Belize is located on the East Coast of Central America and it is bordered to the north by Mexico, to the south and west by Guatemala and to the east by the Caribbean Sea. Belize has the lowest population density in Central America with 35 people per square mile or 14 people per square kilometer.
Belize is also known for its extreme biodiversity and distinctive ecosystems. On the coast, there is a swampy coastal plain with mangrove swamps. In the south and interior there are hills and low mountains. Most of our land is undeveloped and is forested with hardwoods. It is a part of the Mesoamerican biodiversity hotspot and it has many jungles, wildlife reserves, a large variety of different species of flora and fauna and the largest cave system in Central America. Some species of Belize’s flora and fauna include the black orchid, the mahogany tree, the toucan and tapirs.
The first people to develop Belize were the Maya around 1500 B.C.E. As shown in archeological records, they established a number of settlements there. These include Caracol, Lamanai and Lubaantun. The first European contact with Belize occurred in 1502 when Christopher Columbus reached the area’s coast. In 1638, the first European settlement was established by England and for 150 years, many more English settlements were set up.
In 1840, Belize became a “Colony of British Honduras” and in 1862, it became a crown colony. For one hundred years after that, Belize was a representative government of England but in January 1964, full self government with a ministerial system was granted. In 1973, the region’s name was changed from British Honduras to Belize and on September 21, 1981, full independence was achieved.
When you come to Belize and you’ll hear familiar words of the English language. Belize is the only English language-speaking country in Central America. While English is the official language of Belize, Kriol is the language that mainly spoken.
When you hear Belizeans talk, you know you’re in a country unlike any other. Even the most up-tight citizens sound relaxed. There is a Caribbean lilt and the words seem a bit shorter. Don’t worry, you’ll understand everything and we may teach you a few phrases you don’t know.
Here, even the language is a diverse adventure. Spanish, African-based Garifuna, Maya-Kekchi, Maya Mopan, Mandarin, German are just a few of the languages that form the unique dialects spoken throughout the country.
In Belize (formerly British Honduras), English remains the official language, but the most diverse language in Belize is Kriol (Belizean Creole). Other languages spoken include Garifuna, Mandarin, Spanish and Maya.
From the moment you arrive in Belize, Belize people and culture make you feel as welcome and comfortable, like nowhere you’ve ever visited.
Belize is truly a melting pot of colorful personalities, making our 380,000 residents the country’s greatest resource for tourism. The Belizean people are made up of Maya, Mestizo, Kriol, Garifuna, East Indian, Mennonite, Arab and Chinese.
There also are a number of expatriates in Belize from Canada, Britain and the United States – and many of them retire here. A blending of cultures has resulted in one of the happiest and most peaceful countries in the region and a widespread reputation as one of the world’s friendliest tourist destination.
With an average yearly temperature of 84° F (29°C), it’s always warm, yet comfortable. Costal sea breezes as well as jungle and rainforests keep you cool even in the hottest summer months while winters can be cool but never very cold. In short, the climate is pretty much near perfect. Even in winter (November-March) the temperature in Belize rarely falls below 60°F (16°C), while the summer (May-September) is around 86°F (30°C). Humidity is also fairly consistent at around 85 percent.
Belize’s dry season is between February and May and has significantly lower rainfall than the rest of the year. When it does rain, it is usually in mild, short bursts.
June through December is the wet season, when parts of the country receive up to 150 inches of rain and the heavy, sometimes wild storms associated with the Caribbean occur, usually in the late afternoons. The most frequent rainfall usually happens in June or early July and is punctuated by a break in late July or August known as the “little dry.”
Belize also has a hurricane season, and while statistically Belize does not attract many major direct hits, it does get its share of severe tropical weather with high winds and rain. However, there is a cooperative early warning network that it shares with the neighbors. The safety, evacuation and other procedures have proven to be effective, so don’t panic.
Belize currency exchange is extremely easy for American visitors. The Belize dollar is locked at $2 Belize = $1 USD. So it’s very easy to see how much something is costing in USD when you go shopping. Most accommodations and tours are listed in US$ prices, and most restaurants, shops, etc. are listed in BZ$. Nearly everyplace readily accepts USD currency.