Mayan History in Belize

Mopan Mayans

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.

Kekchi' Mayans

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.

Mature Mayan woman standing in front of Mayan ruins
Looking down on Mayan ruins
Mayan carvings on wall of ruins
Four mayan women in different colored dresses
Long house with thatched roof
Hand hewn beams covered with thatching as seen from the inside