Belize Independence Day is observed on 21 September every year.
This year marks the country’s 41st anniversary of independence from the United Kingdom.
Belize is a Caribbean country on the North Eastern coast of Central America. It is the least populated and least densely populated country in Central America, with a population growth rate of 1.87 per cent – the second-highest in the region and one of the highest in the Western Hemisphere.
Belize is the only country in Central America where English is the official language and with a monarch as its Head of State.
The Maya civilization spread into the area of Belize between 1500 BCE and 300 CE and flourished until about 1200. European contact began in 1492 when Christopher Columbus sailed along the Gulf of Honduras.
The first Europeans to put down roots were British sailors around 1683.
The British presence sparked interest from Spain, who at the time had control of most of the surrounding regions. The Spanish gave up territorial intentions in 1798, after the Battle of St. George’s Caye.
Belize became a British colony in 1840, known as British Honduras, and Britain formally declared the settlement a British Crown Colony subordinate to Jamaica in 1862.
Under a new constitution, Britain granted British Honduras self-government in 1964. On 1 June 1973, British Honduras was officially renamed Belize.
Belize gained independence from the United Kingdom on 21 September 1981. The country became an independent member of the Commonwealth on the same year, before joining the Organization of American States (OAS) in 1990 and the United Nations (UN) in 1993.
British troops remained even after Belize’s independence as Guatemala was claiming sovereignty over the southern part of the country. The last British forces left in 2011.