August 9, 2015
1801 BELIZE - An aerial view of Benque Viejo del Carmen
Located on the eastern bank of the Mopan River, at 130km by road west and south of Belize City, at the Guatemalan border, Benque Viejo del Carmen is the westernmost town in Belize. It was first settled by Maya from Noh Petén (subsequent Flores, El Petén, now in Guatemala), the last independent Maya state, conquered by the Spanish barely in 1697. It grew as a lumber camp, and the Mayas had been catechized by Spanish Catholic missionaries. Benque has long been the place where tourists and merchants cross to Melchor and purchase Maya textiles.
In the 1890s the population was about 500, but during the first years of the 21st century Benque experienced a rapid boom, so that the number of inhabitants (mostly of Maya or Mestizo descent) has reached in 2010 to 5,824. This happened because the Guatemalan youth cross the border each day to receive a secondary education in English. Nearby are the ancient ruins of Xunantunich, which served as a Maya civic ceremonial center in the Late and Terminal Classic periods. The motto of the city is "Where History and Nature Meet."
About the stamps
The stamps are part of the 2005 definitive series of twelve stamps featuring Ecological and Heritage Sites around the country, about which I wrote here.
Benque Viejo del Carmen - Wikipedia
Sender: Joseph Koop (direct swap)
Sent from Spanish Lookout (Belize), on 01.07.2015