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B RITISH HONDURAS, one of the lesser
known of the British Caribbean Colonies,
is favourably situated in the centre of the
Americas. We present here a pictorial record
of the Colony and an assessment of its poten-
tial for economic and tourist development.
The Crown Colony of British Honduras lies on
the eastern seaboard of the Central American
isthmus. It is bordered on the north by the Mexi-
can province of Quintana Roo, and on the west and
south by the Republic of Guatemala. Its coastline
is fringed by the second longest coral reef in the
world, over one hundred miles from north to south
and studded with coral islands of silver sand crested
with palms. Eastward, the Caribbean Sea rolls
away to Jamaica and the islands of the British West
Indies. The winter climate from November to March
is delightful, and rivals the best to be found in the
Caribbean, but the months from July to October are
hot and humid.
In a continent which has known many upheavals,
British Honduras has been fortunate in enjoying for
over 150 years a stable government-since the days
when the settlers banded together to defeat, at the
Battle of St George's Caye, the last Spanish attempt
to conquer the territory.
The original British settlement was established
near the mouth of the Belize River by a number of
English buccaneers, who depended for their sub-
sistence on the logwood forests of the interior. This
logwood was replaced as a major industry by
mahogany. British Honduras still has today
the reputation of producing some of the best
mahogany in the world. Its timber resources are
supplemented by natural stands of pine, which has
become an important export commodity, while
rosewood, ziricote, mayflower, santa maria, and the
sapodilla (which produces chicle, the basis of chew-
ing gum) contribute to the wealth of the Colony.
Partly because of this reliance on the products
of the forests, the population, but 70,000, is
comparatively small for a country 170 miles from
north to south and 80 miles from east to west at
its widest point, and of a total area of 8,866 square
miles. The people are a mixture of many races.
The dominant element along the coastal fringe is
Creole, descendants of the original settlers and their
slaves, and amounting to over 60 per cent of the
total population of the country. To the south are
the Caribs, a sturdy people with the tradition of the
sea, who speak their own language and retain the
customs which they acquired in the early days of
settlement in the West Indies. In the north and
west the population is predominantly Spanish or
Maya Indian. Many of these people are refugees
from successive revolutions in Mexico and Guate-
mala who fled across the border to find security
under the British flag. In the hinterland of the far
south there are large Maya and Kekchi Indian
villages, whose inhabitants live remote from the life
of the Colony, still speak almost exclusively the
language of their ancestors, wear traditional cos-
tumes, and who carry on a life very similar to that
which was lived in the country when Cortes first
crossed the southern boundary on his way to quell
As the people vary, so does the scenery. The
coastal plain is mostly mangrove, backed by rush-
covered savannahs and low, sandy ridges carrying
pine which extend 30 miles inland in the northern
districts. This open land in turn gives way to the
forests and foothills of the mountains which run
from north to south parallel with the Guatemalan
border. In the foothills and on the mountain slopes
the land, where it has not been opened up, is covered
with dense tropical jungle where the jaguar, ocelot
and peccary still roam at will, and the humming
birds cluster around the flowering trees.
Hitherto the people have based their economy on
the natural resources of the forests and, except for
the Indians, they have no tradition of agriculture.
For some tilpe, however, it has been realized that
if a permanent, stable economy is to be established
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Rivers in British Honduras are a traditional means of travel. Many children go to school in their own dories.
Front Cover: A view of Belize from Fort George, 1842.
In the centre of the Americas.
in British Honduras it must be based on sound,
modern agricultural methods. As a result of this
realization, it has been the policy of the British
Government to open up the country, first by build-
ing an extensive network of main and feeder roads,
and secondly by instituting a programme of agri-
cultural education that will wean the people away
from their forestry traditions and encourage them
to become skilled farmers, cultivating the many
and varied crops which the country is capable of
After a disastrous hurricane hitthe Colonyin 1931,
Great Britain contributed annually to the revenues
of the country until the beginning of 1952, when the
Government was able to balance its budget. This
recovery has been assisted by the post-war pro-
gramme of development financed largely by funds
provided under the Colonial Development and
Welfare Act and this development is rapidly
changing the face of the country.
The road-building programme opened in 1946,
when the United Kingdom contributed over $4
million for this and kindred purposes. Over 250
miles of main roads and 104 miles of feeder roads
have already been constructed. There are another
44 miles of main and feeder roads building. The
most spectacular project has been the construction
by the Public Works Department of the Humming
Bird Highway, which joins the highly developed
Stann Creek Valley with the north and west of the
Colony. When complete this road will have cost
approximately $2 million owing to the number of
rivers that have had to be bridged and the cuttings
that had to be driven through many of the moun-
tain slopes, but it has opened up potentially rich
lands which previously had been penetrated only by
The opening of the new country is being ac-
companied by a thorough soil and land utilization
survey of the whole Colony, and a team has been
operating since August 1952. An extensive survey
has been done of the northern districts and this will
gradually be extended through the centre to the
south. The soils vary considerably from district to
district and often over relatively short distances.
Where such variation takes place the country is
suitable for small and medium-sized estates dealing
with specialized crops. In other areas, larger tracts
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Fort George Hotel, built by the Colonial Development Corporation, offers every modern comfort to the visitor.
Sailing and swimming are popular sports. It is only a
short run from Belize to bathing beaches on the cayes.
of land are available which are capable of being
exploited by large-scale investment. Since its foun-
dation the Colony, dependent on timber resources,
has imported the greater bulk of its foodstuffs and
it is the first objective of the agricultural develop-
ment programme to produce sufficient foodstuffs for
the home market, and so make the country rela-
tively self-sufficient. Export crops-citrus, bananas,
pineapples, sugar, fibres, cocoa-and beef cattle
do well in various districts, and are capable of
The manufacturing industries are largely as-
sociated with the Colony's main forestry and agri-
cultural resources, and the largest industrial
enterprises are concerned with saw-milling and the
canning of citrus and pineapples. The expansion of
agricultural production in the Colony would create
considerable opportunities for the expansion of secon-
dary industries in the main centres of population.
The Bahamas Exploration Company has been
carrying out a systematic survey of the country over
the past two years and it is understood that the
The forests and savannahs offer an abundance of wild
game, ranging from jaguar and deer to duck and teal.
prospects of finding oil in economic quantities are
Apart from the possibilities which exist in the
agricultural and industrial fields, British Honduras
also offers opportunities for the tourist who likes
to get off the beaten track. In an under-developed
country of this nature it is inevitable that many of
the amenities which the average tourist looks for
are not available, but the construction of the Fort
George Hotel, through the enterprise of the Colonial
Development Corporation, has given to Belize a
first-class hotel offering every modern comfort.
A few miles off the coast lies the chain of coral
islands, known locally as cayes, which offer perfect
bathing, and in the surrounding waters there is an
abundance of fish. Tarpon, snapper, mackerel,
kingfish, crivali, and gruper all offer extremely good
sport and are fished for either by trolling by hand
line or by rod and reel.
Inland there are other possibilities for tourist
development. Within a day's journey from Belize
it is possible to examine ruins of the Mayan cities
which once dominated the mountain districts of the
The savannahs and forests offer extremely good
shooting of a variety of game, including duck, deer,
and bigger game such as jaguar.
Lying within a few hours flying of New Orleans,
Jamaica, and Mexico City, British Honduras is in
the centre of Central America and its accessibility
is one of the great advantages which it can offer to
the prospective visitor or investor.
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Belize was one of the earliest English settlements in the Caribbean and the centre of the logwood industry.
During the first half of the seventeenth century a
number of English buccaneers, driven from their
accustomed haunts by the activity of the Govern-
ment of Jamaica, took shelter in the shallow waters
off the Belize River. They found that these waters
and the coral reef off-shore enabled them to escape
detection from fhe King's ships, but their buccaneer-
ing activities became more restricted as the anti-
piracy drive in the Caribbean became better organ-
ized, and round about the year 1638 they formed a
settlement at the mouth of the Belize River and
turned their attentions to the more peaceful pur-
suit of timber-getting. The river, with its wide
estuary, and deep channel running more than 60
miles inland, provided the means of floating the
timber down to the sea from. the hinterland. From
these rather wild beginnings sprang Belize, the
present capital of the Colony.
Today it is a town of approximately 30,000 in-
habitants; it is built mainly of wood but some of the
Government buildings and commercial houses are
built of concrete. From the air it looks quite attrac-
tive with the white-painted wooden houses and red
roofs. Its inhabitants are mostly Creole, descendants
of the original Negro slaves who, with their white
masters, banded together to defeat the many
Spanish attempts to reconquer the Colony during
the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Just off the coast, quickly reached by launch, lie
some of the most attractive coral islands in the
Caribbean, varying in size from two or three acres
to Ambergris Caye which is over 24 miles long.
Apart from offering both good fishing and bathing, ''
these cayes are also the centre of the crayfish in-
dustry and contribute largely to the coconut exports
of the Colony, while the waters along the reef supply
the markets of Belize with fish. T
The coastline of the mainland is mostly swampy -
and covered with mangrove, while beyond lie flat
sandy tracts which grow mostly palmettos and pine. 3 A i
.Smallholders, including some Jamaican settlers, Ij
occupying land along the river are producing vege-
tables, rice, root crops, poultry and livestock, and
these areas have been opened up by the new road .
construction programme. North Front Street, one of the principal streets in
In addition to development in the country dis- Belize. The General Post Office is seen on the left.
tricts of Belize, considerable effort is being put into
improving the amenities of the city itself. One of the -::"*
difficulties in the past has been the lack.of an ade-
quate water supply, most of the people depending
on rainwater collected in vats. The development
programme plans to bring water from the Pine ,t
Ridge area to the city, and a considerable amount .. 1 -
of money has been allocated for improvements and
extensions to the Belize Hospital. A broadcasting
service, established in Belize at the end of 1952,
transmits medium- and short-wave programmes
in English and Spanish. The expected industrial -
expansion of Belize will be assisted by the installa-
tion of a new A.C. electricity supply system to
replace the present D.C. system. 4
The new Fort George Hotel, which looks out
across the Caribbean to the cayes, can offer visitors
the best they could wish in accommodation. '
Belize, under the post-war development pro-
gramme, is beginning to take on the form of a
modern city. Saw-milling is one of the major industries-British
Honduras has some of the richest forests in the world.
Its width and depth made the Belize River an excellent trading centre, around which the capital developed.
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Going west from Belize towards the Guatemalan
frontier the road enters Cayo, or the Western
District of the Colony. The coastal plain and pine
ridge have been left behind and the visitor finds
himself among the foothills of the Maya Mountains,
which are covered with rich jungle growth. The
inhabitants, too, are different. The farther west the
more the Indian predominates over the. Creole,
until, around Benque Viejo, near the Guatemalan
frontier, the inhabitants are almost entirely Maya
Indian. They still cling to many of their old customs
and dances which date back for centuries and are a
curious blending of old Mayan and Spanish culture.
Their language is still the language of their fore-
fathers, but most of them now speak either English
Close to some of the Indian villages are the ruins
of the ancient cities of the Maya Empire which
flourished 700 years ago and these attract archeolo-
gists from both Britain and America. The University
of Pennsylvania has been particularly active in
research and was largely instrumental in uncovering
the best-known ruin in the Colony at Xunantunich,
not far from the town of Benque Viejo. The centre
of the ancient Maya civilization was situated a few
miles over the present border in the Peten district
of Guatemala and it is estimated that at one time
there were over 750,000 people living in what is
now British Honduras.
Apart from its richness in human and archmo-
logical material, Cayo is one of the most productive
agricultural districts of the Colony, and its timber
resources are second only to those of the district
of Orange Walk. Its forests contain mahogany,
sapodilla and rosewood, and the 60,000 acres of
rolling downs of the Mountain Pine Ridge provide
most of the pine lumber which is now one of the
Colony's most important exports. The Colony's
Maya Indians still observe their ancient customs. Indians of Succotz perform the Christianos and Mores Dance.
export of mahogany in 1951 totalled 844,171 cu. ft.
($21- million), pine lumber totalled 851,212 cu. ft.
($11 million), and cedar totalled 68,820 cu. ft.,
valued at $136,691.
The Western District is also the centre of the
cattle industry and has some of the best pastures
in the Colony. Stock-owners are now trying to
improve the local cattle by crossing them with
European breeds such as Red Poll and Jersey. The
headquarters of the Agricultural Department and
its research station are situated in this district at
Baking Pot, where experiments with various types
of crops and fertilizers are being carried out. It is
here that the agricultural development programme
for the whole of the Colony is being planned and a
hostel is being established at the research station
for the accommodation of students taking special
courses in agriculture and farm management. The
Colonial Development Corporation has,taken up
2,000 acres of land in the vicinity for thb cultivation
of ramie. The experiment has been successful and
production is being rapidly expanded. Excellent
reports have been received on the quality of the
In other parts of the district corn, citrus, vege-
tables, lemon grass, beans and peas are being raised
by many smallholders.
Cayo also contains some of the best scenery in the
Colony. The Belize River, the country's natural
waterway, has its headwaters in the district and is
navigable for over 60 miles. It is spanned at the
capital town of El Cayo by the largest suspension
bridge in the country. From the top of the Maya
ruins at Xunantunich one gets a fine prospect of
the mountains rolling into Guatemala and running
down to the coastal plain of British Honduras.
At Roaring Creek, a third of the way along the
main road from El Cayo to Belize, the new Hum-
ming Bird Highway swings off to the south. The
construction of this road has been one of the most
difficult engineering feats undertaken by the Public
Works Department. The highway passes through
every variety of country, most of which had never
been opened up before but a lot of which is suitable
for agricultural development. When it is completed,
it will be one of the most attractive highways in
British Honduras. It crosses two large rivers, climbs
up to over a thousand feet and offers magnificent
views before it brings the traveller down through the
citrus orchards of the Stann Creek Valley to the
coast at Stann Creek town.
Cattle-raising is an important industry in Cayo. Throwing
a young steer on a ranch near Roaring Creek.
Archeologists at work
on a Mayan city.
on a Mayan city.
A scene in El Cayo, capital of the Western District.
Corozal, in the extreme north of the country, is the
smallest district, with 718 square miles, yet with
7,536 persons is third only to Belize and Cayo in
population. The district shares a common border
with the Mexican province of Quintana Roo, and
the Rio Hondo, which forms the boundary, is a
wide, deep river down which is floated the maho-
gany cut in the interior. The main road from Belize
which passes through Corozal, the capital town of
the district, is also the link between British
Honduras and Mexico. At the frontier post of Santa
Elena there is a ferry, and the road runs from there
to Chetumal, the capital town of the Mexican pro-
vince. Between the people of Corozal and the people
of Chetumal there are close personal and family
relations and the fiestas held in both towns always
attract large numbers of visitors from over the
Many inhabitants of the district are descen-
dants of Mexicans who fled into British Honduras
during the Indian rebellions, and the friendly
relations which exist between the Government of
British Honduras and the Mexican authorities have
cemented the traditional bonds of friendship.
The town of Corozal has a most attractive setting
on a wide, shallow bay, with coconut-lined shores.
Unfortunately, the waters are too shallow to allow
anything but small craft to enter, which is a handi-
cap to the district as all exports from the area have
to go out through Belize. The people are for the most
part of Spanish extraction or Maya Indians, and the
latter still practise their traditional method of
shifting cultivation, known as the milpa system,
which is extremely wasteful of both land and labour.
One of the problems of the agricultural development
programme is the spreading of knowledge of modern
agricultural methods among the people.
The soils are rich in potential, consisting mostly
of either black or red soil over limestone, and the
recent soil survey carried out in the area has
established that they have retained the fertility
which they possessed in the days of the old Maya
Empire. Citrus, coconuts, rice, corn, vegetables, and
particularly tomatoes, pineapples and sugar, do
well in the district, but the major problem at the
present time is to ensure the increased production
of the essential food crops necessary for the susten-
ance of the people of the Colony.If this problem can
be solved-and it means, largely, the agricultural
re-education of the Maya Indian-the land could be
opened up to large-scale holdings, particularly
sugar and citrus. While the increase of food crops
could be carried out simultaneously with larger-
scale development, it would be necessary to ensure
that there is no drop in productivity during the
initial stage of the programme.
Sugar is the principal export industry of the dis-
trict and at Pembroke Hall, a few miles south of
Corozal, is a sugar factory which has been modern-
ized and expanded over the past two years. The
production in 1951 was 2,000 tons, but this was
increased in the following year to 3,000 tons. Under
the West Indian Sugar Agreement, British
Honduras has been allocated a production quota
of 25,000 tons of sugar, but this quota has never
been taken up, not because the country is incapable
of producing the sugar cane, but because it has
lacked the capital to establish the new cane-fields
and the necessary processing plants. The Colony is
now self-sufficient in sugar and expects to continue
to increase each year the surplus available for ex-
port. Corozal and the adjoining district of Orange
Walk also produce most of the rum consumed in
British Honduras. There are a number of small
distilleries scattered throughout both districts.
The strong Spanish influence which exists in
Corozal is evidenced by the civic pride of the in-
habitants who, in 1952, constructed their own
plaza, which is designed in the traditional Spanish-
American manner. During the fiestas the whole
town and district are enf^te and colourful dances in
costume are performed by the people.
Corozal, on the coast near the Mexican border, shows in many ways the blending of English and Spanish culture.
A modern factory for the production of sugar (above left) is operating a few miles from Corozal. (Above right) The
Indian still builds in traditional fashion. Palmetto walls are plastered with marl; the roof is thatched.
(Below left) A field of young pineapples, which grow wellin this area. (Below right) Symbolic of the friendly relations
between the two countries. British Honduran and Mexican Police and Customs officials on the border.
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Education is an important part of the social services in the Colony. Orange Walk-children at mid-morning break.
In 1849 the Indian population of Yucatan rose in
rebellion against the Spanish authorities and
slaughtered hundreds of the Spanish population
living in the southern districts of Mexico. A few of
the survivors gathered together their wives and
families and personal belongings and fled over the
border into British Honduras. A large number of
them moved farther south than Corozal to escape
the Indian raids over the border and settled in
what is now known as the district of Orange Walk.
Even here they were not unmolested and raids
continued to penetrate as far south as their little
citadel. The ruins of ancient fortifications in this
and the Corozal district are reminders of the
troublous times through which these settlers lived.
It was not until 1872 that a detachment of the 1st
West Indian Regiment, supported by the traders
and settlers, defeated and killed one of the Indian
leaders in battle. From that time the Orange Walk
district has enjoyed peace and security. Today it is
the centre of some of the biggest timber-cutting
operations in the Colony. The Belize Estate and
Produce Company has large timber concessions in
the western part of the district, centring around the
settlement of Gallon Jug, and the forests running up
to the Guatemalan frontier yield some of the best
mahogany produced in the Colony. There are also
large natural stands of pine which are now being
exploited extensively. Though nearly 60 miles
away in the forests, Gallon Jug is not isolated-
Belize is easily reached by air, an air-strip having
been constructed by the company.
A by-product of the forests industry is chicle.
This is the gum of the sapodilla tree, which is used
as the base in the manufacture of chewing gum.
Chicle extraction is carried out during the months
of July to February, when rain induces a good
flow of gum from the trees, and during the season
the chiclero lives a hard life working in the depths
of the forests. To extract the gum he has to climb
the sapodilla tree with the aid of a rope, and with
his machete he cuts the bark in a criss-cross pattern,
bleeding the sap into containers, which have to be
carried back to the camp that night. The gum is
cooked and then moulded into blocks of about
251b. each. When these tapping operations are
completed the chiclero has to make his way back
with his mules carrying the product of his season's
work. Chicle produced in British Honduras accounts
for approximately $1 million annually of the
Orange Walk, although its main wealth comes
from its forests, is also the scene, like the other
districts, of considerable agricultural development.
In this district the road-building programme has
opened up vast new areas to prospective farmers,
and Indian villages once remote from civilization
can now be reached by truck or jeep. Produce from
these villages can now be delivered in Belize in
a few hours. Corn is the principal crop of the small-
holder but citrus is also being grown and there
are fine pastures for cattle-raising.
Roped to the trunk, a chiclero taps a sapodilla.
Tractor of the Belize Estate & Produce Co. drags
mahogany logs for floating down-river at Gallon Jug.
Lying 22 miles up the New River, which is navi-
gable for a considerable distance, the town of
Orange Walk can move its produce to the sea with-
out difficulty. While nowadays most of the agri-
cultural produce goes by road, the river is still used
for transport of the timber from the interior.
Orange Walk is an example of the mingling of
races which goes on constantly throughout the
Colony. Here, Spanish and Indian settlers coming
from the North have merged with the Creoles
coming from Belize. Although they live separate
lives and rarely inter-marry, they live together
amicably with no racial bitterness. Among the
district's most attractive features are the small
Indian villages with their houses plastered white
with marl and neatly thatched roofs. Each village
has its own plaza or green in the centre. There
is a civic pride among these people which might
well be imitated by the people of many other
The white plastered houses of an Indian village.
New roads have opened up vast areas for farming
development throughout the Orange Walk District.
The British Honduras Citrus Company's plantations extend along the Stann Creek Valley from Middlesex to Pomona.
The district of Stann Creek lies on the coast about
30 miles south of Belize. The centre of its agricul-
ture is the prosperous and highly developed Stann
Creek Valley, which extends from the coast to
Middlesex, about 24 miles inland. The Valley is the
most spectacular example of the country's capacity
for agricultural development. In 1926 there were
only a few acres under citrus whereas today the
plantations of the British Honduras Citrus Company
alone cover over 2,000 acres. Grapefruit and oranges
are the most important fruits produced and a fac-
tory established at Pomona has a sectionizing plant
and an extraction plant for the canning of segments
and fruit juice. In addition to the Citrus Company's
plantations, other agriculturists have large holdings
in the Valley devoted to citrus growing, and large
plantings have been made of oranges. The Colony's
1951 export of grapefruit, fresh, canned and juice,
reached a value of $727,000.
The Colonial Development Corporation's project
for the revival of the banana industry has been
centred in the Valley. The experience gained
indicates that the crop may be more suited to small-
holding operation than to large-scale industry.
The Corporation is now investigating the growing
of citrus and other crops in the Valley, and will also
be transferring to the Valley the cocoa experimen-
tation work hitherto carried on at Sittee Creek.
Smallholdings are also scattered through the
Valley, many of the farmers coming from Jamaica.
These holdings are devoted mostly to bananas,
citrus, corn and beans, and with the assistance of
the Agricultural Department, the small farmer is
making an important contribution to the wealth of
South of the main Valley of the North Stann
Creek lies the Sittee River, which flows through
potentially rich land and which was once the scene
of large-scale sugar plantations. Today it has mostly
revertedto smallholders, who growbananas, corn and
coconuts. The Colonial Development Corporation
has a project in this area for the growing of cocoa
and has taken over 800 acres of land for this purpose.
Cocoa is one of the natural crops of British Honduras,
both in this and other districts and it is anticipated
that this project will be extremely successful. --
The people of the Stann Creek District are pre-
dominantly Carib and Creole. The Caribs, who have A
a settlement near the town of Stann Creek, are
primarily concerned with fishing. The fishing in-
dustry is important in the district and a great
variety of fish is obtained from the reefs off the coast.
Within two hours run by launch of the town lie
several of the most attractive cayes and these are
used as holiday resorts by the people of the Valley.
The development of the Stann Creek Valley has
underlined the necessity for the construction of a
deep-water pier in an accessible area. A suitable
site is at Commerce Bight, two miles from Stann
Creek town, and money has been provisionally
allocated from Colonial Development and Welfare
funds to assist in the construction of such a pier. If
this pier is constructed, Stann Creek will become the
most significant port in the Colony. The Anglican Church and the Hospital at Stann Creek.
The production line at the grapefruit sectionizing plant in the Stann Creek Valley.
Over 100 miles south of Belize is the town of Punta
Gorda, the capital of the Toledo District. Toledo
has been called the forgotten district of the Colony.
Remote from the centre of commercial activity and
with no connecting road to the north, it is the least
developed of all areas. Yet it is considered by many
to be the most potentially rich district of all. The
coastline is the most varied in the country, in many
places rising fairly steeply into the foothills of the
Maya Mountains, and from Monkey River to
Barranco it is peopled almost entirely by the
Caribs. The Caribs have a fascinating history. They
are the descendants of slaves who were cast away on
St Vincent and mingled with the original inhabitants
of the West Indies, adopting their language and
customs. Moved subsequently from St Vincent, they
settled along the shores of the Gulf of Honduras
and are now found not only in the Toledo District
but in the adjoining Republics of Guatemala and
Honduras. Although primarily fishermen with a
tradition of the sea, they have also become first-class
agriculturists and the smallholdings behind the
coastal villages produce rice, bananas, pineapples
West of the town of Punta Gorda a road runs into
the mountains to the township of San Antonio, and
here one finds the Maya Indians living closer to
their traditional way of life than anywhere else on
the Central American isthmus. Most of these In-
dians, Maya and Kekchi, migrated a century ago
from Guatemala. They have made their home in
British Honduras yet still cling to their traditional
customs. The women wear long hand-woven cotton
skirts, and, on formal occasions, a white blouse
decorated with hand-embroidery. A survival of the
Indians' traditional form of government is the
institution of the Alcalde, the village Mayor, who
has his own small police force and local court. Today
he holds his court in the village cabildo before a
picture of the Queen. His staff of office-the Barra
-is a stave mounted in silver.
The mountain slopes of the interior show evidence
of the Maya milpa system of agriculture. Each man
has his smallholding of ten acres. He burns the
Punta Gorda, capital of the Toledo District, seen from the jetty.
* . ^ .^ ,.
Street scene in Punta Gorda.
The Alcalde's village court in session.
forest, and clears and works the land with the most
primitive of instruments, usually just a pointed
stick and his machete, which are practically his only
tools. He will work his smallholding for perhaps two
years and then abandon it and move to another.
Here again, as in the north, education in improved
farming systems is one of the most important func-
tions of the Agricultural Department.
In the extreme south of the district are two of the
biggest rivers in the Colony, the Temash and the
Sarstoon. The Sarstoon, which forms the boundary
with Guatemala, is a magnificent stream which is
navigable from the sea as far as the western
frontier, but the fact that there is a bar across its
mouth precludes entry by vessels of more than
4-ft. draught. In the extreme south-western corner
lie three even more remote Indian villages, Dolores,
Otoxha and Crique Sarco. The people here live
almost completely self-sufficient lives, the men
occasionally visiting Punta Gorda to buy clothing
and other necessities. They grow their own corn and
beans, raise their own pigs, weave cloth and make
their own dresses, and still practise a primitive
form of pottery making. The women have little or
no contact with the outside world. Around this
area lies some of the richest yet most undeveloped
land in the country, and a survey is at present
being conducted into its suitability for growing
such crops as cocoa, manila hemp, oil palm and
sugar. At present the principal crop is rice, the dis-
trict producing more than half of the Colony's
output. Sugar, cattle and corn have achieved
considerable importance in the area.
An Indian woman cleaning coffee beans.
Area and Population: British Honduras has an area of
8,866 sq. miles and a population of approximately
Climate: Sub-tropical, tempered by trade winds
throughout the year. From October to May the tem-
perature is pleasant and even; evenings are cool.
November to March the climate is ideal for those seek-
ing relief from northern winters; temperature ranges
from 50 to 75 degrees. The hottest months are July to
October, when the weather can be trying although the
shade temperature never exceeds 96 degrees, there
being a very high humidity. Even in the hottest months
the climate is not unsuitable for people from temperate
zones. Rainfall varies, but is heaviest in Toledo, the
average being 172 in. In Belize the average is 62 in.
and in Corozal 47 in.
Communications (External): Belize is connected by air
with most of the principal cities in Central America
and with Jamaica. TACA International run bi-weekly
to New Orleans. British West Indian Airways run
weekly to Kingston, Jamaica. There are bi-weekly
services to Guatemala City, Tegucigalpa, and Chetumal,
to connect with Mexico City. British Colonial Airways
operate services within the Colony.
Three shipping lines call at Belize. United Fruit Co.
vessels sail monthly for New Orleans; T. & J. Harrison
Ltd monthly to Liverpool and London; Cayman Island
Shipping Co. fortnightly to Kingston; Jamaica Pro-
ducer Co. monthly from Stann Creek to Kingston.
A deep-water pier at Commerce Bight, Stann Creek, is
proposed. Belize and Stann Creek are lighter-ports.
Communications (Internal): All-weather roads connect
Belize with Benque Viejo in the west, and Corozal in
the north. There is a network of feeder roads designed
primarily for the opening up of new agricultural lands.
Stann Creek District is being connected with Belize
by an all-weather road expected to be complete by the
end of 1954. Toledo District can be reached only by sea;
a bi-weekly sailing from Belize extends weekly to Puerto
All District capitals are connected with Belize by
British Colonial Airways, which operates three-seater
aircraft on schedule and charter flights.
Land Use: 2 million acres are in private ownership;
3 million acres are Crown lands, of which considerable
areas have been set aside as Indian reservations. Much
of the land is pine ridge, swamp, and savannah. Prices
range from $2.50 to $5.00 per acre, according to quality
and accessibility. A Land Use Survey, which will indi-
cate suitable areas for agriculture, is now operating.
Land-clearing costs from $40 to $100 per acre,
according to the type of crop to be grown. Two Govern-
ment land-clearing units are available to assist agricul-
turists in suitable cases.
For Government-approved projects Crown lands may
be obtained on long lease for a 'peppercorn' rental in
addition to the ordinary land tax, which varies between
2c. and 6c. per acre per annum.
Currency and Banking: The standard of currency is the
British Honduras dollar. The exchange rate is fixed at
$4.00 to the sterling. $7.00 B.H. equals $5.00 U.S.
There are currency notes for $1.00, $2.00, $5.00, and
$10.00; the coinage is bronze, nickel, and silver. The
Royal Bank of Canada and Barclays Bank (D.C. & O.)
have branches in Belize. Barclays Bank also have a
branch in Stann Creek.
Income Tax: 5% on the first $500 of chargeable indivi-
dual income; 6% on the second $500; 8% on the third
$500; then progressively to 17% on chargeable income
up to $3,500 a year; 20% is charged on the next $1,000,
and 25% on income up to $10,000. Maximum tax pay-
able is 45% on incomes over $25,000 a year. Allowances:
personal, $600 a year; married, $300; $200 for each
Company Tax: 35% payable on the first $100,000 of
chargeable income, 371% on the next $100,000, and
40% on the remainder.
Development Concessions: For undertakings approved
under the development rules, the following deductions
Agricultural, cattle-raising and dairy-farming,fishery,
forestry and industrial undertakings: 50% of the
capital expenditure for the first year; 10% for the
next five years.
Mining: 40% of the capital expenditure for the first
year; 20% for the next three years.
Residential or recreational facilities for travellers or
tourists; housing schemes and undertakings approved
as being of benefit to the Colony: 25% of the capital
expenditure for the first year; 10% for the next
Customs: Import duties are principally ad valorem, with
specific rates on certain luxury goods and essential
articles of food. Average rate on foodstuffs is 25%; on
goods other than foodstuffs, 271%. The ad valorem duty
is based on the c.i.f. price at port of delivery.
Preferential Tariff Regulations follow those in force
in the United Kingdom. With few exceptions the pro-
portion of Commonwealth content necessary to enable
goods to qualify for preferential treatment is 25%. The
general rate of import duty under the Preferential Tariff
is 15%. The margin of difference between General and
Preferential rates is about 121%.
Certain articles imported solely for agriculture, live-
stock, or poultry farming or for packing export goods
are exempted from import duties. The Government is
prepared to grant concessions to new industries or to
help the expansion of existing ones.
During the development of an approved enterprise
all capital machinery, plant, equipment, and factory
building materials may be imported free of customs
Accommodation: Fort George Hotel, Belize, constructed
by the Colonial Development Corporation, was opened
in January 1953. Rates: $14.00 B.H. per day ($10.00
U.S.) inclusive. Launches can be hired for fishing and
for visiting the cayes. Cars are available' for trips into
the interior. Other hotels in Belize offer accommodation
at rates up to 810.00 B.H. per day. There are also
private boarding houses. In the Districts there are
boarding houses and some Government rest houses.
Houses can be rented at the cayes for fishing and
Commerce and Industry: Timber is the principal
domestic export. Mahogany, pine, and cedar exported
in 1951 totalled 14 million cu. ft., worth $33 million.
Exports of chicle gum, basis of chewing gum, totalled
835,551 lb., worth 8950,347, in 1951.
Agricultural products are becoming more important
in the Colony's industry-1951 exports of grapefruit
products totalled $727,068. Bananas, lobsters, and
coconuts are also important exports.
Foodstuffs are the major imported items. In parti-
cular, condensed milk, flour, butter, and lard are high
on the list. Other principal imports are cotton piece
goods, motor cars, tractors, hardware, gasolene, and
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AND THE CENTRAL OFFICE OF INFORMATION
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