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A History of Belize

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  1. A History of Belize Nation in the Making

  2. Mayan Civilization – Location • Developed for thousands of years throughout northern Central America • Mexico • Guatemala • Honduras • El Salvador • Belize • Mayans probably settled in Belize around 900 BC • Archaeological evidence suggests communities were present nearly 1000 years before that

  3. http://www.worldatlas.com/webimage/countrys/camerica.htm http://research.famsi.org/maps/maps.php?map=maya%20area

  4. Mayan Civilization – Artisans • Agriculture allowed for the development of the culture • Mayans cultivated: • Corn – Cocoa • Beans – Chili peppers • Squash – Cotton • Pottery was made • Textiles were also produced by dyeing and weaving cotton

  5. Mayan Civilization – Scholastic Development • Mathematics • Zero • Astronomy • Calendars • Religion • Writing • Stone slabs, “stela” • Books, “codex”

  6. Mayan Civilization – Cities • Temples for worship • Palaces for royalty • Public houses • Plazas, sculptures, etc. • Ball courts • Ulama: a game played with a rubber ball, the object of the game was to pass the ball through a stone circle, ball could only be struck with hips

  7. Mayan Civilization – Peak • Civilization peaked between 250 – 1000 AD • Known as the “Classic Period” • Powerful civic centers in Belize: • Altun Ha • Lubaantun • El Pilar • Xunantunich • Caracol

  8. Mayan Civilization – Decline • Limited food production • Climate change • War

  9. European Conquest • Portugal, Spain, France, Britain and the Netherlands all began expanding • Empire building took place in: • Africa • Asia • Americas • Columbus sailed in 1492 and arrived in present-day Bahamas

  10. European Colonization – Belize • British buccaneers settled Belize • Used the coastline and cays to prey upon Spanish fleets http://www.dailymail.co.uk

  11. European Colonization – Belize • Spanish conquistadors traveled through Belize • Hernan Cortes: conquered Aztec empire in Mexico • Pedro de Alavaro: defeated the Maya in Yucatan • Mayans in northern Belize fought back • Most died from European disease

  12. http://www.superstock.com/stock-photos-images/1746-552

  13. Slavery in Americas • First African slaves in Americas – 1518 • Slave trade existed for more than 300 yrs • Est. 15-20 million slaves transported

  14. Slavery in Belize • British woodcutters needed laborers • Not enough locals • Imported African slaves from Caribbean sugar plantations http://brown.edu/Administration/ News_Bureau/2006-07/06-108.html

  15. Slavery in Belize • 1700s–African slaves = majority of population • 75% African slaves • 10% white • 15% free Africans, mestizos, indigenous • Slave trade ended – 1807 • Slavery abolished – 1833

  16. Economical Exploitation of Belize • Western European nations controlled economies of their colonies • Development in Belize dictated by Europe

  17. Forestry in Belize • Forestry requires few people • This kept the population low • Logwood • The main export for a time • Mahogany • The price export http://www.mamadoc.org/ pics/dr-logwood-tree-big.html http://www.roundriver.org/Peru.html

  18. http://www.showcasehomesofamerica.com http://www.entrydoorsbayarea.com/

  19. Development of Merchant Class • Import of nearly all necessities • Merchants became wealthy/powerful • Trade with Confederates during US Civil War

  20. Land: A Monopoly • European absentee land-owners • Excluded indigenous peoples from owning • Only land owners could vote • By 1817, Britain controlled “unclaimed” land

  21. Suppressing Agriculture • Subsistence farming • £1 per acre (1838) • This excluded newly freed slaves • Continued merchant monopoly http://www.plentyaustin.org/belize.htm

  22. Independence in European Colonies • Workers’ Movements • World War II • India, Vietnam and many other nations declared their independence • Nationalist Movements

  23. Harsh Labor Laws • Severe punishments for “crimes” • Missing a day • Leaving a job unfinished • Disobeying supervisor • 3 months in jail with hard labor

  24. Workers’ Resistance • Mayan and slaves-turned-workers sought better wages and more control • 1836-1936, $12-15 per month • Company store • Indebted employees

  25. Working Class Riots • Currency devaluation • Same pay, worth less • Racist treatment during WWI, WWII • Destruction of white-owned businesses • Universal Negro Improvement Assn. (UNIA) • Great Depression

  26. Nationalist Movements • Large scale emigration • US: agriculture • Panama: canal building • Britain: forestry • Peoples’ Committee (Peoples’ United Party) • Assault on colonialism • General Workers’ Union • Alliance with laborers

  27. Constitutional Struggle • Economic conditions • Value of dollar • Social conditions • Universal suffrage • 1964 – Self government

  28. Contention • Spanish law of 1821 • All Spanish colonies remained same • 1945 – Guatemala declared Belize as part • Continued invasion threats (1972, ’75, ’77) • British military prevented invasions

  29. http://www.belizenet.com/history/