What Languages do People Speak in Belize?

Belize is home to many languages although the most common are English, Spanish and Belizean Creole. Belize is Central America's only English-speaking country which is also its official language, although many people in the country also speak Spanish and/or Creole.

How Many Languages Are Spoken in Belize?

There are about 10 languages spoken by a large population of people in the tiny Central American nation of Belize. This includes English, the official language, Spanish, and Kriol which are all spoken by a majority of Belizeans as well as indigenous languages and a few immigrant languages.

Official Languages of Belize

Belize, formerly known as British Honduras, has English as its official language thanks to its former status as a British colony. English is used in public education, media, and government. The majority of people in Belize speak English but most speak an additional language as well such as Kriol, Spanish, or a Mayan language. A majority of Belizeans of all ethnicities speak the Belizean Creole or Kriol language which is based on English and it's used for social and informal communication.

Other Languages of Belize

Of the many languages spoken in Belize, three languages dominate: -- English (63% of the population) -- Spanish (57%) -- Belizean Creole or Kriol (45%)

Prior to the 1980s, most people in Belize were Creoles, mostly of African and British descent as well as indigenous. Kriol is the native language for most Creoles and this Creole language is based on English with a West African influence.

Civil wars in Central America during the 1980s led to a large influx of Spanish speakers from surrounding nations while English-speaking Creoles were leaving in large numbers for better opportunities outside of Belize. This quickly led to a Hispanic majority in Belize and shifted the language majority.

Today, English is most common in the densely populated Belize District. Spanish is most common in the frontier areas of Corozal, Orange Walk, and Cayo where 72% to 86% of the people speak Spanish. The Kriol language is the primary language of the Stann Creek area. In the southern area of Toledo, Mayan languages still dominate and are spoken by 68% of the population.

Belize has a very high bilingualism rate among ethnic groups. A large share of its population can speak fluently in English, Spanish, and/or Kriol.

Belize is also home to Mayan languages in some regions. Q'eqchi' Maya is spoken by about 6% of the population. This is an endangered language spoken by the indigenous Mopan people. Mopan Maya is spoken by almost 4% of people. There are also 6,000 speakers of Yucatec Maya. It's estimated that 16,000 people speak Garifuna, an African Arawakan-based language.

Along with native languages, there are a few immigrant languages in Belize such as Mandarin and German. Belize has about 7,000 Mennonites who mostly speak Plautdietsch, also known as Mennonite Low German, but some speak Pennsylvania German.

Primary Languages

Pop. Speaking

Other Languages

Belize Kriol English
Mopán Maya
Yucatec Maya