Set on a peninsula that juts out into the Caribbean Sea, Belize City may no longer be the capital of Belize (that is Belmopan, since 1970), but it is the country’s largest metropolis. Established in the 17th century as a British trading post for lumber, the city, then known as Belize Town, was an important source of mahogany and logwood. Though the Spanish and English fought over the Central American territory, it became a British colony in 1862, and remained so until it gained independence in 1981. Many of the traditional colonial structures have survived, including the Government House and St. John’s Cathedral, as well as stately houses of the period.Haulover Creek, a tributary of the Belize River, divides the city into north and south sides; the famous Swing Bridge, a manually operated bridge from the 1920s, and much of the local boat traffic are found on this waterway. The north is where many of the cultural attractions are located, including the Museum of Belize and the Fort Street Tourism Village, a harborfront shopping and dining area catering to cruise-goers. Albert Street, on the south side, is considered the main downtown commercial area; it’s lined with stores, gift and souvenir shops, banks and restaurants.