The history of Belize is so amazingly, incredibly diverse, and I have been blessed to learn much of it from one of our magnificent historians here, Hector Silva. Hector is actually one of the founding members of the country.
Going back, Belize used to be British Honduras, but in June of 1973, England gave us complete independence, and Belize became a county officially on September 21, 1981.
The neat thing about that is that Belize is a very small country and we are less than 34 years old. Belize is a baby country and that is why people are finding it to be a land of opportunity.
Many years ago, we used to have Chicleros. A Chiclero is a man who would go out to the depths of the rainforest and put spikes on their shoes in order to climb up a Chiclet tree (also called a “Chicklet tree”), and then they would score the tree with their machete. The Chiclet is a sap that comes out of the Chiclet tree and falls down to the bottom. The Chicleros would harvest the Chiclet sap, boil it, take it out of the jungle, and then ship it to Wrigley, which used it to make gum. Wrigley’s gum used to get their Chiclet from Belize.
England took a lot of the mahogany for a lot of the buildings that are in England that were made from trees that were then in what was called British Honduras, but is now Belize.
The way it started was with the founding men, including George Price, who is the father of Belize, and the first prime minister of Belize. He had a core group of people, including Hector Silva, who helped him write the laws and to figure out how to structure the whole country.
A lot of our laws and regulations are based on the British system. We have a parliamentary system, and we have a prime minister, just like England. We have the United Democratic Party and People’s United Party, which is similar to what we are used to as the Red and Blue parties in the US.
The history of Belize is really worth studying because it shows how, in 34 short years, a group of people who have the same common thought process can truly build a country.
(Kneading chicle gum into blocks in British Honduras ( Belize), pictured.)