Belize is a country in Central America. It is the only officially English speaking country in the region. A British colony for more than a century, it was known as British Honduras until 1973, and became an independent nation in 1981. It is bordered to the south and west by Guatemala, to the north and northwest by Mexico and to the east by the Caribbean Sea. Belize is a relatively small country with a total population of approximately 239,000. Belize is the only country in the world able to boast that in a single day it's possible to go from tropical forest to the longest barrier reef (185 miles) in the western hemisphere. English is the official language because Belize was a British colony and retains ties to Britain. However, most Belizeans use the more familiar Belize Kriol, an English-based creole. Spanish is the mother tongue of Mestizo and Central American settlers, and is a second language for much of the country. All share the rich lands that make up Belize. These myriad cultural and racial backgrounds have succeeded in maintaining their distinct heritages, while managing to live harmoniously. The influence of all these cultures has made Belize a remarkably integrated society Belize is steeped in Caribbean culture and the lifestyle here is very casual.
The second largest barrier reef in the world is located off the coast of Belize, and a few miles out to sea are a group of Cayes or small islands, the largest of which is Ambergris Caye, a popular tourist destination. Outside the protective reef is the beautiful Blue Hole, a natural wonder created by a collapsed underwater cave once studied by renowned ocean explorer, Jaques Cousteau. The barrier reef is comprised of more than 170 cayes and atolls as well as numerous mangrove systems both offshore and along the coast. A tremendous wetlands environment exists here offering homes and refuge to many birds, mammals, reptiles, fish and other marine life. Whether your interest is exploring the depths of the sea, or relaxing in a beachfront hammock, this area offers something for all fans of salt water and beach.
The mainland of Belize combines a great variety of landscapes, terrains and vistas. From the soil rich costal belt of the south, and the coastal plains of the north, to the majestic heights of the Maya Mountains and the Mountain Pine Ridge in the west, exploration and adventure abound.
More than 500 Mayan ruins are in the country, so wherever you are, exploring one of these sites is just a short trip away.
Belize is an adventurer's paradise, with the majority of the country made up of pristine jungles, vast caving systems and untold Mayan ruins. Bird watching and flora excursions are some of the best in the world. Our Caving, River Cave Tubing and Rappelling adventures will leave you spell bound, while some of our jungle excursions will satisfy even the hardiest adventurer.
While diving in Belize you will discover the amazing diversity of the pristine reefs and marine life recently declared a World Heritage site. Huge brain corals, soft barrel sponges and purple sea fans are everywhere. You'll encounter spotted eagle rays, giant grouper and nurse sharks. Sea turtles, dolphins and Manta Rays are regularly sighted and with over 250 varieties of tropical fish you can be sure that each dive will be memorable.
Belize is also a Mecca for those interested in fishing. All kinds of fishing spin, fly, trolling - can be experienced all year long, and the abundance of game fish guarantees excellent sport. The estuaries, inlets and mouths to the many rivers are known for their tarpon, snook and jacks. The lagoons and grass flats are known for the bonefish, permit and barracuda. The coral reefs support grouper, snapper, jacks and barracuda while the deeper waters off the drop off are home to sailfish, marlin, bonito and pompano.
Every destination in Belize offers something special. Throughout Belize, the natural ecology varies significantly and adds to the intrigue and expanse of the country's environment. Each district also possesses a unique history that has contributed to the social surroundings that exist today.
A former British colony, Central American Belize is very much Caribbean in spirit. Forty per cent of this English-speaking paradise is protected park and nature reserve land. Enthralling Maya ruins await amid rainforest canopies. Awe-inspiring scuba diving and eco-adventures are on offer along the world's second-longest barrier reef. The 1000-foot-diameter Blue Hole is so big and so blue that it can be seen from outer space. To make the most of your visit, consider domestic flights within Belize.
Climate is sub-tropical, tempered by trade winds. Extreme temperatures in coastal districts range from about 10oC (50oF) to about 35.6oC. (96oF). Belize has an annual mean temperature of 79 degrees Fahrenheit. Belize enters its rainy season at the end of June, and anywhere from light rain showers to heavy storms can be expected through the middle of February. 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 dry spell in August.
Information to know Before You Go ....
A valid passport is necessary for entry into Belize. A 30 day visitors permit will be issued to you upon arrival. Citizens of the British Commonwealth (India excepted), the United States, Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica, and the European community do not require visas for travel to Belize. All other citizens should contact the nearest Belizean Consulate or embassy for more information.
Visitors are permitted to stay in Belize for a period not to exceed 30 days. Extensions are routinely granted at Immigration offices located in San Pedro on Ambergris Caye, Punta Gorda, Belmopan, Orange Walk, and Belize City. For more information the Immigration & Nationality Department in Belmopan can be contacted at 501 822 2611 / 822 2423. Philip S. Goldson International Airport is situated 10 miles from Belize City, in Ladyville. Regular international services to and from the United States, Central America, and Mexico are maintained by a number of airlines, including American, Continental and Taca . Taxi fare from the International airport to Belize City is around $US20. Flights to Belize have more information about air carriers serving Belize.
Departure Tax A US$35.00 departure tax per person is required when leaving the Belize Int' Airport. Visitors leaving by the northern border with Mexico or the western border with Guatemala pay US$ 17.50 in US or Belizean currency.
The currency unit is the Belize dollar (BZ$). The fixed rate of exchange is BZ$2 to US$1. There are four commercial banks. All four cash travelers checks, give cash advances on Visa or Master cards and have wire transfer services: Belize Bank, First Caribbean Bank, Atlantic Bank, and the Canadian-based, Bank of Nova Scotia.
Time Zone - The time zone is Central Standard; Mountain Standard during Daylight Savings time in the US. Daylight Savings is not observed in Belize.
Have a pleasant trip,