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Economic Development of Central America Econ. 4200 - Spring 2004 – Dr. Taylor - page 79 / 153

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Over the next 150 years, more English settlements were established. This period was also marked by piracy, indiscriminate logging, and sporadic attacks by Indians and neighboring Spanish settlements.

Many who settled in Belize in the late 1630s were English woodcutters. The loggers were interested primarily in dye-woods, which, in the days before chemical dyes, were essential to British textile industries.

As a British colony (called British Honduras), Belize enjoyed relative prosperity as an important entrepot, or storage depot for merchandise, until the completion of the Panama Railway in 1855. With the opening of a rail route to the Pacific, commerce shifted south, away from Caribbean ports. Belize entered an economic tailspin (from which it has never entirely recovered).

Economically depressed, its population exposed to the ravages of yellow fever, malaria, and dengue (a tropical fever), Belize was once described by British novelist Aldous Huxley in the following terms: "If the world had ends, Belize would be one of them."

Living conditions improved markedly by the 1950s, and the colony began to move toward independence from Great Britain.

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