Toledo District

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Toledo District
Punta Gorda Belize road-gm.jpg
Punta Gorda is the main town in the Toledo District.
Toledo in Belize.svg
Location of the district in Belize
Country Flag of Belize.svg  Belize
Capital Punta Gorda
  Total4,649 km2 (1,795 sq mi)
 (2016 Estimate) [1] [2]
  Density7.7/km2 (20/sq mi)
ISO 3166 code BZ-TOL

Toledo District is the southernmost and least populated district in Belize. Punta Gorda is the District capital. According to the Human Development Index (HDI), [3] it is the second most developed region in the country. The district has a diverse topography which features rainforests, extensive cave networks, coastal lowland plains, and offshore cays. Toledo is home to a wide range of cultures such as Mopan, Kekchi Maya, Creole, Garifuna, East Indians, Mennonites, Mestizos, and descendants of US Confederate settlers.



The District has many villages, including Monkey River Town and the Toledo Settlement; the Maya villages of San Pedro Columbia, Blue Creek, Indian Creek, Santa Cruz, San Antonio, San Jose, San Felipe; and the Garifuna village of Barranco. It also has a number of Maya ruins, including Lubaantun, Nim Li Punit, Uxbenka, and Pusilha. According to a 2022 mid-year census estimate, Toledo District had a population of 41,537 people, 6,801 of whom lived in Punta Gorda.


The economy of Toledo relies heavily upon agriculture. Crops grown include beans and corn, as well as rice, which is sold to the Big Falls Rice Mill. Cacao is grown organically and sold via the Toledo Cacao Growers Association to Green & Black's for their renowned Maya Gold chocolate, as well as to chocolatiers within Belize. The District's ancient and modern-day links with chocolate are celebrated annually in May (Commonwealth Day Holiday weekend) at the Toledo Cacao Festival. Farmers grow additional crops such as coffee, yams, sweet potato, hot chilli peppers, avocado, oranges and plantain for sale at the market in Punta Gorda, held each Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.

Fishermen in Toledo engage in small-scale fishing using dug-out canoes, and they also partake in lobster and conch diving during the open season. The Port Honduras Marine Reserve, situated just north of Punta Gorda Town, is a designated protected area. Toledo's waters are renowned for being a prime location for catching permit fish. Many traditional fishermen have transitioned to becoming fly-fishing guides, thanks to alternative livelihood initiatives offered by local conservation groups.

Tourism has emerged as a significant industry in Toledo. While it was once considered a destination mainly for the intrepid, the establishment of new tourist accommodations and the development of guided tours, coupled with the district's abundance of protected areas, diverse wildlife, exceptional bird-watching opportunities, and appealing offshore cays, have collectively contributed to Toledo's recognition as a burgeoning and valuable travel destination.


According to the 2010 census, Mayan languages are spoken by 68.4% of the population. This makes Toledo the only district in Belize where native languages are spoken by a majority. [4]


The Toledo District is served by the paved Thomas Vincent Ramos Highway, as well as several bush roads to the many rural villages in the District. Regular bus service is provided by Punta Gorda-based James Bus Line, shuttling passengers between the other districts, and Punta Gorda is served by several daily commuter flights on Tropic Air, Maya Island Air and several small, family-run bus services that transport passengers to and from the rural villages.

Dump-Jalacte Road looking East just East of Santa Cruz Village Jroad.JPG
Dump-Jalacte Road looking East just East of Santa Cruz Village


Each year, during the Commonwealth Day weekend, Toledo hosts the Chocolate Festival of Belize. The festival features chocolatiers from across the country as well as chocolate-related arts and crafts. [5] According to the project coordinator for the Toledo Cacao Growers Association Thomas Tillett, the Association currently has a membership of about 1,100 cacao farmers. [6]

Indian Reservations

Notable architecture

Several significant ancient Mayan sites are extant in ruined form in the Toledo District. Nim Li Punit is a Classic Period Mayan site [7] with ballcourts and carved stelae. Lubaantun is a drystone constructed site with ruined pyramids and stone tombs. [8]

Notable people

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Punta Gorda, Belize</span> Town in Toledo, Belize

Punta Gorda, known locally as P.G., is the capital and largest town of Toledo District in southern Belize. Punta Gorda is the southernmost sizable town in the nation, with a population of about 5,000 people. Although the town bears a Spanish name, its inhabitants are mostly Kriol/English-speaking and are primarily of Garifuna, East Indian, Kriol, and Maya descent.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Nim Li Punit</span>

Nim Li Punit is a Maya Classic Period site in the Toledo District of the nation of Belize, located 50 kilometres north of the town of Punta Gorda, and directly adjacent to the village of Indian Creek. Nim Li Punit is sometimes known as Big Hat or Top Hat; the name is Kekchi Maya for "Big Hat", referring to the large elaborate head-dress on a stela sculpture found on site depicting one of the site's ancient kings. It is bordered by the Maya Mountains to the west and lowland swamps and the Caribbean Sea to the east.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lubaantun</span>

Lubaantun is a pre-Columbian ruined city of the Maya civilization in southern Belize, Central America. Lubaantun is in Belize's Toledo District, about 42 kilometres (26 mi) northwest of Punta Gorda, and approximately 3.2 kilometres (2 mi) from the village of San Pedro Columbia, at an elevation of 61 metres (200 ft) feet above mean sea level. One of the most distinguishing features of Lubaantun is the large collection of miniature ceramic objects found on site; these detailed constructs are thought to have been charmstones or ritual-accompanying accoutrements.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">San Pedro Columbia</span> Place in Toledo District, Belize

San Pedro Columbia is a village in Toledo District, Belize, located about two miles from the ancient Maya ruins of Lubaantun. In 2000 San Pedro Columbia had a population of about 700 people. The population is mostly Q'eqchi Maya with some Mopan Maya. San Pedro Columbia has Belize's largest settlement of Kekchi. Most of the population came to Belize from the Petén region of Guatemala in the late 19th century. The village is known for the hand woven embroidery produced there.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Placencia</span> Village in Stann Creek, Belize

Placencia is a small village located in the Stann Creek District of Belize.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Music of Belize</span> Belizean musical traditions

The music of Belize has a mix of Creole, Mestizo, Garìfuna, Mayan and European influences.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Maya ruins of Belize</span> Historically important pre-Columbian Maya archaeological sites

The Maya ruins of Belize include a number of well-known and historically important pre-Columbian Maya archaeological sites. Belize is considered part of the southern Maya lowlands of the Mesoamerican culture area, and the sites found there were occupied from the Preclassic until and after the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Thomas Vincent Ramos Highway</span>

In Belize, the Thomas Vincent Ramos Highway takes up where the Hummingbird Highway ends and runs from Dangriga to Punta Gorda. It is entirely paved, with the completion of a 10-mile segment between Golden Stream and Big Falls circa 2008–09. The TV Ramos Highway provides important access to a number of Mayan ruins and natural areas. The ancient Mayan sites of Nim Li Punit and Lubaantun are each situated a few miles west of the highway in southern Belize. The Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary is several miles west of the highway in south-central Belize.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Languages of Belize</span>

The major languages spoken in Belize include English, Spanish and Kriol, all three spoken by more than 40% of the population. Mayan languages are also spoken in certain areas, as well as German.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Monkey River</span> River in Belize

Monkey River is a coastal watercourse in southern Belize that rises in the Maya Mountains and discharges to the Caribbean Sea near Monkey River Town. One of Belize's major rivers, Monkey River has northern headwaters which originate in the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, where the Swasey Branch drains the East Basin of that wildlife sanctuary. Further south, the Bladen Branch watercourse drains the eastern slopes of the Maya Mountains including the ancient Mayan settlement areas of Lubaantun and Nim Li Punit. These two watercourses join to form the Monkey River approximately 16 kilometres upstream from the mouth of the Monkey River. The Monkey River is readily navigated throughout the year using small boats, but navigation above the major confluence becomes more difficult due to lack of depth when the dry season starts about February. Habitats in this watershed provide cover for such diverse species as the ocelot, jaguar, Guatemalan black howler, bare-throated tiger heron, Morelet's crocodile, fer-de-lance and manatee.

Sarteneja is the largest fishing community and the second largest village in Belize. It recorded a population of 3,500 according to a 2016 estimate. The name Sarteneja is a Castilian distortion of its original Mayan name Tza-ten-a-ha, which means 'give me water'.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Xnaheb</span> Archaeological site in Belize

Xnaheb is an archaeological site of the pre-Columbian Maya civilization, one of five primary sites identified in the southern Belize region. The center is built on a ridge of foothills that extends from the Maya Mountains, in what is now the Toledo District of Belize. Based on certain architectural similarities between the two sites, it is possible that Xnaheb was founded as an offshoot of Nim Li Punit.

Cotton Tree Lodge is a jungle lodge in the Toledo District of Belize. The lodge was built in 2006 and opened January 2007. The property is situated 12 miles (19 km) west of the nearest major town, Punta Gorda, between the two Maya villages of Santa Ana and San Felipe, and on the banks of the Moho River.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Belizeans</span> People associated with the country of Belize through citizenship or descent

Belizeans are people associated with the country of Belize through citizenship or descent. Belize is a multiethnic country with residents of Ethnic groups of Amerindian, African, European, Asian and Middle-eastern descent or mixed race with any combination of those groups.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">San Antonio, Toledo</span> Place in Toledo, Belize

San Antonio is a village in the Toledo District of Belize. It is the largest Maya settlement in Belize, with a population of approximately 1,000 people, predominantly Mopan Maya. About 88% of the inhabitants are Catholic, with 8% belonging to other Christian denominations, and 4% being non-denominational. Along with 29 other mission parishes in the Toledo District, it is pastored by Jesuits from St. Peter Claver church in Punta Gorda.

St. Peter Claver Catholic parish is located in Punta Gorda, Toledo District, Belize.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rosita Baltazar</span>

Rosita Baltazar was a Belizean choreographer, dancer, dance instructor and founding assistant director of the Belize National Dance Company. In 2004, she was awarded the Lord Rhaburn Music Award as a dance ambassador and in 2009 she received the Chatoyer Recognition Award from the National Garifuna Council of Belize for her efforts at preserving Garifuna culture.

Cristina Coc is a leader of the Maya community in southern Belize. She has served as co-spokesperson for the Maya Leadership Alliance and is the founder and executive director of the advocacy organization, the Julian Cho Society. In 2015, she and the MLA were awarded the Equator Prize for their efforts in protecting indigenous rights.

Bella Vista is the largest village in the Toledo District of Belize. According to the 2010 census, Bella Vista had a population of 3,508 people. It is located ten miles south-west of Independence and Mango Creek and fifty miles north of Punta Gorda the district's capital. Its neighbouring village is San Isidro which is considerably smaller.


  1. "Preliminary Findings of 2010 Census" (PDF). Statistical Institute of Belize.[ permanent dead link ]
  2. "Belize: Districts, Towns & Villages - Population Statistics, Maps, Charts, Weather and Web Information".
  3. "Sub-national HDI - Area Database - Global Data Lab".
  4. "Languages spoken in Belize" (JPG). May 2017. Archived from the original on 2018-02-18. Retrieved 2023-05-21.
  5. "Chocolate Festival of Belize". The Toledo Howler. 6 (2): 1. 2013.
  6. Jones, Patrick.Toledo Celebrates Cacoa Festival. "Breaking Belize News (Belize Media Group News)." 25 May 2014 (retrieved 25 May 2014)
  7. Nim Li Punit, published by the Department of Archaeology, Belmopan, Belize, Project ACP-RPR 544, Cubola Productions, March, 1999
  8. C.Michael Hogan, Lubaantun, 2007, The Megalithic Portal, editor: A. Burnham
  9. "Our Belize Community—Cristina Coc". The San Pedro Sun . San Pedro Town, Belize. 10 January 2008. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 6 December 2016.

16°20′N88°45′W / 16.333°N 88.750°W / 16.333; -88.750