Today, September 21, 2020 will mark the 39th anniversary of Belize gaining full independence from Great Britain. The whole country will wave the nation's red, white and blue flags, feast on local delicacies, participate in parades, sing songs, and enjoy street parties and dancing as celebrations continue for weeks, starting with St. George's Caye Day on September 10 and running right up until Independence Day on September 21.
European colonists first arrived in the area in the 1500s and clashed with the surviving remnants of the ancient Maya Empire. Early attempts by Spain to formally annex Belize were hampered by strong resistance from the Maya.
English buccaneers later gained a foothold on the coast region, using the area to launch attacks on treasure-laden Spanish ships from Panama and Venezuela. By the early 1700s, English settlers known as "Baymen" established a presence in Belize, logging the valuable hardwood for export back to Europe. Today, the Belize flag features a stylized English "Bayman" logger in recognition of this part of the country's history.
Although the Spanish initially tolerated the presence of English settlers in the area, things came to a head in 1786 when the British government appointed an administrator to oversee the region. After several years of clashes, the British gained full dominance over the region following a decisive naval battle off the coast of St. George's Caye on September 10, 1798, a date now celebrated as a national holiday in Belize.
In 1862, Britain formally annexed the area, naming it British Honduras (after the Bay of Honduras, not the modern-day country of Honduras). In 1954, constitutional reforms were enacted and a constitution was written. In 1964, Britain awarded the colony self-rule and George Price became the colony's first premier. In 1973, the colony was renamed Belize and the country was granted full independence in 1981.
Belize Independence Day Traditions, Customs, and Activities
Independence Day caps off a weeks-long celebration of Belizean patriotism that includes activities like reciting poems, playing patriotic music, flag raising ceremonies, live converts, street dancing, parades, and lots and lots of the various foods that make Belizean cuisine so uniquely delicious.
Where to Stay in Belize
The lovely Cahal Pech Village Resort located in San Ignacio Town is a great place to stay to enjoy all of the exciting celebrations in September, including Independence Day.