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Economic Development of Central America Econ. 4200 - Spring 2004 – Dr. Taylor - page 80 / 153

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Although self-governing by 1964, Belize did not become fully independent until 1981, because of Guatemalan threats

to invade.

Culturally, Belize is British with Caribbean overtones. English common law is practiced in the courts, and politics are patterned on the English parliamentary system. Thirty percent of the people are Protestants. The Belizeans are primarily working-class poor and middle-class shopkeepers and merchants. There is no great difference between the well-to-do and the poor in Belize, and few people fall below the absolute poverty line.

Thirty-one percent of the population are Creole (African and English mixture), 6 per-cent Garifuna (black and Indian mixture). - The Garifuna originally inhabited the Caribbean island of St. Vincent. In the eighteenth century, they joined with native Indians in an uprising against the English authorities. As punishment, virtually all the Garifuna were deported to Belize.

Despite a pervasive myth of racial democracy in Belize, discrimination exists. Belize is not a harmonious, multiethnic is-land in a sea of violence.

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