Demographics of Belize

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This article is about the demographic features of the population of Belize, including population density, ethnicity, education level, health of the populace, economic status, religious affiliations and other aspects of the population.

Contents

Belize's population, 1961-2003. Belize-demography.png
Belize's population, 1961-2003.

Belize is the most sparsely populated nation in Central America. It is larger than El Salvador. Slightly more than half of the people live in rural areas. About one-fourth live in Belize City, the principal port, commercial centre, and former capital. About 80% of the population are Christian.

Most Belizeans are of multiracial descent. About 34% of the population is of mixed Maya and European descent (Mestizo), 35% are Kriols, about 10.6% are Maya, and about 6.1% are Afro-Amerindian (Garifuna). [1] The remaining population includes European, East Indian, Chinese, Middle Eastern, and North American groups. In the case of Europeans, most are descendants of Spanish and British colonial settlers, whether pure-blooded or mixed with each other. Most Spanish left the nation just after it was taken by the British colonists who, in the same way, left after independence. Dutch and German Mennonites settled in Belize, mostly in isolated areas.

Belize's largest cities and towns by population

  1. Belize City, BZ - 67,169
  2. San Ignacio, CY - 27,878
  3. Belmopan, CY - 19,931
  4. Orange Walk Town, OW - 13,709
  5. San Pedro, BZ - 11,765
  6. Corozal Town, CZ - 10,287
  7. Dangriga, SC - 9,591
  8. Benque Viejo del Carmen, CY - 6,148
  9. Ladyville, BZ - 5,458
  10. Punta Gorda, TO - 6,351

- Based on 2010 census.

Population

According to the Statistical Institute of Belize, the current population stands at 408,487. [2]

In conjunction with a census of the British Empire, census data was compiled for Belize in 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901, 1911, 1921, 1931 and 1946. Belize conducted its own censuses in 1960, 1970, 1980, 1991 and in 2000. None has been held since then.

Ethnic groups

Most Belizeans are of multiracial descent. About 52.9% are Mestizo, 25.9% Creole, 11.3% Maya, 6.1.% Garifuna, 3.9% East Indian, 3.6% Mennonites, 1.2% White, 1% Asian, 1.2% Other and 0.3% Unknown. [3]

In the case of Europeans, most are descendants of Spanish and British colonial settlers, whether pure-blooded or mixed with each other. Most Spanish left the nation just after it was taken by the British colonists who, in the same way, left after independence. Beginning in 1958, German Mennonites of "Russian" Mennonite and Pennsylvania Dutch heritage settled in Belize, mostly in isolated areas.

Maya

Because Belize's original Maya peoples were decimated by disease and wars, or fled to Mexico and Guatemala, most of the country's Maya today are descended from other groups. The current Maya population consists mainly of three language groups. The Yucatec fled to Belize in the late 1840s to escape the Caste War in Yucatán, Mexico. Their descendants live in the Orange Walk and Corozal districts, which border on Mexico. Before the massive migration of Yucatec Maya from Mexico to Belize, a local Yucatec Maya group named the Iciache Maya already inhabited the land. Today most Yucatec Maya work in the sugar cane. In the 1870s-1880s, many Q'eqchi' fled from Alta Verapaz, Guatemala, where their lands were being stolen for coffee plantations, which then enslaved them. They settled villages in the Toledo district.

Living near rivers and streams, they are primarily farmers, though many younger people now work in tourism, and on shrimp, banana and citrus plantations. The Mopans originated in Belize, but most were driven out to Guatemala after the British displaced Spanish in a struggle that took most of the 18th century. They returned to Belize in 1886, running from enslavement and taxation in Petén. The Cayo district and San Antonio in the Toledo district are their homes now. Q'eqchi' and Mopan have intermarried, though the two languages remain distinct and mutually unintelligible.

Population of Belize according to ethnic group [4] [5]
Ethnic
group
Census 1946Census 1991Census 2000 [1] Census 2010
Number%Number%Number%Number%
Q'eqchi' Maya 10,03016.97,9544.312,3665.317,4095.7
Mopan Maya 6,7703.78,9803.910,5573.5
Yucatec/other Maya 5,6863.13,1551.42,1410.7
Mestizo/Spanish/Latino18,36031.080,47743.6113,04548.7150,92149.7
Creole 22,69338.355,05129.857,85924.963,05721.8
Black African5820.31,1510.4
Garifuna 4,1126.912,2746.614,0616.113,9854.6
White
* German Mennonite
* Other white
2,329
0
2,329
3.9
0
3.9
7,257
5,763
1,494
3.9
3.1
0.8
10,034
8,276
1,758
4.3
3.6
0.8
13,964
10,865
3,099
4.6
3.6
1.0
East Indian 1,3662.36,4553.56,8683.07,0732.3
Chinese/Asians 500.17470.41,7160.72,8230.9
Mixed18,9476.2
Syrian/Lebanese 1280.21670.12400.1
Other1,8671.02,6101.17620.3
Unknown1520.3170.08350.43920.1
Total59,220184,722232,111324,528

Birth Rate by Ethnic Groups (2000 Census) [6]

Ethnic GroupPopulation (2000)Birth Rate (1999)Births
African58217.1810
British1,7589.1016
Chinese1,71619.2333
Creole57,85928.881,671
East Indian6,86827.66190
Garifuna14,06127.17382
Q'eqchi'12,36644.88555
Mopan8,98035.30317
Yucatec3,15519.3361
Mennonite8,27642.53352
Mestizo78,53729.732,335
Spanish34,50832.221,112
Other2,61021.8457
Not Available83545.5138
Total232,11130.717,128

Vital statistics [7] [8] [9]

Average populationLive birthsDeathsNatural changeCrude birth rate (per 1000)Crude death rate (per 1000)Natural change (per 1000)Total fertility rate [10] Infant mortality rate [10]
193452,0001,94597197437.418.718.7
193553,0002,0811,37770439.326.013.3
193653,0001,8791,25662335.523.711.8
193754,0001,8761,05482234.719.515.2
193854,0002,0521,17887438.021.816.2
193955,0002,0841,09299237.919.918.0
194056,0002,1929861,20639.117.621.5
194157,0002,1331,0301,10337.418.119.4
194257,0001,9051,25065533.421.911.5
194358,0001,9251,13678933.219.613.6
194458,0002,0311,15387835.019.915.1
194559,0002,1411,20493736.320.415.9
194659,0002,0651,0191,04635.017.317.7
194761,0002,4731,0491,42440.517.223.3
194863,0002,5068611,64539.813.726.1
194965,0002,5488771,67139.213.525.7
195069,0002,6578451,81239.712.627.0
195171,0002,9058012,10442.111.630.5
195273,0003,0287942,23442.111.031.0
195376,0002,9868202,16640.411.129.3
195478,0003,2318762,35542.511.531.0
195580,0003,4638582,60544.411.033.4
195682,0003,7258212,90446.010.135.9
195785,0003,6159322,68343.611.232.3
195887,0003,9887953,19346.49.237.1
195989,0004,0167303,28645.68.337.3
196092,0004,0917173,37445.07.937.1
196195,0004,2447083,53645.67.638.0
196297,0004,4618533,60847.09.038.0
1963100,0004,7837124,07148.87.341.5
1964103,0004,5687293,83945.27.238.0
1965106,0004,6377103,92744.66.837.8
1966109,0004,8987764,12245.87.338.5
1967113,0004,8518114,04043.77.336.4
1968116,0004,6717143,95741.06.334.7
1969119,0004,6607833,87739.86.733.1
1970122,0004,4558133,64237.16.830.4
1971125,0005,0526254,42741.45.136.3
1972127,0004,9546694,28540.05.434.6
1973129,0005,0108014,30339.86.434.2
1974131,0005,0397214,37939.45.634.2
1975133,0005,2018004,40140.06.233.9
1976135,0005,3408814,45940.26.633.5
1977137,0005,5707674,80341.05.635.3
1978139,0005,3848854,49938.76.432.4
1979141,0005,5237104,81338.95.033.9
1980144,0006,2647175,54743.24.938.3
1981148,0005,8217095,11239.14.834.3
1982151,0005,8996635,23638.64.334.3
1983156,0006,0447245,32038.24.633.6
1984160,0005,7567505,00638.04.933.0
1985165,0005,9166935,22335.64.231.5
1986170,0006,1366885,44836.24.132.1
1987174,0006,1216755,44635.13.931.3
1988179,0006,3257085,61735.44.031.4
1989183,0006,6867625,92436.54.232.3
1990188,0007,2008196,38138.44.434.0
1991191,0006,5558425,71334.34.429.9
1992195,0007,5978466,75139.04.334.6
1993198,0006,4629355,52732.64.727.9
1994202,0005,8879444,94329.14.724.4
1995207,0006,6239315,69232.04.527.5
1996212,0006,6789645,71431.44.526.9
1997218,0007,3481,1736,17533.65.428.3
1998225,0006,8441,3505,49430.46.024.4
1999232,0007,1131,1905,92330.75.125.5
2000239,0007,3131,5345,77930.76.424.2
2001245,0007,2151,2615,95429.45.124.3
2002252,0007,5531,2846,26930.05.124.9
2003258,0007,4401,2776,16328.84.923.9
2004265,0008,0831,2986,78530.54.925.6
2005283,0008,3961,3697,02729.64.824.83.618.4
2006291,0007,1711,3965,77524.64.819.83.019.6
2007298,0007,0361,3895,64723.54.618.92.917.2
2008306,0007,1261,3025,82423.24.219.02.812.0
2009315,0007,4171,4535,96423.54.618.818.9
2010323,0007,2281,5545,67422.34.817.513.6
2011332,0007,2171,5545,66321.74.717.116.5
2012340,0007,1251,6505,47520.94.516.42.40
2013349,0007,2641,6375,62720.84.716.12.39
2014358,0007,3181,6205,69820.44.515.92.35
2015370,0007,4561,7725,68420.14.815.32.34
2016387,0007,2001,7965,40418.64.614.02.20
2017
2018398,0507,7751,8865,88919.54.714.8

Languages

English is the only official language of Belize, a relic of past British colonization. It is the main language used in government and education. [11] Although only 5.6% of the population speaks it as the main language at home, 54% can speak it very well, and another 26% can speak some English. 37% of Belizeans consider their primary language to be Kriol, an English-based creole of words and syntax from various African languages (namely Akan, Igbo, and Twi), [12] and other languages (Miskito, Caliche). It is also a second or third language for another 40% of the multilingual country.

Kriol shares similarities with many Caribbean English Creoles as far as phonology and pronunciations are concerned. Also, many of its words and structures are both lexically and phonologically similar to English, its superstrate language. Because it is English-based, all Kriol speakers can understand English. A number of linguists classify Belizean Kriol as a separate language, while others consider it to be a dialect of English.

Spanish is the mother tongue of Mestizo and Central American refugees and is commonly spoken at home by 43% of the population. Maya dialects such as Q'eqchi', Mopan and Yucatec are spoken. Garifuna (which is Arawakan/Maipurean based, with elements of the Carib language, French, and Spanish) and the Plautdietsch and Pennsylvania German dialects of the Mennonites are spoken as well. Literacy currently stands at nearly 80%. In 2001, UNESCO declared the Garifuna language, dance, and music a "Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity". English is the primary language of public education, with Spanish taught in primary and secondary school as well. Bilingualism is highly encouraged, and therefore, very common.

English & Spanish Language Proficiency [1]
LanguageSpeaks Very WellSpeaks SomeTotal
English 54%26%80%
Spanish 52%11%63%
Languages in Belize [3]
LanguagePercentage
English 62.9%
Spanish 56.6%
Creole 44.6%
Maya 10.5%
German 3.2%
Garifuna 2.9%
Other1.8%
unknown0.3%
none (cannot speak)0.2%

Religion

According to the 2010 census [13] [14] Catholics constitute 40.0% of the population of Belize, down from 49.6% in 2000 and 57.7% in 1991; [15] Protestants constitute 31.7% of the population, with a slight growth in percentage for some groups since 2000 (8.5% Pentecostal; 5.5% Adventist; 4.6% Anglican; 3.8% Mennonite; 3.6% Baptist; 2.9% Methodist; 2.8% Nazarene); Jehova's Witnesses are 1.7% of the population. 10.2% of Belizeans follow other religions (with a growth in percentage since 2000); amongst these there are followers of the indigenous Maya religion, Garifuna religion, Obeah and Myalism, and minorities of Mormons, Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Baha'is, Rastafarians and other. [16] The Mennonites, of German descent, live mostly in the rural districts of Cayo and Orange Walk. 15.6% of the Belizean population do not adhere to any religion, up from 9.4% in 2000.

Belizean Roman Catholic churches belong to the Diocese of Belize City-Belmopan; Anglican churches belong to the Diocese of Belize, part of the Church in the Province of the West Indies. Hinduism is followed by most Indian immigrants, while Islam is common among Middle Eastern immigrants and has gained a following among some Kriols. Catholics frequently visit the country for special gospel revivals. The Greek Orthodox Church has a presence in Santa Elena. [17]

The Constitution of Belize provides for freedom of religion, and other laws and policies contribute to the generally free practice of religion. The Government at all levels protects this right in full against abuse, either by governmental or private actors. The Government generally respects religious freedom in practice. In 2008, the U.S. government received no reports of societal abuses or discrimination based on religious affiliation, belief, or practice.

Religions in Belize [3]
ReligionPercentage
Catholic 40.1%
Protestant 31.5%
Pentecostal 8.4%
Seventh-day Adventist 5.4%
Anglican 4.7%,
Mennonite 3.7%
Baptist 3.6%
Methodist 2.9%
Nazarene 2.8%
Jehovah's Witness 1.7%
Other (includes Baha'i, Buddhist, Hindu, Mormon, Islam, Rastafarian)10.5%
Unknown0.6%
None15.5%

Structure of the population

Structure of the population (01.07.2017) (Estimates) [18]
Age GroupMaleFemaleTotal%
Total193 942193 937387 879100
0-423 16322 11645 33011,68
5-923 77123 42447 19512,17
10-1422 69322 65945 35211,69
15-1920 85020 83141 68110,75
20-2418 04618 69536 7419,47
25-2915 42716 45831 8858,22
30-3413 33514 13727 4727,08
35-3912 14412 73224 8766,41
40-4410 36710 49520 8625,38
45-499 1878 80217 9894,64
50-547 1526 94914 1013,64
55-595 4164 97610 3922,68
60-643 9573 5277 4841,93
65-692 8142 4745 2881,36
70-742 2301 9754 2051,08
75-791 5641 5183 0820,79
80+1 7761 9943 7700,97
Age groupMaleFemaleTotalPercent
0-1462 82461 649124 47335,59
15-64104 484106 035210 51960,20
65+7 5577 17914 7364,21

Life expectancy at birth

PeriodLife expectancy in

Years

PeriodLife expectancy in

Years

1950–195555.91985–199071.5
1955–196058.61990–199570.6
1960–196561.31995–200068.6
1965–197064.32000–200568.5
1970–197566.72005–201069.5
1975–198068.62010–201569.8
1980–198570.4

Source: UN World Population Prospects [19]

Other demographics statistics

Demographic statistics according to the World Population Review in 2019. [20]

Demographic statistics according to the CIA World Factbook, unless otherwise indicated. [3]

Population
385,854 (July 2018 est.)
Ethnic groups
This entry provides an ordered listing of ethnic groups starting with the largest and normally includes the percent of total population. Ethnic groups field listing
mestizo 52.9%, Creole 25.9%, Maya 11.3%, Garifuna 6.1%, East Indian 3.9%, Mennonite 3.6%, white 1.2%, Asian 1%, other 1.2%, unknown 0.3% (2010 est.)
note: percentages add up to more than 100% because respondents were able to identify more than one ethnic origin
Languages
English 62.9% (official), Spanish 56.6%, Creole 44.6%, Maya 10.5%, German 3.2%, Garifuna 2.9%, other 1.8%, unknown 0.3%, none 0.2% (cannot speak) (2010 est.)
note: shares sum to more than 100% because some respondents gave more than one answer on the census
Age structure
Population pyramid of Belize in 2017 Belizepop.svg
Population pyramid of Belize in 2017
0-14 years: 33.61% (male 66,207 /female 63,466)
15-24 years: 18.74% (male 37,184 /female 35,127)
25-54 years: 37.43% (male 70,222 /female 74,187)
55-64 years: 5.88% (male 11,397 /female 11,284)
65 years and over: 4.35% (male 8,293 /female 8,487) (2018 est.)
Median age
total: 23.7 years. Country comparison to the world: 168th
male: 23.2 years
female: 24.4 years (2018 est.)
Birth rate
22.9 births/1,000 population (2018 est.) Country comparison to the world: 63rd
Death rate
4.2 deaths/1,000 population (2018 est.) Country comparison to the world: 206th
Total fertility rate
2.8 children born/woman (2018 est.) Country comparison to the world: 60th
Net migration rate
-0.6 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2018 est.) Country comparison to the world: 129th
Population growth rate
1.8% (2018 est.) Country comparison to the world: 57th
Contraceptive prevalence rate
51.4% (2015/16)
Dependency ratios
total dependency ratio: 56.8 (2015 est.)
youth dependency ratio: 50.9 (2015 est.)
elderly dependency ratio: 5.9 (2015 est.)
potential support ratio: 17 (2015 est.)
Religions

Roman Catholic 40.1%, Protestant 31.5% (includes Pentecostal 8.4%, Seventh Day Adventist 5.4%, Anglican 4.7%, Mennonite 3.7%, Baptist 3.6%, Methodist 2.9%, Nazarene 2.8%), Jehovah's Witness 1.7%, other 10.5% (includes Baha'i, Buddhist, Hindu, Mormon, Muslim, Rastafarian, Salvation Army), unspecified 0.6%, none 15.5% (2010 est.)

Life expectancy at birth
total population: 74.7 years
male: 73.1 years
female: 76.3 years (2018 est.)
Urbanization
urban population: 45.7% of total population (2018)
rate of urbanization: 2.32% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)
total: 13 years
male: 13 years
female: 13 years (2017)
Unemployment, youth ages 15–24
total: 17.7%. Country comparison to the world: 73rd
male: 11%
female: 28.4% (2016 est.)

See also

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