The history of the Americas and countries like Belize, started out about 50,00 years ago with migrants from Asia who travelled east over a (now non-existent) passage to become the ancestors of Belize's indigenous people. Throughout the ages, Belize has been inhabited by a whole mixture of people, contributing to its diverse culture; tribal people and Europeans who came to colonise the land, have weathered the effects of slavery, colonialism, agricultural advancements, and industrialisation. Despite the changes, this is a country that has retained its beautiful lushness and breath-taking terrain, with people who have endured great struggles to gain its independence.
The first people to develop Belize were the Maya around 1500 B.C.E. As shown in archaeological records, they established a number of settlements here including Caracol, Lamanai and Lubaantun. It wasn’t until 1502 when the first European contact with Belize occurred, when Christopher Columbus reached the area's coast. In 1638, the first European settlement was established and for the next 150 years many more English settlements were set up.
In 1840, Belize became a "Colony of British Honduras" and in 1862, it became a crown colony. For 100 years after that, Belize was a representative government of England but in January 1964, full self-government with a ministerial system was granted. In 1973, the region's name was changed from British Honduras to Belize and eventually, on September 21, 1981, full independence was achieved.