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Is Belize a Spanish Speaking country?
If you are traveling to Belize, you are probably wondering what language is spoken in the country. While Belize is surrounded by Spanish-speaking countries, its official language is English. Several other languages and dialects are spoken in the country.
Belize is the only country in Central America where English is the official language.
In this article, we will look at the main languages of Belize and other dialects spoken throughout the country, so that when you travel to Belize, you know what to expect in different parts of the country.
A brief history of Belize
Belize is a melting pot of cultures, and the reason for that is its history. While Belize was originally populated by the Mayans, it was colonized by the British in the 1600s after the British pirates in the Caribbean started using it as a hiding place.
In 1962, Belize was officially named British Honduras. It became fully independent from Britain in September 1981, but English remained its official language.
So, what is the official language in Belize?
The official language of Belize is Spanish, but a few other languages are spoken in different parts of the country like Spanish, Creole, and various dialects of the Mayan language. Many Belizeans are multilingual, and you can often hear several languages in one household.
What languages do they speak in Belize: overview
English is the official language in Belize that’s spoken all over the country. This might come as a relief if you don’t speak Spanish, and have been traveling throughout Mexico and Central America, where little to no English is spoken at times.
Whether you are visiting Ambergris Caye, Placencia, or even San Ignacio, where you will hear a lot of Spanish, however, the majority in Belize speak and understand English, so you will have no problem!
Many stores in Belize also accept U.S. dollars as well as Belize dollars, which is the local currency. The U.S. dollar and the Belize dollar have a fixed exchange rate which is super convenient.
Spanish is one of the most predominant languages in Belize because of its ties with Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Over 60 percent of the Belize population speaks Spanish, and you will often hear Spanish in places like Ambergris Caye or northern Belize near Mexico.
The first Spanish-speaking settlers in Ambergris Caye migrated from the Yucatan as they were looking for refuge from the Caste Wars in 1847. Spanish is one of the predominant languages in San Pedro, the capital of Ambergris Caye.
The Mayan Kingdom was one of the most powerful pre-Hispanic civilizations that stretched from Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula to parts of Central America, including Belize. The kingdom included cities like Tikal, Chichen Itza, Palenque, and Caracol near the border of Guatemala and Belize.
Most Mayan communities in Belize are around rural areas, particularly near the Guatemala and Mexico border. You can hear several Mayan dialects around Belize, predominantly Mopan, and Ketchi.
The people from the Mopán and Kekchí Maya communities in Guatemala migrated to Belize in the 19th century as they were fleeing oppression. Most Ketch and Mayan communities in Belize are in Western and Southern Belize.
✅ Check how you can get from Belize City to San Ignacio, the largest city in Western Belize
Creole (also known as Kriol) dialect is one of the most interesting languages in Belize. To someone who has never heard the Kriol dialect before, it might sound like a mix of the Caribbean languages and English, and it’s no surprise. The Creole dialect originated back in the days when the slaves brought by the British colonists were working in mahogany cutting and started mixing English with many African dialects.
Although the Garifuna people make up about 4 percent of the Belize population, they are one of the most interesting ethnic groups in the country. Garifuna is an Afro-Caribbean language that is a mix of indigenous Caribbean languages and African languages.
In the 19th century, Garifuna, exiled from British colonies in St. Vincent in the Eastern Caribbean, came to the southern coast of Belize, forming the first Garifuna community in the country.
Where is Garifuna spoken in Belize?
You can hear Garifuna in many parts of Belize, but most Garifuna speakers live in Dangriga, Placencia, Hopkins, and Punta Gorda.
If visiting Placencia, you should also tour one of the local communities to learn about the Garifuna culture.
✅ Book a stay in one of the best Placencia hotels or resorts
Garifuna language also exists in Honduras, another Central American country along the Caribbean Coast, where Garifuna speakers total about over 133,000. Guatemala also has a small Garifuna population along the Caribbean Coast. It’s one of the most unique languages in the Caribbean also recognized by UNESCO.
The German in Belize is an old German dialect that’s spoken by the Mennonite community. The Mennonites in Belize are descendants of the Mennonites who migrated from Germany to Belize in the 1950’s so they could practice their religion without any fear.
The Cayo District which is home to San Pedro has a high population of Mennonites. Their community lives around many villages in Belize and primarily lives off agriculture. You can often recognize them by their dress as many men wear overalls and women wear old-school long dresses.
Only about 2 percent of the population in Belize is of the Chinese descent. What’s interesting is that the Chinese community in Belize are the descendants of the Chinese people who were brought to Belize in 1800s to do wood logging.
If you travel to Belize, you will notice that many stores around the country are run by the descendants of the Chinese people.
What other languages are spoken in Belize?
Other languages spoken by people in Belize include Arabic, and if you are on Ambergris Caye, you will see many local stores run by the Lebanese people. East Indian languages Urdu, Bengali, and Hindi are also spoken in Belize.
Do they speak English in Belize?
Yes, English is the official language of Belize that’s spoken by the major of the population.
What are the three languages in Belize?
Nearly half of the population of Belize is fluent in one of the three languages: English, Spanish, and Creole.
Where to stay in Belize
The country has several popular areas to spend your vacation if you travel to Belize. From the sun-drenched beaches of San Pedro to the lush jungles of San Ignacio, here are some of the best places to stay in Belize:
Read my guide to where to stay in Belize
Home to San Pedro, the second largest city in Belize, Ambergris Caye is one of the most popular places to visit in Belize.
A gateway to the Great Blue Hole in Belize, Ambergris Caye is a popular spot for diving, snorkeling, and other water sports. Many people start their Belize itinerary in Ambergris Caye because the island has a well-established tourism industry with many stores and restaurants catering to visitors.
✅ Read about the most beautiful resorts in San Pedro for your getaway
Where to stay on Ambergris Caye
- The Palapa House – This beachfront hotel offers gorgeous views of the Caribbean, private parking, and a terrace.
- PUR Boutique Cabanas – one of the most beautiful hotels on Ambergris Caye that boasts gorgeous rustic cabins. It has a build-your-own taco bar and a big pool. You can reach PUR by a quick golf cart ride from downtown San Pedro.
Caye Caulker is a small cousin of Ambergris Caye that offers a perfect alternative if you are looking for a more budget-friendly destination. It’s a small island where you can enjoy the slow pace of life, and mingle with locals in beachfront palapa bars.
- Sea Dreams Hotel – Sea Dreams Hotel offers free bikes, free Wi-Fi, and a bar. This property also has a terrace and guest rooms. Staff on site can arrange airport transportation and tours.
- Caye Reef Condos – One of the best hotels on Caye Caulker that has a big swimming pool, parking, and panoramic views of the Caribbean
Placencia is a small town in the southern part of the country known for some of the best beaches in Belize. Placencia is popular with ex-pats, digital nomads, and adventure travelers thanks to its proximity to some of the best islands in Belize and the Great Meso-American Barrier Reef.
✅ Check my complete guide on how to get from Belize City to Placencia
- Naïa Resort and Spa – One of the most beautiful hotels in Placencia, Naia features beachfront cabins, hammocks, and use of bicycles, paddle boards, and kayaks.
- Miramar Suites – this apartment-style accommodation in the heart of Placencia is a perfect mid-budget stay near the beach and some of the best Placencia restaurants.
San Ignacio is a gateway to adventure in Belize from where you can access some of the best Mayan ruins, and go zip-lining, cave-tubing, or snorkeling. If you are looking for more authentic Belize and want to learn the culture of this country, including San Ignacio on your Belize itinerary.
✅ Check my complete guide on how to get from Belize City to San Ignacio
- Falling Leaves Lodge is located right near Cahal Pech Mayan Ruins and offers cozy accommodations, a restaurant, free private parking, a bar, and a shared lounge. It’s one of the most beautiful hotels in San Ignacio with rooms and a jungle setting.
- San Ignacio Resort Hotel is one of the best places to stay in San Ignacio if you want a luxury stay and a central location. Nestled on 7 hectares of the jungle next to the Macal River, this hotel is 7 minutes walking from Cahal Pech Mayan Ruin and within walking distance from downtown San Ignacio.
Best things to do in Belize
Belize travel is a wonderful adventure as you can enjoy a wide array of activities and learn the country’s culture and many languages. To help you narrow down your list, I put together some of the best things to do in Belize.
✅ Click here to plan your Belize itinerary
Diving is one of the most popular activities in Belize, thanks to its proximity to the Great Meso-American Barrier Reef, the second-largest barrier reef in the world. Popular diving tours in Belize depart from Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker, and Placencia.
If you are not a certified diver yet, you can do a discovery dive with one of the local companies or go on a fun adventure in Hot Chan Marine Reserve, where you can snorkel with the colorful fish and swim with the friendly sharks.
Visit ATM Caves
Visiting Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM caves) is one of the best things to do in Belize. Profiled by National Geographic, these caves were used by the ancient Mayans to conduct rituals and ceremonies. It’s a fun trip where you will swim in the cool water and walk through the caves to get a glimpse into the history of Belize.
Visit Mayan ruins
Before Belize became the country that we all know today, it was part of the Mayan Kingdom, which was one of the most advanced civilizations of its time. You can find many Mayan ruins in Belize in places like San Ignacio, Corozal, and Orange Walk Town.
Some of the best Mayan ruins in Belize are Xunantunich, Caracol, and Lamanai.
Tours of the best Mayan ruins in Belize
Go cave tubing
Belize is home to many cool caves, and some of them can be visited with a guided tour. Barton Creek Cave is one of the most easily accessible caves in Belize. Here you can tube or canoe inside the cool cave used for rituals and ceremonies by Mayans.
Laughing Bird Caye National Park
The Laughing Bird Caye Park is a paradisiacal island in the middle of the Caribbean that’s a must if you travel to Belize. A tour takes most of the day, and you can book your adventure online for a hassle-free experience.
How to get around Belize?
The best way to get around Belize is by renting a car, hiring private transportation, or taking a taxi. Depending on your budget and travel needs, you can choose from many types of transport, available in Belize.
Renting a car in Belize
Renting a car in Belize is a great idea if you want to see more of the country and have the freedom to enjoy some of the best things to do in Belize without tours or public transportation.
Renting a car in Belize City
The best place to rent a car in Belize is Philip Goldson International Airport in Belize City. They have several car rental companies, and you also don’t have to get outside the airport to look for car rentals. Another option is to rent a car in Belize City, however, you will need to catch a taxi from Belize City Airport, which will add more expenses to your trip.
Where to rent a car in Belize City?
Check available options for car rentals in Belize through DiscoverCars, my favorite platform for finding car rentals in Belize. I frequently use DiscoverCars for renting cars during my trips and have used it for renting a car in Belize.
It has available cars and prices online, so all you need to do is type in your travel dates and look for the vehicle that you want. Once you select your vehicle, pay the price and voila!
✅ CLICK HERE TO SAVE ON RENTING A CAR IN BELIZE
What languages do they speak in Belize: FAQ
How many languages are spoken in Belize?
Belize is a multilingual country with about 10 languages spoken throughout the country. Aside from English, the official language of Belize, the most prevalent languages in the country are Spanish and Belizean Kreol which are spoken in many parts of Belize.
Is Belize a Spanish-speaking country?
While Spanish is spoken in Belize, English is the official language of this Central American Country.
What currency is used in Belize?
The official currency of Belize is the Belize Dollar. It has a fixed exchange rate with the U.S. dollar about 2:1. Credit cards are always accepted in many hotels, stores, and restaurants in Belize.
What language do they speak in Belize: final word: the final word
Located in Central America, Belize is one of the most fascinating countries in the region. Unlike its Spanish-speaking neighbors, Belize has English as an official language.
It’s a melting pot of cultures with a colorful history and a diverse population that speaks several languages and dialects. Don’t forget to put Belize on your Central America itinerary.