What does it means to be a Belizean?
What does it mean to be a Belizean? It’s an answer that at its most literal is deceptively simple. A Belizean is simply a resident of the Caribbean country of Belize. But if you asked any hundred residents what it means to be a Belizean, you’re likely to get a lot of different answers. That’s because Belize’s history is as tangled as anywhere, and it’s far more diverse than the travel brochures of palm tree-lined beaches would have you believe. But despite the rich milieu of experiences throughout Belize, there are some things everyone seems to have in common.
A Melting Pot With a Unique Flavor
Like much of Latin America, Belize was a victim of European colonialism. But as is often the case, the horrors of colonialism helped create a truly unique blend of cultures throughout Belize. English is the native language, but Belize is also home to the unique Caribbean ethnic group known as the Garifuna, Creole groups, and descendants of the Maya Empire who ruled the territory over a thousand years ago. But time has also brought Mennonite ambassadors who have set up communities throughout the country and a decent population of Chinese immigrants. Moreover, recent years have seen a rise in Americans and Europeans moving to Belize — and that’s brought about communities exclusively devoted to the needs of expatriates from abroad. In other words, being Belizean isn’t about your ethnic identity, but everyone’s background helps to bring about the unique flavor of this melting pot.
A Respect For the Natural World
Belizeans understand that the environment is important to their livelihoods in terms of tourism, farming, and fishing — but it would be hard to not have a love for the environment when you live in a place with as many beautiful spots as Belize. From the Belize Barrier Reef to the inland jungles, Belizean policy is ultimately about retaining the beauty of what came before, and that’s reflected in housing policies and lifestyles all over the country.
An Identity Reflected in Cuisine
Belize boasts over 185 miles of coastline before you even take the hundreds of cayes in the Caribbean Sea into consideration, so it makes sense that seafood is a major part of Belizean diets. But it’s also a major part of Belizean life. The beginning of spiny lobster and conch season are major events throughout the country. No matter where in the country you’re from, what your ethnicity is, or how rich you are, filling seafood dishes are at the heart of the culture in Belize.
And Spirits That Can’t Sit Still
In fact, lobster season is such a big deal that it’s also the source for one of the country’s biggest festivals: Lobster Fest. But barely a month goes by where you can’t find a major celebration throughout the country. One of the advantages of having so many cultures within Belize’s borders is that you get to experience everyone’s holidays.
Belizeans come from all backgrounds and walks of life, but there’s a sense that things move a little slower here. From the recurring cycles of the weather and fishing seasons, life in Belize is defined by the desire to live in the moment and enjoy what you have now. It’s an easy sensibility to develop when you see what Belize really has to offer.