The small population of Belize is culturally diverse. This multiplicity of ethnicities, languages, religions, modes of dress, cuisines, styles of music, and folklore reflects the cultural mix. There are many ethnically distinct communities, but people of different groups also mix in many social contexts: at work, in schools, and in the political parties that are not ethnically based. Though prejudices exist, there is no history of interethnic violence in Belize .
The social class of the people—whether they are poor or middle class—affects whether they will have such amenities as a car or television and influences as well whether their children will complete secondary school. Belizeans who have television watch mostly foreign programs, such as Mexican soap operas and North American sports; and the music they listen to largely reflects the traditions of their ethnic group, though recorded music from the Caribbean and United States is widely enjoyed by young people. One hybrid musical form, “punta rock,” seems to blend Caribbean soca, calypso, and reggae styles with merengue, salsa, and hip-hop. Also popular are the traditional sounds of brukdown—the tapping of assorted bottles, tables, cans, or other objects—an energetic percussion that originated in the logging camps.
Belize has never really developed a national cuisine. Its cooking borrows elements from the UK, the USA, Mexico and the Caribbean. Therefore the food reflects ethnicity and international influences. Corn tortillas and rice and beans are widespread staples. Other assorted fare may include Jamaican stews and jerks, Mexican-style chilies, or English roasts. Exotic traditional foods include armadillo, green iguana, venison and fried gibnutt (Agouti paca; a relative of the guinea pig), called the “Royal Rat” on many Belizean restaurant menus because the British press had objected to its being served to Elizabeth II in 1985. Locally produced rum, beer, and chicha (a fermented corn drink) are common, as are soft drinks.
Some Belizeans are cosmopolitan and communicate by fax and e-mail, but for the average citizen, who is served by poor roads and social services, the nation still feels like a rural frontier.