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Languages of Belize: Wikis


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Belize was a colony (first Spanish and later British). Therefore, English and Spanish are widely spoken, together with Belizean Kriol. Spanish and Kriol is widely used as a mother tongue, while English is the official language and is taught and used as a secondary language.

  • English is the only official language of Belize due to being a former British colony. It is the main language used in government and education.[1] Although only 5.6% of the population speaks it as the main language at home, 54% can speak it very well, and another 26% can speak some English.
  • Spanish has been spoken in Belize since it was also a former Spanish colony, although it is not an official language. It is the most extended language in Belize. It is commonly spoken at home by 46% of the population (mostly Mestizos), and some other people are able to communicate in this language too.
  • Kriol is the second most extended language as a mother tongue, after Spanish. 37% of Belizeans consider their primary language to be Kriol, an English-based creole of words and syntax from various African languages (namely Akan, Igbo, and Twi),[2] and other languages (Miskito, Caliche). It is also a second or third language for another 40% of the multilingual country.[3] Kriol shares similarities with many Caribbean English Creoles as far as phonology and pronunciations are concerned. Also, many of its words and structures are both lexically and phonologically similar to English, its superstrate language. Due to the fact that it is English-based, all Kriol speakers can understand English. A number of linguists classify Belizean Kriol as a separate language, while others consider it to be a dialect of English.

English is the primary language of public education, with Spanish taught in primary and secondary school as well. Bilingualism is highly encouraged, and therefore, very common.

English & Spanish Language Proficiency[3]
Language Speaks Very Well Speaks Some Total
English 54% 26% 80%
Spanish 52% 11% 63%
Languages in Belize according to 2000 census[3]
Language Mother tongue speakers Percentage First language speakers Percentage
Spanish 94,422 46.0% 88,121 43.0%
Kriol 67,527 32.9% 75,822 37.0%
Maya Kek'chi 10,142 4.9% 9,314 4.5%
English 7,946 3.9% 11,551 5.6%
Maya Mopan 6,909 3.4% 6,093 3.0%
Garifuna 6,929 3.4% 4,071 2.0%
Plautdietsch 6,783 3.3% 6,624 3.2%
Chinese 1,607 0.8% 1,529 0.7%
Maya Yucateco 1,176 0.6% 613 0.3%
Hindi 280 0.1% 193 0.1%
Others / no answer 1,402 0.7% 1,192 0.6%


  1. ^ "Belize: Language and Religion". MSN Encarta Encyclopedia. Microsoft Corporation. Archived from the original on 2009-10-31. Retrieved 2008-09-09.  
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b c d "Belize 2000 Housing and Population Census". Belize Central Statistical Office. 2000. Retrieved 2008-09-09.  
  4. ^ "Belize: Language and Religion". Gordon, Raymond G., Jr. (ed.), 2005. "Garifuna". Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Fifteenth edition. Dallas, Tex.: SIL International. Retrieved on 2007-03-14.. Retrieved 2008-09-09.  
  • Ethnologue report for Belize [1]

See also



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