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The Charming Culture of Belize, Part 1 of 2

2021-11-14
Lingua:English

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Belize is located on the northeastern coast of Central America. Belmopan is the capital city, while the largest city is Belize City. In addition to the official language of English, over ten distinct languages are spoken in this highly multicultural society, including Belizean Creole (Kriol) and Spanish. As the smallest country in Central America, Belize currently has a population of around 406,000.

The nation’s ancient Mayan culture, combined with its peaceful and pluralistic society, make the country a uniquely spiritual and harmonious land. Belizean people are very friendly to each other, and courtesy is of utmost importance in this traditional society. Acquaintances will often stop to spend several minutes chatting when they meet each other unexpectedly, and it is very common for Belizeans to greet each other on the street even when they do not know each other.

With its cultural dynamics and rich heritages, the people of Belize enjoy a wide variety of sports and recreational activities. The multiethnic society of Belize is also reflected in the nation’s music, which is influenced by a unique mix of Creole, Mestizo, Garìfuna, Mayan and European styles. The music of the indigenous Mestizo and Mayan people is characterized by the Marimba, a xylophone-like percussion instrument which derives from an African instrument called a lamellaphone.

The brilliant Maya civilization has left many cherished heritage sites in Belize, including 10 Mayan Pyramids, which reflect the sophisticated knowledge the ancient Maya people had of the cosmos, such as the relative movement of the Earth and the stars.

The Maya people have played a key role in preserving the rainforests of Belize. In 2015 the Maya Leaders Alliance of southern Belize achieved a milestone legal victory in preserving their tenure of their historical homeland; this was the first indigenous people’s land rights victory in a Caribbean country. The Maya Leaders Alliance also actively promotes sustainable forest management and environmental conservation and campaigns to improve services in education, health, and infrastructure for 39 Mayan villages. It was awarded the Prestigious Equator Prize of 2015 for its noble efforts in protecting its indigenous people and precious rainforests.

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