Thirty-two years ago this month, Belize became an independent nation.Â Celebrations to mark the occasion began in St. GeorgeÂs Caye Village yesterday and will continue at locations across the country throughout September.
Becoming an Independent Nation
Having been run as a British colony for 119 years, and changing its name from British Honduras in 1973, Belize made its first steps to becoming an independent nation slowly and cautiously but with no shortage of excitement, as many who live there today can testify.
Belize had to not only persuade the British that it could go it alone but also persuade Guatemala to respect its territorial borders.Â Although the latter nation has never fully renounced its claim, Belize has enjoyed the support of other nearby countries and Belizeans have been able to live in peace since the main body of British troops withdrew.
St George's Caye Village
The St. GeorgeÂs Caye Village event was attended by Governor General Sir Colville Young and the Tourism Minister, Manuel Heredia.Â It also marked the 215th anniversary of the Battle of St GeorgeÂs Caye, at which the British drove off Spaniards attempting to lay claim to the area.Â The battle marked the end of a series of skirmishes in which local people were killed, so it is generally regarded as a victory for the countryÂs inhabitants regardless of their origins.
Centering on the message ÂBelize in you, Belize in me, Land of the Free,Â the celebrations will welcome everyone living in Belize and include parades and firework displays.Â Events in San Pedro are set to include a St. GeorgeÂs Caye celebration Â taking place on September 10th, National Service Day activities on the 19th, and special ceremonies on September 20th and 21st Â accompanied by parties, of course.
Belize maintains an amicable relationship with Britain, which retains a garrison there to help ensure respect from other countries in the area.Â Many British-born people continue living in Belize to this day and games such as soccer and cricket make the cultural legacy of colonization clear.
Despite this, Belizeans take great pride in their independence.Â As any regular visitor will know, they also know how to throw a party, and September is a month of constant festivity.Â Local residents will never be short of exciting things to do.