This port has a Natural Harbor
Belize is more known today as Belize City. Belize City was founded originally as Belize Town in the mid-17th century by British lumber harvesters. It had previously been a small Maya city called Holzuz.
European contact began in 1502, when Christopher Columbus sailed along the coast of Belize but did not land on shore. In 1511, the first Europeans set foot on what is now Belize: a small crew of shipwrecked Spanish sailors, who landed in what is now northern Belize. The group's galleon had run aground on the Alacranes reef near Cabo Catoche. Twenty people were washed ashore, and most of those were immediately captured by the Mayas and later sacrificed or taken as slaves. One of the prisoners, Gonzalo Guerrero, later defected to the Mayas, and married into a noble Mayan family. Guerrero married the daughter of Nachankan, the chief of Chetumal, and assumed the Mayan way of life. He and his wife had three children, who were the first mestizos (mixed American-European ethnicity).
Though tradition has it that European settlement began in 1638, there are no historical records of Europeans staying year-round in the area until the 1670s. These early "Baymen" were drawn by the large stands of logwood, a valuable tree whose sapwood was widely used in Europe to dye clothing. In the early 1700s, mahogany also became a valuable export. Over the next 150 years, more English settlements were established. This period also was marked by piracy, indiscriminate logging, and sporadic attacks by Indians and neighboring Spanish settlements.
The Spanish Empire granted the United Kingdom rights to establish logging camps in the area, but not to set up a colony on this land, which the Spanish Crown wished to maintain theoretical sovereignty over. While not an official British colony, British use and occupation of the area increased.
Belize Town was ideal for the British as a central post because it was on the sea and a natural outlet for local rivers and creeks down which the British shipped logwood and mahogany. Belize Town also became the home of the thousands of African slaves brought in by the British to assist in the forest industry.
In 1798, the United Kingdom and Spain went to war, and the Spanish Governor-General of Yucatán sent a fleet of 32 ships to seize the British settlements. From September 3 through September 10 a series of battles was fought around the islands and reefs off the Belizean coast, after which the Spanish forces withdrew. This is known as the Battle of St. George's Caye, and is celebrated as a national holiday each September 10. Belize Town was the coordination site for the 1798 Battle of St. George's Caye, won by the British against would-be invaders, and the home of the local courts and government officials up to the 1970s. For this reason, historians often say that "the capital was the Colony", because the center of British control was here.
The United Kingdom first sent an official representative to the area in the late 18th century but Belize was not formally termed the Colony of British Honduras until 1840. It became a Crown Colony in 1871. The official name of the territory was changed from British Honduras to Belize in June 1973. Belize became independent on September 21, 1981.