belize Town was ideal for the English as a central post because it was on the sea and a natural outlet for local rivers and creeks down which the British shipped logwood and mahogany.
Belize Town became the home of the thousands of African slaves brought in by the English to toil in the forest industry. It was the coordination site for the 1798 Battle of St. George's Caye, won by the British against would-be invaders, the home of the local courts and government officials up to the 1970s. For this reason, historians say that "the capital was the colony", because the center of British control was here; this sentiment remains true today. Though people like Antonio Soberanis, George Price and Evan X Hyde all lobbied to take their movements outside, other ethnic groups such as the Garifuna and Mestizos sprang up elsewhere in the country, people looked to Belize Town for guidance. Belize City has been directly struck by two hurricanes since 1900, the 1931 hurricane and 1961's Hurricane Hattie, at various times areas of the city have burnt down, the most recent being the 1999 Albert Street fire that burnt out Mikado's, a 2004 fire that destroyed the Paslow Building; the city was hit hard by Hurricane Richard in 2010 and by the 2016 Hurricane Earl.
Fires on Northside and Southside have burnt out great stretches of housing, but the fire department was able to quench most of these. The city is susceptible to flooding in the rainy season. Belize City spreads out Mile 6 on the Western Highway and Mile 5 on the Northern Highway, at the Haulover Bridge; the city proper is divided into two areas: Northside, bounded by Haulover Creek and ending in the east at the Fort George area, Southside, extending to the outskirts of the city and the port area including downtown. Politically, it is divided into ten constituencies. Freetown, the westernmost constituency on Northside, is home to the Belama, Coral Grove, Buttonwood Bay and Vista Del Mar suburbs. Within the city proper it extends up to around the former Belize Technical College area. Caribbean Shores includes Kings' Park, a small suburb north and west of Freetown Road, West Landivar, home to two of the University of Belize's three city campuses, residential University Heights. Pickstock inhabits the banks of the Haulover Creek extending to Barrack Road.
St. John's Cathedral stands on the southern end of Albert Street. St. John's is the oldest Anglican Church in Central America, one of the oldest buildings in Belize; the orange bricks came to Belize aboard British ships as ballast. Construction began in 1812, the church was completed in 1820. St. John's is the only Anglican cathedral in the world outside England where the crowning of kings took place. Fort George is the most colonial area in the city and contains Memorial Park, the Baron Bliss Grave and Baron Bliss Lighthouse and the Museum of Belize. On the Southside, Lake Independence and Port Loyola are home to some of the city's poorest residents. "London bridges", rickety wooden pallets linking dwellings, low-strung poles are not uncommon here. On the east side of Central American Boulevard are Mesopotamia, Queen's Square and Albert, which are better. Albert contains the downtown streets of Albert and Regent Streets; the divisions of the city are linked by four bridges: the Swing Bridge, at Market Square and North Front Street.
Numerous smaller bridges link individual streets. The three main canals running in Belize City, are Haulover Creek, Burdon Canal and Collet Canal. All of them run through Southside; the city is served by Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport, in Ladyville, northwest of Belize City, by Belize City Municipal Airport, within the city itself. Belize City features a tropical monsoon climate, with warm and humid conditions throughout the course of the year; the city has a lengthy wet season that runs from May through January and a short dry season covering the remaining three months. However, as is the characteristic of several cities with tropical monsoon climates, Belize City sees some precipitation during its dry season. March is Belize City's driest month with only 48 mm of precipitation observed, a somewhat unusual month for a city with this climate type; the driest month for a city with a tropical monsoon climate is the month after the winter solstice, which in Belize City would be January.
Average monthly temperatures remain constant throughout the course of the year, ranging from 23 °C to 28 °C. B
Belize is a country located on the eastern coast of Central America. Belize is bordered on the northwest by Mexico, on the east by the Caribbean Sea, on the south and west by Guatemala, it has an area of 22,970 square kilometres and a population of 387,879. Its mainland is 68 mi wide, it has the lowest population density in Central America. The country's population growth rate of 1.87% per year is the second highest in the region and one of the highest in the Western Hemisphere. The Mayan civilization spread into the area of Belize between 1500 B. C. and 300 A. D. and flourished until about 1200. European exploration campaigns began in 1502 when Christopher Columbus sailed along the Gulf of Honduras. European settlement was begun by English settlers in 1638; this period was marked by Spain and Britain both laying claim to the land until Britain defeated the Spanish in the Battle of St. George's Caye, it became a British colony in 1840, known as British Honduras, a Crown colony in 1862. Independence was achieved from the United Kingdom on 21 September 1981.
Belize has a diverse society, composed of many cultures and languages that reflect its rich history. English is the official language of Belize. Over half the population is multilingual, with Spanish being the second most common spoken language, it is known for its extensive barrier reef coral reefs and punta music. Belize's abundance of terrestrial and marine species and its diversity of ecosystems give it a key place in the globally significant Mesoamerican Biological Corridor, it is considered a Central American and Caribbean nation with strong ties to both the American and Caribbean regions. It is a member of the Caribbean Community, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, the Central American Integration System, the only country to hold full membership in all three regional organisations. Belize is a Commonwealth realm, with Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state; the earliest known record of the name "Belize" appears in the journal of the Dominican priest Fray José Delgado, dating to 1677.
Delgado recorded the names of three major rivers that he crossed while travelling north along the Caribbean coast: Rio Soyte, Rio Xibum and Rio Balis. The names of these waterways, which correspond to the Sittee River, Sibun River and Belize River, were provided to Delgado by his translator, it is that Delgado's "Balis" was the Mayan word belix, meaning "muddy-watered". Some have suggested that the name derives from a Spanish pronunciation of the name of the Scottish buccaneer Peter Wallace, who established a settlement at the mouth of the Belize River in 1638. There is no proof that Wallace settled in this area and some scholars have characterized this claim as a myth. Writers and historians have suggested several other possible etymologies, including postulated French and African origins; the Maya civilization emerged at least three millennia ago in the lowland area of the Yucatán Peninsula and the highlands to the south, in the area of present-day southeastern Mexico, Belize and western Honduras.
Many aspects of this culture persist in the area despite nearly 500 years of European domination. Prior to about 2500 BC, some hunting and foraging bands settled in small farming villages. A profusion of languages and subcultures developed within the Maya core culture. Between about 2500 BC and 250 AD, the basic institutions of Maya civilization emerged; the peak of this civilization occurred during the classic period, which began about 250 AD. The Maya civilization spread across what is now Belize around 1500 BC, flourished there until about AD 900; the recorded history of the middle and southern regions is dominated by Caracol, an urban political centre that may have supported over 140,000 people. North of the Maya Mountains, the most important political centre was Lamanai. In the late Classic Era of Maya civilisation, as many as one million people may have lived in the area, now Belize; when Spanish explorers arrived in the 16th century, the area, now Belize included three distinct Maya territories: Chetumal province, which encompassed the area around Corozal Bay.
Spanish conquistadors explored the land and declared it a Spanish colony but chose not to settle and develop because of its lack of resources and the hostile Indian tribes of the Yucatán. English and Scottish settlers and pirates known as the Baymen entered the area from the 17th century, with Baymen first settling on the coast of what is now Belize in 1638, seeking a sheltered region from which they could attack Spanish ships; the settlers established a trade colony and port in what became the Belize District, during the 18th century, established a system using black slaves to cut logwood trees. This yielded a valuable fixing agent for clothing dyes, was one of the first ways to achieve a fast black before the advent of artificial dyes; the Spanish granted the British settlers the right to occupy the area and cut logwood in exchange for their help suppressing piracy. The British first appointed a superintendent over the Belize area in 1786. Before the British government had not recognized the settlement as a colony for fear of provoking a Spanish attack.
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