Creating “Belize”: The Mapping and Naming History of a Liminal Locale

  title={Creating “Belize”: The Mapping and Naming History of a Liminal Locale},
  author={Matthew Restall},
  journal={Terrae Incognitae},
  pages={35 - 5}
The origins of the settlement in southwest Yucatan that subsequently became the British colony and then nation of Belize, along with the etymology of the toponym Belize, are poorly understood and clouded by colonialist mythology. Using cartographic, archival, and other textual sources, including some in Yucatec Mayan, this article offers a revisionist argument regarding initial British settlement in the region and proposes a new solution to the mystery of the name Belize. 


Naming and History," p. 109) states "some" have suggested a derivation "from balitza
  • The Formation of Colonial Society in Yucatán
  • 2014
trace the roots of the belikin myth to a 1957 article by Gabriel Ángel Castañeda, repeated the following year in García Bauer, La Controversia, and again in the same year by Price in the Belize Times
  • Itzaj Maya Grammar
  • 2000
selected because they are also in Matthew Restall
  • The Maya World: Yucatec Culture and Society
  • 1997
Thus set on a steady path toward full institutionalization as a formal colony in the 1820s, Belize was officially named and identified on maps as British Honduras from 1862 to
  • 1981
(both articles also mention but rightfully dismiss possible French and African etymologies). Dictionary sources include Juan Pío Pérez
  • Diccionario etnolingüístico del idioma maya yucateco colonial
  • 1980
The Beginning of British Honduras
  • British Honduras: Past and Present
  • 1946
109 (who cites a footnote by David Pendergast in Palenque, p. 21, who in turns states that the name likely "derives from the Yucatecan Mayan word belize, meaning 'muddy water
    123/38; Bolland, Formation