Belize is a tiny country on Central America’s east coast and was founded by English buccaneers in the early seventeenth century.
These pirates lurked on its cays, or small islands, waiting to pounce on Spanish ships bearing gold and silver bound for Spain. Britain kept possession of Belize until 1981, when the colony became independent. English is still the official language.
Belize was not the only haven for pirates. Tortuga, an island near Hispaniola, and Jamaica were also used as bases to raid Spanish ships and colonies at various times until the eighteenth century.
“Buccaneer,” a common term for a pirate of the West Indies, comes from the French word boucanier. A boucanier was a person from Hispaniola or Tortuga who smoked meat on a boucan, or barbecue frame, perhaps to provide a meal between raids on Spanish ships.