BR]B]IE F SIKIE T CIH[
A. H. ANDERSON,-M. B. E.,
Printing Department-British Honduras
First published in 1927. Republished with supplement 1928. By Major Sir John Alder Burdon, K.B.E., C.M.G.. M.A., Governor of British Honduras, 1925-1931.
New and Completely revised edition 1939 Revised edition 1944. Revised edition 1948. Revised edition 1952.
Replinted 1954. Call. No .....
Aca :1Revised edition 1958.
Reprinted (with some revision) 1963 ByA. H. Anderson.
I am very glad to have been asked to write a foreword to the seventh edition of this useful publication. Since my predecessor, Major Sir John Burdon, wrote the original "Brief Sketch of British Honduras", in 1927, it has proved to be a very convenient reference hook and guide to the country of British Honduras. In the course of many revisions made during the last 30 years, it has virtually become an entirely new book and the credit for this goes in no small way to its present editor, Mr. A. H. Anderson who has been responsible for its publication since 1939. Mr. Anderson then undertook the task of revision as a labour of love in addition to his own arduous duties in the Administration. Now that he has become Archaeological Commissioner. he still finds time to bring the "Brief Sketch" up to date.
I take this opportunlky of paying a well-deserved tribute to him for the valuable work he has put into this publication, the only available short reference book on British Honduras. The fact that it is now in its seventh edition is proof of the reputation it 'has acquired down the years. I am therefore very pleased to associate myself with the new edition and its distinguished author, who has given so generously of his time and talents t6 keep the name of British Honduras before the world through this admirable publication.
COLIN H. THORNLEY.
Belize, 14th June, 19%8
INTRODUCTION TO THE SEVENTH EDITION.
The 1952 Edition went completely out of stock in 1954 and, as there was a large and rapidly growing list of unfilled orders and I could not undertake a revision that year, a reprint was made from the 1952 plates with only a few changes. I thought I would be able to prepare a revised edition before the reprint ran out of stock but always other work claimed priority.
My regular work is interesting but fully occupies my time both in and out of office hours and requires me to spend much time ut of Belize. This is my fifth revision, not counting one which in the end could not be printed due to war-time paper shortages, and it seems to be my fate to have to work on the revisions late at night when I am tired and sentences refuse to flow smoothly and compactly. However, the many nice letters I receive from readers in many parts of the world inspire me to keep on trying.
The years since 1954 have seen great changes in the Constitution and in the social and economic structure of British Honduras and these enforced a drastic revision of the booklet. From the middle of February until the middle of April this year I was camped deep in the jungle-clad hinterland carrying out an archaeological project financed by a grant from Cambridge University (England). What with other pressing work and with preparing for this project I was little more than half way through the revision when the time came for me to set out for the camp. In addition to the Cambridge project I had a stiff programme of work ahead of me both in and out of Belize and I saw visions of having to shelve the revision for many months. I am therefore very grateful to my wife for coming to my rescue and taking on the tedious work of collecting, checking and condensing information and typing the resulting pages. To her and to the Government Departments, municipal bodies and businessmen who helped so willingly with information I tender my sincere thanks. Responsibility for the many defects of this edition is entirely mine and for these faults I tender my apologies. To the Government Printing Department overloaded as always with rush work the fitting in of the work of setting up and printing of this edition must have been a problem and I am very grateful to my friend Mr. W. A. Hoare, Government Printer, and his staff for the interest and willing effort they put into the production of the booklet: My thanks are also due to Mr. G. V. de Frejtas, Director of Information and Communications, for his help with blocks and in 'Other ways and to Mr. T. D. Vickers, C.M.G., Colonial Secretary, for switching some of the load off me so that I could complete the revision.
In particular, I wish to thank His Excellency, Sir Colin Hardwick Thornley, K.C.M.G., C.V.O., Governor and Commander-in-Chief of British Honduras, for his practical interest in my archaeological work and for kindly writing a Foreword to this edition.
A. H. ANDERSON.
Belize, May, 1958.
In 1961 the Brief Sketch ran out of print again and as there was a large back log of orders and more coming in it was decided, as I did not have time to make a complete revision, to strike a second impression of the 1958 Edition. Before this could be carried out disaster hit British Honduras. During the night of the 30th-31st October, 1961, hurricane Hattie with winds up to an estimated 200 rniles per hour hit the country, drove the sea many feet deep into Belize and several coastal towns and villages and created tremendous floods in the rivers.
Fortunately lessons had been learned in the 193.1 hurricane and the loss of life was small (the official count was 262 persons), Amazingly so for the extreme violence of the storm and the wide area affected. Property damage, however, was very great and many, many hundreds were rendered homeless or left to make do as best they could in the wrecked remains of their houses. Passing inland the storm blew down or otherwise severely damaged around two thousand square miles of the forests from which this country derives a large part of its -income. The citrus trees in the Stann Creek Valley, the main area of our valuable citrus industry, were stripped of their foliage and fruit and many were blown down or split. In Belize the power station and the radio transmitting station were wrecked and power and telephone poles were broken or dragged down and the wires tangled in the wrecked buildings. In fact the whole economy of the country has suffered severely and although much has been done to restore. services and buildings and most of the wreckage has been cleared away there is still a very great deal to be done.
Some buildings, like the historic Scots Kirk, are unlikely to be restored. The brick walls of the Kirk were battered down by a large steel tank which the in-driven sea uprooted, carried across the river and drove against the building. Two walls of the Bliss Institute were breached by the pounding seas and the great waves wrought severe damage throughout the ground floor. All the ancient Maya antiquities on exhibition other than the massive stone monuments were swept away and lost. The stone monuments, weighing around three tons each, were moved around like pebbles and all suffered damage. Th wooden floor was ripped out of the concrete sub-floor and electric wires and fittings were ruined. The wreckage has been removed, temporary repairs made to the walls and temporary electric wires strung and, although the special stage lighting is out of commission and the auditorium is a mess, vlays, concerts and lectures are being given and plans are going ahead to hold the annual Festival of Arts. With money needed for so many other essential and important works, finding the many thousands of dollars needed to restore the Institute momises to be a problem.
Electric lighting is largely restored in the streets and buildings but only a curtailed telephone service is promised for a year or two. Last year plans were going ahead to replace the existing old style telephone system with a modern dial system within two years
and work had begun on the construction of a concrete exchange building. These plans have been restarted and in the meantime the Government is naturally reluctant to invest money in replacing the many old type instruments destroyed by the hurricane.
it has at last been decided to build the nucleus of a new capital on the highlands around Orange Walk, Cayo District, and the preparatory planning is going ahead. Here there will he ample ground for future expansion, a plentiful supply of potable water, height for proper drainage and sewerage systems and many other advantages.
With so much in a state of flux and so much that may or may not be restored it would be almost impossible to pen a stable description of British Honduras today that would no, be out of step before the printing could be completed. There ore it has been decided to go ahead with a reprint of the Brief Sketch, with a few changes instead of a complete revision. Most of the type for the 1958 Edition was retained and survived the storm but the machinery and equipment of the Government Printing Department suffered badly and are not yet fully restored. For these reasons I have tried to avoid type changes as much as possible and only deleted or amended descriptions where such changes seem unavoidable. Much of this reprint still describes British Honduras as it was before the onslaught of Hattie. On the other hand many of the descriptions are likely to become basically true again as recovery progresses. The sections on trade and finance have been brought up to 1960 figures (with so many files and documents lost in the storm and so many operations disorganized it may be a long time before 1961 figures will be available) and other later data have heen substituted in other parts. I therefore crave the indulgence of the readers and ask them to make generosasallowances 'for the many shortcomings of this reprint
* A. H. ANDERSON.
POSITION. British Honduras is situated ion the East Coast of Central America facing the Caribbean Seaand bounded on the landward side by the Republics of Mexico and Guatemala. It is separated from the Republic of Honduras by fifty miles of Guatemalan territory.
British Honduras lies, with its Cayes, between
15' 54' and 18 29' North Latitude
87' 28' and 89' 13 West Longitude.
Belize. the capital, is 17' 30' N. and 88' 11' W. (1)
It is bounded:
On the North by the Mexican Province of Quintana Roo;
On the East by the Caribbean Sea;
On the South by Guatemala;
On the West by the Guatemalan State of Peten, which is divided from the main
Portion of Guatemala by the Sierra de Chama or Alta Vera Paz Mountains.
SIZE. Length from North to South, 174 miles.
Breadth from East to West (Belize to frontier), 68 miles.
-.Area of mainland, 8;600 square miles.
Area. including Cayes, 8.867 square mile about equal to that of Wales and double
that of Jamaica.
Distance from England .. .. .. .. 4,700 miles
from Jamaica ................ 665 miles
from New Orleans ................ 827 miles
from Halifax via Nassau and Kingston 2,736 miles
from New York __........... .. 1,660 miles
from Tela, Republic of Honduras ............ 119 miles
from Puerto Barrios, Guatemala .. ...........120 miles
from The Panama Canal (no direct communication) ...... 800 miles
Note: The figures given throughout this pamphlet are approximate and wherever possible in round numbers
(1) Until the latter half of the eighteenth century the headquarters of the Settlement welf St. George's Cav.
CAPITAL. The capital and principal port is Belize, (1) at the mouth of the Belize or Old River. Owing to the protection afforded by the reef and the islets, or cayes, which run parallel to the coast from eight to twenty-five miles distant, the roadstead is calm and sheltered* On the other hand it has the disadvantage of shallow water, which compels ocean steamers to lie up to two miles out. Further drawbacks to Belize as the capital are that it is built on flat, low-lying, reclaimed land only a foot or two above sea-level and therefore extremely vulnerable to hurricane damage and difficult of drainage; that it is surrounded on the land side by miles of mangrove swamp, breeding ground for mosquitos and sandflies, land crabs and other pests, which makes road building and maintenance expensive and difficult.
The unfavourable nature of the site often raises the suggestion that Belize ought to be abandoned and a capital and port constructed further south where higher land and deeper sea may be found. This suggestion was previously ruled out by geographical conditions. There is no river south of Belize navigable to the western frontier or for any considerable distance and some ten miles south of Belize rise mountains which run south forming a barrier to the western hinterland.
The Belize River, on the other hand, is navigable by small craft to within a few miles of the western frontier and, with its tributaries, taps much of the fertile Cayo District and the flat country lying north of the latitude of Belize. No port farther north than Belize is possible as Belize lies at the northern limit of water navigable by ocean steamers. As long as this country was almost entirely dependent on its waterways for internal transport these geographical conditions practically forced the retention of the present site for the capital and chief port. The development of road and air transport to the present high state of efficiency, plus the considerable progress made in road building throughout the country, has completely altered the situation and, probably, a very strong case could now be made in favour of moving the capital to a better and safer site inland.
The Belize'River, or more correctly the Haulover Creek (one of the delta mouths ot the Belize or Old River), divides Belize into two almost equal parts known respectively as the Northside and the Southside. The Southside was first laid out in lots and streets in 1787'(2), by which time the Northside had been occupied for possibly a century or more. On the Northside the extreme eastern area is called Fort Gseorge (the Fort) after a defence work which was erected there in the 18th Century. The original Fort area was a small island cut off from the mainland at high tide by a stretch of shallow tidal water. Coin(l) Pronounced 'Belees'.
. David Lamb, Surveyor.
mencing in 1922, this tidal stretch was filled in, concrete quays built along the river bank and the present popular residential area created. A large area was reserved for a Memorial Park in memory of the men of British Honduras who fell in the First World War (including, now, those who fell in the Second War). Another large area was reserved for a hotel ste and is now occupied by the Fort George Hotel, built by the Colonial Development Corporation northward are the Newtown Barracks (the Barracks) first created in 1798 to house the troops sent by England to help in the defence of the Settlement against an impending invasion (see History). The Barracks were occupied for a long period in the 19th Century by detachments of the West India Regiment. During the present century the area has been used as a sports area, a light aeroplane landing field (until a proper field was built), a horse race track and a fair ground. The local broadcasting service has its transmitting station at the north end. Many of the old military buildings reniained in existence, and were used as residences, clubs and infirmaries until destroyed by
the 1931 hurricane (see History)
West of the Barracks is the Freetown area which was first largely occupied by Shoremen displaced from the Moskito Coast in 1786. Behind the Barracks there was a very large area of mangrove swamp extending into Freetown: the work of reclaiming this area, which has been proceeding for the past fifteen or so years, is nearing completion and considerable development has taken place on, and is planned for, the reclaimed ground. Herein lie [he Yrincess Margaret Drive formally opened by H. R. H. The Princess Margaret on the 6th May, 1958, Hone Park Race Track (1), a fine municipal landing field for light aeroplanes, the Technical College and the Teachers Training College (both Government ( enterprises), Landivar College (R.C.), a large convent, schools, Cinderella Town municipal housing scheme, a self-help housing scheme, athletic sports fields and a growing num., ,ber of residences built by Government to house its senior staff and by private enterprise.
The Northside is actually on an island formed by the triangle of the Belize River delta ,'
The Southside is, roughly -speaking, divided into the Town, Yarborough, Queen
Charlotte Town, Mesopotamia and Queen's Park, a newly opened area. Apparently it was originally expected that the town would expand along the sandy ridge which runs through Oueen Charlotte Town. Actually so little development took place that the official name, Queen Charlotte Town, dropped out of use and the area became, in time, commonly known as the Vaults. In 1792, the existing public cemetery (2) having become too congesed, James Dundas Yarborough donated to the-town a stretch of sandy ridge on his plantation as a site for a new cemetery. In and immediately around Belize a perennial cemetery
(1) In honour of E. D. Hone, Esq., O.B.E., a former Colonial Secretav.
(2) On the west side of Albert Street. Turned into building lots in 1809.
4 British Honduras.
problem is the lack of depth over the water table even in the ridges. In 1881 the Engineer, Gustave von Qehiaf en, endeavoured to overcome this problem by erecting tiered, concrete. surface vaults in the Queen Charlotte Town area. Yarhorough Cemetery was closed on the 3 1st December, 188 1, and although from necessity the vaults were used, the experiment was very unpopular and, coupled to a belief that cremation, too, was about to be introduced, eventually led to public demonstrations against Oehlafen. In 1886 a new cemetery was opened to the west of Belize on a site which bore the very appropriate title of "Lord's Ridge". This cemetery is still in use and the level of each new extension is dumped up with earth to provide greater depth.
There are indications that the city is now beginning to, expand into and through Queen Charlotte Town.
Until 1924 the "Mesopotamia" area was little more than a swamp; in roar year the man'grove was cut down and the area marked off into lots which were assigned to returned soldiers of the British Honduras Contingents of the British West Indies Regiment, most of whom served in Mesopotamia (1914-18 War). The hulk of the work of filling in the lots and building on them was done by the lot holders themselves and soon rows of small but trim wooden houses covered the area. The houses in Belize are commonly built of wood, with corrugated iron roofs (a fire precaution), and are raised several feet off the ground for coolness.
For many years the United States of America absorbed the bulk of this country's exports. The world-wide trade depression and in particular the trade slump in the United States had by 1931 brought the country's export trade to a standstill. Unfortunately agriculture was but little developed and the bulk of the necessities of life had to be imported. With no export trade to counterbalance this heavy drain the plight of British Honduras was soon desperate.
Despite every effort to settle them on the land hundreds of labourers, normally employed in mahogany snd other forest operations, poured into the capital-where there was no possible chance of obtaining employment. Driven by poverty the labouring comnm~unity overcrowded into small shacks and condemned houses and so set the stage for the next catastrophe, the hurricane of September, 1931, (see History).
Fortunately the hurricane marked the turning point and since then steady progress has been made not only in Belize but throughout the country. Belize is now better built and drained than it was before the hurricane and the streets are better surfaced and lighted. Indoor sanitation, connected to septic tanks, is now the rule rather than the exception in the medium and better class houses and increasing use is being made of re-inforeed con-
crete for buildings77l'he Mesopotamia area has been dumped up and provided with fine streets and the houses have been rebuilt. There is, however, a serious shortage of houses of all classes and construction, largely due to very high costs, is lagging badly behind demand. Houses are being built for artisans and middle class tenants by Government and Government aided self-help housing schemes but progress will be slow until the reclaimed land has tonsolidated. In these schemes practical help is being given by experts provided by the International Co-operation Administration in the United States of America.)
Until recent years Belize, in common with the district towns, had to depend entirely for its water supply on rain water collected from the roofs and stored in wood or steel tanks and vats. This furnished excellent potable water but storage capacity never suIcceeded in providing sufficient reserve to tide the town through the annual dry season. The gravity of the situation produced several schemes for piping water to Belize but the nearest known suitable sources of supply were so distant and dubious that the cost of piping and purification prevented their adoption. During the last war it was discovered that potable water could be obtained from deep wells sunk in a pine ridge about eleven miles from Belize. Investigations made after the war proved the water to be very pure and in considerable volume. With the aid of grants from England an experimental asbestos cement pipe line was laid and water is now pumped to large steel tanks in Belize and released to the public through street and other outlets. The inward delivery system has a capacity of around 250,000 gallons a day (24 hours) and it is'planned to lay a second and much large: pipe which will raise the capacity to around a million gallons.
During the last two decades the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund (England) has given large grants of money for the construction of roads, bridges, water tanks and systems and other welfare and development works. One such grant approved shortly be. fore the outbreak of the war was for the purchase of a suction dredge and its operation. War notwithstanding, the dredge was built on the Clyde (Scotland), delivered early in 1940 and assembled in Betize. With its aid Hone Park, Freetown and other areas in Belize and elsewhere have, been reclaimed.
Two oil companies have bulk storages for fuel oil, gasoline and kerosene. Stocks of aviation gasoline are kept. (see also Public Utilities).
PORTS. Belize is the chief port of entry and export. The greatest drawback to Belize as a port is the lack of a deep-water pier The construction of such a pier presents no great engineering difficulties, and depends entirely on the country's ability to raise the necessary funds.
6 British Honduras.
The second deep-water port is at Commerce Bight, two miles and a quarter south of Stann Creek Town. It had a pier alongside which ocean steamers used to dock, mainly for fruit cargoes, hut it was destroyed by a hurricane in September, 1941. It is to be rebuilt when funds are available: in the meantime a barge jetty has been built.
AIRPORTS. Financed by a grant from the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund, the construction of a modern, international airport nine miles west of Belize was commenced in 1943. Preliminary services began in 1944 and it was named Stanley Field in honour of the Right Honourable Oliver Stanley, M.C., M.P., then Secretary of State for the Colonies, who officially opened it on the 11Ith January, 1945. This potent aid to the progress of British Honduras is listed on World Air Chart No. 645. The asphalted runway is 5,000 feet long by 150 feet wide and has unasphalted tail pieces 500 feet long at each end. Besides 75 feds wide shoulders, there are wide clearances on both sides of the runway and the approaches are good and free from obstructions. Supplies of 91 and 100 octane fuel and aviation lubricating oils are available. There is an In-Bond store. The radio and beacon services have recently been taken over by International Aeradio (Caribbean)' ltd.. and a non-directional radio beacon has been installed. (See under Radio). At present only emergency night landing facilities are available but plans for the installation of proper runway lights are well advanced. The Airport Manager is also Director of Civil Aviation and Inspector of Accidents (Aircraft). (Traffic figures will be found under Trade).
Stanley Field is the regular port of entry for all aeroplanes but light aeroplanes may be entered at the Municipal Airfield, at the north end of Belize, by advance arrangement with the Customs and Immigration Departments. It has a landing strip 2,000 feet long by 150 feet wide asphalted for 1,500 feet by 50 feet. It has no radio or night landing facilities.
Corozal Airfield, several miles southwest of Corozal Town, caters for light aeroplanes only. Light aeroplanes on international flights may be entered at this field by advanc.2 arrangement with the Customs and Immigration Departments in Corozal or Belize.
All three above air fields are Government operated and maintained. There are two privately owned airstrips which can accommodate medium twin-engined aircraft but have no servicing facilities. Government also maintains airstrips (without facilities) in various parts of the country, including the Mountain Pine Ridge, chiefly in connection with forestry and other departmental work but which may be used by prior permission: all are for light aircraft only.
COASTAL WATERS. The coastal waters are shallow north of Belzie; depth 6 feet or so. South of Belize they are deep, with good channels for steamers-afid deep water in certain places close inshore.
The innermost of the triple line of cayes (islands) and reefs runs almost the entire length of British Honduras and acts as a breakwater, providing a coastal belt of sheltered, almost inland water which, incidentally, is ideal for small sailing craft. The outer reef (Lighthouse Reef) with Northern Two Cayes and Half Moon Cay lies 47 miles and the middle reef (Turneffe) 27 miles east of Belize, while the inner reef varies from about eight to twenty-five miles from the mainland.
Entry to Belize Harbour by ocean vessels is along channels connected with a break in the inner reef at English Cay, 14 miles from Belize. Such vessels can also pass along a deep channel between the inner reef and the mainland from Belize Harbour to the Sapodilla Cayes at the southern end of the reef, 88 miles from Belize.
English Cay and the adjacent Goff's Cay are pilotage stations.
In addition to those calling at local ports, many deep-sea vessels pass along, between or just outside the three reefs and the efficient lighting of these coastal-traffic lanes is a costly and important task. (For details of the more important lights see tinder Coastal Lights.)
RIVERS. There are seventeen principal rivers, of which two flow north to Chetumal Bay and the remainder east.
The two flowing north, Rio Hondo and New River, are navigable for boats drawing about 4 feet for some 70 miles.
Of those flowing east, the Sarstoon, Deep, Moho, (Rio) Grande, Sittee, Sibun and Belize (orOld) Rivers are navigable by boats up to 4 feet draught, but only the Sibun and Belize Rivers are navigable for any considerable distance and, owing to rapids and runs, only by shallow draught boats. The Belize River can be navigated by shallow draught tunnel boats as far as El Cayo, roughly 121 miles (the direct line distance is roughly 60 miles).
Beyond the limit of motor boats, navigation is carried on by doreys (dug-outs) and pitpans (punt-shaped dugout craft).
S British Hondurga.,
COUNTRY. North of the latitude of Belize the country is mostly levels, south of that latitude the land rises sharply into a mountain area of a general altitude of from 2.000 to 3,000 feet, to which the name "Maya Mountains" has been given. The highest point is an independent ridge known as the Cockscomh, approximately 3,700 feet, about latitude 16' 45'. The name is due to the profile of the range, which is exactly like a cock's comb.
The summit, Victoria Peak, was climbed in 1888 by Mr. Gordon Allen, surveyorGeneral, and Mr. J. Bellamy, members of an exploring party led by Governor Goldsworthy, who himself reached a point 700 feet from the top.
Except for certain savannah and swamp land and mountain tops the country is forested throughout, the dominant type being the mixed hardwood forest in which mahogany, cedar, and sapodilla occur. Alternating with this forest, and mostly confined to the flat regions, are extensive tracts of pine land. Most of the coastal belt, with the caves, is covered by mangrove.
The Mountain Pine Ridge (Cayo District), ranging from 1,000 to 3,000 feet above sea level, offers possibilities for healthful hill stations. It is open, rolling country 125 or more square miles in area covered with coarse grasses, thickly studded with pine trees and liberally intersected by fine streams of clear, cold water (potable). The scenery is rugged and magnificent.. Even in the hot weather a blanket is needed at night, and the area appears to be free of the anopheline (malaria carrying) mosquito. The surface is chiefly decomposed granite over clay with frequent outcrops of granite. The beautiful Pine Ridge Orchid grows on the rocky walls above falls in certain streams, and myriads of dainty wild flowers mingle with the grasses. Wild life includes deer, jaguars, pigeons and the gorgeously plumed macaws and wild-turkeys.
Access to the Mountain Pine Ridge is by way of the Little Pine Ridge Road which joins the Western Highway about mile 64 from Belize (and about 7 miles from El Cayo). Except during a period of very wet weather this road is passable by motor cars: it was taken over by the Forest Department in 1957. The Forest Department maintains a network of graded, dirt surfaced roads on the Mountain Pine Ridge, chiefly for fire control purposes, most of which can be traversed by motor cars except during very wet weather. There is a wide arterial road primarily intended for timber hauling, The timber camiones are designed for the speedy transport of heavy loads and, on the Pine Ridge roads, motor car drivers should approach corners with extra care.
The local dorey is a trimly shaped and adaptable dug-out craft. In the background is a typical sandy cay or islet. planted with coconut palms.
One road goes up to Baldy Beacon (about 3,000 feet above sea level) but is negotiable only by Land Rovers, Jeeps and similar cross-country type vehicles. This scenic road runs along ridge tops and the view from Baldy Beacon is magnificent: in normal weather the Cockscomb (16 airline miles distant) and wide expanses of the Pine Ridge and of the coastal plain are clearly visible.
Another scenic road, passable by motor cars, climbs up and along the top of a ridge (about 3,000 feet above sea level) from which fine views of the Pine Ridge and of the rugged, jungle clad hills south of the Macal River can be seen. The arterial road runs across ridges, valleys and numerous rushing, crystal-clear streams (potable)-some with line bathing pools-and provides a fast haulage route for two sawmills on the Pine Ridge and the logging operations south of the Pine Ridge. The Forest Department's head-quarter and main camp are at Augustine, on the arterial road and about 26 miles from the Western Highway. At Augustine there are many fine houses for staff and labour force, the Departmant's mechanical equipment maintenance depot, a light aeroplane landing strip and a fire lookout station. The Department maintains its own telephone system connected with the main trunk line exchange at El Cayo and linking up the fire lookout stations and the sawmills.
The Mountain Pine Ridge, with the exception of one area (including Baldy Beacon) which is privately owned, is a Forest Reserve and permission to hunt or camp in it must be obtained from the Forest Department (Belize or Augustine). Permits are not required for one day picnic trips. Visitors to the Pine Ridge are asked to remember that it is very easy to start costly grass and bush fires (there are heavy penalties for causing such fires). Select cooking fire places with care: many of the streams have on each side of them a wide belt of grass-free sand with granite boulders in which cooking fires can be lit with fair safety provided they are placed as near to the water as possible and do not spark badly. Make sure that the fires are completely extinguished before leaving the spot. Make sure that all cigarette ends, pipe dottels and matches are really extinguished before discarding them. Please do not leave paper and other litter: bury it or take it away with you. Please do not leave bottles or broken glass in the grass as they can concentrate the rays of the sun and cause fires. Even grass fires can destroy young pine seedlings.
The removal of orchids from the Mountain Pine Ridge, except under special permit, is prohibited by law.
GEOGRAPHY. in the middle nineteen-twenties Mr. Leslie Ower made a geologica! survey of British Honduras. Since then considerable areas of the hinterland have beer
10 British Honduras.
opened up. Mr. C G. Dixon completed another geological survey and his report of the southern part of British Honduras is in print and on sale.
With the exception of the upper carboniferous slates and granite intrusions which form the Maya Mountains, British Honduras is covered with thick cretaceous and early tertiary limestone. In the south, a series of thin bedded shales, etc., (Toledo beds) overlies the limestone. There are beds of gypsum, china clay, pottery clay and diatomite or infusorial earth. Traces of tin and gold have been found. (1)
CLIMATE. From December to February the weather is cool and pleasant, with showers of rain. March, April and May constitute the "Dry Season" and are hot, especially May. The rainy season usually starts at the end of May but sometimes not until early in June. Light showers and periods of heavy rain are frequent in June and July and temper the heat. A short dry spell (called locally the Maugre Season) is usual in August. In both August and September high humidity makes the heat trying. In October the drop in temperature usually begins and November can he a very pleasant month. The hurricane season usually begins late in July or early August and ends in October, sometimes extending into November. Hurricanes sometimes occur in other months but this is exceptional. On the whole the climate is not unpleasant and sports such as tennis can be played throughout the year, the rainy periods being interspersed with dry periods and seldom lasting more than a few days at a time. At times in the coastal region the humid atmosphere can be trying but normally sea breezes greatly mitigate the climate. From a health point of view the country compares very favourably with others of similar geographic position. European children thrive and keep good health.
Temperature means for five years (1953-1957), Belize:
Mean maximum shade temperature..............85.5 F
Mean minimum shade temperature..............75.3 F
Average mean shade temperature...............80.4 F
Extreme maximum shade temperature (recorded 3rd June, 1953) 96* F
Extreme minimum shade temperature (recorded 9th February, 1954) 50* F
(1) Persons desiring fuller, information are referred to "~Geology of British Hondurss" by Leslie H. Ower, D.I.C., F.G.5. F.R-.G.S., "Geology of Southern British Honduras" by C. G. Dixon. B.Bec., FOGS.
RAINFALL. The annual rainfall is lighter in the northern and western districts and heavier in the southern districts as the following figures show. There is also considerable variation within each district.
Annual averages based on a ten year period (1948-1957):
By towns, from north to southCorozal (coastal) 48.50 inches
Orange Walk (inland) 38.57 inches
Belize (coastal) 68.95 inches
Cayo (inland) 35.61 inches
Stann Creek (coastal) 69.45 inches
Punta Gorda (coastal) 149.86 inches
The mean for each district based on the averages for the ten year period (1948-1957) was, in round figuresCorozal District 51 inches
Orange Walk District 55 inches
Belize District 55 inches
Cayo District 52 inches
Stann Creek District 70 inches
Toledo District 120 inches
INSECT PESTS. In certain parts of British Honduras and at certain seasons mosquitoes, sandflies and other biting insects are very trying. Other regions, in particular the southern parts of the Toledo District and the Western territory, are relatively free from these pests. Sandfly Fever does not appear to exist. In some areas, especially during the fruit season, the Doctor Fly can be troublesome. In shape this brown and green insect is somewhat like an overgrown house fly. It injects a chemical which anacsthetizes the bite but causes, in some people, a temporary but itchy swelling.
12 British Honduras
District Estimated population Area in Population
Males Females Total sq. miles per sq. mile
Belize 17,810 19,138 36,948 1,623 22.77
Cayo 6,330 5,538 11,868 2,061 5.76
Corozal 2,834 4,612 7,446 718 10.37
Orange Walk 4,267 3,754 8,021 1,829 4.39
Stann Creek 4,281 4,708 8,989 840 10.70
Toledo 4,538. 4,523 9,061 1,795 5.05
All Districts 40,060 42,273 82,333 8,866 9.29
Includes the Capital, estimated population 27,500.
Population of British Honduras at last census (April, 1946) 59,220.
RACES. The following are the races, in order of predominance, in the very hetero.. gencous population: Negro and Negro extraction, Maya Indian and Hispano-Indian, Carib, European and Asiatic (East Indian, Syrian and Chinese). English is the official language: other languages in use are Spanish, Carib and Maya. The Maya language is now considerably adulterated with Spanish words and phrases. Carib appears to be basically African with a liberal admixture of French, Spanish and English. The negroes and coloured persons use a patois called Creole, basically English: for examples see the list of Creole Proverbs. (1)
VITAL STATISTICS: 1956. (Year ending 31st December).
Births 3,725. Rate per thousand of population 45.24
Deaths 821. Rate per thousand of population 9.97
Infant mortality rate (under one year), exclusive of still births 6.90 per centum of births.
(1) Persons of pure and mixed African descent in British Honduras are now generally called Creoles, and the word is used in this sense throughout this booklet.
For administrative purposes British Honduras is divided into six districts-Belizz, cayo, Corozal, Orange Walk, Stann Creek and Toledo: the latter five are known as the Out-Districts. Except Belize, each district has a District Commissioner. After heing abut. ished for many years the post of District Commissioner, Belize, was revived in 1951 under the title of District Officer. As there is a stipendiary magistrate for the District and the head offices of most of the Government departments are in Belize the duties of the District Officer differ materially from those of his fellow Commissioners. Each of the 'Other District Commissioners is, in addition to his administrative duties, District Magistrate, justice of the Peace, District Coroner, Sub-Treasurer, Suh-Collector of Customs, Registering Officer (franchise), District Postmaster, District Registrar and Film Censor. He also supervises the work of the Police (for which purpose he ranks as a Commissioned officer), Prison, Public Works, Telephone and Telegraph and other departments in his District. He has the power to perform civil marriages. Until 1956 he was also Chairman of the Town Boards in his District: in that year the District Town Boards were made elected bodies, the District Commissioners continuing to serve, ex-officlo, as members.
During their history the Orange Walk and Corozal Districts have been amalgamated and separated several times. After being amalgamated under the title Northern District for several years, they are now separated.
Each Out-District has rural dispensaries, a Government Hospital and a Government Medical Officer who is allowed private practice where there is no private practitioner.
BELIZE DISTRICT. Area 1,623 square miles. Population (1956 estimate) 36,948,of which an estimated 27,500 live in the capital, chiefly Creoles. Population to the square mile 22".77, or, excluding the capital, around 5.82. Death rate (1956) 9.36 and Birth rate 43.20 per thousand of population. Infant mortality (under one year and exclusive of still births) 6.02 per centum of births. Belize City returns six members and Belize rural two m _,mbers to the Legislative Assembly.
Country mostly low-lying and swampy rising slightly in the northern half. Towards thre southern boundary the elevation rises to 400 feet and in the Manatee Mountains, in the south-west corner, to 1,000 feet above sea level. In and around the Manatee Mountains and Lagoon the scenery is beautiful and even the low-lying northern half has its beauty Spots.
It is possible to travel in a small motor boat from Belize to Gales Point Village (M~anatee), a distance of 28 miles, entirely along inland waterways: the route is up the
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Belize River about 21 miles, then along the Burdon Canal, through Jones Lagoon, across the Sibun River, through the narrow Northern Lagoon Canal into the Northern Lagoon (seven miles long) which is connected to the Manatee Lagoon by a natural waterway, narrow but fairly deep. Manatee Lagoon is of considerable area and about eight miles long; Gales Point is near the southern end. Several creeks empty into this Lagoon and the Manatee River passes through it on its way to the sea. Shallow draft boats can enter from the sea but the bar is tricky to navigate and often very rough.
Remains of ancient Maya settlements and ceremonial centres are scattered over the District. There is an interesting cave site near Manatee Lagoon but it is not easy of access. Moho Cay, off the main mouth of the Belize River, was apparently a Maya fishing site and many pottery sherds and flint artifacts have been and are found there.
The main industries are agriculture and wood sawmilling. Some mahogany cutting is done hut the district is now badly cut-over.
CAYO DISTRICT. The Western District. Area 2,061 square, miles (1). Population (1956 estimate) 11,868 or 5.76 per square mile, chiefly Maya Indians, Spanish Indians. Creotes and Syrians. Death rate (1956) 7.58 and Birth rate 44.15 per thousand of popula-j tion. Infant mortality (under one year and exclusive of still births) 5.34 per centumn of births.
Main industries: extraction vof chicle (chewing gum base); mahogany, cedar, pine, Santa Maria and other timbers, sawmiuling. One of the chief Indian corn (maize) and liiestock raising areas. Bananas, plantains, sugar cane, A~d kidney and other beans, Irish potatoes, cahhages, carrots, grapefruit, limes and lemons, water melons all do well in this district. The main experimental farm of the Government Agricultural Department is atI Central Farm (Baking Pot Estate) on the Western Highway at Garbutt's Creek, about five' miles from El Cayo Town. The Department has a Training College open to farmers and a staff of farm demonstrators who visit and assist farmers with advice and demonstrations%,
Country all hilly, mostly from 400 to over 3,000 feet above sea level. Granite, quartzite and slate formations. Beautiful scenery. Well watered, scores of crystal clear creeks and streams interlace the district, especially in the Mountain Pine Ridge area; like silver threads some race down mountain sides and others drop into space, reaching the gorges below as a fine spray.
The development of this district was, until 1948, inhibited by the lack of proper road communications with the coast. This disability was removed by the construction of a
(1) In 1954, to mess administrative needs arrising from the opening up or the hinterlands, the district boundary between the Cayo and Toledo Districts was moved south into the Toledo District, transferring 330 square miles from the tatter to the Cayo District.
macadam road, the Western Highway, from Belize and. of a fine steel suspension bridge over the Macal River (eastern branch of the Belize River) at El Cayo Town. The Highway from Belize to El Cayo is just over 71 miles long and the bridge, with its approaches, is just under 500 feet long: the centre span is just under 300 feet long and 51 feet above the low-water level of the river. Work ion the foundations.was commenced in January, 1948, and the bridge was officially opened to traffic on the 20th August, 1949, by His Excellency the Governor, Sir Ronald Garvey, K.C.M.G. He named it Hawkesworth Bridge in memory of the late Sir Gerald Hawkesworth, K.C.M.G., who was Governor when it was first started. The bridge was designed and fabricated in England and was erected entirely by local labour under the direction of the Director of Public Works. Both highway and bridge were built with the aid of grants of money from the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund. The rapid and considerable develoEment in the district that has taken place since the highway and bridge were opened is eloquent testimony to the value of this generous contribution to the country'speonomic prosperity.
The Humming Bird Highw, linking the Western Highway at Roaring Creek (Cayo District) with the Stann Creek Valley Road at Middlesex (Stann Creek District) was. officially opened on the 3rd April, 1954, by His Excellency the Governor, P. M. Renison, Esq., C.M.G. (1). This scenic road traverses extremely hilly, rugged country and its construction presented some difficult engineering problems.
By road, the distance from Roaring Creek to Middlesex is 32 2 miles and the total' distance from Belize to Stann Creek Town is approximately 105 miles. The road was built with the aid of grants from the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund (England) and cost $2,083,537 B.H. It, too, is making a major contribution to the economic prosperity of this country.
Several feeder roads linking with the Western Highway have been built and others are planned. A road 11 niles long links the Western Highway, at a point about 7 miles from El Cayo Town, with the Forest Department's network of roads on the Mountain Pine Ridge, and there are many good riding trails, some passable by motor traffic (motor trucks, Land Rovers and Jeeps) during the dry seasons. There is a motor road, 8 miles long, linking El Cayo Town with Benque Viejo Town and a dirt extension road to the British Honduras-Guatemala Frontier, under two miles by road from Benque Viejo.
Along the Western Highway in the Cayo District name boards have been attached to specimens of mahogany, sapodilla (chicle tree), cedar and other trees for the information of visitors. For the same purpose name boards have been set up along the highways at each creek and river crossing.
(1) Knighted (K.C.M.G.) 1st January, 1955.
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The Macal River (or Eastern Branch) and the Mopan River (or Western Branch) join together about s mile below El Cayo to form the Belize or Old River. The Macal draws most of its water from the Mountain Pine Ridge and is swift to rise, twenty to thirty feet in a few hours (a maximum rise of just over forty-four feet has been recorded), and falls quickly unless the Mopan is also in flood. The Mopan drains swampy areas in the Guatemalan Department of Peten, it rises slowly, rarely above ten feet, and falls even more slowly: it is, however, the more dangerous river when in flood.
In its earliest days traffic to Cayo was along the Old (Belize) River in .pitpans and batteaux driven by muscular paddlers. Later, with the introduction of the Ainternal combustion engine, strings of these craft were towed by shallow draught tunnel boats. Later still, more powerful engines permitted the pitpans and batteaux to be replaced by barges. The journey from Belize to El Cayo (121 miles by river) took from three to ten days, depending on the time of year and the depth of water over the runs (small rapids) and shallows. Some of the runs could be negotiated only by winching the vessels up them; the inherited skill of the watermen and the ripple of their big muscles as they worked the thirty foot vessel around the jagged rocks in the rushing waters was a sight well worth seeing. Progress demands its sacrifices, the road with its transit time of hours has supplanted the river and soon this skill will be a thing of the past. Pitpans are punt-like craft hollowed out of a single log and carry up to thirty paddlers; when a pitpan is sawn in half lengthways and a wide plank inserted it becomes a batteau with up to forty paddlers. Both craft are fast
-disappearing. For many years until prohibited by Guatemala herself the river route between Belize and El Cayo carried heavy cargoes from and to the Peten Province of. Guatemala. Experience has shown that visitors find a trip up the Macal River from Fl Cayo by dorey (dug-out) a novel and interesting experience. As yet there is no regular hire service and arrangements have to be made well in advance. (1)
On most days there is at least one hus from Belize to El Cayo and Benque Viejo and returi- (food must be carried), Tasis can be hired in Belize for trips to El Cayo and Benque Viejo (the cost varies with the length of time; it averages B. 1l. .4(dl for a day's white) and this method of transport allows time lor photography and sight-seeing, including Xunantunich Maya ruins, along the route.
There are small hotels in the Cayo District and visitors can sometimes be accommodated for a night or two in the Government Rest House at El Cayo (apply to the District Commissioner). The Rest Houses are for Government officers travelling on duty.
(1) Mr, Avington Neal, a competent riverman, undertakes such trips. He lives at Macaw Bank, some miles up-river from El Cayo and off the regular postal routes so that several ddys must be allowed for a letter to reach him. Stats whether you wish the dorey to be driven by paddlers or by outboard engine.
The Cayo District is particularly rich in the remains of the Ancient Maya civilization. One site-Caracol in the south-western section of the district-covers an area of several square miles. It is difficult of access even during dry seasons. The same difficulty Once applied to Las Cuevas Site but an extension of a Forest Department road has made this Site fairly easy to reach by four-wheel-drive vehicle during dry weather periods. At Las Cuevas (The Caves) there is a string of large caves containing evidences of ancient Maya occupation. A stream of fine, potable water flows through the outer cave. Above the cave there is a small, pyramidal site.
Xunantunich (1) Site crowns the crest of a ridge overlooking Benque Viejo Town. The massive remains of a 12 room masonry 'palace' type building tops a tall pyramid in which are buried the remains of older masonry buildings. Excavations have brought to light an imposing stucco mask panel and other items of interest which make this easily re etched ruin well worth visiting (it was probably abandoned in or around the 9th Century! A. D.). By motor car the round trip from Belize can be done comfortably in one day. To reach the Site the Mopan River must be crossed at the Maya Indian Village of Soccotz, seven miles from El Cayo and on the motor road to Benoue Viejo, ard the trail to the Site has been improved to enable cars to drive right up to the main plaza, just under a' mile from the River, most times of the year. In December, 1950, a small ferry capable of transporting Jeeps and Land Rovers was built with the aid of money generously donated by the Museum of the University of Pennsylvania and put into operation at the crossing (2). The river may also be crossed in a dug-out canoe by persons who prefer this mor picturesque mode of transit (See Archaeology).
The District returns two elec'ed members to the Legislative Assembly. The western boundary of the district marches with the B itish Honduras-Guatemala Frontier.
TOWNS. El Cayo (its fill name El Cayo de San Ignacio- the Island of Saint Ignatius-has dropped out of use) on the western bank of the Macal River. chief town and Feat of administration. The Administration Building of concrete and woodwas completed in 1950 at a cost of around B. H. $50,000. The four dial striking clock mounted in the tower was purchased from the United Kingdom by the Town Board of El Cayo: by
(1) Pronounced Shoenahntoonitch (approximately "The Virgin of the Rock").
(2) This torry has been replaced by a larger one provided by Government.
18 British Honduras
unanimous vote of the Board it was officially named the Anderson Clock (1). Town Board of elected members. Population approximately 1,600. Connected to Belize by two trunk telephone lines (one a metallic circuit and the other a phantom return). One motion picture theatre. Government Hospital with a Medical Officer. Customs port of entry and clearance. Electric power supply 220 volts A.C. 50 cycles, operates from dusk till midnight only.
Benque Viejo (2) (Old Bank) on the eastern bank of the Mopan River and near to the frontier between British Honduras and Guatemala (Department of Peten). Population approximately 1,300. Eight miles by road from El Cayo. Town Board of elected members. Trunk telephone line to Belize through El Cayo. Has an Alcalde. Customs and Immigration point. Xunantunich Ruin is clearly visible from the town plaza.
COROZAL DISTRICT. Area 718 square miles. Population (estimated 1956) 7,446 or 10.37 to the square mile, chiefly Spanish-Indians, Maya Indians and Creoles. 1956: Death rate 11.55 and Birth rate 56. 67 per thousand of population. Infant mortality (under one year and exclusive of still births) 7.j5 per centum of births. Main industries sugar. rum, agriculture and whisk broom making. This district now produces a heavy tonnage of pineapples. There is a large sugar factory at Pembroke Hall, near Corozal Town, which makes plantation white and brown sugar for export and also meets the country's sugar needs. Rum is made by the sugar factory, as a by-product, and by some of the larger cane growers. Development plans call for a very considerable increase in the production of sugar in this district.
The Northerr( Highway (more commonly known as the Corozal Road) links Belize with Corozal Town, a road distance of 963 miles. Under a reciprocal trade agreement with Mexico, British Honduras has built a motor road to Santa Helena on the oondo River (the international boundary between British Honduras and Mexico), about 81 oiles from Corozal Town, and installed a suitable ferry. On their side the Mexican authorities have constructed a motor road from the ferry to Chetumal, capital of the Quintana Roo Province of Mexico, a distance of about 8 miles. A trunk telephone line links Belize through Corozal with Chetumal.
Feeder roads have been improved and new ones built during recent years. Much of the country is low-lying, with swamps and lagoons, but nevertheless has some beautiful scenery.
The District returns two members to the Legislative Assembly.
The District figures frequently in the history of the Settlement (as British Honduras was once called), notably during the Guerra de Castas (War of Classes) in Yucatan.
(1) The writer was District Commis,.ioner of Cayo District for several years.
(2) Pronounced Benkey Ve ayh,.
Mexico. In December, 1847, the Indians in Yucatan rose in revolt against the Spaniards and their families (the Spaniards had married into the country) and Christian converts. tlhe Guerra de Castas was waged by the Indians with such barbarity that in February, 1848, the Spanish Military Commandant at Bacalar (fort and town in Yucatan) Implpred the Superintendent of the Settlement to allow refugees from the ferocity of the India xs to establish themselves at "Punta Consejos" (sic), now Consejo in the Corozal District Permission was granted but the Indians threatened to attack Consejo and the refugees d ifted across the headland to the town of Corozal (Corozos or Cohune Nut Palms), w4ere a Mr. Blake, a Magistrate and owner of considerable property, ,encouraged them to4aetfle on his lands and grow, sugar cane and advanced them money to this end. As the.war dragged on both sides agreed to mediation by the Settlement but the numerous truces arranged for the purpose failed, each side accusing the other of breaches of the truce. Once, in October, 1849, a settlement appeared possible when the Indian Chief, Jacinto Pat, consented to come to Belize to discuss peace conditions. While on his way he wasmurdered by his own people opposed to his desire for peace, and thereafter although there was much talk of mediation on both sides the war dragged on intermittently. In February, 1858, the Indians attacked and captured Bacalar; the Commandant, Don Manuel Perdomo, and some of his troops fled to Corozal for refuge, Mr. Blake immediately visited Bacalar to intercede for the lives of the captives, the Indians agreed to spare the lives of their captives if Mr. Blake would pay their ransom amounting to 4,000. To this he agreed and, leaving as hostages three friends who had accompanied him, returned to Corozal for the money. With the money he returned to Bacalar only to find that the Indians had broken faith and slaughtered the prisoners, men, women and children, with great brutality, including roasting some to death. Inflamed by their success .at Bacalar the Indians ksrsued the war with greater ferocity and even began seriously to threaten invasion of the Sttlement to recapture the thousands of refugees sheltering in it. This threat was countered by stationing military and naval forces along the Hondo River and in Corozal; which by May, 1,58. was reported to contain 5,000 refugees including Don Manuel Perdomo, Don Mariano Trejo and other high ranking Mexican officials. It is sad to relate that when, in July and August that year,, an attempt was made to raise a Volunteer Force for the defence of Corozal the refugees refused to join it. The Guerra de Castas finally petered out and many of the refugees returned to Yucatan.
There are many remains of the ancient Maya in the district but they are hidden under tropical vegetation; some have been partially explored. Across Corozal Bay and clearly visible from Corozal Town is Indian Bluff, an enormous pyramid with its base partly in the sea. Polychrome murals were discovered by Dr. Thomas Gann at Santa Rita Site, just outside Corozal Town, but the collapse of the building destroyed them.
20 British Honduras
The District and Corozal Town suffered severe hurricane damage in 1942. On the 27th September, 1955, hurricane Janet almost entirely destroyed the Town and wrought damage estimated at B.H. $4 million-a heavy financial blow to this relatively undeveloped country- to crops and buildings throughout the Corozal District and far into the Orange Walk and Belize Districts. Although many persons were injured fatalities totalled only 17, a miraculously low figure considering the magnitude of the destruction.
In Corozal Town the hospital and its offices and staff quarters and all the medical equipment and supplies were destroyed.Ninety per centum of the houses were wrecked and their contents broken up or blown away. Villages over a wide area suffered a similar fate and as the roads for many miles were blocked with fallen trees the plight of the thousands of homeless people, especially the injured, was serious. Across the Frontier, Chetumal and surrounding area was in a similar plight. While bulldozers cleared and patched up a passage along the roads, light aeroplanes of the British Colonial Airways, Ltd., (1) Belize, shuttled over the stricken area, including villages across the Frontier, dropping food, medical and other supplies. As soon as the Corozal Road was re-opened, fleets of motor trucks from Belize laden with food, water, medical supplies, tools, building materials and other essentials began an operation that was to continue for several months. Money and materials and other generous help poured into Belize from the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Jamaica, British Guiana, Central America and other countries.
With Government aid, Corozal Town was rebuilt and improved in accordance with a town planning sciseme. Improvements include a piped water supply, a fine hospital and a civic centre. A landing field for light aeroplanes has been constructed a few miles out of Corozal Town. Maya Airways maintains scheduled flights from Belize to this field.
TOWNS. Corozal on the north side of Corozal Bay (Hanovpr Bay in Jeffery's map of 1775) into which the New River flows. Chief town and seat of administration. Population estimated at 2,500. Elected Town Board. Electric power service 220 volts D.C. (night service only). Trunk telephone line to Belize through Orange Walk Town. Motion picture theatre. Essentially a Hispano-Indian town due to the influence of the Bacalar refugees. It was raided as late as 1870 by Icaiche Indians, under their famous leader Marcus Canul. Customs Port of Entry and Immigration point.
-ORANGE WALK DISTRICT. Area 1,829 square miles. Population (estimated 1956) 8,021 or 4.39 to the square mile; chiefly Hispano-Indians, Maya Indians and Creoles.
1. Taken over by British Hondtfas Airways, Ltd., in 1956.
1956: Death rate 7.73 and Birth rate 44.63 per thousand of population. Infant mortality (under one year and exclusive of still births) 5.59 per centum of births. Main industries mahogany and other woods, chicle and cattle. One logging Company owns and leases over a million acres of land in the district, owns and operates a logging railway and co,,tinues its logging activities throughout the year (mahogany cutting is usually seasonaJ to feed its large band-sawmill at Belize; its main bush headquarters are at Gallon Jug. The logs are carried by railway to Hilibank (originally its bush headquarters) at the southern end of the Hillbank Lagoon (shown on Jeffery's map of 1775 as Britai r's or Laguna de Azul-Blue Lagoon) and rafted thence down the New River to the sea! The New River flows from Hillbank Lagoon into Corozal Bay (51 miles) and, except during the very low water period, boats up to five feet draft navigate from Corozal to Hillbank (6512 miles). Jeffery's map records this river as the New or Diamond, the latter name may have been given ironically as the river is muddy and very sluggish, except when in flood when it is very muddy and not so sluggish. For many miles it runs through swampy coun. try and has so many side loops it is easy to become side-tracked off the main stream. The Northern Highway crosses the New River (by ferry) at Tower Hill (62 miles from Belize) and passes through the town of Orange Walk (1) on its way to Corozal. There are many riding trails and several feeder roads and other feeder roads are planned.
Towards the western boundary the land rises into hills ranging up tlo 800 feet above sea level; the district has many areas of good agricultural land-mostly under private ownership or lease. Some very interesting Ancient Maya sites have been explored in the district and many more await proper investigation. The district is bounded on the north by the Hondo River, the boundary between British Honduras and Mexico. During the early history of the Settlement several battles were fought in the Orange Walk District against invading Indians from Mexico. The origin of the name is not definitely known but fruit and coconut groves are often called "Walks" in this country. The district was severely damaged by a hurricane in 1942 and even more severely damaged by hurricane Janet in 1955. For several years, until 1950, it was amalgamated with Corozal District.under the title Northern District. It returns two members to the Legislative Assembly.
TOWNS. Orange Walk on the western bank of the New River. Population approximately 1,500. Elected Town Board. Electric power service 3 phase, 120/208 volts A.C. 60 cycles (night service only). Chief town and seat of administration. Government hospital. Motion picture theatre. Trunk telephone line to Belize and Corozal. On the Northern Highway, 66. miles from Belize.
11) There is another Orange Walk (a private estate) in the Cayo District,
22 British Honduras
The town was attacked several times in its history by Indians from Yucatan, the last time on 1st September, 1872, when 150 Ycaiche Indians under Marcus Canul besieged the military barracks. Into this one roomed building crowded the whole detachment of the ist West India Regiment-one officer (Lieutenant Smith), the Surgeon and 37 other ranks. The defenders kept up a hot fire on the attackers who were firing on them from the she.,t. of piles of logwood awaiting shipment. The attack started just after 8 a.m. and although wounded ten minutes after the fight began Lieutenant Smith continued to direct his men for two hours when he collapsed. Sergeant Belizaire, who along with the Lieutenant had already displayed cool bravery, then took command, assisted by the Surgeon (Dr. Edge) and the District Magistrate (Richard Downer) (1). The Indians, armed with muskets, poured a heavy fire on the barracks and also endeavoured to set fire to the building but only succeeded in burning down a small kitchen building nearby. By 2.30 p.m. Marcus Canul was badly wounded and some of the Indians began to retire. The Sergeant then led a counter-attack which finally routed the attackers. The Detachment suffered 2 men killed and one officer and 14 men wounded. Although the account of the proceedings of the Military Court of Inquiry makes no reference to the Magistrate until after Lieutenant Smith's collapse, other accounts state that he was captured by the Indians but managed to effect his escape and join the defenders. Marcus Canul died from his wounds and his successor Rafael Chan, tendered his apologies for the aggressive acts of Canul and craved the pardon of "our Queen who has much reason to be annoyed." In consequence o this attack an earthwork fort was built at Orange Walk, part of which still remains"
STANN CREEK DISTRICT. Area 840 square miles. Population (estimated 1956) 8,989 or 10.70 per square mile, chiefly Caribs and Creoles. 1956: Death tate 8.68 and Birth rate 49.06 per thousand of population. Infant mortality (under one year and exclusive of still births) 6.12 per centum of births. This district has acquired a bad reputation as the home of a particularly malignant type of malarial fever (transmitted by the Anopheles darlingi) but although this does exist its incidence is small and comparison with the death rates for the other districts shews that the rate for Stann Creek District is average.
Most of the district is hillY, ranging from sea level to over 2,000 feet. The Cockscomb Range (with the highest peak-Victoria, 3,650 feet) lies in this district; except for penetration by mahogany operators and geologists the Range is still largely unexplored. The district has much beautiful scenery and is well watered by rivers and creeks; the North Stann Creek, which drains the Stann Creek Valley, yields potable water right to its mouth.
(1) Downer was captured by the Intians but escaped with the aid of a daughter of one of the Chiefs and managed to join the defenders. He subsequently married his rescuer. People who knew her said she was talented and charming and the marriage was a happy one.
Big Eddy Falls in the Silk Grass Reserve is a cascade fall of some height and beauty, un fortunately it is still very difficult of access.
A deep-water channel runs close to the shore: at two points, at least, ocean steamers can approach to around one hundred yards off the beach. There was an ocean steamer pier at Commerce Bight (about 3 miles by road from Stann Creek Town) but it was destroyed by a hurricane in 1941: it is planned to rebuild it when funds are available. An all-weather motor road runs from the town to Middlesex (23 miles) at the head of the extremely fertile Stann Creek Valley.. A branch road runs to Commerce Bight where a barge jetty has been constructed to serve until the pier is rebuilt. There are several feeder roads and more are planned. The Humming Bird Highway (32- miles long) connects the Valley Road at Middlesex with the Western Highway at Roaring Creek (49 miles from Belize). The road distance from Belize to Stann Creek Town is approximately 105 miles.
Chief industries citrus fruits and by-products, sawmilling and logging, coconuts and other agricultural products.
Early in the century the Valley produced considerable quantities of bananas for export and in 1908 the construction of a narrow gauge railway was commenced. Some years later Panama Disease was accidentally introduced into British Honduras and soon ruined the plantations in the Valley. During the third decade the cultivation of citrus fruit-particularly grapefruit-to replace the lost banana industry was seriously undertaken with encouraging results. By 1939 the citrus industry had become a major and rapidly expanding business. The growers had formed a very progressive co-operative company-The British Honduras Citrus Association-and opened a large capacity fresh fruit packing factory just outside Stann Creek Town. Later canning equipment was added and in 1941 elaborate pulping machinery was purchased and a second factory opened at Pomona 13 miles up the Valley) to process a large order from the United Kingdom for grapefruit pulp. Subsequently the packing machinery was transferred from the old factory to the Pomona factory. In 1943 lack of shipping facilities forced the closing down of the factory and the loss of millions of fruit.
The Citrus Association never really recovered from the heavy financial loss caused by the wartime shut down and finally sold out to a private firm. The acreage under oranges has been greatly increased and the cultivation of citrus fruit is extending along the Humming Bird Highway. Citrus fruit, whole, canned and by-products to the value of $543,258 B.H. were exported in 1950 and to the value of $3,132,431 in1960.
Although suited to the banana industry, the railway was unsatisfactory to the new industry. In the days of the former, the trains started at the Middlesex end and moved
24 British Honduras
slowly coastwards picking up the quarter green bananas from dumps alongside the track. On reaching Commerce Bight the loaded cars were discharged directly into the holds of the-steamers berthed alongside the Steamer Pier. The citrus industry requires the ripe fruit to be processed as soon as possible after picking and with the minimum of handling. The ideal is a steady flow of fruit from orchard to factory. This could not be achieved economically by the railway-which had operated at considerable loss for years-and the work of replacing it with a road was commenced at the Middlesex end in 1938 and completed in 1940. As anticipated, motor haulage proved ideal for the citrus industry and has given considerable impetus to agriculture in the Valley.
Experiments are now being carried out in the cultivation of cacao (cocoa) for export. As British Honduras is in the area forming the original home of cacao, it should do well here. (1) A fair quantity of cassava starch is produced by the Caribs (2) by primitive means tor local consumption and cassava is one of the staple articles of their diet. Nutmeg used to be grown at Kendal on the Sittee River. Before the development of beet sugar in Europe ruined the cane sugar industry, several prosperous sugar estates existed along the Sittee River.
.Although no large sites have been discovered some extremely interesting relics of the ancient Maya civilization have been unearthed in this district and it is probable that important sites will be found when the Cockscomb Range area is opened up.
The Caribs of British Honduras are black and are the descendants of the union of Carib Indian and African slaves in certain West Indian Islands. In 1797, after the St. Vincent Massacre, they were deported to the Bay Islands off the coast of what is now the Republic of Honduras. Subsequently they migrated to the mainland, some settled in the Republic of Honduras and others were allowed to settle in the Toledo and Stann Creek Districts of British Honduras. They are a very distinctive type and excellent seamen and provid2z many of the best school teachers in the country. They are clannish and speak a language of their own which they guard jealously; it appears to be basically an African dialect with a strong admixture of French, Spanish and English words.
(1) The ancient Maya and Aztecs (Mexico) used cacao as a ceremonial drink. It was grown and exported by the lowland Maya inhabiting what are now Peten (Guatemala) and BrItish Honduras. The Spanish Conquistadores developed a liking for cacao and introduced it into Spain.
(2) In 1857 the leasing of land in the Stann Creek District to Caribs to encourage them to settle was Commenced on the recommendation of J. H. Fabee, Surveyor. In 1874 an area of land in Ste Valley was marked off and reserved to the Caribs-
Green coconuts, These are the regular coconuts of commerce but taken from the palmn while still young. Green-coconut water is a popular and refreshing drink.
The District takes its name from the town of Stann Creek. The origin of the name is obscure, certainly there is no known record of it ever being called St. Ann, and it may he a corruption of Sand or Stand, probably the latter. Some old charts call the stream that meanders down the Staun Creek Valley and bisects the Town "Sand Creek", appropriately as its bed for many miles inland is sandy. In the Sixteenth and Seventeenth centuries sea roadsteads were often called "Stands" and there is some evidence that in the early days the coast off the present town, with its convenient supply of potable water, was a regular anchorage or Stand.
The district returns two members to the Legislative Assembly.
TOWNS. Stann Creek, chief town and seat of administration. Built on the alluvial sea front at the mouth of the North Stann Creek, which divides the town in two. The Creek is potable to its junction with the sea and supplies the bulk of the town's drinking water. The town area is lo)w and swampy and subject to partial inundation when the Creek is in flood; during recent years the construction of relief ditches, the dumping up of low spots and other measures have improved the drainage of the town considerably.
Population approximately 3,500. Elected Town Board. Customs Port of Entry and Immigration point. Trunk telephone line to Belize. Motion picture theatre. There is an unscheduled bus service between Belize and Stann Creek Town. In addition to regular coastal mail services (twice a week from and to Belize) auxiliary sailing craft make frequent trips between the Town and Belize. Scheduled stop for Maya Airways passenger aeroplanes.
Mullins River on the north bank of the Mullins River, north of Stann Creek Town, where it joins the sea. At one time the Mullins River furnished the only convenient route tor bringing out produce from the Stann Creek Valley area and the town was prosperous and well populated. The railway up the Valley robbed the River of much of its importance and the population (mainly Creole) began to move to Stann Creek Town and the migration was greatly accelerated by the opening of the Valley Road. In 1943 the Town Board was dissolved and Mullins River, by Proclamation, ceased to hold the status of a town. It is on the trunk telephone line to Belize, 27 miles away. Recent agricultural developments in the district show some promise of reviving Mullins River and town.
TOLEDO DISTRICT. Area 1,795 square miles. (1) Population (estimated 1956) 9.061 or 5.05 per square mile, chiefly Maya Indians, Caribs and Creoles. 1956: Death rate
(1) The district boundary between she Toledo and Cayo Districts was altered in 1955, transferring 330 square miles from the former to the latter District.
26 British Honduras
17.55 and Birth rate 42.38 per thousand of population. Infant mortality (under one year and exclusive of still births) 14.32 per centum of births. Most of the country is hilly, up to 3,000 feet above sea level, and is liberally endowed with creeks, rivers and beautiful scenery. Most of the Maya Mountain Range lies in this district. The coast is rugged and there are several potential deep-water port sites. Although many of the rivers are navigable by boats up to four and five feet draft for miles, this district, which has much good agricultural land, has as yet been but little developed, probably because of its remoteness from and poor communications with Belize. The construction of a road from the Stann Creek Valley Road to link with the Punta Gorda-San Antonio Road is well advanced.
Main industries: Mahogany, pine lumber, chicle and agricultural produce (chiefly rice, Indian corn (maize), sugar dane, bananas, brown sugar, pigs). An American company is developing banana growing on a large scale in the strict and the shipment of fruit has commenced. During last century this district waxed rich on the production and export of brown sugar until the introduction of beet sugar in Europe brought ruin to the sugar estates. A small quantity of excellent brown sugar is still produced with simple equipment. In 1867 and 1868 a number of Americans from the Southern States of America, ruined by the Civil War, migrated to British Honduras and settled in the Toledo District (Young, Toledo & Co., who owned considerable tracts of land in the district offered gratuitously 100 acres to every male adult from the Southern States who would settle for the purpose of agriculture); their decendants still take an active part in the district's industries.
A good road, with feeders, runs inland from Punta Gorda to the Maya Indian village of San Antonio (21 miles). Cacao on a small, non-commercial scale has been grown in this district for a considerable number of years. The Maya Indians are competent agriculturists and to ensure that their land needs will be covered seven areas, totalling 75,727 acres, have been reserved to them for their shifting (milpa) type of cultivation. The Indians are, however, free to take up land outside the reserved areas if they so desire.
There are several large ancient Maya sites in the district. Two of these-Lubaantun and Pusilha-were explored by archaeologists from the United Kingdom and America during the second decade of this century. Lubaantun was discovered by a Government surveyor during the latter part of the last century. At Lubaantun the archaeologists recovered many interesting pottery figures and anthropomorphous whistles, and from Pusilha much fine polychrome pottery ware. Both sites are now deeply covered with jungle vegetation,
A freak hurricane wrought widespread damage to the district on the 4th October, 1945. In Punta Gorda Town it was estimated that 80% of the houses were damaged, and streets and bridges were wrecked. Monkey River Town also suffered severely. This disaster was notable for the heroism of several persons, in particular that displayed by the District Nurse (Mrs. E. D. Lemott) for which she was awarded the British Empire Medal.
The district returns two members to the Legislative Assembly.
TOWNS. Punta Gorda ("Fat-Pl6st") situated on a headland, chief town and seat of administration. Population approximately 1,400. It is the only coastal town built on ground rising well above sea level. Customs Port of Entry and Immigration point. Pier for small vessels only, no deep water pier as yet. Distance from Belize by sea 108 miles. Elected Town Board. Trunk telephone line to Belize.
Monkey River, at the mouth of the river of that name. The bed of the Monkey River-and its two branches, Bladen and Swasey-is sand and gravel and its water is potable almost to the bar. Unfortunately it is shallow-only doreys (dug-outs) can navigate it-and the bar is treacherous and usually rough. The Bladen and the Swasey tap rich highlands, producing bananas, coconuts, beans and other food crops, still scarcely developed. Logging and sawmilling are carried out around their upper reaches and head waters. The town itself is situated on the low, sandy beach and is much plagued by sand fliesand other biting insects. Population around 500. Elected Town Board. Monkey River is around 26 miles from Punta Gorda and traffic between the two towns is entirely by sea: it is about 82 miles from Belize. Trunk telephone line to Belize.
The past two decades have witnessed a revolution in transport and communications in this country. As late as 1935 there were only 35 miles of roads suitable for traffic throughout the year, and traffic inland perforce moved almost entirely along the numerous waterways or on pack and riding animals. Today there are over 440 miles of main and fteder roads and around 280 miles of Government maintained trails, many of them used by motor trucks and four-wheel drive vehicles, and cart roads. There is also a growing mileage of roads built and maintained by the Govenment Forest Department to facilitate the movement of timber trucks and of forest fire fighting equipment, which is open to the public. In addition there are many miles of temporary logging roads created by timber operators, and an unknown but considerable mileage of unscheduled riding trails.
28 BdtiaA Honduree
The previous neglect of road building was due to many factors. The first settlers devoted themselves entirely to cutting and exporting logwood (a dyewood) which then grew in abundance along the coastal hell. Later they added mahogany, which at that time was also plentiful within easy working distance from the numerous waterways. As the settlers were not interested in agriculture and as water transport was convenient and cheap to Use and maintain they were under no economic pressure to build roads.
It has been said that mahogany has been at once the salvation and the curse of this country and there is little douht that the popular devotion to timber extraction and the necessarily nomadic nature of the logging operations in the past were strong deterrents to. the development of both roads and agriculture. Mature mahogany trees are widely scat-tered and each logging contractor is forced to spread his operations over many miles to obtain a cut sufficient to meet his obligations. In the earlier days trees were cut alongside, and the togs manhandled into, waterways. Later cattle haulage was adopted and continued to be used until the internal combustion engined crawler tractor began to attain mechanical efficiency. Both these forms of haulage were slow-around walking pace-and therefore limited in economic haulage range but required only tracks cleared through the trees. The usual procedure was for the contractor to clear a passage (main pass) through his cutting area to the nearest suitable waterway. From this artery radiated the smaller wing passes to the felled trees which were little more than tunnels through the bush (as the jungle is called here). As the next season's cut was usually taken from a different area road work was of the most primitive nature and when abandoned the passes soon reverted to bush. Over-cutting and wasteful cutting steadily forced the mahogany operations away from usable waterways and eventually beyond the economic hauling range of the tractors. Fortunately by then pneumatic tyred, multi-wheeled, petrol or diesel powered logging trucks (camiones) had been developed to a high point of efficiency. They began to be adopted here during the 1930s. These machines are capable of carrying enormous loads at high speeds over very long distances (some contractors are now hauling well over one hundred miles) but to develop full efficiency and economy require made roads. Consequently the contractor of today includes bull-dozers and others road making machinery in his mechanical equipment and dirt road building as part of his operations. Also, to ob. tain the maximum return on his road investment, he now tries to operate for several Years in the same part of the country, simply extending his road each year. These roads are therefore opening up much of the hinterland and already some of them have been taken over by Government and improved into regular motor roads.
The camnion has also made possible two other economic gains. Previously the sawmills had to be set up on the coast and the logs floated to them; maintaining a regular and sufficient flow of logs to them was a major problem. Today the sawmills are being set up right in the timber areas, a far more satisfactory arrangement. Most export logging con-
tracts stipulate delivery of the logs at a stated rafting point, usually near the coast, before payment can be collected. In the past the contractors usually had to dump their logs in a creek or river and wait for a flood to sweep them down to the rafting point, lying out of their money in the meantime. This, at best, meant a wait of many months and sometimes the ensuing wet season did not oblige with a sufficiently high flood. Most of the floods here are of short duration, especially in the upper reaches of the creeks and rivers, and as the water subsides logs are left stranded on the banks and in amongst the adjacent trees. To counter this "driving gangs" follow the logs down river to roll stranded logs back into the water: inevitably some logs are carried far into the surrounding bush and lost. Today the trend is to freight the logs by camnion right to the rafting point, making use of public roads wherever possible.
These changes in the timber industry and the increasing development of agriculture. fostered by Government, have completely changed the picture and roads are new an economic necessity.
Road building through the wide, largely alluvial coastal belt, especially in the vicinity of Belize, is costly and difficult. The roads must pass through large areas either under mangrove swamp or subject to annual inundation. Furthermore, until the highlands are reached there are no convenient natural sources from which to obtain road metal. Until roads reached and made possible the opening up of quarries rocks were lightered from sea reefs and rock studded lagoons to Belize, crushed and trucked to the road gangs. Stone is still so obtained for the streets of Belize. The Northern Highway runs for a considerable part of its length through country thought to be devoid of quarry sites (1) but thickly studded with ancient Maya mounds and pyramids containing enormous quantities of tone, laboriously collected by the ancient builders, which offered a cheap and tempting source of road material. It was decided to quarry these mounds and pyramids and progress on the road became rapid, leaving only the archaeolIogists to bemoan the loss of the archaeologically and ethnologically valuable articles destroyed in the quarrying (2). Betore this destruction of ancient Maya sites was prohibited many feeder roads and, fur some unknown reason as natural stone was plentiful, part of the Western Highway were also built with material from such sources.
(1) Recent geological surveys have discovered buried reefs.
(2) And, incidentally, to point out in vain that much of the stone was beginning to decay and therefore would soon crumble into dust usder wheeled teaftie, an all too correct prophecy.
30 British Honduras
Until 1936 the Belize or Old River was crossed at the Haulover, five files froj Belize, by means of a hand operated ferry (1). In the 18th Century an important industrl,rI centre was at Convention Town (2) (of which all trace has now disappeared) on the nof t, bank of the Belize River and upstream from the Haulover which lies close to the ma,n mouth. The Haulover Road which linked Convention Town with Belize is one of th. -L.. est roads in this country; it is now part of the Northern Highway. As the construction o, the Northern Highway progressed and traffic increased the congestion and delay at the ferry became increasingly serious. The Colonial Development and Welfare Fund came to the rescue with a grant for the construction of a reinforced concrete bridge 334 feet long with a 12 foot wide traffic deck. The bridge was officially opened on the 30th May, 1936 and quickly demonstrated its tremendous value. Unfortunately in 1943 an extra hig flood (3) burst a log boom holding hundreds of massive mahogany logs. The logs wer swept downstream for many miles and driven against the bridge with such force that i was irreparably damaged. The Colonial Development and Welfare Fund then gave a grand Por the construction of a much larger and more suitable steel bridge which was opene for traffic in September, 1947. The older bridge which, temporarily braced, had borne th interim traffic was then removed. Notes on other roads will be found in the sections deal ing with the various Districts.
An extensive network of trails (picados) exists and a great deal of the country can b traversed on horse-back. Strangers are advised, however, to obtain the services of a reli able guide as many of the trails not only run through dense jungle but in and out of othe trails in a most confusing manner. Usually it is possible to arrange the daily journeys s that over-night stops are made where shelter can be obtained but hammock, mosquito ne food and cooking utensils must be carried. The maximum load for a pack mule is 200 lbs and, except during the wet season when chicle is being brought in from the bush, sturd pack or riding animals usually can be hired for around $1.50 to $2.00 B.H. a day eac In the bush areas, where there is no grazing, the animals are fed on the leaves of th breadnut tree (-Brosimunt alicastrum) and the services of an experienced arriero muleteerr are essential, for preference one with a good knowledge of the route to be traversed thu avoiding the expense of a separate guide. The wages of good arrieros range around $3. B.H. a day and vary according to the length and nature of the journey, the time of yea the extent of their duties and whether rations are provided by the hirer or the arrier
(1) As far back as 1845 money was provided from public funds for a ferry at this point.
(2) Until 1812 the Superintendent of the Settlement resided at Convention Town.
(3) Such floods are called locally "top gallon"; the correct and original title was "topgallant", might be expected from the country's seafaring founders.
Many of them are good bush cooks and will include this in their duties on request. Sometimes the ownei of the animals will stipulate, as part of the terms of hire, the employment of a particular arriero. The arriero is entitled to the use of a riding animal and provision must be made for the transport of his bedding and food; if he supplies his own mount he ias entitled to receive the regular hire rate for it. The inhabitants are hospitable and provided the traveller has a liking for the primitive and does not mind rough fare many interesting riding trips can be made. Under normal circumstances ten to fifteen miles with pack animals will be a fair day's trek.
With a four-wheel drive vehicle, such as a Jeep or Land Rover, some rough but interesting trips can be made, limited in duration mainly by the amount of spare fuel that can be carried. A practical knowledge of running repairs is essential as there are no service stations in the bu6h.
INTERNAL TRANSPORT. Privately owned motor buses travel almost daily between Belize, El Cayo and Benque Viejo; Belize, Corozal and Orange Walk and Belize ind Stann Creek. Some make the round trip in one day. Fares range around $2.50 B.H. from terminus to terminus. Passengers carry their own food as meals are not obtainable ,n route. In addition there are many large motor freight trucks licenced to carry passengers. There is a bus service from Chetumal, Quintana Roo, Province of Mexico to Belize.
Comfortable taxis can be hired at reasonable rates in Belize for trips along the main roads. Taxi hire within Belize town limits is 50 cents between any two points if only one passenger is carried and 25 cents a head if two or more passengers are carries. The rate for time charter or waiting time is $2.50 B.H. (12/6) an hour but for trips outside town limits terms should be arranged with the drivers in advance. In Belize the hire ,rates are higher after midnight. (For information on motor licence fees, etc., please see 'Motor Vehi~les under Duties and Taxes). The registration plates of private motor vehicles are white with black numbers; of taxis and other fare paying passenger vehicles green with white numbers; of freight vehicles black with white numbers; of Government or Municipal operated vehicles red with white numbers.
A small cabin vessel-the M. V. Heron-leaves Belize every Tuesday and Saturday for points south. The Tuesday trip continues to Puerto Barrios, Guatemala, reached Wednesday afternoon, where the vessel delivers and picks up this country's foreign and English mail. She leaves Puerto Barrios Wednesday night and arrives in Belize early Friday morning. The terminus of the Saturday trip is Punta Gorda (Toledo District, q.v.). Bollh trips include stops at Stann Creek, Placencia Point, Monkey River. Punta Gorda and, passengers or freight offering, at intermediate points. The cabin fare from Belize to Stann Creek is $2.50 and to Punta Gorda $6.00, meals extra. Breakfast, Lunch and Sup-
32 British Honduras
per 75 cents each. The fare from Belize to Puerto Barrios is $11.00 and includes meals. No reductions are made for round trip tickets. The journey from Belize to Puerto Barrios takes around 24 hours, to Punta Gorda around 18 hours and to Stann Creek 4 hours; longer in adverse weather.
Maya Airways maintains daily scheduled trips from Belize to Stann Creek, Punta Gorda, Corozal and Orange Walk. Other points will be added when traffic justifies their inclusion. There are also flag stops. The company also makes charter and sight-seeing flights. The regular fares are:- ro Punta Gorda $22.50; to Stann Creek $9.50, to Orange Walk $11.00; to Corozal $13.00. Charter rate-$50 an hour.
Much of the inland freight and passenger traffic is still carried along the numerous waterways in motor driven craft and paddling doreys (dugout canoes). The latter are strong, shapely craft well suited for navigating waterways too shallow or dangerous for other craft. For sight-seeing and other trips good doreys capable of carrying several passongers as well as the crew usually can be hired from around $1.50 a day and reliable paddlers for around $2.50 a day each. The number of paddlers required varies with the size of the dorey, the waterways and other factors but is commonly two or three.
INTERNATIONAL AIR SERVICES. Times and fares change frequently and their inclusion in this book could prove misleading. At the time of writing the following air lines provide regular or intermittent servises to and from Belize:B.W.I.A. (British West Indian Airways, a B.O.A.C. subsidiary) makes the round trip, trans-Caribbean, Kingston (Jamaica)--Cayman Islands-Belize---Cayman Islands-Kingston every Wednesday.
TACA International (Transportes Aereos Centro-Americanas) flights from New Orleans to Guatemala City and back call at Belize. Mondays and Fridays north bound and Tuesdays and Saturdays south bound.
TAN Airlines (Transportes Aereos Nacionales, S.A.) from Miami, Florida, to Sa (iedro Sula and back call at Belize. Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, both ways on all three days.
SAHSA (Servicio Aereo de Honduras, S.A., a PAA subsidiary) from and to San Pedr Sula. Wednesdays and Saturdays.
ASA (Aerovias Sud Americana Ltd.) flom the U.S.A. carries freight only and makes almost weekly calls at Belize.
INTERNATIONAL SEA SERVICES. Before the war Belize was a regular port o call for freight and passenger steamers belonging to several American, British an
European shipping lines. Many of these services have not been resumed, particularly the passenger services. Vessels of the United Fruit Company (U.S.A.), T. & J. Harrison (Liverpool, England), Caribbean Line (U.S.A.), Guatemala Line (U.S.A.), Three Bays Line (U.S.A.), Royal Netherlands 5.S. Line (Holland), call at Belize but not to strict timetable. of these only the vessels of Netherlands S.S. Line cater for passengers, as well as freight. Some of the United Fruit Company vessels accept a few passengers. The M.V. Heron (A. Hunter, Belize) carries passengers and freight to and from Puerto Barrios, Guatemala, weekly (see also under internal Transport).
On his fourth voyage of discovery, Columbus, seeking a haven in which to repair his
-ships buffeted by the Atlantic Crossing, was repulsed by the jealous Spaniards settled in H-ispaniola, Jamaica and Cuba. He continued westward and, after discovering and slopping at Ruatan (Bay Islands), arrived in June, 1502, at the southern coast of a large bay in the mainland whichihe named Honduras on account of the deep water he found there. A terrible storm drove him southwards desperately seeking shelter, his vessels strained and leaking and in grave danger of foundering: he rounded and found the desired sanctuary behind a broad cape which he named Gracias a Dios in gratitude. Had he been driven north instead of south he would have arrived, and possibly fallen foul of the reefs, off the coast of what is now British Honduras.
There is little doubt that Hernando Cortes, the conqueror of Mexico, passed through a western part of British Honduras during his famous overland march from Tenochtitlan (Mexico City) to Honduras (now Republic of) in 1524 to deal with his rebellious lieutenant (Cristobal de Olid). (1)
NOTE. The rates and services quoted in this book are subject to alteration from time to time Rates are quoted in British Honduras currency. Persons leaving the country-other than intransit passengers-must obtain an income Tax Ctearance. Certain immigration and currency restrictions are still in force and the penalties for infringment are heavy. Persons intending to leave the country should consult the Police Department (Immigration) and a Bask (financial). Nationals of cert tin countries visiting British Honduras for a period nut exceeding three months (six months in the case of U.S.A. nationals) do not require a visa; if the duration of the visit is extended prior reference must be made to the Immigration Department. A valid international Certificate of Vaccination (Small Pox) is essential and, if coming from a country attacked by Yellow Fever, proof of Yellow Fever inoculation must bs produced to the Health Authorities (Port) on arri,,at. Currencies other than British Honduras are not legal tender in this country (thin includes the West Indian dollar) and must be declared on arrival and exchanged at a Bank. The Banks accept Travellers Cheques but the other business houses seldom do sn.
(I) "Some Spanish Entradaa'" by Doris Zemurray Stone (See Bibliography) gives details of his route.
34 BOidsh Eonduras
The scores of habitable islets, some with central lagoons in which vessels could be hidden or careened, the many river mouths and coastal lagoons suitable for lairs, the protection against surprise attack afforded by the reefs and tricky channels and the deserted nature of the coastal country undoubtedly attracted pirates and buccaneers to these shores from an early date. Of these the most notable name asssociated with the earliest history of the settlement is that of Wallace or Willis, a Scottish (1) corsair chief who had his head-. quarters in the mouth of the Belize or Old River.
The first recorded settlement was made in 1638 by a party of shipwrecked British subjects, later augmented by settlers from Jamaica (captured from the Spanish by British forces under Admiral Penn and General Venables in 1655).
At first it was called the "English Settlement at the mouth of the River Walix" (vari ously spelt Waliz, Wallis, Baliz, Balix, Beleese and Bellese; the spelling Belize appears il a map of 1826). Later it was also called the "Settlement of English Woodcutters in th. Bay of Honduras"; this was abbreviated to the "English Settlement of Honduras" an, finally, when it was designated a Colony in 1862, to British Honduras (2). Notwithstand ing the addition of the word British it is still frequently confused with the Republic o Honduras. From an early date the settlers were referred to as the "Baymen", a patron mic they retain with pride to this day. It is usually suggested that the name Belize (3) which, spelt Belied, is still the Spanish name for the territory, is a corruption of Wallace' name or, less frequently, is derived from the French "Balise", a beacon. (4)
The Buccaneers (5) used some of the islets for smoking meat (turtle and beef), th latter probably from cattle captured on the Spanish held islands such as Cuba (6). On such islet, appropriately named Cay Cosina (Kitchen island) in early charts, about eig miles east of Belize became in time the principal place of residence of the settlers and t arl intents and purposes their capital. Its name was then changed to the less homely'S George's Cay it now bears, a name which figures prominantly in the history of the country
(I) A strongScottish element has always been a noticeable feature of British Honduras.
(2) Note.-The accent is on the first two syllables, thus HONDURAs-not HONDURASS.
(3) Pronounced 'Belees'.
(4) The writer doubts both derivations; why should Scottish people (always strong in the Settlemen corrupt Wallace, the name of one of Scotland's famous heroes. As the Buccaneers and pirates adopted th coast because of its tricky reefs and channels it would seem unlikely they would destroy that security b erecting guiding beacons besides attracting attention to their presence. The writer suspects the now forgot ten Maya Indian name for the Old River as a more likely source.
(5) From the French boucaner, to smoke meat.
(6) There were no horned cattle or horses in the New World until imported by the Spaniards.
In 1670 the Settlement, which at this time is said to have had a population of 700 whites (1) prospering greatly with logwood at 100 a ton, would appear now to have considered itself a British Possession. Spain, however, claimed dominion over the whole of Central America-largely on the strength of the Papal Bull of 1493 and the Treaty of Tondesillas (1494) dividing the New World between Spain and Portugal- and continued to advance claims on the territory and to back them in Treaties as well as by force. Notwithstanding the Treaties of non-agression she made, Spain launched attack after attack on the settlers, causing them much distress and loss, until her forces suffered a severe detea at the Battle of St. George's Cay in 1798. (q.v.) In 1718 a Spanish force frum Peten penetrated as far as Spanish Lookout on the Belize River and there erected a fort, soon after abandoned.
In 1754 the Spanish again attempted another but more serious invasion from Peten. They penetrated as far as Labouring Creek, where they were routed by settlers with their negro slaves: this incident is locally known as the Battle of Labouring Creek. (2) In 1779 the Spaniards captured St. George's Cay, looting it and imprisoning the inhabitants in Havana until 1782, when they were exchanged, This reverse, though the "Baymen" retook St. George's Cay, caused a practical abandonment of the settlement until the Treaty of Versailles in 1783.
On September 10, 1798, Spanish attempts at conquest were finally shattered in the Battle of St. George's Cay, a very glorious episode and worthy of a place in "Deeds that Won the Empire."
In January 1797, owing to representations to the Home Government as to the aggressive attitude of Spain in these waters, Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Barrow was appointed Superintendent (the then title of the Chief Officer of the settlement) with civil and military powers. The inability of the Mother Country to send sufficient military assistance caused ,the settlers to consider seriously whether they should defend or evacuate the settlement. The treatment meted out by the Spaniards in 1779 had given them a grim taste of what they might expect if they fought and were defeated. The forces gathering against them were 'patently so superior in numbers and armament to anything they could hope to mount that resistance seemed hopelets, yet the evacuation of so many people, even if time permitted, would have been attended by cruel difficulties and hardships, the loss of everything they owned and, probably, the final abandonment of the settlement.
(t) Negro slaves were not imported until later.
(2) A book of interest, The Baymen of Belize, by E. W. Williams (Sheldon Press), a story dealing with life in the settlement in the eighteenth century, graphically describes a "fight at Yalbac" in 1791, presumably fictitious, as no such fight is recorded. The account reads very true to life, and might well be that of the Battle of Labouring Creek.
36 British Honduras
On June 1, 1797, a Public Meeting (1) the recognised "Parliament" of the settlement, was held to decide this vital question. 128 persons attended, of these 51 voted in favour of evacuation, 65 for defence and 12 did not vote. Although the resolution to resist was carried by only 14 votes, such modest preparations for defence as were possible were undertaken with a will, even by persons who bad voted for evacuation. Martial Law was declared and all persons and cattle (extensively used for hauling wood) brought in from the numerous camps as it was thought the Spaniards would soon launch their attack. For some reason, however, a long delay ensued which sorely taxed the nerves and resources of the settlers.
On September 3, 1798, the Spanish flotilla of thirty-one vessels carrying 2,000 troops and 500 seamen, commanded by Field-Marshal Arturo O'Neil, Captain-General of Yucatan, appeared off Montego Cay.
The defending flotilla consisted of His Majesty's Sloop Merlin, Captain John Ralph Moss, eight 18-pounders and 50 men;
Two sloops, one 18-pounder and 25 men each; f!rowser and Tfek/er
One local sloop, one 9-pounder and 25 men; (Mermaid)
Two local schooners, six 4-pounders and 25 men each; (Swinger and Teaser)
Seven gun flats (strengthened log-wood rafts), one 9-pounder and 25 men each.
Total force, 350 men and 30 guns.
There was also a reserve force of 200 men, including detachments of the 63rd Foot, 6th West India Regiment, and Royal Artillery, with one howitzer and two 6-pounders, ready to embark for any threatened point.
On September 3, 4 and 5 the enemy tried to force a passage through the shoals into Belize, hut was repulsed by the sloops and gun flats. Captain Moss, seeing that their next objective would be St. George's Cay, took the Merlin there on the 6th arriving just as twelve of the heaviest enemy vessels were attempting its capture. He reports" they hauled their wind and returned to Long Key, on my hauling my wind towards them" The next three days were spent by the Spaniards "working and anchoring among the shoals."
On the 10th fourteen of the largest Spanish ships bore down on St. George's Cay. Nine of them, mounting from twelve to twenty guns each and towing launches filled with soldiers, attacked the Merlin and her flotilla. "Five smaller vessels lay to windward, out of~ gunshot, full of troops, and the remainder of their squadron at Long Key Spit to wait the, event" (Captain Most's despatch).
Colonel Barrow's despatch must be quoted here.
(1) Under the Chairmanship of Thomas Potts, Esq., Magistrate.
--Te enemy came down in a very handsome manner, and with a good countenance, in a line abreast, using both sails and oars. About half after two o'clock Captain Moss made the signal to engage, which was obeyed with a cool and determined firmness, that, to use his own expression to me on the occasion, would have done credit to veterans. The action lasted about two hours and a half, when the Spaniards began to fall into confusion, and soon afterwards cut the cables, and sailed and rowed oflf, assisted by a great number of launches, which took them in tow.
"-Captain Moss, on seeing their retreat, made the signal for our vessels to chase; but night coming on, and rendering pursuit too dangerous in a narrow channel and difficult navigation, they were soon after recalled."
Captain Moss reports that no one was killed on our side, but that the enemy must have suffered much. He writes: "The spirit of the Negro Slaves that manned our small crafts was wonderful and the good management of the different Commanders does them great credit." (1)
Colonel Barrow received news of the impending attack on the afternoon of the I10th and immediately hurr ied out to the Cay with the two hundred troops of the reserve force. He was, however, too late to have any share in the action.
The enemy continued in sight until the night of the 15th when they moved off. (2)
A private letter dated September 25, 1798, describing the action, contains the following passage:
"you will be astonished to hear that our Negro men (who manned the flats) gave a hearty cheer, and in the midst of a firing of grape kept up upon them from the Spanish vessels that covered those which were aground, those negroes in an undaunted manner rowed their boats, and used every exertion to board the enemy; but Captain Moss, who directed everything, called back the flats (from motives of prudence) first by signal, and then by sending a boat." (3)
(t), One of these Commanders, Thomas Pastow, voted in favour of defence at the famous Meeting, flung himself with zest into the work of building up the defences and btuntty denounced anybody be thought laggard in doint their share. In the Battle be proved a firebrand; clad in a brocaded Court suit once belonging to George 11 he led his negroes (in his own craft) to the attack shouting "Yarborough or Fingarico". The meaning of Yarborough is fairly obvious as it was the public cemetery then (it contains his grave) hut Fingarico has caused much speculation. The writer suggests that Pastow believed that victory would enable the Settlers so extend their frontiers into ich, untapped lands and that he shouted "Finca rica' (rich land), deliberately using Spanish to carry his war cry to the enemy.
(2) The Baymen oftBelize contains a stirring story of the battle. Unfortunately, however, it is not in accordance with the accounts contained in the despatches and contemporary letters quoted.
(3) The forest labourers used to be called the Poke'n'no Boys (Pork and Dough Boys) because under law they received (and still receive) four pounds of fat (cask) pork and seven quarts of flour weekly. This ration in thought to be very ancient. As there were insufficient muskets available many of the slaves who fought in the Battle were armed with fire-hardened lances made from a thin, tough palm, consequently thin palm in called today the Pokeno Palm. However, the contemporary entry in the archives records the decison to arm thne rent of the taven with lances made of the "Poke'em'mo (psoke them more) palm" (aie).
38 Biritish Honduras,
Lord Balcarres, Governor of Jamaica, in his report speaks of "the wonderful exertion of the Settlers and their Negro Slaves," and writes:
"The conduct of Lieutenant-Colonel Barrow and of the Settlers in putting the port of Honduras Bay into a respectable state of defence, as well as the gallant manner in which it was maintained, gives me entire satisfaction, and it is with pleasure that I report their services to Your Grace."
The following is taken from "An Account of the British Settlement of Honduras," by Captain Henderson, 5th West India Regiment, published in London in 1809.
"Extract of a letter from his Grace the Duke of Portland, to Lieutenant-General the Earl of Balcarres, dated WVhitehall, 8 February, 1799:
My LoRD,-I had great pleasure in laying before His Majesty the account you transmitted of the defeat of the Spanish Flotilla in its attack upon our Settlement of Honduras.
"The able and judicious conduct of Lieutenant-Colonel Barrow, and Captain Moss of the Merlin sloop, the bravery of the troops and seamen under their respective commands, and the spirited exertions of the Settlement in general, on this occasion, have been such as to receive his Majesty's approbation, which your Lordship is hereby directed to signify through Lieutenant-Colonel Barrow, together with thejust sense his Majesty entertains of their gallant and meritorious conduct."
"A true extract."
There can be no question about the gallantry displayed in the fighting. But the greater glory of the episode lies in the unshaken courage of the settlers,who,knowing the odds against them, knowing the little chance of substantial reinforcement from the Mother Country, knowing the horrors that waited on failure, deliberately and in cold blood determined on resistance and for over a year maintained their determination. What of the long sleepless nights, the three o'clock in the morning terrors. And yet they held on. All honour to them, women and men, masters and slaves.
The Settlement had attained its majority and a magnificient tradition to hind together and inspire its national life. Spain, in breach of her national word of honour, had attempted to drive the settlers out of the land by armed force. Her invading force had been routed and her intention completely defeated by the united efforts of the settlers, who now felt that, whatever doubts may have existed before, their title to the land was clearly vindicated. It is notable that Spain, whether she shared this view, simply had lost interest, or, being a country with a history full of chivalrous actions, respected the chivalry displayed by the settlers, made no further real attempt to exert sovereignty over it.
The anniversary of the Battle of St. George's Cay is held as a day of national rejoicing, gay processions, athletic sports, children's treats, and patriotic meetings.
The status and treatment of slaves in the settlement appears to have been higher and more humane than generally obtaining elsewhere, and there are many evidences, notably the battles of Labouring Creek and St. George's Cay, to shew that a spirit of camaraderie ,xisted between masters and slaves. At an early date laws were made for their protection snd the power granted to the Magistrates to prohibit masters found guilty of excessive or persistent cruelty or abuse of the protective laws from holding slaves. Saturday belonged to the slaves, they could loaf, hunt or attend to their own business. They could work for their master or even another, in which case their employer for the day had to pay them the sum of one shilling (then A valuable coin). They far outnumbered their masters, especially in the wood-cutting camps scattered far and wide over the jungle-clad country. They were armed some with muskets to protect the camps against wild animals and raids by Indians, an] all with the tools, such as axes and cutlasses, necessary to their work. Ships of the British Navy stationed in the Caribbean area used to augment their crews by hiring slaves front their masters for short terms of sea service, and many of these slaves became proficient gunners as they doubtless proved at the Battle of St. George's Cay. The Archives are full of entries recording the granting of emancipation to slaves by their masters. frequently on the token payment of a shilling or other trifling fee. Further there are many old Wills deeding not only emancipation but substantial gifts of money and property to slaves. Once emancipated they had all the civic rights of free men and it was unlawful again to enslave them. Although the Emancipation Act passed by the English Parliament allowed a grace period of one year, all slaves in the settlement were set free within six months.
In 1848 Corozal was settled, to the benefit of the territory, by Spanish refugees from the massacres by the Indians at Bacalar in Yucatan.
In 1857 the peace of the settlement was disturbed by an invasion of Chinchenha Indians from the north-west. They caused trouble in the Rio Bravo district until dealt with by the 3rd West India Regiment in 1867. A previous expedition in 1866 had been a complete failure.
In 1870 Ycaiche Indians invaded the country and seized Corozal, but withdrew' on the appearance of some Santa Cruz Indians. The same invaders attacked Orange Walk on the New River in 1872, but were driven off by a detachment of the I1st West India Regiment, and their leader, Canul, killed.
During the Great War, 1914-1918, in addition to Home Defence volunteers, nearly 600 local men served in the British Honduras Contingents of the British West India Regiment and a few in other units. Many of them saw service in Mesopotamia and on August 12th, 1917, Field Marshall Sir Edmund (afterwards Lord) Allenby sent a telegram to the Governor
40 Dilith Bond"ra
informing him of the great gallantry displayed by the British Honduras Machine Gun Section (War Contingent) on the battlefield.
On September 10th, 1931, after a lifetime of immunity Belize was struck by a hurricane of short duration but considerable intensity in which the wind velocity exceeded 132 miles an hour. Roofs were torn off and houses were swept off their supports. The sea was driven into the town in a swirling flood some five feet deep carrying with it scores of large, and small seacraft which added considerably to the terrible destruction wrought by the windI and the water. Fortunately the wind abated during the early evening and although still dazed' hundreds of wilting volunteers were soon, engaged in rescue work. The following morning Belize presented a weird sight: almost every building was damaged, scores were roofless, many had collapsed and others had been torn to pieces and scattered over a wide area. The streets Nwere j ammed with masses of wreckage interwoven wish telephone and elIectric power supply wires and coated inches deep with a particularly evil smelling mud.
The greatest loss of life occurred in the Mesopotamia area which w~as reduced to a few heaps of tangled wood. The East Indian community at Queen Charlotte Town was almost entirely wiped out along with its village. The Women's Infirmary at the Barracks had disappeared into the sea with all its inmates and duty staff and the nearby Government Wireless Station had been pnt out of commission. The Public Hospital had sustained damage and the Fort area was dotted with boats and barges of all descriptions and the wrecks of the houses they had mowed down.
The private wireless station belonging to Pan American Airways, Inc., was also, out of commission although the staff had made heroic efforts to save the plant from damage, actually dismantling and removing much of it to a safer place during the worst of the blow. After working hard all night and part of the morning they were able to rig up a temporary transmitter with which they broadcast appeals for help. Thanks to their efforts the Arnzrican Red Cross Society was able to. despatch aeroplanes with doctors, nurses and medical equipment in time to save many lives.
A new concrete power house with new plant had been completed just before the humr cane; fortunately the floor was several feet above ground level and the plant and control panels beyond being soaked with water (spray) escaped serious damage. The staff immediately set to work on the plant and in a few days the Hospital and other important centres were being supplied with current and the lighting of the streets and houses followed as rapidly as poles and wire could be salvaged and re-erected.
Hundreds of willing workers tackled the appalling task of collecting and burying th dead in long trenches hastily dug by prison and other labour. In the Mesopotamia areas particular the piles of wreckage were packed with dead bodies which were difffiicult to extract
A (:hiclero tapping a sapodilla tree for its latex (chicle) which forms the basis of quality chewing gums.
The sun beat down with terrible intensity and it was soon realized that the work of recovering the bodies in this area could not keep pace with climatic effects. The worst piles therefore were drenched with gasoline and turned into huge pyres.
it was unfortunate that when the hurricane struck, the Capital was packed not only with unemployed labourers but with scores of country visitors attracted by the annual 10th of September celebrations in commemoration of the Battle of St. George's Cay (q.v: this date now has a double significance to British Honduras) and the death toll could not be accurately computed but probably was around 1,000.
Besides the invaluable work donc by the American Red Cross Society, considerable assistance was rendered by the crews of the U.S.S. "Swan" and "Sacramento" which were sent by the United States Government. H.M.S. "Danae" raced fromBermuda under forced draught, stopping at Kingston, Jamaica, to pick up medical supplies and extra tanks of drinking water. Canada and the United States sent shiploads of food, building material and tools. The Lord Mayor opened a Relief Fund in London, while contributions of money and materials were forthcoming from the British West Indies and other parts of the world.
The work of repairing the houses proceeded apace and, aided by a large loan from the imperial Treasury, a practically new Belize began to rise from the ruins. By the end of 1934 it was hard to realize that only three years before Belize had been reduced to a wooden scrap heap.
in common with the rest of the Commonwealth, British Honduras took part in the last war. The public subscribed for the purchase of war aircraft and mobile canteens and gave generously to the Red Cross and St. John's Ambulance Funds. Many yossng men served in the Royal Air Force, mostly with distinction, and in other branches of the fighting forces; some gave their lives. Young women served -overseas in the A.T.S. Other men responded to the call for war workers in England and an Infantry Contingent recruited and part trained locally saw active service in the Mediterranean areas.
In response to a call for skilled forest workers 541 men were selected from over a thousand volunteers and sailed for Scotland on 5th August 1941. A second call was made and a further 341 men sailed for Scotland on 1st October 1942. Part of the First Unit had the exciting experience of being torpedoed, fortunately the vessel managed to reach port and there was no loss of life. The two Units did excellent work until improved shipping conditions permitted the import of pulp-wood into the United Kingdom to he resumed and their forest services were no longer required. Many of the men then went to work in war factories and others joined the Merchant Marine. The main body of the conmbined Units returned home on 17th January 1944. Several hundred thcn signed on for forest war work in the United States of America.
42 Beitish Hfonduras
A very large body of men also worked on the wartime improvement and extended fortification of the Panama Canal. In fact the drain on man power became so great that steps had to be taken to restrict the outflow of forest labourers which threatened to cripple the vitally important mahogany industry. This industry was greatly expanded to meet the imperative demand for mahogany for the construction of boats, ships, aeroplanes, propellors and other war craft and their parts. Although this increased production could only be obtained at the cost of serious over cutting, from which it will take the mahogany forests many years to recover, there was no holding back.
During 1941 a plague of locusts did wide-spread damage to crops throughout the country; on 28th September, 1941, a hurricane passed inland slightly below Stann Creek Town and travelled north destroying much that had escaped the ravages of the locusts. Heavy floods followed the passage of the hurricane and added their quota to the destruction of crops. Fortunately no lives were lost but hundreds of planters were rendered destitute.
On 8th November, 1942, the Northern District was struck by a hurricane which wrought considerable damage, especially in the Towns of Corozal and Orange Walk. Loss of life was mercifully small.The Toledo District lies to the sotth of the normal routes taken by hurricanes and the few that adopt an abnormally sotftherly course are usually deflected northwards by the boldly projecting land mass of Spanish Honduras. However, on 4th October 1945, a hurricane following a freak course swept inland over the District inflicting severe damage to houses and plantations over a considerable area. The only loss was one elderly woman killed by a falling tree.
From time to time -over a considerable period of years the Republic of Guatemala has advanced territorial claims, based on ver y dubious grounds, on this territory. Great Britain has requested her to submit these claims to the International Court for arbitration but this Guatemala appears reluctant to do.
On the invitation of the Government of British Honduras Her Royal Highness The Princess Margaret visited this country from May 2nd to 6th, 1958. The visit was most popular and the people of their own accord did all they could to make the visit a very happy and interesting one for their royal guest. The streets of Belize were elaborately decorated and there was hardly a house that was not decorated. Besides visitors from abroad, many hundreds of visitors from the districts poured into Belize.
During the century and a half while the international status of the settlement was in dispute owing to Spanish claims, the settlers organised for themselves a unique form of
Constitutional History 43
Government-namely, Government by Public Meeting, of the free inhabitants. The Public Meeting elected an unpaid Magistracy of about seven, of whom one was chosen to be the Superintendent of the settlement.
In 1765 Admiral Sir William Burnaby, who had been sent to enquire into the fulfilment by Spain of treaty obligations, codified the laws and granted in the King's name a Constitution founded on the existing form of Government. (1) The first appointment of a Superintendent from England occurred in 1786, that of Colonel Despard, (2) who introduced very unwelcome changes in the Constitution. He was succeeded in 1790 by Colonel Peter Hunter (3) who with the King's authority restored Burnaby's Code and ConstitutioI'
These continued without material change until about 1825, when the privilege of the Public Meeting in choice of subjects for discussion was curtailed.
In 1832 the election of the Magistracy was replaced by appointment by the Superintenden;.
.In 1840 Burnaby's Code of Laws was abrogated and replaced by the law of England, and an Executive Council was created.
From 1841 the status and legal authority of the Public !f meeting was under quesl ion until 1853, when that body renounced its powers in favour df a Legislative Assembly of eighteen elected and three nominated members, with the Superintendent as Chairman. This Assembly was set up in 1854 but under a Speaker instead of the Superintendent. The Speaker was elected by the Assemblymen. By majority vote of the Assembly this elected Legislature was abrogated in 1870.
In 1862 the Settlement was declared a Colony by Royal Warrant and the Superintendent-Mr. Frederick Seymour-was promoted to Lieutenant-Governor under the Governor of Jamaica.
In 1869 the Legislature petitioned Queen Victoria that the Constitution be changed to that of a Crown Colony. The change was effected in 1871, when a Legislative Council of five official and four unoffcial nominated members with the Lieutenant-Governor as President was established. "V
() See bibliographical note at end of booklet.
(2) Executed in England for high treason in 1803.
(3) Afterwards Governor of Upper Canada, where he died in 1805. His monumnt is in Anglican Cathedral in Quebec.
44 gdtk Heoadura
British Honduras was detached from Jamaica and became an independent Colony under a Governor and Commander-in-Chief in 1884.
The constitution of the Council was altered in 1892 after a dispute with the Governor and it was then composed of three ex-officio members and not less than five nominated unofficial members, with the Governor as President. This Constitution, modified only by the addition of two nominated members in each class, continued until 1936 when the elective principle was again introduced. In 1939 the number of elected members was increased by one.
In 1945 a considerable change was made. With effect from 21st June, the constitution of the Legislative Council became:(a) the Governor as President;
(b) not more than three official members being persons holding public offices in the country under the Crown;
(c) ten unofficial members of whom six were elected, and tour were nomi.
nated members appointed by the Governor on the instructions of His Majesty the King,.
The unofficial majority appears to be the natural historical outcome of the pure democratic form of Government which the Settlement evolved for itself, conducted with great success, and maintained unchallenged until 1786.
In 1954 a new Constitution was granted. Under it the Legislative Assembly under a Speaker was re-introduced. The Speaker was appointed by the Governor and the Deputy Speaker elected by the Assemblymen. The Assembly comprised the Speaker, nine elected members, three ex-olficio members (the Chief Secretary, the Attorney-General and the Financial Secretary) and three unofficial members nominated by the Governor. The powers and composition of the Executive Council were also changed and from being a purely advisory body it became the chief instrument of policy. Universal Adult Suffrage replaced the previous financial, property and literacy qualifications. The first General Election under the new Constitution was held on the 28th April, 1954, and the new Assembly held its inaugural session on the 18th June, 1954.
In 1959 the Constitution was again changed. Under it the Speaker was elected by the Assemblymen from outside the Assembly, the number of elected Assemblymen increased to eighteen, the ex-officio members reduced to two (Chief Secretary and Attorney General), Ministries created, the composition of the Executive Council changed and the machinery of administration increased and changed.
The Archives of British Honduras (see Bibliography) throw much interesting light on the earlier political administrative history of the country.
GOVERNMENT. See Constitutional History.
CIVIL SERVICE. The Civil Service is recruited almost entirely from persons born or living in the Country.
; STRICTS. (q. v.). British Honduras is divided into six Districts; Belize, Cayo, Coroz.d Orange Walk, Stann Creek and Toledo, each under a District Commissioner. The District Commissioners are appointed by the Governor and their immediate head of department is the Chief Secretary. The field of their responsibilities and duties is very wide and, as their contact with the public is intimate, they also serve as popular channels of approach between the people and Government.
MUNICIPALITIES. The towns of El Cayo, Benque Viejo, Corozal, Orange Walk, Stann Creek, Punta Gorda and Monkey River have elected Town Boards. Belize has a City Council of nine members, all elected.
VILLAGES. There are village Councils. Many of the larger villages are under Alcaldes who are appointed by Government and have certain police and judicial powers. The principle of the Alcalde was adopted from the Spanish Colonial Government which in turn adopted it from the ancient Maya Indians. Efficient administration of the villages is complicated by the fact that many are situated on private estates.
LAW. The law is administered by a Supreme Court in Belize with a Circuit Court in Corozal and Stann Creek, presided over by a Chief Justice; appeals from the Supreme Court lie to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in England. Each of the District Commissioners has magisterial powers in his District and there is a magistrate for the Belize District; appeals from their courts lie with the Chief Justice.
The Magistrate, Belize, and the District Commissioners are the Coroners for their espective areas. A number of Justices of the Peace are appointed in each area, along with e District Commissioners they are Licensing Justices; two Justices of the Peace can subtitute for the Magistrate and one for the Coroner but there is no Justices' of the Peace Court with regular sittings.
HEALTH. Health is under the care of the Minister for Education, Health and Housing. If there is no private practitioner in an Out-District, and this is true of almost all of them, the District Medical Officer is permitted to undertake private practice as a convenience to the public. Government maintains a general hospital in Belize, a small hospital in each Out-District and rural dispensaries. A small hospital and several dispen-
46 British Hondurm
series in rural areas are maintained by religious missions. Government also maintains, in Belize, a tuberculosis hospital, a veneral diseases unit, an infirmary, two clinics and a mental hospital. Ward fees in Government hospitals range from 25 cents to $3.00 a day; poor and indigent persons are admitted free.
The Government Health Department carries on residual spraying, inoculation, tube, culin tests and other measUres against malaria, yellow fever, tuberculosis and other diseases. As a result there has been a notable reduction in the incidence of malaria. There have been no cases of yellow fever in British Honduras for many years.
The scavenging services are operated by the respective municipal authorities but Government bears the cost. The work is supervised by the Health Department.
POLICE. The Police Force is headed by a Commissioner of Police and is chiefly recruited in this country. Inter alia, the Commissioner is also Principal Immigration Officer, Security and Intelligence Officer, Passport Officer, Motor Vehicle Licensing Authority, Registrar of Firearms and Registrar of Cattle Brands. In fact the Police carry out many duties in addition to their work of maintaining the peace and dealing with crime. In the Districts they frequently serve as night telephone exchange operators, Deputy Registrars of Births and Deaths, prison warders, postal clerks, and as public vaccinators, to mention a few of these extra-police duties. District patrols are carried out on foot, horseback, by motor vehicles, motor launches and paddling doreys.
Besides telephones, radio-telephony is used for inter-communication between certain district centres and Headquarters in Belize.
VOLUNTEER FORCES. There is a small but keen Volunteer Guard. Headquarters are in Belize with small local detachments in the Districts.
CRIME. The people of British Honduras used to be very law-abiding and there was very little serious crime. Unfortunately this country has not escaped the mounting wave of crime, especially juvenile delinquency, which is spreading throughout the world. Nevertheless there is still a solid core of self-respecting, law-abiding, neighbourly people, especially in the rural areas.
PRISONS. Each District Headquarters has a small prison for short term (not exneeding three months) prisoners. The main prison is in Belize and is staffed with regular officers under a Superintendent. There is a female section with a Matron. The District prisons are staffed by Police personnel and are under the supervision of the District Commissioners and Visiting Justices of the Peace. Various trades are taught in the main prison and good conduct prisoners are permitted to make articles which are sold by the
Cottage Industries Section of the Social Development Department on their behalf. There are voluntary Probation Officers and Committees in Belize and the District Towns. (See under Social Welfare). There is a Prison Farm at Rockville (Gracie Rock), in the Belize District roughly 21 miles from Belize and alongside the Western Highway, to which good conduct men and first offenders are sent.
PUBLIC UTILITIES. Electricity and Ice:
Belize. Plant owned by the Government and operated by an Electricity Board set up under Ordinance No. 11 of 1950. Until 1957 the supply was Direct Current. The construction of a new and much larger power station to provide alternating current was commenced in 1955 and the change over was carried out in 1957. The new station is equipped with three 830 K.W. and two 400 K.W. diesel generating sets. The high tension voltage is 6,600, 3-phase, 60 cycles and the low tension voltages 3-phase 220 and single phase 220 and 110, cycles 60. Rates: Lighting and power (domestic and small industrial consumers):- First 50 K.W. at 15 cts, a K.W.; second 50 K.W. at 12 cts. a K.W.; over 100 K.W
at 10 cts. a K.W. Industrial: 15 cts. a K.W. for the first 50 K.W.; 12 cts. a K.W. for the
next 25 K.W. and thereafter 7, 6, 5 and 4 cts. a K.W. by steps of 100 K.W. The Board also operates a 20 ton and 10 ton ice plant, both Government owned. The retail price of ice in Belize is 11 cts. per lb.
Districts. In the District towns the plants are owned and operated by their respective Town Boards. None give 24 hour service although some operate for a short day-time period to enable owners of wireless sets to listen in to the mid-day news broadcasts. Cayo: One 40 K.W_ diesel set. Voltage 440/230, 3-phase, 4 wire, 50 cycles A.C. Corozal: One 20 and two 10 K.W. diesel sets, supply voltage 220 D.C. One privately owned 2 ton ice plant provides ice at 2 cts. a lb. Orange Walk: Two 10 K.W. diesel sets, voltage 208/120 3-phase and single phase, 60 cycles A.C. Punta Gorda: One 15 K.W. diesel set, 110 vo ts, D.C. Stann Creek: One 15 K.W. diesel set, 3-phase, 220 volts, 50 cycles A.C.
The Urban and Trunk telephone systems are of the magnet type, owned by Government and operated by the Department of Information and Communications. The main exchange is in Belize and consists of four drop-indicator switchboards of 150 lines each. There are also small exchanges in the district main towns and other suitable points. These are connected to the exchange in Belize by single earth return lines and are controlled by two 25 line switchboards which are linked to the main boards. The northern trunk is also linked to Chetumal, Mexico, over which calls and telegrams (foreign messages) are transmitted. Rates in Belize for telephones (payable quarterly in advance) are:-Business--desk type $56.00 p.a. and wall type $54.00 p.a. Private-desk type $34.00 p.a. and wall type $32.00 p.a. Trunk calls are charged at the rate of 40 cts. for every five minutes. In the
48 Bdtls* Rondswo
districts the annual rental for a telephone is $24.00. Calls and telegrams are paid for at the usuat rates. Local telegrams are transmitted along the trunk lines and the charge is 35 cts. for the first 15 words plus 2 cts. for every additional word. There is also an overtime charge for calls and telegrams after 4 p.m. and on Sundays and holidays.
RADIO 'The Broadcasting Services are owned and operated by Government. The British Honduras Broadcasting Service (Radio Belize) operates daily.
A licence fee of $2.00 per annum. must be paid for each wireless receiving set. Licences are also obtainable for amateur and other transmitting sets.
The aeronautical radio services are maintained by International Airadio (Caribbean) Ltd. which operates sir/ground radio-telephone circuits from Stanley Field Airport (call sgn Belize Radio). Airfield Control (call sign Belize Tower) frequency is 3023.5 kcs. A Radio Beacon (ZDZ) operates on 392 kcs.
There is a commercial overseas radio-telephone service and calls may be made to certain West Indian Islands and to places in the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Rates range from $6.00 to $21.00 B.H. for three minutes (longer periods pro rata) depending on the route and terminal point. A service charge of $1.05 B.H. is made when a call is hooked, if the call is completed this fee is refunded. Reversed charges are not yet allowed. Particulars can be obtained from the Department of Information and t. ommuntcations, Belize.
FIRE PROTECTION. Belize possesses a fleet of fire engines and trailers manned by a very efficient Brigade composed principally of volunteers with a nucleus of paid engineers and drivers. The engines and tailers are powered by petrol (gasoline) engines. The main District towns have each a trailer pump.
FILM CENSORSHIP. There is an unpaid Board of Film Cantors in Belize with
*branches, headed by the District Commsissioners, in the Districts. The films are chiefly supplied by American Circuits and include a small number of British productions. Stand ard 35 mm commercial films produced in and imported direct from the United Kingdom are admitted free of duty. From other sources the duty on commercial films is 15 cta. a, hundred feet.
EDUCATION. Compulsory education for children between the ages of six and fourteen years has been in effect for many years. To enforce attendance a fine of 5 cts. i inflicted for each absence without reasonable cause.
There are 97 denominational primary schools subsidized by Government, 2 primary, schools conducted by Government and 28 unaided private schools both denominationl
and non-denominational. With the exception of 2 in Belize, all primary schools are coeducational. The primary schools are free.
Secondary academic education is entirely in the hands of the denominations, which conduct the 8 secondary schools--4 for boys, 3 for girls and I co-educational. Two of these schools have preparatory departments. Government assists by providing 70 scholarships for pupils from primary schools between the ages of 11 and 14 years. The scholarships are tenable for four years but may be extended to five years with the approval of the Board of Education. There are 3 secondary schools in the out-districts.
The Government Technical Training College in Belize offers a four-year course with free places for approximately 25 % of the earolment and maintenance allowance for some pupils from the out-districts.
English is taught in all the schools and is the medium of instruction, with varying emphasis, from tLe lowest standards. Recourse is had to the children's vernacular whenever necessary. Spanish is the only modern language, other than English, taught in the secondary schools (except in special classes).
There are no orphanages and no special schools for the instruction of blind or men tally deficient pupils but Government has opened a school in Belize for physically handicapped children. There is one Approved School-Listowel Boys' Training School, situated at Baking Pot in the Cayo District. This school is under the management of the Salvation Army on behalf of the Government.
Some classes in adult education are conducted by the Extra Mural Department of the University College of the West Indies (Jamaica), the Technical Training College, St. John's College Extension Department (R.C.) and by various Credit Unions (Co-operative Credit Societies).
The five secondary schools in Belize are Wesley College (originally Wesley High School for Boys) founded 1882, now co-educational; St. Catherine's (Roman Catholic) for girls, founded 1883; St. John's (Roman Catholic) for boys, founded 1887; St. Hilda's (Anglican) for girls, founded 1897 and St. Michael's (Anglican) for boys, founded 1921. 'there were breaks in the continuity of Wesley College from 1895 to 1909 and 1919 to 1922: from 1932 to 1937 it was amalgamated with the Anglican boys' school under the name of St. George's College. None accepts boarders at present. The three remaining secondary schools, Austin (girls) and Lynam (boys) in Stann Creek and Mueffels (boys) in Orange Walk are all Roman Catholic and recently established.
The percentage of literacy is showing a steady increase mainly because of the longer school life, more effective class teaching and a more enlightened attitude to conditions
50 British Honduras
generally. Nevertheless, compulsory attendance, better teaching methods and, free educaoun notwithstanding, the number of adult and young people either completely illiterate or, to a greater extent, barely able to read and write, is far higher than census figures indicate. This serious state of affairs has several causes of which the following are probably the chief. The scattered, often isolated and somewhat shifting nature of the population makes the provision of schools accessible to all children almost impossible. Many parents, especially in rural areas, either consider education unnecessary or, more commonly, are too shiftless or apathetic to send their children to school. Fathers resent the loss of the halp of their hoys in their work, especially in plantations, and mothers that of the elder girls with the inevitable babies and smaller children. It is also commonplace to find young persons who have completely lost, through apathy, tack of ambition or practice, the ability to read or write within a few years of leaving school. There is also a large group which can read but cannot understand what it reads. The progress being made in opening up the country should, in time, make possible a higher standard of literacy. Use is being made of educational films and film strips and the Department of Information & Communications has a mobile cinema unit which visits numerous villages and settlements throughout the country and gives film shows.
SOCIAL WELFARE AND DEVELOPMENT. In 1943 the services of a trained Welfare Officer were lent to British Honduras and a Social Welfare Department was opened. In 1946 this officer left. In 1947 another officer was appointed under the title of Social Development Officer, the scope of the department increased and its functions augmented. The importance of arousing more than transient interest in cottage and co-operative industries is made difficult by the primitive conditions obtaining, particularly in the rural areas and the happy-go-lucky, improvident nature of the people (to quote a local Creole "We no got no rainy day, what we have we must spend'). Nevertheless sold progress is being made and co-operatives of fishetmen, farmers and chicleros (gum tappers) have been formed. Credit Unions are also making noteworthy progress.
Besides operating a handicrafts centre in Bellze, where useful and attractive articles may be purchased, members of the staff work in the districts organising group movements tar sports, social intercourse and education in cottage industries and handicrafts, credit unions, co-operatives and other valuable development work.
There is no Old Age Pension scheme in operation (precluded by the small population) and relief to aged and destitute persons takes the form of small weekly payments from Government funds. The operating of this scheme is now in the hands of the Social Development Department, a title adopted in preference to the less inspiring Social Welfare.
The Government Savings Bank, with branches in the districts, also encourages thrift by a simple system of savings cards.
4dm! nisration 3i
There is an Infirmary for men and one for wumen, an almshouse and a night shelter for men in Belize; none in the districts. The night shelter is financed hy grants from Government and the Public Assistance Board and is managed hy the Salvation Army. Sleeping accommodation is free and a charge of two cents is made for a cup of tea obtainable in the morning.
Although the people possess much manual ability they have strangely neglected domestic handicrafts. A determined effort is being made to develop this latent craftsmanship and the production of, articles in wood, coir and henequen fibres, palm leaf, leather, tortoise shell, horn and other local materials is increasing. Some of the credit for this improvement belongs to the schools.
The Girl Guide Organization and the Boy Scout Movement have both been established here for a number of years.
The British Honduras branch of the British Red Cross Society is active throughout the territory, with uniformed Detachments, many Groups, Junior Links and other voluntary workers. The British Red Cross has a trained field, Officer here. The Society operates a daily kitchen for a number of needy elderly people in Belize, cooks meals for about 350 school children, collects and issues clothes, etc. to indigent people, provides help to patients discharged from hospitals and the T.B. Sanatorium, runs a Handicapped Peoples Club, operates a Coffee Shop for the purpose of raising funds and is active in many other fields. Detachment members perform first aid duties at public functions, give regular help in the clinics and hospitals and undertake school health inspections.
There is a branch of the Y. W. C. A. in Belize.
CHURCHES. The following denominations are represented in the country: Church of England, with a Bishop; Roman Catholic (Society of Jesus), with a Bishop; Methodist; church of Scotland; Baptist; Church of the Nazarene; Salvation Army; Seventh Day Adventist and Assemblies of God. The Anglican Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, at Belize, was built in 1812 with public funds.
The first settlement was for the cutting and exporting of logwood and at a later Period mahogany and the exploitation of fiotest produce is still the most important industry. From the earliest days circumstances have favoured forest exploitation and discouraged agriculture and British Honduras has always been dependent on its export trade of which over seventy-five per cent was forest produce and the remainder principally agricultural.
52 British Honduras
FORESTS. Approximately half of the land area is privately owned and there has been little effort to maintain the productivity of the forests. It was commonly believed with regard to mahogany, in the face of clear evidence to the contrary in the depleted state of the most accessible forests, that subject to the imposition of a minimum gith limit to prevent the overcutting of under-sized trees the mahogany stock would continue indefinitely to replenish itself hy natural processes.
The explanation for this failure lies in the fact that enforcing a minimum girth limit is only effective if the limit is varied to suit the rate of growth and other factors obtaining in each area, a policy now heing followed by the Forest Department. Mahogany trees grow very slowly, taking seventy or more years to attain marketable girth, and widely separated so that each tree, unlike pine, has to be searched out through many square miles of dense jungle, creating a strong temptation to augment the cut from a particular area by felling small trees.
To maintain the commercial life of an area a thorough survey should first be made by competent men to assess the number of marketable and nearly marketable trees and their rate of growth. If it is a new area it will contain many fully mature and over mature trees in addition to the stock of younger trees ranging from the minimum marketable size upwards. The minimum girth limit should be set high enough at first to limit extraction to the fully mature trees, and then lowered to include nearly mature trees and so down a scale based on the rate of growth in that area, so spreading the cutting over as many years as possible. Earlier policy was to set a universal minimum girth limit based largely on the market minimum; with supplies becoming scarcer the market had become less critical as to the size and quality of the wood and trees which formerly would not have been considered worth cutting became saleable material. The result was the destruction of, areas by overcutting. Furthermore large areas were under private ownership and no control, under then existing laws, could he exerted. A law is now in effect which prohibits, under heavy penalties, the commercial extraction of mahogany and cedar on private lands except under licence from the Conservator of Forests and in accordance with the limits set by him.
FOREST DEPARTMENT. A Forest Department staffed by professional forest officers was formed in 1922 for the purpose of bringing the Crown forests under adequate forest management. Retrenchment of staff and expenditure in 1930 and the abolition of the statutory assignment of funds amounting to sixty per cent. of forest revenue prevented the extension of the silvicultural work of regenerating the cut-over mahogany forests.
During the period 1943-1948 a gradual expansion of personnel and funds took place. A Forest Regeneration Plan, originally submitted in 1944, was finally approved on a
Note: S&e trade section tor export figures.
modified scale in 1948 and financed by a grant of $200,000-spread over eight years, 19481956-from the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund. Under this plan Liere was a small increase in personnel but most of the money was devoted to forest regeneration in the form of plantations of pine and mahogany and on the construction of forest roads to enable the plantations to be supervised by a small staff A major task is fire protection of pine forests to preserve both the stocks of pine on the ground and natural regeneration. (1)
SILVICULTURE. Silviculture has been defined as "the treatment of forests in such manner as to ensure continuous production of timber and other forests products for the uses of trade and industry". Concurrently with the removal of the merchantable timber steps are taken for the establishment of a new crop. The latter is raised as far as possible from self-aown seedlings from the parent trees, planting or artificial sowing in tropical forests being a costly and often uncertain process. The seedlings are tended and freed periodically from the interfering growth of weeds and creepers which in the luxuriant vegetation of the tropics would otherwise quickly crush them out of existence, and this care is continued until the young trees are growing vigorously enough to fend for themselves. The immature trees of all sizes are likewise freed from the masses of creepers which overrun their crowns, and from the domination of adjacent trees of valueless species, this operation resulting in a material increase in the rate of growth, and consequently in the output of timber. Up to the present this intensive treatment has been applied only to the species of chief value in the hardwood forests, namely, mahogany, cedar and pine. The problem of regenerating forest crops of the more valuable subsidiary woods is, however, being studied against the time when these attain a sufficient commercial value to justify the expense of operation.
The chief silvicultural requirement of the pine forests is the exclusion of the forest fires, chiefly caused by hunters and to a less extent by graziers, the effect of which is to destroy the young growth of seedling pines.
In addition to cleaning and protecting selected pine areas, the Forest Department has for several years carried on extensive planting of pine seedlings propagated in nurseries.
CHICLE. This gum is the base of commercial chewing gum and is the latex obtained from the large tree Sapodilla, Achras Sapota L. Skilled men, called Chicleros. collect the latex during wet weather, when it flows freely, cook it in special pots to remove excess
(1) Notwithstanding liability to heavy penalties, hunters habitually set fire to the grass in the pine areas for the dual purpose of driving the deer out into the open and laser attracting them when the young grass begins to shoot.
54 *ritdah Hondurat
moisture and pour it when cooled into leaf lined moulds to harden. Every Chiclero must obtain a licence from the Forest Department and register his private brand or mark, usually his initials carved in relief on a softwood block, before he commences to operate. Before the gum in the moulds finally hardens each block is branded with this mark; unbranded chicle is liable to confiscation by the Crown and the possessor to penalties under tme law.
The importers either have their own agents or deal with large scale contractors. These agents and contractors obtain sole concessions to tap selected areas and accept responsibility for the payment of the royalties, rated on the poundage of gum extracted. They then make contracts with Chicleros to work in their concessions in return for payment by the pound for the gum delivered at rates which, by law, must be set forth in the contracts. '[he rates vary in accordance with certain factors, such as quality and point of delivery. Inside this simple framework the organisation is very large and complex.
The Chicleros, who are mostly local Indians, each produce from 500 to 2,000 pounds f gum in a season, depending on their skill, the yield of the area and other factors. It is very convenient that mahogany cutting is confined to the dry season while chicle tapping is a wet season occupation.
Crown gum is an inferior type of chicle obtained chiefly in the southern part of the country where the rainfall is high. This gum is very slow to harden and to hasten the pro. cess it is stretched before being placed in the moulds, even so it usually takes six days to harden. In peace time it has difficulty in competing against the cheaper jetulong gum from Malaya and other inferior gums but large quantities were sold during the war when the eastern gums were not available. No market could be found for it at the end of the 195556 season.
Since the end of the war synthetic gums have played an increasingly important part in the world market but it appears likely that a certain proportion of the high quality gum, as obtained in the northern half of the territory, will continue to be required by the chewing gum trade.
MAHOGANY. The extraction and export of mahogany is still the major industry although depleted forests and competition from similar but inferior woods sold as mahogany from other countries have seriously reduced it.
PINE. The greater part of the coniferous timber used here before the war was imported, the exploitation of local pine resources being discouraged by the low prices then ruling. The acute shortage of pine lumber caused by the war removed this impediment
and the local production of such lumber has grown into a major industry which, in addition to meeting the considerable local demand, has built up a useful export trade: The sawmilling industry is now the third largest employer of labour.
SANTA MARIA. This strong, clean wood is now rivalling pine lumber for house building locally, although not yet a major export wood.
OTHER WOODS. British Honduras has a wide and scarcely tapped range of cabinet and building woods. Endeavour is being made to secure the exploitation and export of the timbers commonly associated with mahogany in the mixed hardwood forests and an extensive enumeration of resources and the testing of the potentially valuable species has been carried on with the aid of a, Colonial Development Fund grant.
Some export interest is being taken in the local Balsawood. This quick growing and extremely light wood, locally called Polak, is marketable from six to ten years from plantIng. In the early days Logwood, which sinks like a stone in water, used to be freighted from the camps to the out-carrying vessels on rafts made of Polak, hence its other name of Bark Log. Polak floss is much used locally for stuffing pillows and cushions and is claimed by some to be superior to kapok for this purpose; when it becomes crushed down by use it can be readily fluffed up again by placing the pillow or cushion in the sunshine.
SAWMILLS. By the end of 1956 there were twenty-two circular and band sawmills 'located throughout the districts and one very large band sawmill located in Belize. The former chiefly turn out pine and Santa Maria lumber and the latter mahogany lumber.
The policy of the Forest Department in allocating areas to district sawmills is to space them so that each is ensured a supply of raw material for several years.
As most of the local pine does not float the current trend in the milling industry is for light, portable mills, fitted with 48 inch to 60 inch circular saws with inserted teeth and powered by 100 h.p. diesel engines, which can be installed at or near the source of supply.
LOGWOOD. The export of Logwood is now negligible. Synthetic dyes have completely superseded this once valuable dyewood.
AGRICULTURE. The rural population has practically no conception of agriculture, other than shifting ("milpa") cultivation which is primarily intended to supply the needs of the cultivator and is of the crudest description. This applies particularly to the
56 British Honduras
Mayas and Spanish-Indians; the wood-cutters still despise agriculture. The historical background is against agriculture. The early Treaties with Spain prohibited all agriculture, or so it was believed. As there were no reliable outside sources of supply, the settlers were forced to plant food crops, hiding the plantations deep in the bush (as the forest areas are locally called) and employing thereon only slaves too old or unsuitable for the forest operations. This-continued for a very long time until an ultra officious Spanish Inspector
(1) visiting the Settlement to see that the Treaty provisions were being respected hunted out and destroyed many of the plantations, reducing the settlers to dire straits. They petitioned the Home Government and it addressed the Court of Spain. The latter replied that the prohibition applied only to commercial plantations and not to the cultivation of foodstuffs required for domestic consumption. It also undertook to compensate the settlers for their lost crops but this was never done. The secrecy surrounding agriculture was now no longer necessary; the practice of employing thereon the less able slaves continued. During the restricted years the negro population became deeply imbued with the belief that agriculture was a discreditable (because clandestine) occupation to be engaged in only by mentally or physically defective persons. This belief has by no means died out yet and is one of the factors hindering agricultural development.
Furthermore, all through the country's history the emphasis has been on forest industries and the necessarily nomadic nature of this employment has created an ingrained restlessness which makes it very difficult for the people uccessfulliy to adopt the settled life esssential to agriculture. In other countries in times of depression there is a tendency for the people to flow from towns back to the land; the reverse occurs here. Throughout its long history the trend has been for the people to live in the towns and occupy the rural areas primarily in connection with the annual wood-cutting and other forest occupations. Although the old order is changing, British Honduras still lacks that invaluable asset-a strong backbone of peasants with their roots deep in the soil.
The production of foodstuffs has increased materially during the last few years but the country is still far too dependent on outside sources for its food supply. Every effort is being made to make it more self-sufficiog. Experimefital workon crops is carried on by the Agricultural Department; a Marketing Board with wide powers to assist the planters has been set up; trained demonstrators visit, help and advise planters and the services of a qualified veterinary officer are available to stock-owners. Government owns and operates rice and corn mills and bean drying plants. Other schemes for aiding planters and improving agriculture are in operation, largely financed by the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund
(1) Den Juan Bautista Gual, May 1789.
Xunantunich Site. Ancient Maya carved frieze on roof of a building buried by the Maya to provide a platform for a later building the remains of which show at the top of the picture.
S-The't tdil r~f BritishmHonduras' is estimated at 5,674,9i9 acres of which some 2p330,0004e .:pifvatelyowned, the balance being under Crown control. No estimate of th~etotdl aeeage;uideroultivation is available but the total area of Crown Land held on L0dation Wiekefs for agricultural purposes is, 68,575 acres, covered by 3,781 Tickets; in additid areas totalling around 170,000 acres are reserved for "milpa" cultivation. The milpa cultivator roughly clears and burns off a small area and plants his crops around the stumps; after one or two crops the plantation becomes choked with weeds and is abandoned a new area being burned and planted.
U'Ider th'Location Ticket scheme the planter, provided he keeps up his payments and Cbtifdrnis to the conditions, eventually owns the land covered by the Ticket (See Sale and Lease under Lands).
-,.The country for the most-part is covered with dense tropical jungle interlaced with giant creepers which can be penetrated only with the aid of machetes (cutlasses). This bush grows with amazing rapidity and trails and clearings, unless frequently cut over, vanish under deep bush in an incredibly short space of time. Clearing land and keeping it cleared can be a heavy item of expense; today the larger farmers are using bulldozers and other mechanical equipment for this purpose.
I. While there is reason to believe that the rolling grass-lands of the Mountain and certain, other pine ridges would be excellent and healthful town sites, it is doubtful if they would prove to be equally satisfactory natural agricultural areas. It is significant that the ancient Maya Indians who were agriculturists of no mean order appear to have avoided the pine ridges, although there is plenty of evidence in the shape of terraces and ruins to indicate that they made good use of the bush land skirting the pine ridges, the clearing of which with their primitive flint axes must have been a very tedious operation.
COCONUTS AND COPRA. The coconut industry is reputed to be the oldest estabfisled agricultural export industry in the country. Despite the effects of hurricanes,. droughts, pest and disease it has survived where other crops have succumbed to adverse conditions.
SBetween 1905 and, 1940 the annual average production was about 11,000,000 nuts whereas in 1946 it is doubtful whether the 2,000,000 mark was reached. Figures for 1957 showed a slight increase over recent years being 1,038,800 whole nuts and 103,758 lbs. of copra exported during the year.
BANANAS. This once thriving and valuable export item was badly crippled by the effects of Panama Disease and Sigatoka Leaf Spot. By 1950 exports had fallen to 28,302 bunches valued at $21,6071, a sad drop from the years when annual exports of bunches ran into seven figures. Efforts are being made to revive the industry and exports are improving.
58 British Honduras
PLANTAINS. These outsize members of the banana family are a very popular and nutritious article of diet locally and in the West Indies. Not to sweet and more starchy than the banana of commerce, they contain much of its valuable food properties but are not suitable for eating raw. Efforts to build up an export trade to the banana buying countries have not so far met with success. The plantain is highly resistant to banana diseases.
SUGAR CANE. The chief growing acres at present are in the northern and southern districts but it thrives also in other districts. A large sugar factory was opened in 1936 at Pembroke Hall near Corozal with the aid of a considerable grant from Government. lhe export of sugar is increasing.
CITRUS FRUITS. Oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruit grow excellently, in the northern, western and Stann Creek districts in particular. Locally grown grapefruit are believed with reason to be equal to the best in the world. The citrus industry has become one of this country's most important export assets.
CASSAVA. Cassava is chiefly grown by the Caribs in the Stann Creek District and an excellent starch is made by them with the aid of primitive but ingenious home made equipment. It is one of the staple foodstuffs of the Caribs and one of the bases from which tapioca can be made.
COHUNE NUTS. The nuts of the indigenous Cohune Palm, (Orbignya cohune) Mart (Dahlgren), would have valuable commercial possibilities if certain major problems, c iefly connected with the cheap and efficient cracking of the extremely thick and hard shell and the extraction of the kernel, could be solved. The nut is about the size of a turkey's egg, and the yield of kernels is only around ten pounds for every hundred pounds of nuts cracked.
The shell can be converted into charcoal, carbon and wood flour, while the kernel yields a high-grade oil excellent for cooking and other purposes. The carbon is highly absorbent and has been used in gas masks and decolourizing filters. The charcoal burns very cleanly and gives off an intense heat. Tests have shewn that the wood flour is an excellent plastic moulding material with a high natural polish; ground exceedingly fine it makes a good base for face powders.
TOBACCO. Can be grown here but so far curing methods have not proved successful and attempts to market cigarettes made with local leaf have not proved popular.
There is one cigarette factory in Belize. During 1960 it produced 27,632,600 cigarettes.
OIHER AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS. It is now generally accepted that maize (Indian Corn) originated in America; and many hold the view that it was evolved by the ancient Maya inhabitants of Central America, possibly by crossing the teosinte (Euchlaena mexicana), a common Mexican fodder grass, with other grasses. Certainly by the time the Spanish adventurers first invaded Yucatan (1517) maize was the staple foodstuff of the Maya and enormous acreages were under cultivation. Today, although the Maya population in British Honduras is very small, maize is still their most important crop.
Excellent beans, rice, cabbages, potatoes (both sweet and Irish), radishes, tomatoes and other vegetables can be grown. Ground-nuts do well.
AGRICULTURAL DEPARTMENT. The Government maintains a Department of Agriculture, created in 1928, in charge of scientifically trained agricultural officers. The activities of the Department are extensive and include crop experiments, soil testing, plant disease control, the improvement of local agricultural methods and crops and livestock, and the distribution of seeds and advice. Farm Demonstrators, drawn from lacal plante". are trained and sent around the districts to demonstrate better agricultural methods to the farmers, assist them with advice, help to detect and check plant and livestock diseases and in many other ways give the farmers practical assistance.
In 1948 Government bought 1,400 acres of Baking Pot Estate, Cayo District to be the department's main agricultural experimental farm. Offices and staff quarters were erected on the Estate at a point where the Western Highway crosses Garbutt's Creek and, under the name of Central Farm is the department's research centre. An office is maintained at Belize and experimental farms in each of the other districts,
MARKETING BOARD. Set up by Government to buy and sell farm produce, give crop loans and in other ways create demands and outlets for domestic produce. Although financed by Government it is run as a commercial operation and the Board itself is largely composed of business men. It operates rice and corn mills and other processing plant. Its export operations are considerably handicapped by the lack of steamship Services from which the country suffers.
TROPICAL PRODUCTS. Attempts were made in the past to grow cacao (1), coffee and Para rubber on a commercial scale but labour and transport factors militated
(I) Cacao was the ceremonial drink of the Artecs of Mexico and the Mayas of Central America. The source of supply is believed to have been the Lowland Maya (who also inhabited what is now British Honduras). The Spanish Conquistadores of Mexico introduced cacao into Europe in the 16th Centrury.
60 British Heoduras
against the success of the enterprises. World-wide shortages and higher prices have changed the situation to some degree and given fresh impetu;p to the production of crops previously considered unprofitable. Cacao (cocoa) is stillgrown in a very small way for local consumption; sample beans sent to England for test many years ago were reported to be of excellent quality. The planting of cacao on a commercial scale has been started. The indigenous Castilloa (correctly Castilla) rubber was tapped and exported in former days untilthe advent of cheap rubber from the East made the operation unprofitable. The war shortage of natural rubber caused a partial revival but the trees had dwindled so badly in the intervening years the results were negligible. The Maya Indians use the latex to waterproof capes (ponchos), kit-bags and the cotton bags they use for collecting and carrying chicle latex. They use the juice of a local creeper to coagulate the rubber datex.and their curing, although not commercially perfect, gives good results.
Henequen (sisal hemp) flourishes and is used by the Indians for ropes and hammock strings. Encouraged by Church and Social Development teachers, people are producing a range of useful and ornamental articles made with henequen fibre. The fibre takes dyes well and-the plant is extremely hardy.
Castor oil plants grow wild, but at present the oil is not.extracted. Cashew trees also grow luxuriantly along the coastal belt; although the oil is in ,demand elsewhere ras an important ingredient in anti-corrosion paints, the tree has not been exploited locally. The nuts when roasted and peeled (an operation that stains the hands and smarts the eyes) command a ready local sale. The fruit also is eaten. (1)
RUM. The making of rum and sugar are complementary industries. There were nine small distilleries in operation during 1960. Their aggregate output was 26;857 liquid gallons (41,130 proof gallons). None was exported.
ALLIGATOR SKINS. A small export trade in alligator skins exists. The reptile has been almost wiped out in the more accessible and frequented areas Hunting is done at night with shot-guns, headlights and small dugout doreys. The.skins make an excellent leather.
(1) The peculiarity of the Cashew tree is that its nuts grow outside its fleshy fruit and doubtless inspired by this strange freak the old time Creoles here called it the "Devil's Fruit". According to one of their folk stories the Devil got into an argument with the Arch-Angel Gabriel and angels and declared that he could duplicate anything that God made. He was told to prove this by creating a tree, he made the Cashew tree but the angels doubted if it could bear fruit whereupon he added the big, feshy somewhat astringent fruit. The angels began to laugh and pointed out that when God made a tree it was eompleto and able to reproduce itself which the Devil's tree could not do. In a furisg temper tl) Devil then stagk the sees (nuts) on tl outside of the fruit snd went off in a huff,
h-ivFfSH .1T4"eAre ar ai eslimatedl50 bots id: mnaCksTahiging fr-dh '15 to 35 ii iqgid 6ikh "6o whole and part-tihd fishermen engaged in their idtdstry. Some ffesh-witer 11sth ie ilso sold in the ldil intkets.
M'ARINE"TORTOISE-SHEL' The "tortoiseshell" of commerce actually is obtained from a marine turtle. The shell of the local Hawksbill turtle is partiettlarly, beautiful and once commanded a high price and ready sale. The market for real tortoise-shell thasbeenruined' y the flood of cheap itmitationstandthb-export trade is now insignificant.
SPONGES. The sponge infidustry which existed in by-gone days was practicallyy wiped out by over sponging and injurious methods. In 1925 the Government decided to l4evive the industry by scientific re-stockirg of the sponge grounds and the services of a scientific sponge expert were given by the Colonial Research, Committeefor this pupose The Government purchased the double ring of cayes called Turneffe which offered shel~eed :lagoons% suitable. for sponge planting. Eventually after several years devoted to building up planting stock, the entexprisewas!converted into a commercial operation by the leasing of concessions.
JAy 1 3 notwithstadjng several' iinorand major set-backs, notably the hurricane l 1960c destroyed the majority of te sponge beds, the export of sponges had become a thriving business. Unfortunately in 1939 a strange disease attacked the sponges, first in the Bahamas and later in British Honduras, and destroyed the beds. From the dinadialos, of this blow. tlhe planters did not recover, and the export of sponges has entirelyceased: There is at present aworld wide shortage of sponges and the tradedemand is heavy and prices high. The Turneffe Lagoons proved ideal for sponge growing..
The method of cultivation .was to cut selected sponges into sections (under water as the sponge di6s when exposed t6 air); each section was then attached to a concrete disc ,and deposited on the sea bed. When the cuttings had attained a growth suitable for marketng, usually about three years, they were recovered with the aid of pronged poles and ithe discs cut, away. The sponges not required for replanting were then dried, bleached and packed for shipping in very highly compressed bales containing possibly 800 sponges and averaging around 80 lb. in weight.
BOATBUILDING. There are a number of small yards, chiefly in Belize, which turn out well-built motor boats, sloops, lighters and other small craft for. export and local sale.
MINERALS. Gold and tin exist throughout the south of British Honduras but so far have not been found in paying quantities Oili being prospocted.
62 British Honduras
LABOUR. The labouring classes consist of Negroes, coloured Creoles, Waika Indians (imported), Yucatecans (British born), Maya Indians, East Indians and Caribs. The first three races provide the bulk of the forest labour. The Yucatecans are descend. ants of Spanish refugees from Yucatan, and, with the Maya Indians, supply the Chiclerus or chicle hunters. The remaining races fish and farm, but little more than enough to supply their own needs.
There is a Government Labour Department under the charge of the Labour Comniissioner. It was created in 1939 and is concerned with labour disputes, working conditions, factory inspection, labour camp inspection and related matters.
Labourers' wages are adjusted upward from time to time, as costs increase, on the basis of collective bargaining.
A Workmen's Compensation Law is in effect and relations between master and serv. ant are regulated by the Employers and Workers Ordinance.
Trade Unions are governed and protected by the Trade Unions Ordinance and Labour disputes are arbitrated under the Trades Disputes (Arbitration and Inquiry) Ordinance when voluntary means fail.
WAGES. Mahogany labourers $25 to $40 a month plus weekly rations to the mini. mum value of $2.50. Mahogany tractor and truck drivers $75 to $100 a month and rations value $3.50 a week. Bush quarters are provided free and most Contractors have bonus and extra task schemes whereby the men can notably increase their wages. Road labour; s $3.00 a day. Gang Captains (Overseers) around $100 a month. Agricultural labourers $1.50 to $2.50 a day; cattlemen around $50 a month with quarters. Tradesmen around 50 cents an hour. Stevedores around 50 cents an hour. Dock labourers around 46 cents an hour. Domestic servants (females) $7.00 to $10.00 a week with food and frequently quarters. Standard labour week 48 hours, overtime rates at time and a half.
C'',IAMBER OF COMMERCE. There is a Chamber of Commerce in Belize.
CROWN LANDS. The Crown Lands, the property of the Government, amount to about 5,000 square miles, or over half of the total area of the territory. They lie mostly south of Belize and include the mountain area.
SALE OR LEASE. With the exception of certain reserved areas, Crown Lands may be purchased in small parcels only by the Location Ticket system of extended payments from $3.50 and upwards per acre. In certain areas and for certain purposes it may be leased at 30 cents upwards per acre per annum.
Under the Location Ticket system the would-be purchaser pays a stamp fee of S2.5c and applies to the Government for a Ticket, specifying in his application the location and number of acres desired. If the application is approved he signs an undertaking to carry out a specified amount of work on the land. Thereafter he pays instalments equal to onetenth of the purchase price every six months until the land is paid for. Payment is therefore spread over five years, at the end of which period, provided he has cleared, planted and developed the land in accordance with the conditions embodied in the contract, the land becomes his property on conditional freehold; that is, the grant does not permit the purchaser to dispose of or work any minerals, metals or ancient monuments, mounds of relics which may be in or on the land.
It is not possible in the limited scope of this booklet to set forth Exports and imports in full detail but the following data should provide a general picture. Persons requiring more data are referred to the annual Trade Report published through the Government Printer, Belize.
EXPORTS: TOTAL VALUE OF:
Year produce of Re-exported Total Exports
1950 4,594,936 161,711 4,756,647
1955 7,014,226 1,172,649 8,186,875
1959 8,854,469 708,569 9,563,038
1960 10,164,943 1,080,171 11,245,943
64 Brithk honduras
PRODUCE OF THE COUNTRY
The values of the principal exports were: .. .
Bmak logs .. ......... 64,127 97;3 7
Banak lumber ........ 24,912 11,475 '
Cedar logs .: .. .. 27,422 12, 30.
Cedar lumber . ... 214,439 '291,213
Mahogany logs .. ........ 104,122 195,218
Mahoganylumber .. .. .. .. 2,185,596 2,471,938
Mayflower lumber .. ...... 6,075 -. 3,395.,.
Pine lumber, Rough .. .. .. 298,014 341,785
Pine lumber, Dressed .. .. .. 443,200 208,329
Rosewood, logs .........., 1 3,821 17,502
Santa Maria lumber 6,786 13,570
Yemeri lumber .. 45,579
Logs, other kinds.. .. .. 695
Lumber, other kinds .. .. .. 29,640': 10,922 '
Chicle .. .. .. .. .. 562,131 493,439 '
Crown Gum ......... 63,958 121,221,:
Cobune kerrels .. .. .. .. 33,885 26,233
Seeds .. .. ... .. 19,344 13,303
Totals B. H ........ $4,097,472 4,375,954
Proportion of total domestic produce
exported ..46r28% 43.05%
Sugar (unrefined) .. . . ... 2,242,720 2,026,359
Sugar,.other & syrups .. .. 69,512 81,790 ,
Bananas & Plantains .. .. .. -2;863 2,205 &
Coconut, dessicated............2,212 4,070
Other edible Nuts............1,000
Grapefruit, fresh............104,523 189,974
Grapefruit segments...........502,335 722,363
Grapefruit juice............162,738 183,822
Grapefruit concentrate..........82,455 59,089
Grapefruit oil..............6,293 4,322
Lime oil................1,500 4,640
Oranges, fresh..............1,346 1,793
Orange juice.............541,916 1,420,130
Orange concentrate...........502,447 509,787
Orange oil..............47,576 36,829
Cacao beans..............2,507 9,991
Vegetables, fresh 115
Other produce..............630 1,781
Totals B. H. ..$4,377,189 5,331,079
Proportion of total domestic produce exported............49.43 % 52.45%
Fish: Fresh, live, frozen..........18,262 20,421
Fish: Dried, salted, etc...........4,560 3,675
Lobsters: Whole and tails.........239,550 276,147
Fish: other...............1,274 573
Totals B. H.......$268,076 305,458
Proportion of total domestic produce
66 British Honduras
Hides and skins 23,294 35,188
Crude animal & vegetable materials 100
Ships, Boats 28,818 22,166
Furniture 11,225 7,567
Other wooden manufactures 40,971 3,003
Aluminium manufactures 999 300
Personal effects 6,425 84,128
Totals B. H. 111,732 152,452
Proportion of total domestic produce
exported 1.26% 1.50%
DISTRIBUTION OF EXPORTS
The distribution of the principal exports for the years 1959 and 1960 and the value and percentage of each country's purchases thereof are shewn in the following figures.
U.S.A. 75,603 (72.6) 46,975 (24.06)
Sweden 16,059 (15.4) 108,187 (55.43)
Denmark 5,553 ( 5.3) 5,565 ( 2.85)
France 3,500 ( 3.3) 19,121 ( 9.79)
U.K. 3,407 ( 3.4) 12,970 ( 6.64)
Germany 2,400 ( 1.23)
U.S.A. 607,101 (27.7) 303,941 (12.29)
U.K. 584,093 (26.7) 641,285 (25.94)
Jamaica 491,088 (22.5) 1,153,188 (46.65)
Puerto Rico 337,858 (15.5) 229,737 ( 9.30)
Canada 74,378 3.4) 69,372 ( 2.81)
Sweden 55,067 2.6) 16,527 (0.67)
Netherlands 14,852 (0.7) 41,703 ( 1.69)
Bahamas 10,739 0.5)
Antigua 3,576 3,866 ( 0.15)
St. Kitts 1,872
Germany 20,000 (73.0) 6,900 (53.78)
U.S.A. 7,422 (27.0)
Netherlands 5,930 (46.22)
Jamaica 162,103 (75.6) 233,926 (80.32)
Cuba 26,023 (12.2)
U.S.A. 15,843 7.4) 9,600 3.30)
U.K. 8,468 3.9) 44,317 (15.22)
Canada 600 385 ( 0.13)
St. Kitts 2,985 ( 1.03)
68 Bitishi Honduras
U. K..........10,780 (78.0) 8,700 (49.71)
U. S. A.........3,041 (22.0) 1,014 ( 5.79)
Germany 6,888 (39.36)
France .. 900 (5.14)
PINE LUMBER: ROUGH.
Jamaica 182,708 (61.3) 122,011 (35.70)
Guadeloupe 54,888 (18.4) 112,953 (33.05)
Antigua 27,824 ( 9.4) 23,321 (6.82)
St. Kitts 18,493 ( 6.2) 16,949 (4.96)
Germany 5,882 16,294 (4.77)
St. Martin F. W. I. 4,832
Grenada 24,684 (7.22)
Belgium -11,018 (3.23)
Netherlands 8,065 (2.36)
Mexico 5,439 (1.59)
Guatemala 1,051 (0.30)
PINE LUMBER: DRESSED.
Jamaica .. 262,810 (59.3) 122,328 (58.71)
Puerto Rico .. 54,974 (12.4)
Antigua .. 43,592 ( 9.9) 24,596 (11.81)
Germany .. 30,685 ( 6.9) 764 ( 0.37)
St. Kitts .. 30,240 ( 6.8) 28,728 (13.79)
Montserrat .. 12,794 ( 2.9)
St. Martin, F. W. 1. 4,104
Netherlands .. 4,001
Grenada 16,428 (7.89)
St. Thomas .. 15,485 (7.43)
Panama 24,989 (73.7) 7,520 (28.67)
Jamaica 4,861, (14.4) 6,391 (24.36)
Guatemala 4,035 (11.9) 9,140 (34.84)
U. S. A. 3,182 (12.13)
U. K. 281,054 (50.00) 369,372 (74.86)
U. S. A........221,936 (39. 5) 98,698 (20.00)
Australia 59,141 (10. 5)
France .. 25,369 (5.14)
70 British Honduras
U. S. A. 47,887 (74.9) 118,657 (97.89)
U. K. 16,071 (25.1) 2,564 2.11)
U. S. A. 24,650 (85.6) 21,666 (97.75)
Guatemala 2,768 ( 9.6)
Mexico 850 ( 2.9)
Honduras, Rep. of 550 1.9)
Panama 500 2.25)
SUGAR: UNREFINED. U. K. 2,242,720 2,026,319
(Whole, Juice, Segments, Concentrate, Oil.) U. K. 858,321 1,159,484
Mexico 23 86
(Whole, Juice, Concentrate, Oil.)
U. K.........1,055,821 (96.6) 1,678,106 (85.26)
U. S. A.........17,064 ( 1.6) 9,050 ( 0.46)
Canada 9,736 ( 0.9) 1,041 ( 0.05)
Australia 9,318 ( 0.8) 4,268 ( 0.22)
Mexico 1,346 ( 0.1) 1,793 ( 0.09)
Jamaica 260,725 (13.24)
West Germany ..13,556 (0.68)
U. S. A.........45,167 (97.0) 47,510 (96.79)
Netherlands .. 1,400 (3.0) 1,500 ( 3.06)
Guatemala ..- 75 ( 0.15)
Panama .. 9,625 (50.6) 1,608 (17.36)
Jamaica .. 9,389 (49.4) 2,117 (22.83)
Guatemala ..- 5,541 (59.81)
72 British Honduras
(Whole and Tails)
U. S. A. 232,016 (96.8) 271,321 (98.26)
Guatemala 4,%8 ( 2.1) 3,750 ( 1,36)
Mexico 1,831 ( 0.8) 175 ( 0.06)
San Salvador 881 ( 0.32)
Other countries 735 ( 0.3)
(Live, Fresh, Frozen, Dried, Salted)
U. S. A. 13,806 (57.3) 14,301 (59.36)
Guatemala 6,536 (27.1) 6,664 (27.66)
Mexico 2 211 (9.2) 1,880 ( 7.80)
Honduras, Rep. 1,543 6.4) 1,246 ( 5.18)
Distribution of exports of domestic produce and manufacture.
United Kingdom 5,085,666 (57.43) 6,023,519 (59.26)
Antigua 76,455 ( 0.86) 53,136 ( 0.52)
Australia 69,559 ( 0.80) 5,768
Bahamas 13,644 ( 0.15)
Barbados 1,075 12,319 ( 0.12)
Canada 86,014 ( 0.97) 71,498 (0.70)
Grenada 43,112 (0.42)
God mask panel in ancient Maya carved frieze, Xunantunich Site.
.. Trade. 73
Exports count. )
Jamaica 1,162,169 (13.12) 1,939,221 (19.08)
Monsterrat 16,181 (0.18)
South Africa 10,000 (0.11) 682
St. Kitts 50,605 (0.57) 48,662 (0.48)
St. Thomas .. 15,485 (0.15)
Belgium 16,197 (0.16)
Cuba 26,023 (0.29)
Denmark 5,553 -- 6,165
France 3,500 45,390 (0.45)
Germany 61,539 (0.69) 46,882 (0.46)
Guadeloupe 54,888 (0.62) 112,953 (1.11)
Guatemala 18,653 (0.21) 28,049 (0.28)
Mexico .. .. 74,535 (0.84) 87,308 (0.86)
Netherlands .. 23,319 (0.26) 66,342 ( 0.65)
Panama .. .. 35,129 (0.40) 9,638 (0.09)
Puerto Rico .. 393,085 (4.44) 230,265 ( 2.27)
St. Martin, F.W.I... 8,936 (0.10)
Sweden .. .. 71,126 (0.80) 124,714 (1.23)
U. S. A. .. _. 1,497,180 (16.91) 1,151,182 (14.73)
Other Countries (14) 9,635 (0.11)
Other Countries (25) 26,456 (0.26)
Total Domestic Exports 8,854,469 10,164,943
TRANSIT AND RE-EXPORT TRADE. Ciudad Chetumal, capital of the Quintana Ron Province of Mexico, ships the bulk of its imports and exports through Belize-the nearest deep-water port. This trade has been greatly facilitated by the construction, under joint agreement of the two countries, of a motor road linking the Northern Road at Corozal with Chetumal. Years ago a similar transit trade existed with Peten, Department of Guatemala, but restrictions imposed by Guatemala reduced the flow to a trickle. In those days the cargoes were transported up the Belize River to El Cayo (3 to 10 days journey according to the state of the River) and thence to Peten on pack-mules. Now that the, Western Highway has been built cargoes move from Belize to El Cayo in. a matter of
'74 British Honduras
hours and a road extends to the British Honduras-Guatemala Frontier Line. Therefore, if' the transit trade was revived, cargoes to and from Peten could be moved at low cost and a considerable reduction in transit time and inconvenience.
In 1950 the value of this trade was only B. H. $161,711.
Orig,' of Imports. The countries of origin, the total value of the goods purchased therefrom and, in the case of the principal sources, the percentages of the total in port trade were as follows:1959 1960
United Kingdom .. 6,561,783 (33.55) 6,065,437 (32.29)
Australia .. .. 115,921 ( 0.59) 103,305 (0.55)
Barbados .. .. 6,075 10,393 (0.05)
British Guiana .. 5,025 7,724
Canada .. .. 415,309 (2.12) 573,431 ( 3.05)
Ceylon .. .. 17,222 ( 0.09) 16,798 (0.09)
Hong Kong .. 341,027 (1.74) 336,088 (1.79)
India .. .. 109,184 (0.56) 157,172 ( 0.84)
Jamaica .. .. 190,168 (0.97) 357,062 (1.90)
Malaya .. 7,355 14,961 ( 0.08)
New Zealand .. 34,757 (0.18) 21,861 ( 0.02)
Sarawak .. .. 2,634 13,958 (0.07)
Singapore .. .. 9,970 36,375 (0.19)
Southern Rhodesia 45,632 (0.23) 19,231 (0.10)
Trinidad .. .. 1,051,149 ( 5.37) 1,124,656 ( 5.99)
Argentine .. .. 63,763 ( 0.33) 37,320 ( 0.26,)
Austria .. .. 7,312 11,259 (0.06)
Belgium .. .. 188,768 (0.96) 171,327 (0.91)
China .. .. 3,481 8,657
Columbia .. .. 832 35,566 (0.19)
Czechoslovakia .. 19,993 (0.10) 14,722 (0.08)
Denmark 113,552 ( 0.58) 135,194 ( 0.72)
Eire .. 8,313 229El Salvador 12,212 ( 0.06) 1575 (0.08)
France .. 21,677 ( 0.11) 49,478 (0.26)
Germany .. 245,017 ( 1.25) 235,573 ( 1,25)
Guatemala 49,027 ( 0.25) 53,157 (0.28)
Honduras .. 12,499 ( 0.06) 10,745 (0.05)
Italy .. 23,453 (0.12) 25,930 (0.14)
Japan .. 326,085 ( 1.67) 292,055 ( 1.55)
Mexico .. 141,480 ( 0.72) 260,632 (1.39)
Netherlands .. 1,019,946. ( 5.21) 1,022,478 ( 5.44)
Norway .. 25,989 ( 0.13) 21,540 (0.12)
Sweden .. 59,339 (0.30) 73,526 ( 0.39)
Switzerland .. 18,593 (0.09) 21,164 ( 0.12)
Uraguay .. 9,492 6,813U.S. of America 8,135,979 (41.59) 7,213,670 (38.40)
Other countries (21) 27,904 ( 0.14)
Other countries (23) 40,342 (L021)
*Parcel Post 103,964 (0.53) 146,652 ( 0.78)
'Air freight Packages 9,327 21,331 (0.12)
*Breakdown not available.
Steam and Motor Vessels:
No. Nett No. Nett
Year Tonnage Tonnage
1959 .. 651 291,886 682 302,683
1960 ..691 353,921 686 352,747
1959 .. 1,034 23,216 1,009 25,235
1960 ,.1,126. 21,840 1,107 22,279
76 British Honduras
Year No. Passengers (Ibs) No. Passengers (lbs)
1958 .. .. 1,933 6,518 350,386 1,933 6,615 797,943
1959 .. .. 1,791 6,245 580,466 1,791 6,229 1,261,998
1960 .. .. 1,761 6,513 731,672 1,761 6,543 935,596
British Honduras possesses its own currency in dollars and cents: until 31st Decenlher, 1949, it was equivalent to the U. S. dollar. The exchange rate was then changed to B. H. $4.00 to the Sterling. In British Honduras the U. S. dollar is valued at approximately B. H. $1.42. Unless otherwise stated the figures given in this book are in B. H dollars. "Coins are issued in the following values :-Bronze: one cent; Nickel: five. cents; Silver ;-ten cents, twenty-five cents and fifty cents. The values of paper notes are $1.00, $2.00,$5.00 $10.00 and $20.00. Other currencies are not legal tender locally and are not accepted it trade. All foreign currency brought in must be declared under the Exchange Control Regulations and is exchanged by the banks only under permit from the Control Department. Travellers Cheques are accepted at the banks, subject to exchange discounts and Control Regulations. (1)
Revenue $ $
True Revenue ..... .... 5,925,317 6,163,308
Colonial Development & Welfare Schemes 3,443,863 2,453,296
Plant Pool ........ 94,973 82,818
Hurricane Rehabilitation ....... 298,748 113,875
Grant-in-Aid ............ 609,332 435,660
Total $ 10,372,233 $ 8,947,958
(1) The exchange rate for West Indian dollars is W. 1. $ = 83 cents B. H. All exchange rates quoted are subject to fluctuation or revaluation and are given only as a general guide.
True Expenditure .... 6,941,292 7,ll7,701
Colonial Development & Welfare Schemes 3,100,196 2,450,988
Plant Pool .............. 94,973 82,818
Hurricane Rehabilitation (Loans & Grants) 264,972 144,285
Total $10,401,433 $9,795,853
Public Debt at 31.12.60 .......... $4,695,799
Sinking Funds at 31.12.60 ........ 835,983
The principal sources of revenue are:1959 1960"
Import duties .. .. .. .2,395,785 2,479,420
Export duties .. .......... 92,834 84j382
Excise duties on spirits .......... 255,778 240,732
Excise duties on cigarettes 90,000 "84,000
Entry Tax ............ 370,834 371,226
Rents on Crown lands .......... 22,860 23,736
Royalties on forest produce .. 227,311 134,382
Income Tax .... 731,831 889;738
Licences (Motor Vehicles, driving, bicycle) .. 78,686 81,501
Oil Mining and Prespecting Licences ...... 396,154 460,009
Land Tax ............ 148,679 155,945
DUTIES AND TAXES. Import duty is levied, with only a few exceptions, for revenue purposes only, not protection. Duties, other than specific, are calculated on the C. I. F. Belize cost. There is a British Preferential Tariff, under which ad valorem duties range around 121 and 15 per century, and a General Tariff, generally double the Preferential Tariff. The duty on cameras and photographic supplies is roughly 25 Y. ad valorem under the Preferential Tariff and 371 % ad t alorem under the General Tariff. On most items there is on Entry Tax of 3 %. The following are the more important Export and Excise Duties and Royalties:
78 British Honduras
Duties and Taxes.
Mahogany logs.............$5.00 a thousand cubic feet
Mahogany lumber............$2.00 a thousand board feet
Pine lumber..............$3.00 thousand board feet
Chicle,(Domestic)............6 cents a pound
Coconuts...............$3.00 a thousand or 5 % ad valorem,
whichever is greater.
Lobsters, whole and tails..........3 cents a pound.
Rum................$6.00 a proof gallon
Cigarettes, standard size .. 30 cents a hundred.
Mahogany. Varies with licence and girth but in general ranges around $15.00 each for trees from 7*1 to 9 ft. girth and $25.00 each for frees 9 ft. girth and up.
Pine. $2.00 a tree, plus a levy for fire protection which varies according to area and local conditions.
Oiher Hardwoods. Around $2.00 a tree.
LAND TAX. Savannah land (wet, dry, scrub and swamp) 3 cents an acre; Savannah 'land (good pasture land subject to inundation) 4 cents an acre. Pine Ridge-Ist class 6 cents, 2nd class 5 cents and 3rd class 3 cents an acre. High forest land 9 cents, Medium aad High forest 6 cents, and Low Forest (akalche) 4 cents an acre. A furthercharge of 5 cents an acre (minimum charge 25 cents) is made on land served by a public road.
INCOME TAX. On a sliding scale from 5 % on the first $500 of chargeable income to 45 % on all chargeable incomes above $25,00. In addition, a surtax ranging from 10 % to 25 % is levied on all incomes in excess of $8,000, There is a flat rate for Companies of 40 %. in arriving at the nett chargeable income certain rebates are allowed, principally $600 as a resident, $300 for a wife, $200 for each child, $125 for each dependent falling within specified degrees of relationship, one tenth, but not exceeding $500, of e arned income, certain insurance premiums and major gifts to public benefits and charities,
Duties and Trade 79
In considering the impact of Income Tax in British Honduras it should be remembered that the national income is low-salaries and wages are for the most part below or barely level with the basic cost of living-and all clothing, most of the everyday requirements, foodstuffs and household needs and equipment are imported and therefore are subject to import duties and taxes. In 1960 the revenue from Income Tax was $889,738 while that from import duties and taxes was $2,395,785.
MUNICIPAL PROPERTY TAXES. 8 Y of the estimated annual rental value of the property. Vacant town lots are assessed at lower rates.
ESTATE DUTY. This is levied on all estates the principal value of which is $100 or more. The rate of duty ranges from 1 Y to 25%.
BANKS. There are two commercial banks: one a branch of the Royal Bank of Canada-which bought out the Bank of Honduras in 1912-and the other a branch 6f Barclays Bank (D. C. & 0.) which opened here in September, 1949. Both have headquarters in Belize; Barclays has a branch in Stann Creek and in Corozal. Banks have to pay an annual licence fee of $500 and Insurance Companies pay a licence fee at the rate of 2. % on gross premiums with a minimu fee of $25.
The Government Savings Bank, included in the Government Treasury, Belize City, with a branch in the administrative centre of each district, encourages thrift.
MOTOR VEHICLES. At the end of 1961 the numbers of motor vehiclesanid pedal bicycles registered in British Honduras were :-Private motor carts, Land RoverS and Jeep 858; taxis 159; freight/passenger vehicles 192; goods vehicles 562; omnibuses 5, motor cycles 143; trailers (goods) 178 and pedal bicycles 7,169.
Unless engaged in certain logging and agricultural work, every motor vehicle and trailer must be registered, fee $3.00, and is subject to an annual licence fee. The licence fees vary with the purpose for which the vehicle is used and, in most cases, the group into which its unladen weight (with radiater and fuel tanks full and normal running repair equipment on board) falls. Motor cycles $10 ,side-dar $2.50 extra, taxis (three groups) '$34 to $50, omnibuses to seat up to 12 passengers $20, to seat over 12 passengers $40. goods vehicles (seven groups) $40 to $90 when licenced to carry passengers in addition to freight such vehicles pay a fee of $15 in addition to the regular fee). hearses $15. trailers (two groups) $5 and $15; all other vehicles, including private cars, (eight groups) $24, $32 and $65. Pedal bicycles must be registered, the annual licence fee is $2.50. The reventfe from registration and licence fees for the year 1960 was $81,501.
so British Honduras
Every driver of a motor vehicle must possess a valid driving permit, annual fee $4.00. Applicants for permits must pass a medical examintion, fee $100, and a driving test, fee $1.00. Applicants for renewal of a permit issued in British Honduras are exempted from the driving test but must pass an eye test every year. A learner's licence costs $2.00.
Under certain conditions, visitors bringing cars and motors cycles for use during their visit are allowed privileges; particulars can be obtained from the Police Department on application. Valid International Driving licences are accepted.
British Honduras is rich in ancient Maya sites, both large and small. Unfortunately almost all of them are still hidden from sight under dense tropical jungle and the debris of their stone buildings, torn apart by tree roots or smashed by falling trees. Although some of the sites have been partially excavated by archaeologists on none has been lavished the decades of work and hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on now famous sites in other countries. This neglect is not due to insignificance in the local sites but to the tight financial status of this sparsely populated country and to a lesser extent to difficulty of access in the past. During the last decade or so considerable progress has been made in opening up the country by means of roads and improved trails and some sites are now easy to reach and others are far less difficult of access, When the writer went to make the first archaeological report on Caracol Site, in 1938, he had to ride for over three days with pack mules to reach this great site from El Cayo: today with a Jeep or Land Rover, the same journey can be made in hours during the dry season if the trails are open. It is hoped duringthe next few years to obtain the money to improve the trails to Caracol to a, point where even ordinary cars will be able to travel to the site during dry weather.
In January, 1957; the Government set up an archaeological sub-department of the Secretariat with the writer in charge to look after archaeological matters in this country and to develop the ancient -Maya sites and, as far as our limited funds allow, to make them visible to visitors. Unfortunately just keeping a site cleared of undergrowth is costly and for the present work is being concentrated chiefly on Xunantunich site (q. v. Cayo District.) It is hoped to extend the work to other sites such as Baking Pot, Caracol and Lubaantun when funds become available.
From time to time until 1938, archaeologists from other countries, chiefly the United Kingdom and the United States of America, worked on sites here, notably Lubaantun, Pusilha (both again buried under jungle growth), San Jose and Xunantunich,. There! no work was done by visiting archaeologists until 1949 but the writer continued to work in -
Archaeo logy 1
termittently of various sites including Xunantunich, where he disCovdred the existence ef a stucco mask panel but was unable to excavate it for lack of funds. In 1949 William and Michael Coe from the United States of America excavated an early period masonry builiiag in the Cayo District. In 1950 the writer accompanied Dr. Linton Satterthwaite ot Pennsylvania University Museum to Caracol for a further brief survey. On their return from Caracol, Dr. Satterthwaite kindly excavated part of the stucco panel at Xunantunich, which proved to be one of the finest and best preserved examples of stucco panelling so far found in the Maya area. In 1951 Dr. Satterthwaite returned, accompanied by Horace Willcox and Seymour Nuddle and worked fo several months at Caracol. With the consent of this Government, Dr. Satterthwaite brought out, to preserve them from further weathering, some of the carved stone monuments found at Caracol. Three of these are now set up in the Bliss Institute in Belize and the others are in the Pennsylvania University Museum in Philadelphia. In 1953 Dr. Satterthwaite again worked at Caracol, accompanied this time by J. Epstein.
The writer had the pleasure of working under Dr. Satterthwaite's leadership in 1951 and 1953, In 1956 a grant from the Wenner" Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, New York, made it possible for him to work on his own at Caracul on an unusual crypt burial which he had discovered.
C. W. Meighan and J. A. Bennyhoff, from the University of California, did a brief exploration in the Salt Creek area in 1950.
In 1953 Dr. Gordon Willey of Peabody (Harvard) Museum came to British Honduras seeking a suitable site for a domiciliary house mound survey. He chose Barton Ramie and during the dry seasons of 1954, 1955 and 1956, along with W. Bullard, J. Grass, J. Ladd and P. Orcutt, worked there. Valuable information was gained from this survey and when the full report is printed it should throw new and important light on the ancient Maya peasantry.
In 1957 Mr. Adrian Digby, M.A., Keeper of the Department of Ethnography of the British Museum, London, together with the writer carried out a joint exploration at Awe Caves (Cayo District) so named by the writer when he made the first archaeological report (1938) on this site. Awe Caves, now popularly called Las Cuevas (the Caves), has several unusual features and the expedition made a number of interesting discoveries. Both Caracol and Awe Caves promise to be very attractive to visitors when they can be made easier of access.
It is now generally believed that the Maya migrated into the New World, possibly by way of the Behring Strait, as primitive, nomadic hunters. Whatever their origin they built up an amazing civilization which reached its zenith somewhere around the 8th or 9th
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Century A.D. and then suddenly collapsed. Although lack of metals restricted them to store tools they shaped building stones, erected massive masonry buildings, carved intricate designs on stone monuments and wooden lintels, levelled off hilltops for ceremonial sites, erected pyramids-some 150 feet high-and topped them with masonry temples and other buildings. They were skilled potters, weavers, basket makers, lapidaries and agriculturists. Their astronomy was good and they evolved a complicated but accurate calendaric system, a time count, a glyphic system of writing and positional mathematics incorporating the zero many centuries before it was invented in the Old World. They made paper codices, filling the pores of the paper with fine clay and painting thereon intricate polychrome vignettes and glyphs. There are many theories as to why their building and other cultural activities suddenly ceased in Meso America and even large ceremonial c,_atres were apparently abandoned. The jungle soon moved in when a site was abandoned, roots tore buildings apart and termites, bush fires, rot and other destructive ages took heavy toll of perishable materials.
In British Honduras excavating in or removing antiquities from ancient Maya sites except under licence issued by the Governor in Council is prohibited by law. The removal of antiquities from the country except under a permit issued by the Comptroller of Customs is prohibited under heavy penalties.
Financial and other reasons forced the closing of the Public Museum in 1954. Efforts are being made to obtain the funds needed. to re-open and finance it. In the meantime a small collection of ancient Maya artifacts and carved monuments is on exhibition in the Bliss Institute in Belize.
Shooting is to be got in the forests and around certain cayes but for the most part is attended by difficulties and hardship arising from the primitive state of the country and the density of the jungle. Some fauna may be killed only under licence, for some there is an annual closed period and the killing of certain species is forbidden. Hunters, both local and visiting, are advised to study The Protection of Wild Life Ordinance (No. 5 of 1944 with Amendments).
Fhe laws relating to the possession of firearms are simple, licences are easily obtained, but the penalties for possession of an unlicensed firearm are heavy. All rifles, revolvers, pistols and guns whether the propellant is air, gas or explosive must be licensed annually. The fee for air rifles and air pistols is $1.00 and for all other types $5.00. Visitors bringing firearms into the country must declare them, and deposit them with the Customs until they obtain a licence.
Amongst the fauna are jaguar, puma, ocelot, Mountain Cow (tapir), peccary, warree (both are members of the pig family), gibnut (paca), armadillo, deer, partridge, coquel'cot (pheasant), toucan, duck, teal, quail, pigeon and snipe. The ibis, egret and gorgeously feathered wild turkey are protected by law and may not be killed. Snakes abound in the forests and grass-lands, many of them venomous. The latter include the Central American Diamond Back Rattler, the Jumping Viper, the Yellow Jawed Tomagoff (the fer-de-lance), the Bush-master (rare) and the Corals. The Jumping Viper does "jump" but tests nake shewn, hunters' yarns to the contrary, that its leap is limited to about two feet on the level; off a stump or ledge it would naturally reach further. It is only about two feet in length and very thick and muscular. Deaths from snake bite are not common. even amongst the agricultural and forest labourers.
Although the reptiles are much hunted for their skins, alligator shooting is still to be had. The dragon-like but quite innocuous Iguana lizard is fairly plentiful and is much esteemed as an article of food by some people.
There is excellent fishing along the coast and around the cayes. Tarpon, Barracuda, Kingfish, Ocean Jack and other sporting fish are numerous and shark and sawfish hunting with a hand line can provide exciting sport. Several rare species of fish are to be fouQde. including the strange toad fish which walks, mostly in shallow water, on fin tips and two small legs and can stay out of water for short periods.
An interesting item of natural history is the existence on Half Moon Cay of a colony of a rather rare species of gull, the red-footed Booby. It is the only known colony of these birds in Central American waters, and is now preserved by Government. It is said that these gulls fly daily to Utilla, some eighty miles off, returning in the evening and that fishermen can set a course by their flight.
In Belize all classes have their social and recreational clubs. One club has three tennis courts, a second has a court with flood-lighting equipment and a third has one court: all three have full size English billiard tables and other facilities for indoor recreation. Visitors may obtain visiting membership for short periods or temporary membership for longer periods; in either case introduction by a regular member is necessary. The people of British Honduras are friendly and hospitable and not inclined to stand on ceremony; if a visitor fails to be entertained and have a good time the fault usually lies with himself.
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Some of the district towns have tennis courts. All of the courts are of concrete and play continues throughout the yeir-being little interfered with by the changing seasons. Football, cricket, basketball, baseball and horse racing are very popular with all classes. There is a circular track at Hone Park, Belize. Small straight tracks exist in the districts; Boom and El Cayo have small circular tracks: all are very primitive but produce good sport. There is a small golf club situated some 81 miles out of Belize on the Hector Creek Road. Hacking has died out in Belize but is still done in the districts, where conditions are more favourable and the supply of horses better.
There is a small yacht club in Belize, and the sheltered waters provide excellent and spacious sailing grounds. Boating of all kinds is very popular with all classes. A sailing regatta is held annually on Baron Bliss Day, 9th March, the Baron having made special provision for it in his Will. The regatta is open to all types of small local craft and the events, especially those for fishing doreys,are keenly contested and exciting. For racing, the fishermen fit over-size sails and these are most skillfully counter-balanced by men who "hangkindola", that is lean outboard, with their feet on the gunwale, in slings hung from the mast. River regattas are held from time to time and both regattas arouse great public enthusiasm.
There is no bathing beach near Belize but along the coast south there are long stretches of clean, yellow sand which would make excellent bathing beaches. At present the many attractive cayes (islets) 'along the reefs provide the popular vacation resorts; besides excellent beaches they have the added attraction of good fishing. On some of the cayes there are good frame houses where the owners spend their holidays; some of these houses can be hired for holiday purposes at rents which vary with the size of the house and whether it is unfurnished or fully or partly furnished.
For persons who like boating, Swimming, fishing and the simple life a holiday on one of the reef cayes during the second quarter of the year in particular is a memorable experience. Hours may be spent in the warm water without ill-effect, except perhaps exce. sive sunburn. Then there are the coconut palm shaded beaches on which to relax, lulled by the susurrant wind in the palms and the rumble of the deep blue Caribbean Sea as it bursts into white foam over the reef. Game fish hooked and fought along the outer side of the reef; crawfish hunting by moonlight or flashlight; the myriads of tiny, brilliantly coloured fishes swimming amongst the coral and anemones and the many other strange and beautiful things to be seen in the shallow waters just inside the reef; skimming through the water in a fisherman's white and green or red painted sailing dorey; even the hours spent on the more lethargic drop fishing all provide beads for a string of golden memories. The crystal clear waters aong the reefs are ideal for underwater photography and skin diving and spear gun fishing are becoming increasingly popular.
There is no legitimate theatre in British Honduras and no repertory company. There are a number of amateur dsfams& groups and the Annual Festival of Arts, sponsored bwt he Extra Mural Department of the University College of the West Indies (in Jamaica) is developing a higher standard of amateur theatricals.
The Festival of Arts is held in the Baron Bliss Institute which was formally opened "nd handed over to Government to operate and maintain on'behalf of the public on the 18th May, 1954. The Institute, situated on the Bliss Promenade on the Southern Foreshore, Belize, is a modern, ferro-concrete building housing an auditorium complete with dramatic stage; a public lending and reference library with reading and study rooms (the Jubilee Library); a small lecture room; an entrance hail with ancient Maya monuments and relics and other exhibits, and the offices and classroom of the Extra-Mural Department of the University College of the West Indies. The cost of building and equipping thle institute, around B.H. $225,000, was borne by the Baron Bliss Trust. Belize. liesid-s dramatic performances and musical recitals and exhibitions of arts and crafts, the auditorium is used for lectures and film shows covering a wide range of topical, educational and cultural subjects. The contribution the Institute is making to the social advsncemenlt of the country is great and the level of attendance at events in it is high. The Institute has been greatly helped by valuable gifts from the British Council, London, including a concert grand piano, stage curtains, drapes and lighting equipment and library books. A Council representative is stationed in Belize. Besides scholarships the Council assists students in many ways.
Baron Henry Edward Ernest Victor Bliss was a keen sea rod fisherman although paralysed from waist down as the result of an accident. He died on his yacht-the Sea King-in Belize Harbour on the 9th March, 1926, while on a fishing visit to this country. In his Will he bequeathed a considerable sum of money to a trust fund to be used for capital expenditures on works of benefit to the public of British Honduras and arranged for a Trust-the Baron Bliss Trust-to be set up to administer the Fund in accordance with the conditions laid down in the Will. The Institute is the most ambitious of the many public works carried out by the Trust to date. The Baron is buried in a tomb at the Fort Point, Belize, in accordance with his request.
The rapidly expanding Children's Section of the Jubilee Library is still housed in the original Jubilee Library building presented in 1935 by R. S. Turton, Esq.. J.P.. (died 1955). The Jubilee Library was founded on a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York and is operated and financed by Government.
In Belize there are three cinemas, with up-to-date projectors and sound equipment. and there is a small cinema in each of the district towns of El Cayo, Corozal, Orange Walk and Stann Creek.
The use of pre-cast concrete blocks is increasing but houses may still be said to fail into three main groups-frame, adobe and "trash" (Creolism for '"thatch"). The former are built of pine or Santa Maria lumber, with sash windows and roofed with corrugated cement/asbestos or, more commonly, galvanised iron sheets. To mitigate the glare, green painted casement type wooden slat blinds are fitted outside the windows. Even in the hilly regions the frame houses are raised several feet off the ground on posts to allow a free circulation of air underneath. Almost all have verandahs in front and many have them also on the sides and backs. Usually the houses are painted white with a coloured trim, commonly green, and the roofs are often coated with anti-corrosion red paint Although a few are let as flats, the majority of the houses are self-contained and fully detached, usually standing in grounds large enough to permit flower beds in front and a roomy yard behind. Flowers. shrubs and creepers commonly add a picturesque touch of colour to the grounds. The indoor water supply (kitchen, bathroom, lavatory, etc.) is usually from a gravity service tank filled by a hand or electrict pump from rainwater storage tanks in the yards. Many houses now have electrically driven pressure water systems.
Rents in Belize for middle and upper class houses range around $60 to $150 a month. Rents are paid monthly and the landlord pays the municipal and other taxes. Rents tend to be slightly lower in ihe districts. There is a shortage of frame houses throughout the country, particularly in Belize.
Adobe houses are mostly used by the Maya Indians, with whom they are traditional. Although the word adobe really means flat, sun-dried bricks and houses made with them. it is applied in this country to clay coated houses. The local house is rectangular with a framework of "bush sticks" (saplings and withes) which follows a centuries old convene tional design. The walls are close vertical rows (estacada) of thin sticks thickly coated in. side and out with a mixture of-urnt lime, clay and hair or other binder, and whitewashed. The floors are built up with impervious clay rammed hard and smooth. The roofs are thatched with a large, fan shaped palm leaf called Huano or Bay which has an average life of twenty years. When Huano leaves cannot be obtained, cohune palm leaves are used but they do not make as tight or durable a thatch. Nowadays window openings with hinged wooden shutters are commonly provided and both doors and shutters are painted. green being a favourite colour. Inside the houses are usually divided into two rooms by a low. thin partition wall. They are cooler in hot weather and warmer in cold weather than frame houses. With their white walls, painted doors and shutters and neatly trimmed thatch the adobe houses look most attractive.
The "trash" house is a primitive edition of the adobe. The walls are of two types, thatched with Huano or cohune leaf or just plain estacada. In the latter the sticks are' usually fairly thick but are not clay covered; sometimes they are lined with unbleached cotton or, more often, with pages torn from illustrated magazines and newspapers. Ttiis type of house is commonly used by labourers in temporary camps and by small planLeis and rural Creoles. The village Caribs also use this type of house but generally have to thatch with cohune leaves, for which reason they give their roofs a very high, steep pitch which is very distinctive.
Both adobe and trash houses are cheap and quick to build and almost all the materials lie to hand in the susrrounding forest. The framework is tied together with tie-ties (lianas) or strips of tough bark.
The largest is a modern, tourist type hotel with thirty-five rooms each with twin beds, bathroom, telephone and screened porch. There is also an outdoor swimming pool. Rates range around B.H. $17.00 per head a day with meals. In the other hotels the rates run from B.H. $10 a day with meals upwards. Several boarding houses also cater for transient guests, rates around B.H. 7.50 a day with mesls. Names and. addresses can be obtained from the Tourist Committee or the Chamber of Commerce, Belize. It is advisable to make reservations well in advance.
There are a few small hotels in the Out-Districts. Government has a Rest House in each administrative centre for the use of officials and other persons travelling on official business. Other visitors are sometimes allowed to stay in a Rest House for a night or two on application to the District Commissioner concerned. Meals are not provided in the Rest Houses hut they have cooking facilities.
COSTS OF LIVING.
The shops in Belize are well stocked with foodstuffs and merchandise from all over the world. Fresh meat, fish, local vegetables and fruits are obtained, however, in the Municipal Market. In the districts the 'shops are not so well stocked and many requiremients have to be procured from Belize.
Except perhaps for fresh meat, fish, eggs and a few other local products, prices are higher in the districts than in Belize. Contrary to the usual rule it costs more to live in the country than in the capital and local produce is often scantier in supply and variety. The limited local supply, the difficulty in keeping fresh foods and other factors enforce a high and expensive degree of dependence on imported canned goods, especially in the districts