10 September, 2007

It's the Battle of St. George's Caye Day

Today, over 200 years later, the 10th of September is still celebrated as a National Holiday in Belize.
St. George's Caye Day*
 * - Courtesy of September Celebrations Committee, Belize Tourism Board

History of St. George's Caye Day

European settlement in the area now known as Belize began in the early 1500's with the arrival of Christopher Columbus to the Bay of Honduras.

In 1511, the Spaniards were intent on conquering and subduing the Yucatan coast including the area. The first recorded European settlement in the future Belize was in 1638 by shipwrecked British sailors. These British settlers became known as "Baymen", cut logwood in the area for export to Europe. Periodic attacks by Spain to reclaim sovereignty ensued, resulting in treaties between England and Spain, allowing the Baymen to continue cutting logwood.

In 1796 England and Spain declared war against each other and the Spanish made a determined effort to wrest the land that would become Belize from the unwelcome English.

In the summer of 1798, a Spanish naval force was sent from Campechy, Yucatan against the British settlement at the Belize River. The British learned of their intent and repulsed them from fortifications on St. Georges Caye. England was victorious in the war against Spain and this was the last Spanish attempt to dislodge the English.

On September 10th, 1798 a battle between the Spaniards and the Baymen was fought at St. George's Caye. It was part of an continued series of wars between Britain and Spain. Against the odds, the Baymen defeated the Spanish. Spain never again tried to establish control in the area. Britain gradually assumed more control over the settlement. In 1853, a Legislative Assembly was established. In 1871, the area of Belize became the Crown Colony of British Honduras, with a Legislative Council and a Lieutenant Governor. In 1884, British Honduras was appointed a full Governor.
Twenty Six Years of Independence
On September 21, 1981, Belize became an independent nation. On September 25, 1981, Belize was admitted as a member of the United Nations. On the same day it became a full member of the Non-Aligned Movement, after being a member with "special status" since 1976. On Independence Day, Belize was also admitted to membership of the Commonwealth of Nations.

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