Vol. 39 No. 1 (1991)
Research Article

Toponymic Generics, Environment, and Culture History in Pre-Independence Belize*

Published 1991-03-01



An analysis of 941 toponymic generics in Belize (formerly British Honduras) in terms of historical-cultural environmental development reveals that physical generic terms predominate (77%) over cultural ones (23%). Among the physical terms, landform generics (92%) far outweigh vegetation ones (8%), and fluvial terms (91%) far outnumber marine (9%) ones. These patterns reflect the dominant influence of extractive livelihoods (fishing, logging, farming, smuggling) in pre-independence Belize.


  1. Allen, Gordon, Esq., Surveyor General. A Plan of Belize, British Honduras. Map. 1886.
  2. AndersoniA. H. A Brief History of British Honduras. Belize: Print. Dept.
  3. Arrowsmith. Chart of the West Indies and Spanish Dominions in North America. Map. 1803.
  4. Arrowsmith. Map of Guatemala. Map. 1820.
  5. Arrowsmith. Chart of the East Coast of Yucatan and the Bay of Honduras. Map. 1830.
  6. Ashdown, Peter. Caribbean History in Maps. London: Longman Group, 1979.
  7. Asturias, Francisco. Belice. Guatemala, C.A.: Tipograffa Nacional de Guatemala,1941.
  8. Bard, Samuel [Ephraim George Squier]. Waikna: Adventures on the Mosquito Shore. Facsimile. Gainesville: U of Florida P,1965.
  9. “Belize: Prospects for Independence” Courier. Sept.-Oct. 1981: 18–26.
  10. Bolland, O. Nigel. Belize: A New Nation in Central America. Westview Profiles: Nations of Contemporary Latin America. Boulder, CO: Westview P, 1986.
  11. British Honduras. Maps. Scale 1:250, 000. 3 sheets. British Overseas Survey Department, 1963
  12. Broad, Dave. “Belize on the Rim of the Cauldron.” Monthly Review 35 (Fall 1984): 38–47.
  13. Burdon, Sir John Alder. Archives of British Honduras. 3 vols. London: Sifton Praed & Co, 1931–35.
  14. Burdon, Sir John Alder. Brief Sketch of British Honduras, Past, Present, and Future. London: The West India Committee, 1927.
  15. Burns, Sir Alan. History of the British West Indies. London: George Allen & Unwin, 1954.
  16. Caiger, Stephen L. British Honduras: Past and Present. London: George Allen & Unwin, 1951.
  17. Carr, David, and John Thorpe. From the Cam to the Cays: The Story of the Cambridge Expedition to British Honduras, 1959–1960. London: Putnam, 1961.
  18. Clegern, W. M. British Honduras: Colonial Dead End 1859–1900. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP, 1967.
  19. Conzemius, Edward. Ethnological Survey of the Miskito and Sumu Indians of Honduras and Nicaragua. Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin No. 106. Washington: Smithsonian Institution, 1932.
  20. Floyd, Troy S. The Anglo-Spanish Struggle for Mosquitia. Albuquerque: U of New Mexico P,1967.
  21. Ford, Robert E. “A Place Name Study of Belice (British Honduras).” Unpublished essay, 1973.
  22. Frost, Marvin D. “Patterns of Human Influence on Landscape and Wildlife: Selected Case Studies in Belize, ” Revista Geograf ica July–Dec. 1981: 89–100.
  23. Gregg, A. R. British Honduras. London: HM Stationery Office,1968.
  24. Gritzner, Janet H. “Seventeenth Century Generic Place-Names: Culture and Process on the Eastern Shore.” Names 20 (1972): 231–39.
  25. Holdridge, Desmond. “Toledo: A Tropical Refugee Settlement in British Honduras.” American Geographical Review 30 (1940): 376–93.
  26. Humphreys, Robert A. The Diplomatic History of British Honduras 1638–1901. New York: Oxford UP, 1961.
  27. Lavoisne, M. A Complete Geological, Historical, Chronological, Geographical Atlas. 2d American ed. Philadelphia: M. Carey & Sons,1820.
  28. Mendoza, José Luis. Britain and Her Treaties on Belize. Trans. Lilly de Jough Osborne. Guatemala, C.A.: Tipografia Nacional de Guatemala,1946.
  29. Metzgen, Sigfrid, and Henry Edney Conrad Cain. The Handbook of British Honduras. London: The West India Committee, 1925.
  30. Morris, Sir Daniel. The Colony of British Honduras: Its Resources and Prospects. London: Edward Standford, 1883.
  31. Newton, Arthur Percival. The Colonizing Activities of the English Puritans. New Haven: Yale UP, 1914.
  32. Owen, Richard, and E. Barnett. West Indies from Belize to Cabo Catoche Surveyed by Commander R. Owen and E. Barnett, 1830, 1837. Chart No. 1204, Hydrographic Office of the Admiralty, January 16, 1939.
  33. Owen, Richard, and E. Barnett. Honduras Gulf with Sapodilla Cays. Chart No. 1573, Hydrographic Office of the Admiralty, January 16, 1939.
  34. Owen, Richard, and E. Barnett. Cape Gracias a Dios. Chart No. 1273, Hydrographic Office of the Admiralty, January 16, 1939.
  35. Ower, Leslie H. “Features of British Honduras.” The Geographical Journal. 70.4 (October 1927): 372–85.
  36. Parsons, James J. “English Speaking Settlements of the Western Caribbean.” Yearbook of the Association of Pacific Coast Geographers. 16 (1954): 3–16.
  37. Payne, Roger L. Place Names of the Outer Banks. Washington, NC: Thomas A. Williams, 1985.
  38. Pinkerton, John, comp. A Modem Atlas. Philadelphia: Thomas Dobson and Son, 1818.
  39. Quijano, José Antonio Calderon. Belice 16637–1881. Publicaciones de la Escuela de Estudios Hispano/Americanos de la Universidad de Sevilla 5. Sevilla: U of Seville, 1944.
  40. Sawatzky, Harry L. They Sought a Country: Mennonite Colonization in Mexico. Berkeley: U of California P,1971.
  41. Swayne, Sir Eric. “British Honduras.” The Geographical Journal. 1.3 (1917): 161–79.
  42. Taylor, Douglas MacRae. The Black Carib of British Honduras. New York: Wenner-Gren, 1951.
  43. Thompson, J. Eric. Anthropological Investigations in the Southern Cayo District of British Honduras. Chicago Natural History Museum Publications. Anthropological Series 17.3. Chicago, 1930.
  44. Thornbury, William D. Principles of Geomorphology. New York: Wiley, 1969.
  45. United States. Dept, of the Interior. US Board on Geographic Names. British Honduras: Official Standard Names Approved by the U S.B.G.N. Gazetteer No. 16. Washington: GPO, 1956.
  46. Vermeer, Donald E. The Cays of British Honduras. Department of Geography, Report of Field Work of the U.S. Office of Naval Research. Berkeley: U of California,1959.
  47. Waddell, David A.G. British Honduras: A Historical and Contemporary Survey. New York: Oxford UP, 1961.
  48. West India Atlas. London: R. Sayer and J. Bennett, 1775.
  49. West, Robert C., and John P. Augelli. Middle America: Its Lands and Peoples. 3rd ed. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1989.
  50. Winzerling, E. O. The Beginning of British Honduras 1500–1765. New York: North River P, 1946.