The population density is 17 residents per km2. According to Countryaah, Belize has had significant immigration from surrounding countries, mainly Guatemala, while emigration to the US, UK and Canada has been high. In total, immigration is still greater than emigration, but since the latter is dominated by educated labor, migration flows mean that the country is drained of educated labor. Belize City is the country’s largest city (63,400 residents, 2019).
The ethnic composition of the population makes Belize different from other Central American countries. The coast has Caribbean cultural features. A large part of the population consists of English speakers, mainly Protestant black Creoles, who are partly descended from slaves. They dominate Belize’s language, culture and social structure, but more recently, other ethnic groups have gained more influence. Along Belize’s southern coast live about 15,000 garifuna, black caribs (descendants of Africans and caribas), which feed on fishing, small farming and forestry. In Belize’s northern and western parts there is a large part of the country’s Spanish-speaking Ladinos, Mistas. They come mainly from Yucatán in Mexico as well as from Petén in Guatemala and have small farms and often smaller businesses.
In the Corozal area they have dominated sugar production in the past, but since 1935 foreign interests in this area have grown stronger, and the Mayan Indians in the area are also increasingly cultivating sugar as a binary to their traditional agriculture. Since 1958, more than 5,700 Mennonites (2.5 percent), who speak plautdietsch, a kind of Plato German, have established successful farming with livestock and poultry. Mayan Indians, mainly kekchí and mopan, constitute about 11 percent of the population. Originally from Alta Verapaz in Guatemala, Kekchí in southwestern Belize feeds on swine farming, pig farming and chicle collection (a raw material for chewing gum). In addition to the Mennonites, there are also other whites (about 1.4 percent), Indians (about 3.5 percent) and, to a lesser extent, Chinese, Syrians and Lebanese. Belize’s ethnic diversity is the result of numerous waves of immigration, including after the “throwing war” in Yucatán 1847–1853.
The former colonial language English is the official language and is used in teaching, administration and commerce. In addition, there are Spanish (spoken by about 37%) and a small number of native languages: three Mayan languages (10%) and the Arabic language garífuna (8%). However, for interpersonal communication, an English-based Creole language (native language of about 25%) is practically always used, to some extent even in the mass media.
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Because of the Spanish colonial church, the Catholic church dominates, about 62% are Catholics. Under the influence of the Latin American Episcopal Conferences (CELAM), a church renewal is underway. About 30% of the population are Anglicans and Methodists. There are smaller groups of Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and Bahai, Jews make up just over 1%. Ecumenical cooperation is found in the Belize Christian Council and the Caribbean Conference of Churches. Neo-African religions and cults are very much alive to the black population.