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The East Indian People

Under British colonialism in the 1800's, thousands of people in India had become unemployed. Many were starving because of droughts and increased food prices. Between 1844 and 1917, British landowners brought East Indians from Jamaica and India to work on logwood and sugar plantations as indentured servants.

East Indian Woman

Under the indenture system a person was encouraged to come to the Caribbean to work for a "master" for a certain number of years. After that he was free to work as he pleased. But too often circumstances forced him to "re-indenture" themselves, and agree to work for a further number of years.

The exact number of indentured labourers brought to Belize is not known. However, the numbers were never large. The census of 1891 lists only 291 persons living in the colony who were born in India. East Indians were put to work in the sugar estates in the Toledo and Corozal districts. Their descendants can still be found in areas such as Calcutta in the Corozal District and Forest Home in the Toledo District. They have now largely become "Creolized" (see above).

More recently, in the 1970's, a small number of East Indians have migrated and settled in areas near Punta Gorda, Belize City, and Orange Walk Town, but have no cultural ties with the descendants of earlier immigrants. They tend to be tradesmen, merchants and service providers.