From the 17th century, British settlers, later joined by British soldiers and sailors disbanded after the capture of Jamaica from Spain in 1655, governed themselves under a form of democracy by public meeting. A constitution was granted in 1765 and, with some modification, continued until 1840 when an executive council was created. In 1862 what was then known as British Honduras was declared a British colony with a legislative assembly and a Lieut.-Governor under the Governor of Jamaica. The administrative connection with Jamaica was severed in 1884. Universal suffrage was introduced in 1964 and thereafter the majority of the legislature were elected rather than appointed. In June 1974 British Honduras became Belize. Independence was achieved on 21 Sept. 1981 and a new constitution introduced.
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