1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Belize
BELIZE, or Balize, the capital and principal seaport of British Honduras, on the Caribbean Sea, in 17° 29′ N. and 88° 11′ W. Pop. (1904) 9969. Belize occupies both banks of the river Belize, at its mouth. Its houses are generally built of wood, with high roofs and wide verandahs shaded by cocoanut or cabbage palms. The principal buildings are the court house, in the centre of the town, government house, at the southern end, Fort George, towards the north, the British bank of Honduras, the hospital, the Roman Catholic convent, and the Wesleyan church, which is the largest and handsomest of all. Mangrove swamps surround the town and epidemics of cholera, yellow fever and other tropical diseases have been frequent; but the unhealthiness of the climate is mitigated to some extent by the high tides which cover the marshes, and the invigorating breezes which blow in from the sea. Belize is connected by telegraph and telephone with the other chief towns of British Honduras, but there is no railway, and communication even by road is defective. The exports are mahogany, rosewood, cedar, logwood and other cabinet-woods and dye-woods, with cocoanuts, sugar, sarsaparilla, tortoiseshell, deerskins, turtles and fruit, especially bananas. Breadstuffs, cotton fabrics and hardware are imported.
Belize probably derives its name from the French balise, “a beacon,” as no doubt some signal or light was raised here for the guidance of the buccaneers who once infested this region. Local tradition connects the name with that of Wallis or Wallace, a Scottish buccaneer, who, in 1638, settled, with a party of logwood cutters, on St George’s Cay, a small island off the town. In the 18th century the names Wallis and Belize were used interchangeably for the town, the river and the whole country. The history of Belize is inextricably bound up with that of the rest of British Honduras (q.v.).