Belize is one of the smallest countries in Central America and has a tiny population of only 360,000. Despite the size and population, the country is a real melting pot of diverse races, heritages, and languages. As you come down to Belize you will get to hear and experience many different cultures and languages through the Belizeans you meet.
You typically will not hear people speaking to each other in one language, but each sentence may include some English, a few creole words, and end in Spanish. People tend to speak with what comes to mind first, and people typically speak and understand all three.
Belize’s official language is English. This is due to the country historically being colonized by the British. This started back in the 1600s and eventually became the Colony of British Honduras. Due to English’s world dominance in international business, Belize did not establish a new official language after independence.
Kriol / Belizean Creole
Most Belizeans actually speak Kriol. You’ll find everyone communicates not quite in English, not quite in Spanish, but in the blend of languages and generations that make up the Belizean people. The actual language of Belizean Kriol is influence by English, Miskito and Mayan Native American languages, as well as West African and Bantu languages. The Caribbean rhythm of Creole is a beautiful sound to listen to. Try to learn some new signature phrases while you’re in the country! Check out our post on Kriol.
Watch this short lesson on how to speak Belizean Kriol
Many people in Belize, including the Mestizo people, speak Spanish as their first language. In addition, Belize is home to several Spanish-speaking individuals from across Latin America as first and second generations seeking a better future here. Belizean Kitchen Spanish is commonly spoken in some areas of the north, which is the mixture of Belizean Kriol and Spanish learn at home. Spanish is spoken by 30 percent of Belizeans.
Belize is also home to three Mayan languages: Yucatek, Ketchi, and Mopan. As Maya are descendants of the ancient Maya civilization back then. If you choose to travel to the South, you can venture south into the towns like Maya Center and Punta Gorda. There you’ll find many Maya families wearing their traditional gowns and speaking their language fluently. When observing you can see they still build, garden, and cook in traditional ways.
Belize is also home to Old German languages. This is due to the Mennonites who left Europe seeking a place to practice their religion. The Mennonites speak an archaic form of German known as Plattdeutsch and Pennsylvania German (Pennsilfaanisch Deitsch). There are approximately 7,000 Mennonites in Belize, with large communities living in northern Belize and around Spanish Lookout, Belize.
Chinese speak their own dialects depending on which region in China they came from. In Belize, there are at least four different dialects spoken. It is found that some Chinese have Spanish names like Quinto; names like this were adopted during their time spent in Mexico or Guatemala.
Other languages spoken by people in Belize include Arabic (particularly the Lebanese variant), and East Indian languages such as Urdu, Bengali, Marathi, and Hindi.
Many languages are spoken throughout the country, but English is the common denominator. The English language is spoken in Belize may not a “proper” American or British English, but you’ll be able to communicate flawlessly with the locals.