Size: 8,867 sq mi (22,965 sq km)
"Under the shade I flourish." National Motto
NAME 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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 airlinesTwo 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.