San Pedro is a town on the southern part of the island of Ambergris
Caye in the
Belize District of the nation of Belize, in Central
America. According to 2015 mid-year estimates, the town has a
population of about 16,444. It is the second-largest town in the
Belize District and largest in the
Belize Rural South constituency.
The once sleepy fishing village was granted the status of a town in
San Pedro's inhabitants are known as San Pedranos. Most speak both
Spanish and English fluently. Due to the influence of
Kriol, most San Pedranos can speak it, as well as an intermediate form
that is known as "Kitchen Spanish". It is said one is not a true
San Pedrano if one doesn't know how to fish.
The town is said to be the inspiration for the song "La Isla Bonita"
(which begins with the line "last night I dreamt of San Pedro"),
written by Madonna,
Patrick Leonard and Bruce Gaitsch.
4 Carnaval festival
5 See also
The refugees from the "Guerra de Castas" fled mainly south to the
sanctuary of northern
Belize where the British authorities gave them
protection and encouraged them to settle. This was done in the hope
that the refugees would eventually establish an agricultural
settlement in Corozal and provide the lumber camps with an alternative
source of foodstuffs now that the supplies through Bacalar were no
This migration was the principal factor in the settling of northern
Belize. The population grew from less than 200 in 1846, to 4,500
inhabitants by 1857, to 8,000 in 1858, in the
Corozal District alone.
According to the official census in 1861, the population of the
northern section of the country was almost twice that of
and the surrounding areas.
The first permanent settlers of San Pedro arrived between 1848 and
1849. These probably consisted of the relatives of fishermen who had
previously built fishing camps on the cayes and moved their families
over to the safety of the island when the Santa Cruz Maya revolted.
There were at first only four families, which were shortly joined by
others from the area of Bacalar. The settlement soon grew to a village
of about 30 houses and over 50 inhabitants. The settling of Ambergris
Caye was typical of this general pattern. The refugees who came to
live here had been farmers and fishers in Yucatán who continued these
activities in San Pedro.
On November 27, 1984, San Pedro was officially granted township
status. The declaration ceremony was attended by Governor-General
Elmira Minita Gordon, Area Representative Louis Sylvestre, and most of
the residents of San Pedro. Gilberto Chico Gomez was the town's first
Downtown San Pedro
Main Street in San Pedro, Belize, looking south
Main Street in San Pedro, Belize, looking north
Central Park, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize
Golfcart parking lot, Main Street
Panoramic view from Amigos del Mar Diving shop
Panoramic view of Banana Beach Resort from dock
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Over the centuries, San Pedro has become one of the most popular
tourist destinations with protected areas such as Hol Chan Marine
Reserve, Shark Ray Alley, Bacalarchico and many more. One of San
Pedro's most prized possessions is the
Belize Barrier Reef. The San
Pedro Barrier Reef is the 'second largest' in the world, the first
being the Great Barrier Reef. It is a home to a diverse number of
One of the primary industries in the town is tourism, most notably
scuba diving. So many visitors are divers that there are two
hyperbaric decompression chambers on the island.
Ambergris Museum is in the town. The north road is over 10 miles long
and has greatly expanded resort and beach house development with
better access than only watercraft.
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Today San Pedro is known for festivals, one of the most famous being
El Gran Carnaval de San Pedro.
El Gran Carnaval de San Pedro goes back to the 1870s, a tradition that
is centered around “Juan Carnaval”. A legend states “Juan was an
island god, that had sex with over a thousand women from eight
different countries and had many children." It is said that he was
stabbed to death by his hurt and jealous wife — leaving behind
nothing but a will that is traditionally read on Ash Wednesday. A
stuffed doll-like idol of Juan Carnaval is burnt every year as symbol
of cleansing the community's sins.
This tradition started out with use of powder and has now expanded
into water paint and the breaking of eggs. There are rules to this
festival: The first day is restricted to children between pm and 7 pm
from Ruby’s Hotel beachfront to the cemetery area and the Barrier
Reef Drive. They are not allowed to paint individuals who are not
participating nor public signs, buildings, and the Comparsa
participants. Lastly they are not allowed to use rotten eggs, spray
paint, or oil paints.
El Gran Carnaval de San Pedro
^ a b "Ambergris Caye,
Belize History". Retrieved 2013-02-23.
^ a b c d "Northern
Belize Caste War History; Location". Retrieved 21
Belize Population and Housing Census 2010" (PDF). Statistical
Institute of Belize. 2013. Retrieved 14 May 2016.
^ a b "Mid-Year Population Estimates by Area and Sex 2008 - 2015".
Statistical Institute of Belize. Retrieved 14 May 2016.
^ Rooksby, Rikky (2004). The Complete Guide to the Music of Madonna.
Omnibus Press. p. 24. ISBN 0-7119-9883-3.
^ Bronson, Fred (2003). The Billboard Book of Number 1 Hits. Billboard
Books. p. 659. ISBN 0-8230-7677-6.
^ Ayuso, Mateo (May 1987), "The Role of the Maya-Mestizo in the
Development of Belize",
Belize Ethnicity and Development, papers
presented at the First Annual Studies on
Belize Conference, Society
for the Promotion of Education and Research, retrieved 23 February
^ "Overview of Belizean history". Retrieved 2013-02-23.
^ "Signing of San Pedro Township Declaration". Ambergris Today. 27
November 2014. Retrieved 29 November 2014.
Coordinates: 17°55′17″N 87°57′40″W / 17.92139°N
87.96111°W / 17.92139; -87.96111