The Belize River (Spanish: Río Belice) runs 290 kilometres
(180 mi) through the center of Belize. It drains more than
one-quarter of the country as it winds along the northern edge of the
Maya Mountains to the sea just north of Belize City (17°32′N
88°14′W / 17.533°N 88.233°W / 17.533; -88.233). The
Belize river valley is largely tropical rain forest.
Also known as the Old River, the Belize River begins where the Mopan
River and Macal River join just east of San Ignacio, Belize
(17°11′N 89°04′W / 17.183°N 89.067°W / 17.183;
-89.067). The Belize River – Mopan River Catchment contains over
45 percent of the population of Belize. The Belize River, in
spite of 78 runs or rapids, is passable via the Mopan to the
Guatemalan border. It served as the main artery of commerce and
communication between the interior and the coast until well into the
twentieth century, and has long been associated with forestry, of
logwood (for dye) and of mahogany which survives in small
Early on, loggers using the river encountered the Maya and had
conflicts with them and with the Spaniards. In 1807 there was a
request for “arms and ammunitions” for the loggers. In the late
1820s, the Methodist minister Thomas Wilkinson found three to four
thousand men working at camps most of the year.:55 By the late 19th
century there were over 130 small settlements along the river.
Burrell Boom just above Belize Town served as a catch-point for logs.
Today the Belize River is a vital source of drinking water and other
domestic use for local people living along the river; however, water
quality is degraded from sediment, nutrient loading, pesticides and
other toxins. The major source of degradation is the extensive
deforestation in the upper reaches of the Mopan River and
non-sustainable agriculture. Karper and Boles have asserted: "The
greater Mopan/Belize River Catchment provides a prime example of a
watershed under stress from extensive non-sustainable agricultural
practices that have occurred within the region over the past three
decades." Traditional slash and burn agricultural practices also
contribute to watershed degradation.
There are a number of Maya archaeological sites in the watershed of
the Belize River and its tributaries: Mopan River, Macal River, and
Chaa Creek. These sites include Xunantunich, Chaa Creek, and Cahal
^ Belize River at Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
^ a b Woods, Charles M. Sr.; et al. (2015). Years of Grace: The
History of Roman Catholic Evangelization in Belize: 1524-2014. Belize
City: Roman Catholic Diocese of Belize City-Belmopan.
^ Bolland, O.N. (1988). Colonialism and resistance in Belize: Essays
in historical sociology. Belize: Cubola. p. 93.
^ Metzgen, M.S. & Cain, H.E.C. (1925). The Handbook of British
Honduras. London: The West India Committee. pp. 45f.
access-date= requires url= (help)
^ Jes Karper and Ed Boles, Human Impact Mapping of the Mopan and
Chiquibul Rivers within Guatemala and Belize (2003). Retrieved June
^ C.Michael Hogan, Chaa Creek, Megalithic Portal, ed. A. Burnham,
2007. Retrieved June 20, 2015.
^ Distribution of Early Middle Formative Period Sites. Retrieved Ju