English is the official language of Belize, a former British colony. It is the primary language of public education, government and most media outlets. The majority of Belizeans, regardless of ethnicity, speak an English-based creole called Belizean Creole (also referred to as Kriol) during most informal, social and interethnic dialogue.
When a Creole language exists alongside its lexifier language, as in Belize, a continuum forms between the Creole and the lexifier language. This is known as code-switching. It is therefore difficult to substantiate or differentiate the number of Creole speakers compared to English speakers. Belizean Creole might best be described as the lingua franca of the nation.
Approximately 50% of Belizeans self-identify as Mestizo, Latino or Hispanic. Spanish is spoken as a native tongue by about 30% of the population, and taught in schools to children who do not have it as their first language. "Kitchen Spanish" is an intermediate form of Spanish mixed with Belizean Creole, and is spoken in northern towns such as Corozal and San Pedro.
Over half the population is bilingual, and a large segment is multilingual. Being such a small and multiethnic state surrounded by Spanish-speaking nations, multilingualism is strongly encouraged in the society.