Belize has a small population of approximately 360,000 people, but the country is a true melting pot of different cultures, heritages, and languages.
Here are the different languages spoken in Belize:
Belize was the only British colony in the region, and today, the official language in the country remains English. All laws, signs, and schools use English, and English is the native tongue of approximately 80% of the population.
Many people in Belize, particularly the Creole, speak a unique Caribbean version of English at home that is similar to standard English, but it can be hard for outsiders to understand. The official term for this is Belizean Creole (or Kriol), and it is the tongue most groups use to converse with one another.
Many people in Belize, including the Mestizo people, speak Spanish as their native tongue. In addition, many Spanish-speaking people from surrounding Mexico and Guatemala live in Belize. In some areas of the north, "Kitchen Spanish" is widely spoken, a simplified version of the language that combines some elements of Belizean Creole. Approximately 30% of Belizeans speak Spanish.
The Mennonite community has been in Belize for centuries. Originally from Europe, the Mennonites speak an archaic form of German known as Plattdeutsch. A small subgroup of Mennonites speak Pennsylvania German (Pennsilfaanisch Deitsch). There are approximately 7,000 Mennonites in Belize.
The Chinese have been in Belize for more than 150 years. Although just 2% of the population, native Chinese are well-known for their entrepreneurial spirit.
The Garifuna language was recognized by the United Nations in 2001 for its intangible contribution to human heritage. A mixture of European and indigenous Caribbean tongues, Garifuna is spoken primarily in the southeast of the country. Approximately 6% of the population in Belize is Garifuna or 16,000 people.
Three different Maya dialects continue to be spoken in Belize, Q'eqchi, Mopan, and Yucatec. Some Maya are the original descendants of the ancient Maya civilization in Belize while others emigrated to the country in previous centuries to avoid persecution by the Spanish.
Syrian and Lebanese people have been in Belize for more than 100 years, usually found in the larger towns and cities.
East Indian tongues
Originally from the Indian subcontinent, East Indians or Indo-Caribbeans are found throughout the country. Today, most East Indians speak English but many of them still speak their heritage language at home, including Hindi and Urdu.
For information about visiting Belize, please contact [email protected].