Demographics of Belize

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This article is about the demographic features of the population of Belize, including population density, ethnicity, education level, health of the populace, economic status, religious affiliations and other aspects of the population.

Demographics of Belize, Data of FAO, year 2005 ; Number of inhabitants in thousands.

Belize is the most sparsely populated nation in Central America. It is larger than El Salvador. Slightly more than half of the people live in rural areas. About one-fourth live in Belize City, the principal port, commercial centre, and former capital.

Most Belizeans are of multiracial descent. About 34% of the population is of mixed Maya and European descent (Mestizo), 25% are Kriols, 15% are Spanish, about 10.6% are Maya, and about 6.1% are Afro-Amerindian (Garifuna).[1] The remaining population includes European, East Indian, Chinese, Middle Eastern, and North American groups. In the case of Europeans, most are descendants of Spanish and British colonial settlers, whether pure-blooded or mixed with each other. Most Spanish left the nation just after it was taken by the British colonists who, in the same way, left after independence. Dutch and German Mennonites settled Belize, most in the isolated areas.

Because Belize's original Maya peoples were decimated by disease and wars, or fled to Mexico and Guatemala, many of the country's Maya today are descended from other groups. The current Maya population consists mainly of three language groups. The Yucatec fled to Belize in the late 1840s to escape the Caste War in Yucatán, Mexico. Their descendants live in the Orange Walk and Corozal districts, which border on Mexico. In the 1870s-1880s, many Q'eqchi' fled from Alta Verapaz, Guatemala, where their lands were being stolen for coffee plantations, which then enslaved them. They settled villages in the Toledo district. Living near rivers and streams, they are primarily farmers, though many younger people now work in tourism, and on shrimp, banana and citrus plantations. The Mopans originated in Belize, but most were driven out to Guatemala after the British displaced Spanish in a struggle that took most of the 18th century. They returned to Belize in 1886, running from enslavement and taxation in Petén. The Cayo district and San Antonio in the Toledo district are their homes now. Q'eqchi' and Mopan have intermarried, though the two languages remain distinct and mutually unintelligible. About 80% of the population is Christian.

Population[edit]

Population pyramid for Belize (2010)

According to the 2012 revison of the World Population Prospects the estimated mid year population of 2014 is 340,000 (medium fertility).[2]

Belize's largest cities and towns by population[edit]

  1. Belize City, BZ - 57,169
  2. San Ignacio, CY - 17,878
  3. Belmopan, CY - 13,931
  4. Orange Walk Town, OW - 13,709
  5. San Pedro, BZ - 11,765
  6. Corozal Town, CZ - 10,287
  7. Dangriga, SC - 9,591
  8. Benque Viejo del Carmen, CY - 6,148
  9. Ladyville, BZ - 5,458
  10. Punta Gorda, TO - 5,351

- Based on 2010 census.

Vital statistics[3][4][edit]

Average population (x 1000) Live births Deaths Natural change Crude birth rate (per 1000) Crude death rate (per 1000) Natural change (per 1000) Total fertility rate[5] Infant mortality rate[5]
1934 52 1 945 971 974 37.4 18.7 18.7
1935 53 2 081 1 377 704 39.3 26.0 13.3
1936 53 1 879 1 256 623 35.5 23.7 11.8
1937 54 1 876 1 054 822 34.7 19.5 15.2
1938 54 2 052 1 178 874 38.0 21.8 16.2
1939 55 2 084 1 092 992 37.9 19.9 18.0
1940 56 2 192 986 1 206 39.1 17.6 21.5
1941 57 2 133 1 030 1 103 37.4 18.1 19.4
1942 57 1 905 1 250 655 33.4 21.9 11.5
1943 58 1 925 1 136 789 33.2 19.6 13.6
1944 58 2 031 1 153 878 35.0 19.9 15.1
1945 59 2 141 1 204 937 36.3 20.4 15.9
1946 59 2 065 1 019 1 046 35.0 17.3 17.7
1947 61 2 473 1 049 1 424 40.5 17.2 23.3
1948 63 2 506 861 1 645 39.8 13.7 26.1
1949 65 2 548 877 1 671 39.2 13.5 25.7
1950 69 2 657 845 1 812 39.7 12.6 27.0
1951 71 2 905 801 2 104 42.1 11.6 30.5
1952 73 3 028 794 2 234 42.1 11.0 31.0
1953 76 2 986 820 2 166 40.4 11.1 29.3
1954 78 3 231 876 2 355 42.5 11.5 31.0
1955 80 3 463 858 2 605 44.4 11.0 33.4
1956 82 3 725 821 2 904 46.0 10.1 35.9
1957 85 3 615 932 2 683 43.6 11.2 32.3
1958 87 3 988 795 3 193 46.4 9.2 37.1
1959 89 4 016 730 3 286 45.6 8.3 37.3
1960 92 4 091 717 3 374 45.0 7.9 37.1
1961 95 4 244 708 3 536 45.6 7.6 38.0
1962 97 4 461 853 3 608 47.0 9.0 38.0
1963 100 4 783 712 4 071 48.8 7.3 41.5
1964 103 4 568 729 3 839 45.2 7.2 38.0
1965 106 4 637 710 3 927 44.6 6.8 37.8
1966 109 4 898 776 4 122 45.8 7.3 38.5
1967 113 4 851 811 4 040 43.7 7.3 36.4
1968 116 4 671 714 3 957 41.0 6.3 34.7
1969 119 4 660 783 3 877 39.8 6.7 33.1
1970 122 4 455 813 3 642 37.1 6.8 30.4
1971 125 5 052 625 4 427 41.4 5.1 36.3
1972 127 4 954 669 4 285 40.0 5.4 34.6
1973 129 5 010 801 4 303 39.8 6.4 34.2
1974 131 5 039 721 4 379 39.4 5.6 34.2
1975 133 5 201 800 4 401 40.0 6.2 33.9
1976 135 5 340 881 4 459 40.2 6.6 33.5
1977 137 5 570 767 4 803 41.0 5.6 35.3
1978 139 5 384 885 4 499 38.7 6.4 32.4
1979 141 5 523 710 4 813 38.9 5.0 33.9
1980 144 6 264 717 5 547 43.2 4.9 38.3
1981 148 5 821 709 5 112 39.1 4.8 34.3
1982 151 5 899 663 5 236 38.6 4.3 34.3
1983 156 6 044 724 5 320 38.2 4.6 33.6
1984 160 5 756 750 5 006 38.0 4.9 33.0
1985 165 5 916 693 5 223 35.6 4.2 31.5
1986 170 6 136 688 5 448 36.2 4.1 32.1
1987 174 6 121 675 5 446 35.1 3.9 31.3
1988 179 6 325 708 5 617 35.4 4.0 31.4
1989 183 6 686 762 5 924 36.5 4.2 32.3
1990 188 7 200 819 6 381 38.4 4.4 34.0
1991 191 6 555 842 5 713 34.3 4.4 29.9
1992 195 7 597 846 6 751 39.0 4.3 34.6
1993 198 6 462 935 5 527 32.6 4.7 27.9
1994 202 5 887 944 4 943 29.1 4.7 24.4
1995 207 6 623 931 5 692 32.0 4.5 27.5
1996 212 6 678 964 5 714 31.4 4.5 26.9
1997 218 7 348 1 173 6 175 33.6 5.4 28.3
1998 225 6 844 1 350 5 494 30.4 6.0 24.4
1999 232 7 113 1 190 5 923 30.7 5.1 25.5
2000 239 7 313 1 534 5 779 30.7 6.4 24.2
2001 245 7 215 1 261 5 954 29.4 5.1 24.3
2002 252 7 553 1 284 6 269 30.0 5.1 24.9
2003 258 7 440 1 277 6 163 28.8 4.9 23.9
2004 265 8 083 1 298 6 785 30.5 4.9 25.6
2005 272 8 396 1 369 7 027 30.9 5.0 25.8 3.6 18.4
2006 279 7 171 1 396 5 775 25.7 5.0 20.7 3.0 19.6
2007 286 7 036 1 389 5 647 24.6 4.9 19.7 2.9 17.2
2008 294 7 126 1 302 5 824 24.3 4.4 19.8 2.8 12.0
2009 301 7 000 1 453 5 547 23.3 4.8 18.4

Ethnic groups[edit]

Population of Belize according to ethnic group[6][7]
Ethnic
group
Census 1946 Census 1991 Census 2000[1] Census 2010
Number  % Number  % Number  % Number  %
Q'eqchi' Maya 10,030 16.9 7,954 4.3 12,366 5.3 17,409 5.7
Mopan Maya 6,770 3.7 8,980 3.9 10,557 3.5
Yucatec/other Maya 5,686 3.1 3,155 1.4 2,141 0.7
Mestizo 18,360 31.0 80,477 43.6 113,045 48.7 150,921 49.7
Creole 22,693 38.3 55,051 29.8 57,859 24.9 63,057 21.8
Black African 582 0.3 1,151 0.4
Garifuna 4,112 6.9 12,274 6.6 14,061 6.1 13,985 4.6
White
* German/Dutch Mennonite
* Other white
2,329 3.9 7,257
5,763
1,494
3.9
3.1
0.8
10,034
8,276
1,758
4.3
3.6
0.8
13,964
10,865
3,099
4.6
3.6
1.0
East Indian 1,366 2.3 6,455 3.5 6,868 3.0 7,073 2.3
Chinese/Asians 50 0.1 747 0.4 1,716 0.7 2,823 0.9
Mixed 18,947 6.2
Syrian/Lebanese 128 0.2 167 0.1 240 0.1
Other 1,867 1.0 2,610 1.1 762 0.3
Unknown 152 0.3 17 0.0 835 0.4 392 0.1
Total 59,220 184,722 232,111 303,422

Birth Rate by Ethnic Groups (2000 Census)[8]

Ethnic Group Population (2000) Birth Rate (1999) Births
African 582 17.18 10
British 1,758 9.10 16
Chinese 1,716 19.23 33
Creole 57,859 28.88 1,671
East Indian 6,868 27.66 190
Garifuna 14,061 27.17 382
Q'eqchi' 12,366 44.88 555
Mopan 8,980 35.30 317
Yucatec 3,155 19.33 61
Mennonite 8,276 42.53 352
Mestizo 78,537 29.73 2,335
Spanish 34,508 32.22 1,112
Other 2,610 21.84 57
Not Available 835 45.51 38
Total 232,111 30.71 7,128

Languages[edit]

English is the only official language of Belize due to being a former British colony. It is the main language used in government and education.[9] Although only 5.6% of the population speaks it as the main language at home, 54% can speak it very well, and another 26% can speak some English. 37% of Belizeans consider their primary language to be Kriol, an English-based creole of words and syntax from various African languages (namely Akan, Igbo, and Twi),[10] and other languages (Miskito, Caliche). It is also a second or third language for another 40% of the multilingual country. Kriol shares similarities with many Caribbean English Creoles as far as phonology and pronunciations are concerned. Also, many of its words and structures are both lexically and phonologically similar to English, its superstrate language. Because it is English-based, all Kriol speakers can understand English. A number of linguists classify Belizean Kriol as a separate language, while others consider it to be a dialect of English.

Spanish is the mother tongue of Mestizo and Central American refugees and is commonly spoken at home by 43% of the population. Maya dialects such as Q'eqchi', Mopan and Yucatec are spoken. Garifuna (which is Arawakan/Maipurean based, with elements of the Carib language, French, and Spanish) and the Plautdietsch dialect of the Mennonites are spoke as well. Literacy currently stands at nearly 80%. In 2001, UNESCO declared the Garifuna language, dance, and music a "Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity". English is the primary language of public education, with Spanish taught in primary and secondary school as well. Bilingualism is highly encouraged, and therefore, very common.

English & Spanish Language Proficiency[1]
Language Speaks Very Well Speaks Some Total
English 54% 26% 80%
Spanish 52% 11% 63%


Languages in Belize according to 2000 census[1]
Language Mother tongue speakers Percentage First language speakers Percentage
Chinese 1,607 0.8% 1,529 0.7%
Creole 67,527 32.9% 75,822 37.0%
English 7,946 3.9% 11,551 5.6%
Garifuna 6,929 3.4% 4,071 2.0%
German 6,783 3.3% 6,624 3.2%
Hindi 280 0.1% 193 0.1%
Q'eqchi' Maya 10,142 4.9% 9,314 4.5%
Mopan Maya 6,909 3.4% 6,093 3.0%
Yucatec Maya 1,176 0.6% 613 0.3%
Spanish 94,422 46.0% 88,121 43.0%
Others / no answer 1,402 0.7% 1,192 0.6%

Religion[edit]

Main article: Religion in Belize

According to the 2010 census[11][12] Roman Catholics constitute 40.0% of the population of Belize, down from 49.6% in 2000 and 57.7% in 1991;[13] Protestants constitute 31.7% of the population, with a slight growth in percentage for some groups since 2000 (8.5% Pentecostal; 5.5% Adventist; 4.6% Anglican; 3.8% Mennonite; 3.6% Baptist; 2.9% Methodist; 2.8% Nazarene); Jehova's Witnesses are 1.7% of the population (up from 1.4% in 2000). 10.2% of Belizeans follow other religions (with a growth in percentage since 2000); amongst these there are followers of the indigenous Maya religion, Garifuna religion, Obeah and Myalism, and minorities of Mormons, Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Baha'is, Rastafarians and other.[14] The Mennonites, of German descent, live mostly in the rural districts of Cayo and Orange Walk. 15.6% of the Belizean population do not adhere to any religion, up from 9.4% in 2000.

Belizean Roman Catholic churches belong to the Diocese of Belize City-Belmopan; Anglican churches belong to the Diocese of Belize, part of the Church in the Province of the West Indies. Hinduism is followed by most Indian immigrants, while Islam is common among Middle Eastern immigrants and has gained a following among some Kriols. Catholics frequently visit the country for special gospel revivals. The Greek Orthodox Church has a presence in Santa Elena.[15]

The Constitution of Belize provides for freedom of religion, and other laws and policies contribute to the generally free practice of religion. The Government at all levels protects this right in full against abuse, either by governmental or private actors. The Government generally respects religious freedom in practice. In 2008, the U.S. government received no reports of societal abuses or discrimination based on religious affiliation, belief, or practice.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]