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Welcome to Belize the land of the Free by the Carib Sea.jpg

Capital: Belmopan
Population(2005): 279,500
Size: 8,867 sq mi (22,965 sq km)

"Under the shade I flourish." National Motto


10531795-brushstroke-flag-belize.jpgNAME that country - BELIZE 
No one really knows for sure where the name Belize originated, but some suggest it was derived from the Mayan Word “belix”, which means muddy river. During its colonial period, this Central America country was officially British Honduras.

 

Belize is a unique independent country located in the Western Caribbean within Central America and nestled between Mexico and Guatemala. Consisting of approximately 8,866 square miles of land mass and 266 square miles of offshore islands, Belize offers an intriguing mix of tropical forest, rich with wildlife, majestic mountains, mysterious ancient Mayan Ceremonial Temples, coupled with diving and fishing opportunities beyond compare.

 

Belize's Population of approximately 285,000 is a diverse culture of languages and ethnic groups. These include the Creole, Garifuna, Mestizo, Spanish, Mayan, English, Mennonite, Lebanese, Chinese and East Indian languages. English however, remains the most common language spoken, followed closely by Creole and Spanish.

 

Inland Belize is a treasure trove of Mayan archaeological temples and ceremonial sites, some of which have remained hidden in the jungles for hundreds if not thousands of years and are yet to be discovered. Belize can boast of having the largest Cave System in Central America, the only Jaguar Reserve in the entire world, and over 500 species of birds. Belize truly is an Adventurer's Paradise.

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Belize Comprises of over 200 small islands locally known as Cayes (pronounced "keys") along the 176 mile coastline. The pristine offshore waters of Belize nurture the beautiful sugar white sandy beaches and magnificent blue waters. Divers, snorkelers, marine biologists, and fishermen have come to recognize Belize as one of the finest water-sport destinations in the world. The Belize Barrier Reef, which is the largest living Barrier Reef in the entire Western Hemisphere, offers a natural habitat for the propagation of every form of tropical marine life common to the Western Hemisphere.

 

Climate: The climate is Sub-tropical, constantly tempered by trade winds. Temperatures in the coastal regions range from about 10oC (50oF) to about 35.6oC. (96oF). Belize has an annual mean temperature of 26oC (79oF). Annual Rainfall in Belize varies from an average of 50 inches in the north to 180 inches in the extreme south. The dry season usually extends from February to the end of May, with a possible short dry spell in August. 

Geography

Belize is an independent state within the Commonwealth of Nations, Central America, on the Caribbean Sea. Belize is bounded on the N by Mexico, on the S and W by Guatemala, and on the E by the Caribbean. The capital is Belmopan. Belize City, the capital until 1970, is the largest city and main port.

Lushious Cayo.jpg

 Land and People

The land is generally low, with mangrove swamps and cays along the coast, but in the south rises to Victoria Peak (c.3,700 ft/1,128 m high). The climate is subtropical. Although most of the area is heavily forested, yielding mahogany, cedar, and logwood, there are regions of fertile savannas and barren pine ridges.Besides the capital and Belize City, other important urban areas are Orange Walk, Corozal, and Dangringa.

 

Although only a small fraction of the land is cultivated, agriculture provides about 75% of Belize's exports, the chief of which are sugar, citrus fruits, and fish. Clothing and woods are also important products and export items, and tourism and construction are increasingly significant to the economy.

 

 *Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition, Copyright (c) 2006. 

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Belize Ethnic Groups 

Belize is a melting pot of various ethnicities co-habiting in harmony.  Today Belize boasts of cultural aspects from different cultures. Here is a timeline listing the current ethnic cultures in Belize and their date of arrival:

 

Ethnic Group (click to learn more)

Year of Arrival

 

Maya 
Creole
 
Garifuna
 
Mestizo
 
East Indian, Syrian, Lebanese
 
Chinese, Taiwanese, Korean
 
Mennonite (Dutch/German farmers)
 

2500 B.C. 
1800'S 
1802 
1847 
1858 
1865 
1958


The first to inhabit Belize was the Maya; the Maya civilization are indigenous to the lands of Belize since 2500 B.C.  Then the Garifuna migrated to Belize around 1802 after running from British invaders.  Shortly after, the Mestizo fled from the Caste War of Yucatan to the northern regions of Belize in 1847.  At about the same time in the 1800's, the Creole were being born into Belize from African slaves and European merchants.

With indentured labor, the East Indians and East Asians were brought to Belize in 1858 and 1865 respectively. They were followed by the Mennonites who came into Belize in 1958 pursuing a life free of religious persecution and the pressures of modern society.

 

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Northern Belize Culture" and "Southern Belize Culture" and their subpages.

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Transportation

Transortation Most visitors travel to Belize by air, but you can also get here by road or boat.

Around Belize by Air

Flying is the easiest, most economical and time efficient method of travel in Belize.

Maya Island Air services most major cities, Ambergris Caye (San Pedro) and Caye Caulker. The airline is also available for charter flights within Belize and neighbouring countries.

Blancaneaux Lodge, Laminai Outpost, Lighthouse Reef and Chan Chich all have landing strips.

There are direct flights from the US to Belize from Miami, Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, Charlotte, New York and Los Angeles. The major airlines servicing Belize are:

  • American Airlines 1.800.433.7300 www.aa.com 
  • Delta Air Lines 800.241.4141 www.delta.com 
  • USAirways 1.800.428.4332 www.usairways.com 
  • Grupo Taca 1.800.535.8780 www.grupotaca.com


Domestic airlines

Two airlines provide several daily scheduled flights to major destinations within the borders of Belize.
  • MayaIsland Air 1.800.521.1247 (within USA) www.mayaairways.com 
  • Tropic Air 1.800.422.3435 (within USA) www.topicair.com 
                           

Around Belize by Road

Driving around Belize is easy, if not sometimes bumpy when journeying off-road.

Be sure to book your four-wheel drive vehicle with a reputable company. Most rental companies will not allow you to cross the border into Guatemala or Mexico, so ask before you rent.

Taxis, shuttles and public buses service most of the country.

Belize Bus Schedules:
Belize has an inexpensive and reliable bus service between all the major towns. Almost every day, buses leave Belize City every hour for towns to the north and west. Towns to the south, like Dangriga and Placencia, are limited to a few runs each day. The buses are comfortable and safe... and the views are spectacular.

Weather

The gorgeous weather that Belize experiences year round is just one of the many reasons that the country continues to be sucha popular vacation spot. To learn more about what to expect when you visit, check out our Weather article. More...



Socializing


Belize beautiful-beach-with-chaise-lounge.jpgBelizeans are informal and friendly in greeting one another. It is considered rude not to hail even a slight acquaintance or greet the clerk or receptionist when entering a place of business.

A simple nod of the head or a wave is acceptable when passing someone on the street, and acquaintances might also be greeted with Hey, how yu di do? (“Hello, how are you?”) or Y’all right? (“How are you?”). When stopping to talk to someone, a handshake is common. Among friends, one might shake hands by clasping the palms and locking thumbs, or by locking all fingers, or just pressing fists together. Men might pat each other on the back when they shake hands. Mestizos might say ¡Buenos días! (“Good morning!”), ¡Buenas tardes! (“Good afternoon!”), ¡Buenas noches! (“Good evening!”), or just ¡Buenas! at any time of day. In Creole, one might use Wa di gwan? (“What’s happening?”) or a number of other phrases.

In formal situations, people are addressed using their titles, but otherwise first names are used. Children usually address their elders by adding Miss or Mister before the name, and they often answer questions by saying “Yes, ma’am” or “No, sir.”
Since the introduction of television in 1980, visiting has played a diminishing role in everyday life in the cities, although it is still important in villages. Belizeans generally take care to make even unexpected guests feel at home. Arranged visits most often occur on weekends. When visiting a home, a lengthy conversation might take place over the fence before one is invited into the yard or home.

Dinning

The rich history and cultural influences on Belize can be tasted in the unique and flavorful dishes found only here. With options to fit every taste and budget, restaurants throughout Belize will keep you coming back for more.

Clothing and Attire

Unlike many of the Caribbean's other British colonies, in Belize the atmosphere is slightly more wild, with an eye on outdoor adventure over black tie affairs.

Unless traveling for business, it's best to leave dressier options back home. You will find no occasion to wear expensive clothes, jewelry, and watches, except if you plan to go out for a nice meal or two. Most of your clothing should be suitable for outdoor comfort.

You'll want to pack loose-fitting pants and clothes made of lightweight fabrics. Bring shoes that are appropriate for a jungle trek, and beachwear as well. A hat with a brim will be an important accessory to block some of the sun's powerful rays from your face. The hat will serve double duty when Belizean rain showers pour.

Remember that diving and hiking are two main activities, so pack accordingly for much time spent in the sun and on the water. This means plenty of protective clothing, from hats and sunglasses for your face and eyes to sunblock to protect the rest of you.

With this in mind, you'll find that Belize's laid-back style means that comfort in clothing is the key to packing properly for your beach and jungle adventure.

National Flower: Black Orchid 
National Tree: Mahogany
National Bird: Killed-billed toucan 
National Animal: Tapir (mountain cow)

 


Quick Facts About Belize

  • Location:On the Caribbean coast of Central America, just below Mexico, in front of Guatemala
  • Capital City:Belmopan City
  • Land area:8,867 sq. miles (roughly the size of Connecticut)
  • Population:270,000
  • Belizean Culture:Over 10 different cultures living in harmony with Spanish, Maya, Kekchi, Chinese, Indian
  • Official language:English
  • Currency: Belize dollar
  • Daily saving: Does not observe Daylight Savings Time
  • Electricity: 110v



The Basics