San Pedro is a town on the southern part of the island of Ambergris Caye in the Belize District of the nation of Belize, inCentral 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 1984 and was sometimes said to be the inspiration for the song “La Isla Bonita“, written by Madonna,Patrick Leonard and Bruce Gaitsch.
San Pedro’s inhabitants are known as San Pedranos. Most speak both Spanish and English fluently. Due to the influence ofKriol, most San Pedranos can speak it, as well as an intermediate form that is known as “Kitchen Spanish”.
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 longer available.
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 Belize City 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 fishermen in Yucatán, and 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 mayor.