Chronology of Key Events in Belize History
1123: The Yucatec Maya people conquered the Itza-Maya, dominating the region.
1487: Aztec spies sneak into Belize to steal valuable political and trade secrets.
1508: While colonizing the Belize region, Spaniards are met by heavy Maya resistance.
1600s: Spain conquers the region, including Belize, but fails at convert the Maya to Christianity.
1660: English pirate Bartholomew Sharpe turns Belize into a log harvesting base.
1700s: English explorers are given wood-cutting rights as Spain retains sovereignty over Belize.
1720s: First African slaves are brought to Belize to help harvest hardwood.
1783: Treaty of Versailles affirms British rights to cut logs between the Hondo and Belize Rivers.
1798: First attempts by Spaniards to remove British settlers from the region fail.
1832: Garifuna (Garinagu), descendants of Black Caribbeans, migrate to Belize.
1847-53: Caste Wars on the Yucatan force Spanish-speaking settlers to seek safety in Belize.
1859: A legal border between Great Britain and Guatemala is established via a treaty.
1862: Belize is proclaimed a British Crown Colony under its new name, British Honduras.
1863: President Abraham Lincoln grants Britain’s request to recruit volunteers for a Belize colony.
1893: Claims made by neighboring Mexico on territory in British Honduras are renounced.
1930s: The Belize economy crashes and Belize City, the capital, is destroyed by a hurricane.
1936: The ancient Mayan city of Caracol is discovered by archaeologists.
1954: Belize fights for autonomy and is granted a limited amount by a new Constitution.
1950: The People’s United Party (PUP) is founded.
1950: The minimum voting age for women is lowered to 21 from 30.
1950s: Mennonites begin emigrating to Belize from Canada in search of religious freedom.
1954: George Price, member of the People’s United Party (PUP), becomes Belize’s first Prime Minister.
1958: The National Independence Party (NIP) becomes PUP’s first political opposition.
1961: Hurricane Hattie’s punishing impact kills 260 people and displaces more.
1964: A new constitution confers full autonomy on the people of British Honduras.
1968: Belize sends athletes to the Olympic Games for the first time.
1970: The nation’s hurricane-ravaged capital Belize City moves inland to Belmopan.
1973: The name British Honduras is officially changed to Belize.
1973: Yet another political party is established: the United Democratic Party (UDP).
1981: The nation declares full independence on September 21st.
1981: Guatemala refuses to recognize Belize, forcing remaining British troops to defend the border.
1984: George Price is replaced by Manuel Esquival, a center-rightest, as Prime Minister.
1989: The Mayan cave Chechem Ha is discovered.
1992: Guatemala finally acknowledges Belize’s independence and sovereignty.
1993: England commits to withdrawing all troops within the year.
1993: Belize’s Terra Nova Medical Reserve established as the world’s first ethno-biomedical forest reserve.
1993: Prime Minister Esquival suspends the Belize-Guatemala treaty, saying too many concessions were made.
1998: Government leadership changes hands when Said Musa wins a landslide election victory to become PM.
2000: Hurricane Keith brings widespread devastation to Belize in October.
2001: Hurricane Iris flattens towns and leaves thousands homeless.
2002: The Organization of American States (OAS) brokers a new agreement between Guatemala and Belize.
2003: Prime Minister Musa wins a second term as PM in March.
2004: Britain denies appeal to overturn Belize’s approval of proposed Chalillo dam for environmental reasons.
2005: Riots break out as a wave of anti-government protests sweeps across Belize.
2005: Belize joins 6 nations to form a rapid-response force fighting drug trafficking, terrorism and other threats.
2006: Belize announces its intention to commercially exploit their oil reserves.
2007: Once again, the OAS mediates a border dispute with Guatemala in February.
2008: Following the February election, Dean Barrow is resoundingly named Prime Minister.
2008: Iconic Belize musician Andy Palacio, whose album “Watina” won international acclaim, dies at age 47.
2010: Belize’s government announces it will no longer send appeal cases to the British Privy Council.
2011: The U.S. adds Belize to its black list of nations considered illegal drug producers and distributors.
2011: Belize founding father George Cadle Price dies on September 19th at age 92.
2012: Belize wins a 60-day reprieve after repaying some overdue debt interest on monies owed to the U.S.
2014: In March, Belize and Guatemala agree to prohibit illegal logging but don’t resolve the border dispute.
2015: Belize’s Energy Ministry considers opening the coast to oil/gas drilling despite environmental concerns.
2015: Prime Minister Barrow once again leads the United Democratic Party to victory for a 5-year term.
2016: The unresolved Guatemala/Belize border dispute is re-ignited by a border shooting.
2020: Belize shuts down due to the Covid-19 epidemic, establishing stringent health protocols.
2020: The nation withstands extreme flooding, likely due to weather patterns associated with global warming.
2020: Once again, PUP dominated the year’s Belize general elections.
2021: Belize re-opens borders following Covid lockdowns that kept infection rates low throughout the pandemic.
2021: Belize chooses Froyla Tzalam to replace retiring Governor-General Sir Colville Young.