British Honduras is a little larger than Wales, and has a population smaller than that of Chester (England). In 1904 the inhabitants of European descent numbered 1500, the Europeans 253, and the white Americans 118. The majority belong to the hybrid race descended from negro slaves, aboriginal Indians and white settlers. At least six distinct racial groups can be traced. These consist of (1) native Indians, to be found chiefly in forest villages in the west and north of the colony away from the sea coast; (2) descendants of the English buccaneers, mixed with Scottish and German traders; (3) the woodcutting class known as "Belize Creoles," of more or less pure descent from African negroes imported, as slaves or as labourers, from the West Indies; (4) the Caribs of the southern districts, descendants of the population deported in 1796 from St Vincent, who were of mixed African and Carib origin; (5) a mixed population in the south, of Spanish-Indian origin, from Guatemala and Honduras; and (6) in the north another Spanish-Indian group which came from Yucatan in 1848. The population tends slowly to increase; about 45% of the births are illegitimate, and males are more numerous than females.
Many tracts of fallow land and forest were once thickly populated, for British Honduras has its ruined cities, and other traces of a lost Indian civilization, in common with the rest of Central America.
-For more than two centuries British Honduras has been supported by its trade in timber, especially in mahogany, logwood, cedar and other dye-woods and cabinet-woods, such as lignum-vitae, fustic, bullet-wood, santa-maria, ironwood, rosewood, etc. The coloured inhabitants are unsurpassed as woodmen, and averse from agriculture; so that there are only about 90 sq. m. of tilled land. Sugar-cane, bananas, cocoanut-palms, plantains, and various other fruits are cultivated; vanilla, sarsaparilla, sapodilla or chewing-gum, rubber, and the cahoon or coyol palm, valuable for its oil, grow wild in large quantities. In September 1903 all the pine trees on crown lands were sold to Mr B. Chipley, a citizen of the United States, at one cent (&FRAC12; d.) per tree; the object of the sale being to secure the opening up of undeveloped territory. Unsuccessful attempts have been made to establish sponge fisheries on a large scale.
Belize (pop. in 1904, 9969), the capital and principal seaport, is described in a separate article. Other towns are Stann Creek (2459), Corosal (1696), Orange Walk (1244), Punta Gorda (706), the Cayo (421), Monkey River (384) and Mullins River (243). All these are administered by local boards, whose aggregate revenue amounts to some £7000. Telegraph and telephone lines connect the capital with Corosal in the north, and Punta Gorda in the south; but there are no railways, and few good roads beyond municipal limits. Thus the principal means of communication are the steamers which ply along the coast. Mail steamers from New Orleans, Liverpool, Colon and Puerto Cortes in Honduras, regularly visit Belize.