5 things you might not know about Belize, the country of Central America that has Queen Isabel II as head of stateIt is Belize, one of the smallest countries on the continent, one of the least populated in the world and also one of the most unknown, even for its neighbors.
Originally the territory was occupied by the Mayan civilization that built dozens of ceremonial centers. Some, thousands of years later, remain unexplored. And although in 1524 the Spaniards arrived in the area, finding no gold or silver - their main objective in the continent - they did not worry about colonizing it, although they left it under the regime of the General Captaincy of Guatemala.
The privateers took advantage of the isolation of their coasts - it has the second longest barrier reef in the world - to found a base from which they attacked the Spanish vessels. Pirates and settlers caused the territory to become an English colony from the 16th century until September 21, 1981, when it officially declared its independence. Beyond history, Belize remains, for many, as an enigmatic site.
1. Belize has a queen
Until 1973, the territory of what is now Belize was known as "British Honduras", the name it had during the time it was a colony of the United Kingdom. That year, the self-government granted by London as part of the independence process, which took place on September 21, 1981., was carried out, however, the country maintained a different political system from the rest of the nations of the continent.
In this country the monarch is known as "the queen of Belize" and, although it does not really influence her governmental decisions, some old protocols remain. For example, according to the Constitution, the prime minister "has the obligation to keep the governor general fully informed about the general conduct of the government." The governor is appointed by the queen and remains in office while retaining his trust. However, the administration of the country is the task of the prime minister, his cabinet and the system of mayors.
the queen of Belize
But the presence of the British crown is evident. The image of the queen appears in Belizean dollars, the official currency. And Belize is also part of the Commonwealth, the commonwealth of nations that were part of the British Empire and retain ties to this country.
2. Guatemala wants a piece
Guatemala claims that part of Belize's territory belongs to it.
And as part of an old dispute that is in the International Court of Justice in The Hague. The government of Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales recently sent thousands of soldiers to the border. Why Guatemala deployed 3,000 soldiers on the border with Belize. In total, Guatemala claims about 12,272 square kilometers of Belizean territory. The dispute dates back to a treaty signed in 1859, whereby Guatemala ceded the area between the Sibún and Sarstún rivers to the United Kingdom, in exchange for compensation that was not paid. And that is why Guatemala only recognized the State of Belize in 1992, 11 years after it had achieved its independence from the British, and making the caveat that there is a territorial dispute between them.
The issue often causes conflicts at the border of both nations, and has even caused the death of some people.
But although in Guatemala the dispute usually causes protests and mobilizations, in Belize the issue virtually goes unnoticed.
3. A country with three languages
Belize is the Commonwealth territory where more people speak Spanish. In fact, it does more than half of the population.
But the official language in the country is English, as corresponds to the colonial past with the United Kingdom. In practice, however, in Belize at least three languages are spoken, because English and Spanish must be added Creole. And each one is related to the process with which the country has been built. In Belize, Spanish is spoken, for example, due to its proximity to Mexico and Central America. But it is also common to see families in that country who communicate in Creole, a language that comes from the African slaves who arrived with the pirates and the first English settlers. More than half of Belize's inhabitants use it as a second language, according to official data.
4. Inspiration of Madonna, paradise of Di Caprio
One of the most popular songs of Madonna in the 80s is "The beautiful island", where it has a place "of wild and free nature". The site that inspired the composition is the key of San Pedro, the largest in the country.
It has a long stretch of beach near the coral reef of Belize, the second longest in the world after the one in Australia. Like many places in this country, the beaches of San Pedro retain a rural environment, where tourism moves around the life of the riverside villages. It is part of the attraction for celebrities such as Leonardo Di Caprio who a few years ago bought the Blackadore Key, an extension of 42 hectares that remained uninhabited. The actor builds an ecological hotel and also undertook a process to recover the environmental environment of the islet. The idea is to recover some of the marine species at risk due to overfishing.
5. Separated from Latin America by the Falklands / Falklands
In Latin America, everyone agrees: in the dispute over the control of the Falklands / Falklands Islands the reason corresponds to Argentina, which disputes that territory to the United Kingdom. One does not think the same in Belize, which openly claims English sovereignty over the archipelago.
And that country's representation before the United Nations Organization voted against several resolutions to hold talks on the control of the islands.
The resolutions were considered a diplomatic victory of Argentina, after in 1982 sent troops to recover that territory. That caused an undeclared 72-day war with England, which led to the expulsion of the Argentine military from the islands. "Islands of the Damned!": The unknown details of the psychological warfare with which the United Kingdom tried to demoralize the Argentine soldiers in the Falklands / Falklands. Since then the issue is frequently addressed in diplomatic circles. And the position of Belize, a member of the Commonwealth, walks in the opposite direction to its Latin American neighbors.