Who are the Garifuna?
The Garifuna (or Black Caribs) are descendants of two ethnic groups, Carib Indians and West Africans, that once resided on the island of St. Vincent. The Garifuna were exiled from their land by British forces, and thus made their way to the shores of Central America. Traditional Garifuna communities are mainly found along the Caribbean coast of Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua, Roatan, as well as Guatemala. Out of an estimated 500,000 Garinagu (plural of Garifuna) world-wide, there are today about 15,000 Garinagu in Belize (about 7% of the total population). In Guatemala there are an estimated 4,000 Garinagu, and in Honduras the population is around 300,000.
Garifuna communities are also found in the United States, primarily in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and New Orleans. Traditionally, Garifuna men hunted and fished while the women did most of the farming. The traditional Garifuna foods are based around seafood, poultry, cassava, bananas, and plantains. For centuries Garinagu (plural of Garifuna) lived off the Earth and seas, and through time our ancestors developed recipes utilizing nature’s spices and herbs that have been handed down through generations.
Where is Belize?
Sitting on the eastern coast of the Central American coastline facing the Caribbean Sea, Belize is the Caribbean gateway to Central America. Offering the best of both worlds – the majesty of lush tropical rainforest and mystery of the Ancient Maya coupled with white sand islands and a spectacular 174 mile long barrier reef – the options for adventure are endless. Located in the northern hemisphere above the equator, Belize is bounded on the north by Mexico, the south and west by Guatemala, and to the east by the Caribbean Sea.
Belize is 176 miles long at its longest point, 88 miles at its widest point and covers 8,867 square miles, including 266 square miles of offshore islands. It is approximately the same size as the state of Massachusetts in the USA, approximately one-tenth the size of the United Kingdom, and larger than all of the former British Caribbean countries combined.
Located in Central America, English remains the official language in Belize. The people of Belize have an array of traditions and customs that represent more than 10 diverse cultures. This is truly a melting pot of colorful personalities, making the 314,000 residents of Belize the country’s greatest resource on the tourism front. The Belizean people are comprised of a harmonious combination of Maya, Mestizo, Creole, Garifuna, East Indian, Mennonite, Arab and Chinese, as well as a number of European, American and other expatriates, a combination which has resulted in one of the happiest and most peaceful countries in the region and a widespread reputation as one of the friendliest tourist destinations in the world!
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