Languages of Belize

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According to the 2010 census, the major languages spoken in Belize include English, Spanish and Kriol, all three spoken by more than 40% of the population. Mayan languages are also spoken in certain areas, as well as German.

English is the official language and the primary language of public education, though spoken natively by a minority of people as a first language. Spanish is taught in primary and secondary schools as well. Bilingualism is very common. Literacy currently stands at nearly 80%.[citation needed]

Languages spoken in Belize (2010)[1][2]
Language speakers percentage
English 183,903 62.9%
Spanish 165,296 56.6%
Belizean Creole 130,467 44.6%
Q'eqchi' Maya 17,581 6.0%
Mopan Maya 10,649 3.6%
German 9,364 3.2%
Garifuna 8,442 2.9%
Other languages 7,847 2.7%
N.A. 1,537 0.5%
Total 292,263 100%

Major languages by district[edit]

English is the major language in the primary and most populated Belize District. Spanish is the most used language in the frontier districts of Cayo, Orange Walk and Corozal. Creole is the main language in the Stann Creek district, and Mayan languages dominate in the southernmost district of Toledo.

Languages spoken by District (2010)[3]
Belize District 95,292 72.5% 34.1% 63.6% 1.2%
Cayo 75,046 66.7% 71.5% 39.9% 6.2%
Orange Walk 45,946 62.2% 85.6% 16.8% 2.3%
Corozal 41,061 54.4% 84.7% 18.9% 2.5%
Stann Creek 34,324 52.0% 39.3% 67.4% 16.3%
Toledo 30,785 47.9% 28.2% 47.2% 68.4%
Total 324,528 62.9% 56.6% 44.6% 10.5%

Standard English and Belizean Creole[edit]

English is the official language of Belize, a former British colony. It is the primary language of public education, government and most media outlets. The majority of Belizeans, regardless of ethnicity, speak an English-based creole called Belizean Creole (also referred to as Kriol) during most informal, social and interethnic dialogue.

When a Creole language exists alongside its lexifier language, as in Belize, a creole continuum forms between the Creole and the lexifier language. This is known as code-switching. It is therefore difficult to substantiate or differentiate the number of Creole speakers compared to English speakers. Belizean Creole might best be described as the lingua franca of the nation.[4]


Approximately 50% of Belizeans self-identify as Mestizo, Latino or Hispanic. Spanish is spoken as a native tongue by about 45% of the population,[5] and taught in schools to children who do not have it as their first language. "Kitchen Spanish" is an intermediate form of Spanish mixed with Belizean Creole, and is spoken in northern towns such as Corozal and San Pedro.[6]

Over half the population is bilingual, and a large segment is multilingual. Being such a small and multiethnic state surrounded by Spanish-speaking nations, multilingualism is strongly encouraged in the society.[7][8]

Other languages[edit]

Belize is also home to three Mayan languages: Q’eqchi’, the endangered indigenous Belizean language of Mopan, and Yucatec Maya.[9][10][11]

Approximately 16,100 people speak the Arawakan-based Garifuna language.[12]

German is spoken in Mennonite colonies and villages. The vast majority of Mennonites in Belize speaks Plautdietsch in every day life while a minority of some 10 percent speaks Pennsylvania German. Both groups use the German Bible translation of Martin Luther and an old fashioned Standard German in church and in reading and writing. [13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Statistical Institute of Belize: Belize Population and Housing Census 2010. Country Report. Belmopan 2013.
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2018-02-18. Retrieved 2018-02-17.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ "Belize Kriol English". Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  5. ^ "Belize". Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  6. ^ "Northern Belize Caste War History; Location". Retrieved 21 February 2013.
  7. ^ 2010 Census of Belize Overview Archived 2012-05-29 at (2011).
  8. ^ 2010 Census of Belize Detailed Demographics of 2000 and 2010. (2011).
  9. ^ "Q'eqchi'". Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  10. ^ "Maya, Mopán". Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  11. ^ "Maya, Yucatec". Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  12. ^ "Garifuna". Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  13. ^ "Plautdietsch". Retrieved 14 April 2018.