This study will examine the history of the nation of British Honduras (or Belize, as it has been known since 1973, eight years before winning independence). The study will include consideration of prevailing conditions in British Honduras before the arrival of the British and during British rule up to the time of independence.
As Dostert writes, the British from the beginning of their presence in Belize displayed the typical European arrogance in doing what they wanted to do and taking what they wanted to take with respect to the laws and resources of the small land on the Gulf of Honduras:
Originally settled about 1638 by bands of British woodcutters illegally harvesting the timber in Spanish domains, Belize settlers managed their own affairs and government, although the Spanish tried many times to eject them" (Dostert 36).
From that point, the British strengthened their hold on the nation until 1964, when colonial status was discontinued and the colony was "granted full internal self-government" (Dostert 36-37). The name of British Honduras was changed to Belize in June, 1973, the new name having been used by Guatemalans in reference to the country. Guatemala, in fact, sought to annex Belize during the process of its winning independence, for Guatemalans had long claimed that British Honduras was a part of their country. Nevertheless, Belize won independence in September, 1981 (Dostert 37).
Belize is "bounded by the Caribbean Sea [the Gulf of Honduras] on the east, Mexico on the north, and Guatemala on the west and south" (Martin and Lovett 58). Its geographical location on the Gulf is deceptive, for "its torturous coastline," guarded by dangerous reefs, made it especially attractive not to British settlers but to pirates using "the area as a base from which to attack Spanish ships" (Merrill 163).
The British loggers who first began exploiting its forests in the 1630s slowly turned the still largely undevelope...