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The People

Population:
Up to 2000, population estimates put Belize's population at approximately 249,800.

In 1991, Population and Housing Census showed the main ethnic groups as Mestizo, Creole, Maya and Garifuna. Each other ethnic groups at the time accounted for a small percentage of the population East Indian; German/Dutch and Mennonite. The ethnic groups, however, are heavily intermixed. The multi-racial make-up of the Belizean society includes Chinese and Arabs, and other ethnic groups.

Languages:
English is the official language and the language of instruction in the schools. Spanish is also widely spoken. It is taught in primary and secondary schools in order to further develop bi-lingualism.

In certain areas of the country, such as the Orange Walk and Corozal Districts in the north and the Cayo District in the west, Spanish is spoken as a mother tongue by the majority of the people.

In the southern Districts of Stann Creek and Toledo, there are people whose first language is Garifuna or Maya.

Main Population Centres:
The capital of the country is Belmopan, built in 1970. It is the seat of Government. Belmopan was created following extensive damage to the former capital Belize City, by Hurricane Hattie in 1961. Belmopan's higher ground, geographically located at the centre of the country, some 80 kilometers to the south-west of Belize City, serves as a hurricane refuge for Belizeans. Its population today is estimated at 8,305 and is increasing as more people relocate to the Capital. However, Belize City still remains the hub of commercial activity and one of the most urbanized centers of Belize.

The following tables list the main towns and their population in mid 2000:

Cayo
San Ignacio/Santa Elena 13,545
Benque Viejo 5,200
Belmopan 8,305
Cayo Rural 26,665
Total 53,715

Belize
Belize City 54,125
San Pedro Town 4,965
Belize Rural 14,975
Total 74,065

Orange Walk
Orange Walk Town 13,795
Orange Walk Rural 25,965
Total 39,760

Stann Creek
Dangriga Town 9,020
Stann Creek Rural 16,090
Total 26,665

Corozal
Corozal Town 8,075
Corozal Rural 25,260
Total 33,335

Toledo
Punta Gorda Town 4,425
Toledo Rural 19,390
Total 23,815
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