Mayan History in Belize
The Mopan Mayans originally inhabited parts of Belize and the Paten in Guatemala in the 1600’s. Some were converted to Catholicism by the Spanish while others resisted. At one time there were over one million Mayans living in Belize. Many were struck by small pox, and all were driven out of Belize by the British in the 18th and 19th centuries.
In 1886, the modern Mopan Maya began migrating back to Southern Belize from Guatemala escaping forced labor and taxation and searching for a place with fertile soils and clean potable water.
The Kekchi' Mayans are originally from the Verapaz region of Guatemala. They migrated to Belize the late 1800's after losing their land to German coffee growers. The Kekchi' Mayans settled in the lowlands areas along rivers and streams, farming small isolated villages throughout Toledo, Belize. Because of their isolation the Kekchi' have become the most self-reliant ethnic group in Belize. They are also peaceful people known for their cooperative practices in farming and cultural developments.
While over 30 distinctly Kekchi' Mayan communities exist in the Toledo, Belize, over the years the Kekchi' Mayans have mixed with the Mopan Mayans communities. The largest village of Kekchi' Mayan is San Pedro Columbia in the Toledo, Belize.