Belize - A Home for Spanish immigrants

A current study states that Belize is transforming into a home for foreigners. Foreign-born make up about 15% of the population according to the Population and Housing Census of Belize
The latest migration is from elsewhere in Central America. Thousands of Salvadoran refugees arrived in the 1980s. More recently, Guatemalans have come seeking land. Of Belize’s 300,000 people, 15% are foreign-born. Thanks to higher birth rates, mestizos have overtaken creoles (of mixed African ancestry) to become the biggest group, making up half the population.

Belize now has more native speakers of Spanish than of English or its lilting cousin, Belizean Creole. English remains the lingua franca and the only official tongue. But Spanish is gaining ground: many posters for an election on March 7th are in Spanish and Dean Barrow, the (creole) prime minister, reads translations of some speeches. Naturalization ceremonies are bilingual, and speaking English is not required for citizenship. Schools teach in English, but Spanish lessons are mandatory.

Migrants are also redrawing the map of the country. While in the rest of Central America people are moving from the countryside to cities, since 2000 the urban share of Belize’s population has fallen from 47% to 44%, as immigrants have set up border towns. In Cayo 7,000 new households have sprung up. Many are in Salvapan, a Salvadorean district complete with tortilla shops on the edge of the capital. It is likely to grow further: land stretching miles into the jungle has already been divided into lots.
Immigrants in Belize



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