Belizean Culture & History
The first inhabitants in what is now Belize who developed a succinct culture were the Maya. Belize was an important part in the great Mayan Empire. The Maya Empire was possibly the most sophisticated civilization in the ancient Americas. Including modern day southern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, and Honduras, the Mayas reached their peak in the 6th, 7th, and 8th centuries AD. However, by the 14TH Century this once great civilization mysteriously declined. By the time the Spanish arrived in the 16TH Century, Maya presence was barely felt.
The Afro-Caribbean Garifuna people originated with the arrival of West African slaves who washed ashore on the Caribbean island of St. Vincent around 1635 while likely on their way to New World mines and plantations. Today, the global population of Garifunas stands at upwards of 300,000 people, many of whom live in the U.S. and Canada. Garifuna communities along the Caribbean Sea live mostly in coastal towns and villages in the Central American countries of Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.