Front Cover
 Title Page
 Part I
 Part II
 Part III

Title: Geography of British Honduras
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00095384/00001
 Material Information
Title: Geography of British Honduras
Physical Description: 39 p. : fold. col. map. ; 19 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Dillon, Albert Barrow
Publisher: Waterlow and Sons, Ltd.
Place of Publication: London
Manufacturer: Waterlow and Sons, Ltd.
Publication Date: 1922
Subject: Belize   ( lcsh )
Genre: non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: Belize
Statement of Responsibility: compiled from various sources. By A. Barrow Dillon, 1922.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00095384
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Belize National Library Service and Information System
Holding Location: Belize National Library Service and Information System
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 15323925


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Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Page 1
    Title Page
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
    Part I
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
    Part II
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
    Part III
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
Full Text




Compiled from Various Sources


Inspector of Schools.




T HERE has been so great a cry from the
teachers of schools in the Colony, and other
persons, for a Geography of the Colony, that
I have ventured to compile this book.
There was a geography by Mr. Reginald F.
Knollys, a former Inspector of Schools, published
in the year 1892, but it has been out of print for
several years; besides, much of the information
given in it no longer applies.
I have been engaged for some time on this work
because I wish to give as accurate information as
possible, and I hope that it will meet with the
approval of His Excellency the Governor, the
Board of Education, School Managers and
Teachers, and the General Public.
It has been specially prepared for the schools.
The formation contained in it has been
collated from every available source, and I thank
those persons who have assisted me.
InapecQrf Sch&ls.'




NOSituation.-British Honduras forms part of that
division of the American Continent known as
Central America, and is situated on the Atlantic
side of the continent.
Boundaries.-It is bounded on the north and
north-west by Mexico, on the west and south by
Guatemala, and on the east by the Caribbean Sea.
Extent.-The area of British Honduras, including
the Cays, is approximately *8,598 square miles
(statute). The area of the mainland alone is
estimated to be 8,407 square miles (statute).
The greatest length, from north to south (the
mouth of the Rio Hondo to the mouth of the
Sarstoon River), is 178 miles, and its greatest
breadth, from east to west (Town of Belize to the
Western Frontier Line), is 63 miles. Its coast line
measures about 240 miles.
Dista~it.-British Honduras is divided into six
districts-two northern, Corozal and Orange Walk;
thrao central, Belize, Stann Creek and Cayo; one
southern, Toledo.
Inlets.-Commencing from the north, the princi-
a bays and bights are:-New River Bight (or
Iy of Corozal), Lowry's or Rpley's Bight,
arreeight, Sibun Bight, Mul River Bight,
Bnerly stated at 7,562 gSoaiioal miles.

6 Geography of British Honduras.
Commerce Bight, False Bay Bight, Seine Bight and
Bay of Port Honduras.
Capes or Points.-Commencing from the north,
the principal capes or points are :-Consejo, Warree
Point, Rocky Point (Corozal District), Little
Rocky Point, Robinson Point, Colson Point,
Iguana Point, Jonathan Point, Rocky Point (Stann
Creek District), Point Placencia, Rocky Point (near
Monkey River), Punta Negra, Punta Ycacos, Pork-
and-Dough Boy Point, Punta Gorda and Mother
Islands or Cays.-A range of Islands or Cays
extends along the whole coast, from north to south.
The names of the following are recorded :-
Included in the Belize District:
Ambergris Cay, Blackadore Cay, Deer Cay, Swab
Cay, Guana Cay, Mosquito Cay, Savannah Cay,
Cangrejo Cay, Cay Corker, Cay Chapel, Hick's
Cays, North Long Cay, Hen and Chickens, Moho
Cay, Ryder's Cay, Peter's Bluff, Montego Cay,
Frenchman's Cay, St. George's Cay, North
Drowned Cays, Gallows Point Cay, Shag Bluff,
Paunch Gut Cay, Sergeant's Cay, Curlew Cay (Gar-
nett's), Water Cay, Goff's Cay, The Triangles,"
including Grennel's Cay; English Cay, Spanish
Cay, Crayfish Cay, Middle Long Cay, Turneffe,
Crawl Cay, Maugre Cay, Three Corner Cay,
Pelican Cays, Calabash Cay, Cay Bokel, Nrthern
Two Cays, Halfmoon Cay, Long Cay, Rendezvous
Cay, Glover's Reef and Cays.
Included in the Stann Creek District:
Bluefields Range, Alligator's Head, Colson Cays,
Glory or Dplores Cay, South Long Cay, Sand Fly
Cay, Mosqu. ,Cay, Columbus Cay, Cross Cay,
Garbutt's Ca.yIPbacco Cay and Tobacco Range,
OBlue Grand RlnL, Twin Cays, South Water, Cay,

Geography of British Honduras.

Stewart Cay, Wee-Wee Cay, Ellen Cay, Curlew
Cay, Spruce Cay, Norval Cay, Douglas Cay, Elbow
Cays, Pelican Cays, Quamina Cay, Crawl Cay,
False Cay, Baker's Rendezvous, Lagoon Cay,
Channel Cay, Bush Cay, Tarpum Cay, Long Cocoa
Cay, Gladden Cay, Jack's Cay, Funk Cay, Button
Wood Cay, Spider Cay, Wipperi Cay, Lark Cay,
Bugle Cay, Scipio Cay, Cary Cay, Rum Cay, Long
Cocoa Cays, South Moho Cay, Laughing Bird Cay,
Little Water Cay, Hatchet Cay, White Bank,
Ii'een Cays, Samphire Cay, Round Cay, Pompion
Included in the Toledo District:
Harvest Cay, Palmetto Cay, Great and Little
Monkey Cays, Wilson's Cay, Wild Cane Cay, The
Snake Cays (West, Middle, East and South), Mari-
grove Cays, Moho Cays, Sickle Cay, Stuart Cay,
Ranguana Cay, Tom Owen's Cay, Seal Cays, The
Sapodilla Cays including North East Cay, Hunt-
ing Cay, Low Cay, South Cay, Grass Cay, Nicholas
Cay, Sapodilla Cay.
Mountains.-The mountains occupy the central
and south-western portions of the Colony, the
highest point being the Cockscomb, rising to nearly
4,100 feet.
Rivers.-The principal rivers are-
In the Northern Districts:
RiqyHondo with its tributaries Blue Creek (Rio
Azul), Rio Bravo and Booth's River; New River
with its tributaries Ram Goat Creek and Irish
Creek; Freshwater Creek.
In the Central Districts:
Northern River.
Belize (or Old) River with its trUbutaries Gar-
butt's-Creek, Barton Creek, Roar/titCreek, Beaver

Geography of British Honduras.

Stewart Cay, Wee-Wee Cay, Ellen Cay, Curlew
Cay, Spruce Cay, Norval Cay, Douglas Cay, Elbow
Cays, Pelican Cays, Quamina Cay, Crawl Cay,
False Cay, Baker's Rendezvous, Lagoon Cay,
Channel Cay, Bush Cay, Tarpum Cay, Long Cocoa
Cay, Gladden Cay, Jack's Cay, Funk Cay, Button
Wood Cay, Spider Cay, Wipperi Cay, Lark Cay,
Bugle Cay, Scipio Cay, Cary Cay, Rum Cay, Long
Cocoa Cays, South Moho Cay, Laughing Bird Cay,
Little Water Cay, Hatchet Cay, White Bank,
Q-Aeen Cays, Samphire Cay, Round Cay, Pompion
Included in the Toledo District:
Harvest Cay, Palmetto Cay, Great and Little
Monkey Cays, Wilson's Cay, Wild Cane Cay, The
Snake Cays (West, Middle, East and South), Man-
grove Cays, Moho Cays, Sickle Cay, Stuart Cay,
Ranguana Cay, Tom Owen's Cay, Seal Cays, The
Sapodilla Cays including North East Cay, Hunt-
ing Cay, Low Cay, South Cay, Grass Cay, Nicholas
Cay, Sapodilla Cay.
JMountains.-The mountains occupy the central
and south-western portions of the Colony, the
highest point being the Cockscomb, rising to nearly
4,100 feet.
Rivers.-The principal rivers are-
In the Northern Districts:
RiqJ-Hondo with its tributaries Blue Creek (Rio
Azul), Rio Bravo and Booth's River; New River
with its tributaries Ram Goat Creek and Irish
Creek; Freshwater Creek.
In the Central Districts:
Northern River.
Belize (or Old) River with its tributaries Gar-

Geography of British Honduras.

In the Southern District:
Punta Yeacos Lagoon.
NOTE.-The term lagoon" is the Spanish
" laguna anglicised, which, in the Colony, has
been applied indiscriminately to all inland bodies
of water, whether connected with the sea or not.
Towns.-Along the coast:-
Corozal, Belize, Mullins River Town, Stann
Creek Town, Monkey River Town and Punta
Gorda Town.
Inland, situated on rivers:
Orange Walk, on the New River; Cayo and
Benque Viejo.
Villages.-The villages of any importance are-
On the coast:
Sarteneja, San Pedro (Ambergris Cay), All
Pines, Seine Bight Village and Barranco (Red Cliff).
Inland :
San Roman, San Antonio and Douglas on the
Rio Hondo;, Hill Bank, Guinea Grass, San
Estevan and Caledonia' on the New River t
Progreso on one of the Rowley's Bight Lagoons,
and Pachchakan; all in the north; San Jose,
Succotz, in the west; Boom, on Belize River;
Tilleton (Crooked Tree) on Northern Lagoon;
Gales Point, on the Manatee Lagoon; San
Antonio, Aguacate (on Moho River), San Pedro
(on Columbia Branch, Rio Grande) in the south.
Ports.-The seaport towns are Corozal, Belize,
Stann Creek and Punta Gorda.
The following are also shipping centres for
the export of bananas and coconuts:-
Mullins River, All Pines, Riversdale, Well's
Port (on the Sennis) and Monkey Jiver.
Can~qs.-The Sibun-Manatec canal.

Geography of British Hosduras.

Position.-British Honduras lies between 18.29
and 15.540 north latitude, and between 89.15*
and 87.50* west longitude.
It is separated from Guatemala and Yucatan
-a province of Mexico-by a straight line drawn
from the rapids of Gracias & Dios, on the River
Sarstoon, to Garbutt's Falls on the Belize River,
and thence due north to Blue Creek, a branch
of the Rio Hondo.
On the south, the Sarstoon River forms a
natural boundary between the Colony and Guate-
mala, and in the north it is separated from Mexico
by the Rio Hondo.
Coast.-With the exception of the Bay of
Corozal, on the north, the sea nowhere penetrates
any considerable distance into the land. The
coast is low, except at two points in the south-
Punta Gorda and Barranco-where it is from
twelve to fifteen feet above the sea level.
Cays and Reefs.-An interesting feature of the
coast is the long range of low green islands or
" cays," with which it is fringed. This range of
cays lies off the coast at distances varying from
five to twenty-five miles; and along its entire
length there are coral reefs.
There are also groups of cays lying on the
windward (eastern) and leeward (western) aide of
this range.
The total area of the cays is estimated at
112,527 acres, distributed as follows :-
District. Acres.
Belize .. 102,707
Stlin Creek 7,166
Toledo .. .. 2,654

Geography~ of British Honduras.

Several are inhabited, being either private
property or held on lease; but a great many are
uninhabitable, being partly or entirely sub-
merged and covered with dense mangrove bush
in which the mosquito and sand fly lurk. The
largest of the windward group is Turneffe (or
Tierra Nueva), with an area of 52,700 acres (82
square miles). It is low and very much inter-
sected by lagoons. It yields a large quantity of
Ambergris Cay is the largest and most
northerly of the main range, with an area of
38,000 acres (or about 60 square miles); on it
is the village of San Pedro with a population of
545. Spanish is the language of the inhabi-
tants, who are descendants from settlers from
the Mexican Province of Yucatan. The cay
yields large quantities of coconuts. Some fishing
is done, the catches being usually carried to
Corozal Town.
Cay Corker, about five miles south of Ambergris
Cay, and nineteen miles from the Town of Belize,
is next in size and population-stated to be 355
souls. Its area is 500 acres. Coconuts are largely
grown. It is a summer resort. Its inhabitai4ts
are chiefly engaged in fishing, their catches being
carried to Belize. They are of the same origin
as those of Ambergris Cay.
Cay Chapel, not far south of Cay Corker, yields
a large quantity of coconuts.
St. George's Cay is a popular health and summer
resort ; among other health resorts are Sergeant's
Cay, Tobacco Cay, Southern Water Cay, the
Sapodilla Cays; Moho Cay, northcbf Belize, is a
Quarantine Station.

Geography of British Honduras.

Lightwhouses have been established on Maugre
Cay, Northern Two Cays, Half Moon Cay and
Cay Bokel, in the Windward Group; on English
Cay, at the entrance to the Northern Channel;
on Bugle Cay, on the coast group near Placencia;
and on the East Snake Cay, opposite Punta
Harbours and Navigable Waters.-The waters
between the main coral reefs and cays and the
mainland form harbours and roadsteads in which
ships can ride safely at anchor. This statement,
however, is only generally applicable to the waters
south of Belize; the waters to the north of Belize
are very shallow, and are only navigable for boats
of not more than five feet draught.
These waters are scarcely affected by the tides,
the difference between high and low water being
about eighteen inches.
The approach to British Honduras by sea, for
large vessels, is either through a narrow channel
between the reefs, the entrance to which is about
fifteen miles south-east of the Town of Belize,
called the North Channel, or round the southern-
most point of the reefs, to the east of the Town of
Punta Gorda. There are other entrances for small
Physical Features.-A glance at the map of the
Colony shows that the highlands are in the central
and south-western parts. That part north of a
line drawn from the mouth of the Sibun to Cayo
is flat and low, relieved here and there by isolated
hills and Indian hillocks, of no great height.
The coast is low and swampy along its whole
extent except at certain sections in the south, such
as at Seven Hills, and the sites on which the Town

Geography of British Honduras.

of Ptuta Gorda and the village of Barranco are
built, where there are heights of twelve to fifteen
feet from the beach.
From the coastline, and north of the Sibun River,
is a gradual rise towards the western frontier, and
the height above the sea level at the frontier town
of Benque Viejo, 54 miles from the sea, is 200feet.
The mountainous district is very little known,
but several rapid surveys have been made across
the plateau from the Vaca to the coast. This
portion of the Colony is now receiving more atten-
tion. It consists of a dissected plateau, and ranges
about 2,500 feet altitude along the Guatemala
frontier, but is slightly higher on the coast side
where the Cockscomb rises to close on 4,100 feet
above sea level. It is here that the Belize River
(Macal) has its source, in the country between the
Bald Hills and Cockscomb where a succession of
steep valleys have been carved out of the schists.
The country to the west and south-west of the
Macal is all limestone, and in the dry season is
almost waterless as the drainage is mainly under-
Rivers.-The country is well watered. All the
rivers of the Colony flow into the Caribbean Sea.
They might be divided into a' Northern and a
Southern System.
The rivers of the Northern System flow north-
east during the greater part of their course, then
turn east or south-east as they approach the sea.
The exception to this is the New River which
continues north-east to the sea. Most of those of
the Southern System flow east and south-east.
The bars of these rivers, formed by the deposits of
mud and sand brought down by the stream and

Geography of Briliayh Hondura.

thrown back by the action of the waves of the sea,
are shallow, varying in depth from two to six feet,
so that they can only be crossed by vessels of light
Most of the rivers, too, abound in falls, runs
and shoals which render their navigation difficult,
particularly during the dry season, for even such
light craft as pitpans and doreys which draw only
a few inches of water.
The four Principal Rivers of the Northern System
are the Hondo, New River, Belize River, and the
Sibun River.
The Hondo, the most northerly river, has its
source in Mexico, and is the natural boundary
between British Honduras and Mexico. While the
country along the right bank (the British Honduras
side) of this river is low and, in several places,
swampy, that along the left bank (the Mexican
side) is high, and in some places hills of considerable
height are in close proximity to the water. There
are several thriving settlements on the Mexican
side. This river is deep and is navigable for about
75 miles, and there is a fair amount of traffic ; but
because of the shallow approaches to its mouth,
only sailing and motor boats of light draught can
be used. The water is not wholesome for drinking.
The New River rises within the -Colony. It is a
sluggish stream, flowing through the Orange Walk
and Corozal Districts along a course that abounds
in lagoons and swamps. Its estimated navigable
length is 90 miles. The Town of Orange Walk, the
capital of Orange Walk District, stands on its left
bank. This river is navigable for boats of fair
size (seventy-five tons) and six feet draught as far
up as Tower Hill, beyond Orange Walk Town, and

Geogmplhy of British Hwidurtw.

about forty miles from its mouth; it is navigable
for boats of lighter draught up to Hill Bank, at
the southern extremity of New River Lagoon,
about eighty miles from the mouth.
The Belize or Old River is formed by two streams,
the Macal (Eastern Branch) and the Mopan
(Western Branch); they meet near Cayo Town,
in the west. The Macal rises in the Colony, in the
mountains in the southern part of Cayo District;
The Mopan rises in Guatemala, not far from the
boundary line between the two countries. The
course of the Belize River is north-east till within
ten miles of the sea, when it runs south and finally
south-east. It flows through Cayo and Belize
Districts. The principal tributary, known as
Roaring Creek, also rises in the mountains in the
southern part of the Cayo District. It is the water-
way between Belize, the capital of the Colony and
chief port which is situated at its mouth, and the
frontier towns of Cayo and Benque Viejo, which
are of some importance on account of trade with
the Peten District of Guatemala and as centres of
the mahogany, rubber and chicle industries. But
the course of the river is impeded by numerous
shoals, runs and falls so that none but boats of
very shallow draught can be employed in its navi-
The traffic on the river is extensive, particularly
during the rainy seasons.
Tho distance by river from Belize to Cayo is
estimated to be 135 miles. The lands on the upper
portion of this river are most suitable for culti-
The Sibun River rises within the Colony, in the
neighbourhood of the Cockscomb Mountains. For

16 Geography of British Honduras.

a considerable distance its course is northwards
through hilly country, then north-east. The soil at
the foot of the hills is said to be very deep and
rich. It is subjected to frequent floods, which, on
occasions, reach a height of about thirty feet in
the upper reaches.
Near the sea, the Belize and Sibun Rivers are
scarcely ten miles apart and during the rainy
season their waters meet in the low stretch of
country between them, known as the Sibun
Swamp." The estimated length of this river is
90 miles.
North Stann Creek rises in and flows through
Stann Creek District. Its source is in the range
of mountains to the north of the Cockscomb.
The Stann Creek Valley contains extensive
banana plantations. The bar at its mouth is so
shallow that it can only be crossed by doreys.
Its estimated length is 40 miles.
Sittee River and South Stann Creek are rivers of
Stann Creek District. They rise in the Cockscomb
Monkey River drains the north-eastern portion
of Toledo District. At five miles north-west
from the mouth the river divides into the Swasey
Branch, which rises in the southern slope of the
Cockscomb, and Bladen Branch, rising on the
southern side of the mountains. It is navigable
for doreys for about 45 miles, though there are
several falls and rapids to negotiate after the
thirty-third mile.
The Swasey Branch has been surveyed for a
distance estimated at 55 miles, as far as the
western slope of the Cockscomb Mountains.

Geography of British Honduras.

Deep River is 200 yards wide at its mouth and
its length is estimated at 29 miles.
Rio Grande, as its name implies, is a river of
some magnitude, navigable for doreys for about
30 miles. The lands which form its basin are
reported to be excellent for agriculture.
The Moho, Temash, and Sarstoon have their
sources in Guatemala. The last-named forms the
southern boundary of the Colony.
Lakes or Lagoons.-In the low plain of the
north there are many extensive shallow lakes or
lagoons, situated in the Corozal and Orange
Walk Districts and in the northern portion of the
Belize District. The largest of these is the New
River or Indian Church Lagoon which measures
about sixteen miles long and two and a half
broad. There is also a succession of true lagoons
-in connection with the sea-along nearly the
whole length of the coast. The Lagoons of
Manatee are most picturesque.
A list of the lagoons is given in Part I of this
Climate.-Though situated within the tropics,
the climate is sub-tropical in character. This is
because of the fact that the Colony stretches
along the Caribbean Sea, with a maximum depth
inland, from east to west, of only sixty miles.
The maximum shade temperature is 92, the
minimum 54. The average annual temperature
is 81'. The dew point in Belize, a seaport, is
relatively high. Sea breezes and the North-east
Trade Winds prevail for the greater part of the
year. The average rainfall is about 90 inches
per annum, the greatest rainfall being in the
south. From the middle of February to the

Geography of British Honduras.

middle of May is the dry season. For the rest of
the year there is rain to some extent during
every month, the heaviest rainfall being in the
months of October and November; next to
these come June and September.
Soil.-There are to be found regularly distri-
buted over the Colony three types of country
which are known according to the forest clothing
them as Pine Ridge, Cohune Ridge and Broken
Ridge, while a fourth may be mentioned as
Savannah Country.
As regards the soils found over the Colony,
that on the pine ridges is sandy. The soil on
the Cohune Ridge may be classed as rich loam
containing a most complete admixture of the
elements contained in the igneous and sedimentary
rocks that by their disintegration at a higher
level have provided this rich covering on the
plains of the Colony, allowing them to support
perhaps the richest vegetation in the world.
The soil of the Broken Ridge is more argillaceous
clayeyy) and unproductive than that of the
Cohune Ridge; being often water-logged, due
to poor subsoil drainage. The distribution of
the chief known areas of these ridges may be
described as follows :-
Pine Ridge.-(1) South-east of the Cayo,
between the Macal and Sibun Rivers at an
altitude of over 2,000 feet;
(2) Between the New River and the Hondo,
and between the Belize and New River, north-
west of Big Falls;
(3) Along the left bank of the Sibun River;
(4) Along the coast from Mullins River to Deep
River with the exception of belts along the

Geography of British Honduras.

Cohune Ridge may be stated, generally, to
monopolise river banks and low level lands in
various parts of the country not far from running
streams. It is especially general on the Sibun
and Belize Rivers, along the last 60 miles of
track from Belize to Cayo, in the country along
the southern rivers, and along the Guatemala
Broken Ridge is usually to be found between
the Pine Ridge and Cohune Ridge.
Minerals.-A geological survey of the country
is in progress. The central area is where minerals
may be expected, but nothing of value has been
discovered to date (A.D. 1922). No indications of
payable coal or oil have been seen.
Plants.-Amongst the forest products are the
Timber Trees.-Axemaster, billy webb, cedar,
cabbage bark, dogwood, fiddlewood, iron wood,
lignum vita, mahogany, mangrove, nargusta, oak,
palms, palmalete (pale mulato), pine, rosewood,
santa maria, salm wood, sileon, sapodilla, tubroos,
wild tamarind, yemri, ziricote and others.
Balsa-wood, a collective name of several kinds
of cork woods, is also found.
Dye-woods.-Logwood and fustic (clerophora
The Mahogany is the most valuable of the
timber trees and the Cedar comes next in import-
The Economic and Food Plants include annato,
arrowroot, allspice, breadfruit, beans and cacao,
coffee, coconut and cohune palms, castor oil
plant, cassava (manioc), cashew, coco, chocho.
Indian corn (maize), ochra, plantain, pea-nut,
B 2

Geography of British Honduras.

rice, yam, sugar-cane, sarsaparilla, vanilla,
tobacco, downtree (bark-log or polak), kapok
(silk cotton), rubber (castilloa elastica).
The Fruits comprise the alligator pear (avocado),
akee, banana, custard-apple, coco-plum, craboo,
guava, genep, granadilla, seaside grape, jack-
fruit, lime, lemon, mango, mamey apple, orange,
grape fruit, shaddock, papaw (papaya), pine-
apple, sour-sop, sweet-sop, star-apple, sapote
sapodillaa), tamarind.
The Fodder Plants, for cattle and other stock,
include the bread-nut, bamboo, dumb cane, flat
grass, guinta grass, hay grass, para grass, ramon,
wild cane.
The timber trees are all indigenous.
Other indigenous plants are the cacao, which
grows wild in the forests, rubber (castilloa
elastica), sarsaparilla, vanilla, pimento, cohune-
palm, cassava, cashew, down tree, guava, genep,
sapodilla, mamey apple, seaside grape, coco-
plum, craboo and ferns.
Numerous varieties of Orchids are to be found.
Animals,-The following are included in the
list of wild animals of the Colony :-
The red deer and antelope; the warree and
peccary-both belong to the pig family; gibnut,
agouti or Indian rabbit, armadillo; these are
all good for food; the tapir or mountain cow-
belonging to the pachyderms; the carnivorous
animals are the puma or American lion, the
jaguar or spotted tiger-both allied to the leopard,
and the ocelot or forest cat; the coyote-a
small wolf-like fox of a silver grey colour ;
raccoon and opossum; other animals are the
quash-of which there are two kinds; bush-

Geography of British Honduras. 21

dog, water-dog-a species of otter; polecat,
night-walker, ant-eater, or ant-bear, squirrel and
porcupine; the manatee, an aquatic animal,
also called the sea-cow, is rare and is to be found
at the mouths of unfrequented rivers and in the
lagoons along the coast.
There are several species of bats. There are
very few species of monkey; the howl of the
baboon is to be heard nightly in the woods in
the neighbourhood of the rivers.
Birds.-There is a large variety of birds in the
woods and forests, noted rather for their beauty
of plumage than their song.
The Wild Turkey comes first in beauty and has
been declared to be one of the most handsome
birds in the world; it inhabits the western part
of the Colony, but is very rare and will not live
long in captivity.
The domesticated turkey is raised in large
The Curassow, nearly as large as a turkey, is
good for food and can be domesticated. The
male is black with yellow on the sides of the
head and throat; the female has a dull plumage,
mostly brown speckled with white; both sexes
have a crest on the head which they erect and
move at pleasure.
Parrots of the red mangrove species and the
more highly prized yellow-heads, because of their
capability to be taught to speak, and paroquets
parrakeetss) fly in flocks, quams, quails, toucan
(or bill-birds), wild pigeons, partridges, king-
fishers, banana birds (oriole), rice-birds, yellow-
tails (hang-nest or troupial), cardinals and
humming birds are numerous.

Geography of British& Honduras.

Herons (including the white egret and the
carpenter or boat-billed heron), the little bittern
(poor Joe), gauldings, cranes, clucking-hens,
curlew, snipe and ducks haunt the swamps,
ponds and lagoons.
The sea-birds are pelicans, the frigate bird,
booby, and gulls. Birds of prey are represented
by hawks, ospreys, vultures (john-crow) and
Reptiles.-Alligators of great size infest the
rivers and lagoons. There are many species of
lizards, the iguana being largest. Snakes are
common. Those that are known to be venomous
are the rattlesnake, tommy-goff (the jumping and
the yellow jaw), barber's pole and the coral
Fish.-The sea and rivers abound in fish of all
descriptions. Baracouta, king and jew fish, bass,
mullet, snapper, catfish (a most useful scavenger),
tarpon, mackerel, callipever and the voracious
Turtle.-There are three kinds of sea turtle;
the green, used for food, the hawksbill, caught
for its shell-the turtle shell of commerce-and
the loggerhead. The flesh of the two latter is
also ejiten. The hiccatee, or terrapin, a fresh
water tortoise, is caught in the rivers and lagoons
and its flesh is considered a great delicacy. Other
tortoises are those known locally as the bocatora,
swanker (hinged tortoise), snapping turtle and
fresh-water loggerhead. The king, queen and
common conch are found along the reefs and on
the shores of the outer cays, and the flesh of
some is eaten; pearls of some value are occa-
sionally found in them.

Geography of British Honduras.

The Shell-fish include the stone crab, cray-fish,
lobster, shrimp and whelk; and the hermit crab
is found on the cays.
The Land-crab swarms along the entire coast.
A tiny crab, known locally as the Johnnie
Fiddler is abundant in the mangrove swamps
and low-lying lands, and is destructive to vege-
tation. A small species of oyster is found on
the hanging roots and the branches of the man-
There has been, so far, no scientific investiga-
tion of the nature and habits of fish found in the
rivers of the Colony, but the following notes
supplied to the author are of interest:-
The following are the fish principally met
with in the rivers:-
Bass Snook-a silvery fish with enormous
mouth ;
Tubah-of the Perch family;
Craner-this, and the two preceding, provide
excellent sport with rod and line and are good
The last is very like a catfish; curiously,
this fish seems only to appear in the rivers when
they are in flood, and only in those which have
a rapid flow (such as the Old River). I have
ever seen these fish in the sluggish rivers of the
north. As soon as the river rises in flood and
comes swirling down with thick muddy water, the
Barker appears and is very much in evidence.

Geography of British Honduras.

Many of them are caught by floating down pieces
of wood, to which hooks are attached by a short
length of line, and baited. These float down with
the current, while the fisherman follows in his
dorey. These fish grow to an enormous size; I
once saw one which was nearly five feet in length.
They are good eating.
In the rivers of the south of the Colony are
met fish that do not seem to occur further to the
north; for instance, in the Sarstoon River a
common fish is a large thick-skinned, brightly-
coloured and coarse creature which is called a
machaka. But I have never met with this fish,
and I do not believe it occurs, in the rivers north
of Belize."
Scorpions and the Tarantula Spider are common,
especially along the river banks.
Like all tropical countries, British Honduras
teems with insect life. Butterflies, moths, beetles,
bugs, bees, wasps, the locust, grasshoppers,
crickets, roaches, flies, ticks and ants are to be
found in great variety.
Among the insects which are destructive to
vegetation are the palm weevil (rhyncophorous
palmarum), wee-wee ant (oecodoma), mole-
cricket and locust; white ants (termites) attack
and destroy the timbers of houses and also build
their nests in trees. The fish moth is destructive
to books and clothing ; ticks attach themselves
to cattle and dogs, and even to man when an
opportunity offers; the beef-worm and screw-
worm, larva of flies, enter the bodies of mtn
and beast.
The mosquito is well known as a fever-trans-
mitting agent, and the bite of the tiny sandfly is
most irritating.

Geography of British Honduras.

Doctor-flies, the deer fly, short-jackets, the bott-
lass (or bottle fly) are pests to both man and
beast, and are blood-suckers.
But the majority of the noxious insects are only
met with in the woods, forests and savannahs,
and on the river banks.
Industries.-The principal industries of the
Colony are wood-cutting-mahogany, cedar and
rosewood being the timber trees, and logwood and
fustic the dye-woods that are felled; bleeding of
rubber and of sapodilla gum, or chicle; growing
of bananas, plaintains and coconuts; the manu-
facture of sugar and distilling of rum. Cacao is
cultivated on a small scale on the banks of the
Sittee and Sarstoon Rivers; maize, rice and beans
are grown for home consumption, but not in
sufficient quantities. The Caribs grow cassava
(from which they make their native bread, and
starch), yams and cocos. The Indians in the
North and in Toledo District cultivate tobacco,
but it is not of excellent quality. Turtle-fishing is
engaged in for the sake of tortoise shell; sponges
are gathered.
Imports.-The principal imports into the Colony
are wearing apparel, boots and shoes, clothes
(cotton, silk and woollen), cotton and silk piece
goods, haberdashery, cutlery, machinery, paints,
mineral oils, galvanized iron roofing, flour, rice,
bacons, beans, salted and preserved meats, butter,
lard, preserved or condensed milks, sugar, coffee,
spirits (chiefly whisky, gin and brandy), wines and
A large quantity of mahogany, cedar and chicle
are imported from the neighboring republics for
the purpose of export. Most of the imports are

Geography of British Honduras.

obtained from the United States, which stands
first in the quantity and value of the goods
imported, and the United Kingdom; the latter
supplies a large share of the wearing apparel,
boots and shoes, cotton and silk piece goods, hard-
ware and cutlery, and food and drink supplies;
and most of the woollen goods, haberdashery and
millinery, soap, paints, milk and rice.
We get cigars from Mexico and Guatemala,
cattle from Honduras, coffee and sugar from
Spirits are obtained principally from the United
Kingdom and France; wines from the United
Kingdom, Germany and France.
The total average value of the imports during
the period 1915-1921 was $3,567,342 (734,021).
Exports.-The articles of export are bananas,
plantains, cacao, coconuts, sugar, cedar, fustic,
logwood, mahogany, rosewood, rubber, sapodilla
gum (chicle), sponges, tortoise shell. The most
important are bananas, cedar, mahogany and
sapodilla gum (chicle).
The United States, the Colony's largest customer,
takes all the bananas, plantains and coconuts, and
the greater part of its cedar, mahogany, sapodilla
gum (chicle), rubber and sponges.
The exports to other countries are:-
The United Kingdom Cedar, logwood, maho-
gany, rubber and
tortoise shell.
Mexico .. Sugar.
The total average value of the exports during
the period 1915-1921 was $3,398,687 (699,318).
Means of Communication.-The easiest means of
communication is by water-along the coast and
on the rivers.

Geography of British Honduras.

A short Railroad, twenty-five miles in length,
commencing from the sea-coast, three miles south
of Stann Creek Town, extends into the North
Stanm Creek Valley, where bananas are cultivated.
The roads through the country are in most cases
mere tracks winding over the pine ridges and
savannahs and cut through the cohune and broken
ridges ; they are unsuitable for heavy traffic, and
in the wet weather large sections of them present
great difficulty to travellers, on horse or on foot.
The rivers abound in shoals, runs and low falls,
and are navigated by shallow draught motor boats
of small tonnage, and by the native dug-outs-
pitpans and doreys (canoes)-propelled by men
with paddles.
Roads.-The following are the chief public
roads :-
Commencing from the north. A road commenc-
ing at Consejo Point and passing through Corozal,
Caledonia, Orange Walk, Guinea Grass and Yalbac
to El Cayo, thence to Benque Viejo and across the
western frontier into Peten, a district of Guate-
mala; a road from Orange Walk vid Corosalite
and Achiote (on the bank of the Hondo River),
Quam Hill, San Jos6 to Yalbac; a road (known
as the Western Trunk Road) from Belize to El
Cayo vid the Boom, Butcher Burn (on the Sibun
River), John Young's Pine Ridge, Roaring Creek,
and Mount Hope; a newer road from Belize to
El Cayo vid Jones' Lagoon, meeting the old road
in the neighbourhood of Butcher Burn; a road
from Belize to Bakers on the Belize River, to
Northern River, to Orange Walk; a road from
Stann Creek vid Melinda.Estate to Hill Bank on
North Stann Creek, thence to Mullins River;

geography of British Honduras.

a road from Hill Bank to Macaroni Hill; a road
from Middle Bank on North Stann Creek, three
miles west of Melinda Estate, to Serpon on the
Sittee River; a road from All Pines (on the sea-
coast) to Kendal on the Sittee River; a road from
Punta Gorda to San Antonio Indian Village,
passing by Cattle Landing and through Toledo
The Sibun-Manatee Canal is navigable to doreys
and small boats. It commences at a point on the
sea-coast about seven miles south-west of Belize,
and passes into Jones' Lagoon; thence its course
is continued into the Sibun River by means of
Boom Creek; the canal is again entered into about
two miles from the mouth of the Sibun and,
crossing a low savannah, passes into Northern
Lagoon; thence the route is continued into
Southern Lagoon in the Manatee District, by means
of a creek which connects the two lagoons.
Postal Service.-There is a fortnightly service
between Belize and New Orleans, and Belize and
Mobile, thus giving an alternate weekly service
between Belize and the United States through its
southern ports. There is a fortnightly service
between New York and Belize, and a three-weekly
service between Canada and Belize, vid Bermuda,
The Bahamas and Jamaica. There is a direct
monthly parcel post service with the United
Kingdom, and a weekly service vid the United
States. There is also regular weekly communica-
tion between Belize and the southern Republics
of Guatemala and Honduras.
There is a regular weekly service bteween Belize
and the towns and large villages on the coast, and
on the Belize and New Rivers:-

Geography of British Honduras.

(a) The northern mail and passenger service,
to Corozal and the towns and villages on the New
River (Caledonia, San Estevan and Orange Walk),
is carried on by means of steam or motor boats of
small draught-not more than five feet, and of not
more than 100 tons.
(b) The Belize-Cayo, or western mail service, on
the Belize River, is carried on by motor boats of
not more than two feet draught, and of ten to
twelve tons.
(c) The southern mail service is carried on by
motor and sailing boats, calling at Stann Creek
Town, Riversdale, Monkey River and Punta
There is Telephonic and Telegraphic communi-
cation between Belize and the other towns of the
Colony, and with many villages of importance-
either from size or location-and between the
Colony and the outside world, vid Mexico.
A Wireless Station also places the Colony in
communication with the outside world.
Inhabitants. The aboriginal inhabitants of
British Honduras are the Maya Indians, who are
found in the Northern and Western Districts and
in the Southern District of Toledo. They inhabit
their own villages, from which people of other
races are usually excluded. Besides the Indians,
the bulk of the inhabitants of the Northern
Districts are descendants from colonists of
Yucatan who fled from the province of Mexico
during the Indian rebellion of 1848-9; these
people are mostly of mixed Spanish and Maya
Indian blood. There has also been a large
immigration into the Western District of natives
of the Peten Province of Guatemala, who are

Geography of British Honduras.

most of them of mixed Spanish-Indian blood.
Along the coast, to the south of Belize, are the
settlements of the Caribs-the descendants of
the warlike Black Caribs of St. Vincent in the
West Indies who, history relates, were deported
thence in the year 1796 to the Island of Ruatan
off (Spanish) Honduras whence they crossed to
the mainland.
These Caribs are not a pure blooded race, but
are descendants of the Yellow Carib of the West
Indies and the Negro. In the south, too, there
is a fair proportion of alien population from
Guatemala and Honduras.
The white population, consisting chiefly of
persons from the United Kingdom and from
North America, is small, numbering between
500 and 600.
The bulk of the population consists of persons
of the Negro and coloured races, most of them
originating from the ancient baymen-the white
settlers who first came to these regions for the
purpose of cutting logwood and mahogany--
and their slaves; there are some hundreds of
natives of the West Indian Islands. The total
population is 45,000 (Census of 1921).
Education.-Education, both elementary and
secondary, has been associated with the Churches
from the date of the establishment of the first
school, the British Honduras Free School, in the
year 1816. The primary schools are established
by the several religious denominations which
exist in the Colony, and are assisted by grants
from the Government. The money voted annually
from Government Funds for the purpose of grants
in aid of schools is administered by a Board of
Education. The cost to the Government is

Geography of British Houiluras.

about $10 a head per annum on the average
school attendance. It was $52,202 in the year
There is a Compulsory Education Law which
empowers the Governor to declare any area to
be a Compulsory Attendance Area.
Secondary Education is a private undertaking,
usually in connection with some religious body,
and is not subsidized by Government. There are
several schools in Belize with secondary depart-
ments. Belize is a centre for the Cambridge
Local Examinations.
Religion.-There is complete liberty for all
religious denominations or sects.
The Roman Catholic Church has the largest
following, including within its fold practically all
the Indian and Carib population. The Church
of England comes next and the Wesleyan third
in the number of members.
The Baptist Church has a fair following. The
Presbyterians count a few hundreds. The Sal-
vation Army made their entry into the Colony
in the year 1915.
Government.--\ritish Honduras is one of those
colonies which do not possess responsible Govern-
ment. It was formerly classed as a Crown
Colony; but, correctly speaking, it is notJ
although the final control of all legislative and
financial measures is in the hands of the Sovereign
through the Secretary of State for the Colonies.
The unofficial nominated members of the Legis-
lative Council, being in a majority over the
official members, control all financial and other
measures which come before the Council. /The
administration of public affairs is arrfed on
under the direction of the Governor b3 officers

Geography of British Hlonduras.

appointed by him or by the Secretary of State
for the Colonies./
The Governor, the representative of the
Sovereign, is assisted in the performance of his
duties by:-
(a) An Executive Council, an advisory body
composed of the Colonial Secretary,
Treasurer, Attorney-General, and such
number of unofficial members as the Crown
may appoint on the recommendation of
the Governor.
(b) A Legislative Council, consisting of the
Colonial Secretary, Treasurer, Attorney-
General, Principal Medical Officer, Director
of Public Works and seven unofficial mem-
The Governor is President of both Councils.
The members of both Councils, official and
unofficial, are nominated by the Governor and
appointed by the Crown. Until the year 1913,
the unofficial members were appointed for life.
They are now appointed for a term of five years,
but are eligible for re-appointment. In municipal
affairs, there is the Belize Town Board, which
is a partly elected body.
There is a District Board in each of the six
districts. The District Board of Belize is pre-
sided over by the Colonial Secretary as Chairman.
In other cases, the District Commissioner is
Chairman of the Board in his district.
Alcaldes are annually elected in most of the
Indian and Carib villages, and their appointment
is confirmed by the Governor. Their term of
office is one year, and their jurisdictioA is limited

Geograhy of Er~itie Hondurw..

to that town or village for which they are elected.
The Alcalde is empowered to hold court:-
(a) For the purpose of hearing and deciding
all disputes where the debt or damage
claimed is not more than fifteen dollars;
(b) To enquire into and summarily determine
all oases of riot and disorderly conduct.
He can imprison for a term of not more than
ten days and impose fines not exceeding twenty-
five dollars.
Police and Defence.-There is a well-equipped
Police Force of 146 officersand men, trained to
Revenue and Expenditure. The average
Revenue for the years 1916 to 1921 amounted
to $846,695 (174,217), and the average Expen-
diture for the same period to $774,078 (159,275).
The chief sources of revenue are customs import
duties, excise duty on spirits, export duty on
wood, coconuts and chicle, land tax, licences to
cut timber, and the income tax. The Public
Debt is $665,334 (136,900).


Districts.-The Colony is divided into six dis-
tricts for the purposes of Administration, and a
District Commissioner has been appointed for each.
These districts are named in page 5. The duties
of the District Commissioner of the Belize District
are chiefly magisterial; he is also Official Adminis-
trator for the purpose of administering the personal
estate and effects of persons dying intestate and
without next of kin, Official Receiver in Bank-
ruptcy, and Coroner.
The duties of a District Commisdioner in the
other districts are more varied ; besides performing
duties such as those named above, he is also the
Sub-Treasurer and principal officer of Customs of
his district, and in the absence of the Superin-
tendent or Assistant Superintendent of Police, the
constables in his district are under his control;
he is also the chairman of the local Board of
Education or, if no Board exists, as is at present
the case, performs the duties of that body.
The boundaries of the districts are not perma-
nent; they "shall from time to time be defined
by order of the Governor in Council," etc.; their
present estimated areas are shown below:-
District. Square
Belize .. 1,623
Corozal.. 718
Orange Walk 1,462
Cayo .. 1,830
Stann Creek 840
Toledo .. .. .. .. 2,125-

Geography of British Honduras.

The figures (areas) are taken from the Census
Report for 1921, with alteration made in the areas
of the Cayo and Stann Creek Districts owing to
the alteration in their boundaries made in the year
1914, when a large portion of about 595 square
miles was cut off from Stann Creek and added
to Cayo.
Belize District is the most largely populated,
with ten persons to the square mile; Toledo
District is the least populated, with two persons
to the square mile.
Corozal District comes next to Belize in popula-
tion, having about nine persons to the square mile.
The City qf Belize, in the District of Belize and
situated on the southern mouth of the Belize
River, is the capital of the Colony. Its population
is 12,661 (Census of 1921). It is the principal
commercial town and chief port of the Colony.
The name of Belize is alleged to be a corruption
of the name of the Buccaneer Wallis who was
driven from Hispaniola (Hayti) in 1638, and who
is said to have been the leader of the first settlers.
The first settlement is supposed to have been
effected from Jamaica about the year 1638, by
adventurers who were attracted by the logwood
and mahogany which grew on the banks of the
Hondo and other rivers.
Corozal, the chief town of the Corozal District
and the third in population (2,079), is situated on
the New River Bight, about two miles from the
mouth of the New River. It is a port, but is of
little value as such owing to the fact that it cannot
be reached by vessels of deep draught because of
the very shallow waters between the main coral
reefs and the mainland, as described on page 12.

Geography of British Honduras.

The figures (areas) are taken from the Cen
Report for 1921, with alteration made in the ar
of the Cayo and Stann Creek Districts owing
the alteration in their boundaries made in the y
1914, when a large portion of about 595 squ
miles was cut off from Stann Creek and ad(
to Cayo.
Belize District is the most largely popular
with ten persons to the square mile; Tol
District is the least populated, with two persi
to the square mile.
Corozal District comes next to Belize in popL
tion, having about nine persons to the square m
The City (f Belize, in the District of Belize s
situated on the southern mouth of the Be]
River, is the capital of the Colony. Its popular:
is 12,661 (Census of 1921). It is the princi
commercial town and chief port of the Colo]
The name of Belize is alleged to be a corrupt
of the name of the Buccaneer Wallis who v
driven from Hispaniola (Hayti) in 1638, and w
is said to have been the leader of the first settle
rhe first settlement is supposed to have b(
Affected from Jamaica about the year 1638,
adventurers who were attracted by the logwc
mnd mahogany which grew on the banks of 1
Hondo and other rivers.
Corozal, the chief town of the Corozal Distr
md the third in population (2,079), is situated
she New River Bight, about two miles from I
nouth of the New River. It is a port, but is
little value as such owing to the fact that it canr
)e reached by vessels of deep draught because
'he very shallow waters between the main co:
'eefs and the mainland, as described on atre

Geography of British Honduras.

Stann Creek District. It is situated at the mouth
of the river known as North Stann Creek. It was
originally a Carib Settlement, and even now the
majority of the inhabitants are Caribs. The town
has risen to some importance on account of the
railway which taps the valley of North Stann
Creek. It was formerly one of the principal
shipping ports for bananas, but the shipping is
now done at the railroad pier, which is three miles
to the south.
The waters in front of the town do not form an
ideal harbour, being very shallow for a considerable
distance out and very much troubled by a heavy
surf when the winds blow from the sea; this part
of the coast is scarcely protected by the fringe of
cays mentioned at the beginning of this book, as
they lie quite ten miles away. The town is
practically on a level with the sea.
Banana cultivation is the chief occupation of
the people, but the Caribs are interested in the
growing of other produce, such as cassava, yams
and cocos.
Punta Gorda (population 926), the capital of
Toledo District, is another Carib Settlement. It is
the only sea-coast town that stands at some height
from the level of the water-twelve to fifteen feet.
About three miles inland from Punta Gorda is
the Toledo Settlement, inhabited by Americans, and
their descendants, who emigrated from the
Southern States of North America about the year
1868, at the end of the Civil War. The settlers
turned their attention to sugar growing, and this
industry throve for many years. In recent times,
however, sugar growing is not so extensively carried

Geogmphy of British Ho~nduraa.

on, and other industries, such as cattle raising,
have been introduced into the Settlement.
Barranco (also Red Cliff), a Carib village on the
coast ten miles south of Punta Gorda, has a
population of 279. It stands at a height of about
fifteen feet above sea level. This place has a
reputation for pineapples of excellent quality.
The inhabitants grow a large quantity of cassava,
from which is prepared their native bread and
Among the Indian villages and settlements in
Toledo, San Antonio stands first in size and popula-
tion (600). The village is twenty miles inland, and
lies west of Punta Gorda, at an elevation of 390 feet
above sea level. It is prettily situated on three
hills which enclose a space nearly circular in shape.
The Indians grow maize (corn) and beans and rear
pigs. They also cultivate tobacco.
In the Western District of Cayo are the towns
of El Cayo and Benque Viejo, with a population
of 1,237 for the former and 1,097 for the latter.
They are centres for the chicle-bleeding and
mahogany-cutting industries, and all traffic with
the Peten District of Guatemala passes through
them. El Cayo is situated on the Macal, or
Eastern Branch of the Belize River. The majority
of the inhabitants are of Maya Indian descent;
there are also Syrians-who are the merchants
and shop-keepers-and immigrants from Mexico
and the Peten District of Guatemala-who are
the chicle bleeders-and a small number of native
black and coloured Creoles. Benque Viejo is
situated on the Mopan; it lies to the south-west
of El Cayo, being distant nine and a half miles,
by road, from this town. Like El Cayo, the

Guography of BriAtish Hondurae. s0

jority of tbheinhabitants are of Maya Indian
kiboent; there are some Syrians and a number of
grantss from Mexico and Peten.
'On ibe road from El Cayo to Benque Viejo, and
W b s mile and a quarter of the latter place,
othe anall village of Succotz, of 342 inhabitants,
Ns, at_ Maya Indians. They are agriculturists.

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