People and Culture

by McNab Editorial Team

A Country With A Rich Cultural Heritage

Exploring New Cultures Is the Best Part of Traveling. Whether having a friendly conversation or trying a local dish, you will be immersed in the various cultures!

MAYA

The Mayas that live in Belize today are descendants from one of three denominations – Kekchi, Yucatec, and Mopan Maya. They live in small villages in Southern Belize and still embrace their ancient rituals.

Hello: Ba’ax ka Wa’alik

Traditional Dish

Hot Corn Tamales – these can be found for sale at the market or by street vendors throughout the country. They are made from a combination of ground corn masa filled with chicken or pork and veggies and a tasty sauce, wrapped and steamed in banana or plantain leaf. Delicious!

MESTIZO

Mestizo people of Belize were initially descendants of the Spanish and Maya. Today, many are recent immigrants who have left neighboring Central American countries to seek refuge in Belize.

Hello: Hola

Traditional Dish

Chimole – don’t see it on the menu? Search for Relleno Negro or “Black Dinna.” This main course soup is made with chicken and spices.

CREOLE

Creole is descended of Africans who were brought over as slaves during British colonization. Many Belizeans who have African traits in their blood are identified as Creole.

Hello: Weh di go aan?

Traditional Dish

Cow Foot Soup – no mysterious meat in this hearty stew-like soup that’s cooked slowly so ingredients like potatoes, onions, okra, and carrots absorb the cilantro and black pepper flavors. Usually served with white rice and habanero pepper sauce for more heat, this is one of the signature Belize dishes.

GARIFUNA

Garifuna people of Belize are descendants of mixed heritage from West African, Central African, Caribbean and Arawak people. As a melting pot of culture themselves, the Garifuna are now regarded as one of Belize’s most predominant ethnicities.

Hello: Buiti binafi

Traditional Dish

Seré – this fish soup owes its flavor to a blend of fried fish, coconut milk, plantain, and cassava.

Photo Courtesy: Leonardo Melendez

MENNONITES

The Mennonites are another cultural group which has found a home in Belize. The Mennonites are descendants of Anabaptist followers of Menno Simmons, a Catholic Priest who left the church and accepted “believer’s baptism” around 1536. Mennonites came to Belize in the 1960s and today live in secluded communities. They are mostly farmers and craftsmen who provide an ample supply of grains, poultry, and dairy products to the Belizean market, as well as furniture, and industrial vehicle parts.

Hello: Goondag

EAST INDIANS

East Indians were brought to Belize to supplement the workforce on plantations after slavery was abolished. Today, the East Indians have immersed themselves into Belize’s cultural melting pot and own many businesses around the country.

Hello – Namaste

Traditional Dish

Their food is unique, aromatic and traditional. A few tasty treats include Butter Chicken, Samosas, and Tandoori Chicken.

MIDDLE EASTERN

Middle Eastern people who have come to Belize from Lebanon and Syria serve as merchants, entrepreneurs, and professionals. Their cultural presence is evident around Belize with restaurants and a small Mosque which is located in Belize City.

Hello: Marhaba

Traditional Dish

Kebab, Hummus, Kibbeh, Shish Kebab, Tabbouleh, and Fattoush are among the favorite traditional dishes.

ASIANS

Asians are the fastest-growing ethnic group in Belize and are primarily from Taiwan and China. Many have immigrated to Belize as entrepreneurs owning supermarkets and restaurants which are popular with locals and tourists.

Hello: lēe hò

Traditional Dish

With a long list of dishes, the most popular dishes Include ChowMein, Wonton, Dumplings, Sweet and Sour Meats, and Spring Rolls.

According to the Statistical Institute of Belize, Spanish is dominant in Corozal, Orange Walk, and Cayo Districts, as Kriol is mainly spoken in Western and Southern Belize, but Mayan dialects are used in Toledo and Stann Creek. That means that no matter where you go, you can learn about this melting pot of cultures. Although culturally different, everyone is able to get along with one another and live in complete harmony. People can celebrate their own cultures, while still sharing the commitment to keep Belize’s natural beauty and captivating history.

Written by Cristina Reyna

Similar Articles:
History of Belize
Language and Ethnicity
About Belize

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