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Corozal Town is a town in the nation of Belize, capital of Corozal District. Corozal Town is located about 84 miles north of Belize City, and 9 miles from the border with Mexico. The population of Corozal Town, according to the main results of the 2010 census, is 9,871. Corozal was a private estate before becoming a town in the 1840s, mostly settled by Mestizo refugees from the Caste War of Yucatán. Much of the town was built over an ancient Maya city, sometimes known as Santa Rita; this may have been the original Pre-Columbian town called Chetumal. Corozal Town was badly damaged by Hurricane Janet in 1955, and was substantially rebuilt afterwards.
Corozal, the northmost town in Belize, was founded in 1848 by refugees from the Maya Indian uprising against the Spanish in neighboring Yucatán. This uprising, known as the War of the Castes (from the Spanish "castas" or race), began as a war against the Spaniards, but it eventually became a war against the Mestizos. The Mestizos, half Spanish and half Indian, had proved to be formidable allies of the Spaniards, and were thus mortal enemies of the Maya Indians.
A massacre at Bacalar, Mexico — a Mestizo stronghold about thirty miles north of Corozal Town — finally led to the exodus of thousands of Mestizos from Bacalar and the surrounding area. Between 1848 and 1856 more than 10,000 refugees crossed the Rio Hondo, the river that now serves as a boundary between Belize and Mexico. These immigrants sought refuge in northern Belize, and increased the population of Corozal Town to 4500. Mr. James Blake, a magistrate, let them settle on lands in the Corozal District and helped them to establish the new crop — sugar cane.
The Mestizo refugees were far from safe in Corozal Town as the Maya Indians from the Mexican base in Santa Cruz Bravo — today Carrillo Puerto — made several incursions in Corozal Town. In defense, Corozal became a garrison town and Fort Barlee was built here in 1870. Today, the brick corner supports of the fort surround the post office complex of the buildings across from the central town square.
The immigrants brought with them Mestizo culture: Spanish and Yucatec Maya language, Catholicism and Maya folklore, the use of alcalde, their family structure and way of life. Soon, there emerged a local replication of the society of the Yucatán within the boundaries of a country ruled by English expatriates.
Across the bay from Corozal Town are the mounds of Cerros, the first Maya coastal trading center. Cerros is considered one of the most important late preclassic Maya sites because it represented the first experiment with kingship in the Maya world. The remains include a number of temples, plazas, ballcourts, canals, and minor structures. The most interesting artifacts so far discovered are the five jade head pendants.
Within Corozal itself can be found another Maya ruin from the fourteenth century AD. Known as Santa Rita, the pyramid site sits atop the remains of a Maya city that dominated the area for more, than 2000 years. Burial sites rich in jewelry and artifacts have recently been unearthed here. Santa Rita was probably part of ancient Chactumal, the Maya capital of the area at the time of the first Spanish attempt to conquer the Yucatec Mayas in the early 16th century. The ruins of Santa Rita is located near the town's Hospital and is surrounded by the villages of San Andres, San Antonio, and Paraiso, by walking distances.
The town is served by Corozal Hospital.
Population and Housing
According to the 2010 Population and Housing Census the town of Corozal has a total population of 9,871; 4,740 male and 5,131 female. The total number of households is 2,672 and the average household size is 3.7.