BELIZE

Capital of Belize: Belmopan
Official language: English , but Spanish is classed as one of the 8 recognised regional languages.
The currency: The Belize Dollar
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Population

Belize was previously known as British Honduras and was Britain’s last remaining colony in the Americas at one point. This means that it is the only English speaking country in the region. With a size of 22,966 km2 it is only slightly bigger than El Salvador, which is the smallest country in Central America. However, its small population of just 338,000 means that it is by far the least populated country in the region, as well as having the lowest population density. Having said that, Belize currently experiences one of the strongest population growth rates in the western hemisphere.

Diversity is the key word for Belize, both in terms of the people who live here and the wildlife that also inhabits this stunning country. There is a distinct Caribbean feel to this country, which only celebrated full independence from Great Britain as recently as 1981. Interestingly, this small Central American country has a claim to fame as the birthplace of chewing gum. You might be lucky and even see some chewing gum trees while you are here. The ethnic mix here has produced some wonderful new creations too, notably in the local cuisine and in music, with punta music having its spiritual home in Belize. It is also the only country in the world whose national flag has humans depicted on it.

Must see places in Belize

Xunantunich

Xunantunich

This is one of the most famous Mayan archaeological sites in Belize, just a kilometre or so from the border with Guatemala. The name is Mayan for Stone Woman and was given to the site after a number of people claimed that the ghost of a woman dressed in white was sighted here. She is said to disappear into stone walls when walking about Xunantunich. There are many more Mayan sites throughout the country and you could end up getting a real taste for this intriguing culture before you go home.

Altun Ha

Another fine Mayan site can be found at Altun Ha. One of the items uncovered here was a big jade piece that had been carved into the form of the head of the Mayan sun god. This is one of the country’s national treasures and can be seen on a number of banknotes. The jade head is in a museum in Belmopan and what you can see her are the ruins of the Mayan site. Tour trips out here will often include a trip to a spa or to a local village.

Belize City

This is the biggest city in the country and was the capital until it was heavily damaged by the forces of nature. The total population is fewer than 80,000. This is the financial and industrial centre of the country. Belize City sits on the Caribbean coast and has a distinctly Caribbean feel to it. The Belize City Carnival take places in September and Garifuna Settlement Day is in November. There are a few museums of interest and big cruise liners often stop here too.

Crooked Tree

The village of Crooked Tree has sandy roads and a cool, intimate feel to it. It sits within the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary and has a visitor centre where you can find out what is worth doing locally. The most popular tourist activity here is bird watching. There are hundreds of different types of birds who live in the lagoon next to the village and spotting them is easy. Among the top species is the spectacular Jabiru stock, which is the biggest flying bird in all of the Americas. Finally, the Cashew Festival in May is a fun event.

The Great Blue Hole Belize

The Great Blue Hole

When it comes to Belize,  we cannot go without mentioning The Great Blue Hole. A massive sinkhole that reaches 123m in depth and has 300m of diameter is the ultimate diver’s paradise. Surrounded by reefs, caves and sharks it is incomparable natural wonder and it is considered the symbol of Belize. The world’s largest natural formation of its kind, the Great Blue Hole is part of the larger Barrier Reef Reserve System, a World Heritage Site of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

 

Belmopan

This small city became the capital of Belize after Hurricane Hattie caused extensive damage to Belize City in the early 1960s. It is located close to the exact centre of the country and is easy to get to. With a population of less than 15,000 this is one of the smallest and most relaxed capital cities you are ever likely to visit. In such a small city, you can imagine that the list of tourist attractions is limited. Walking around and watching people go about their daily lives is one of the best ways to get to know Belmopan and it is also a good place to buy souvenirs. Tuesday and Friday are market days.

Corozal

Corozal is a friendly, sleepy kind of place where stress appears to be a completely unknown concept and where the lovely bay is the focal point. The whole place virtually shuts down on Sundays and there are rarely many tourists around here at any time. The Mayan ruins at Santa Rita are close by and there is also a butterfly farm in the surrounding area. Boat trips out to the islands next to Corozal can be arranged here too. The Cerros Ruins are across the other side of the bay and getting a boat there is the simplest way of seeing them.

San Ignacio

The inland jungle town of San Ignacio is also known as Cayo. It sits on the Macal River and enjoys a location from which exploration of the area is possible. It is in the Cayo region of Belize, which is renowned for its number of interesting ruins, rivers and caves. Some fine beaches aren’t too far away from here either.

Dangringa

This is a town in Belize that doesn’t look all that great at first sight but that is famous for its friendly inhabitants. Dangringa is a popular stopping off point while travelling around the country and seeing the full range of attractions it offers. The Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary is the big attraction here and it is worth making the effort to find a guide to show you around.

Orange Walk Town

This town is the capital of the Orange Walk district in the north of the country. It is fairly close to Belize City, making it easy to get here if arriving by plane. This is a nice place to walk around and the early morning market with breakfast tacos will get your day off to a wonderful start. It is regarded as a very safe town for tourists and offers easy access to the Mayan ruins at Lamanai. A river tour at Orange Walk Town should let you see crocodiles and moneys as well lot of exotic birds.

Punta Gorda

This is the most southerly town in Belize and has around 5,000 inhabitants. The people who live here come from the various different ethnicities fond in the region, making it a place where travellers feel as though they are seeing the real Belize. Things get liveliest on market days in Punta Gorda. It is also a good base to use for heading out and exploring the countryside and the Lubaantun Mayan ruins.

Things to do in Belize

See the Mayan Ruins

Before you head off to Belize you might not realise exactly how many amazing Mayan ruins there are in this country. While there are famous ruins in some of the neighbouring countries, here you will find very special sites with few tourists and the chance to live and breathe the history of this ancient civilisation.

Marvel at the Wildlife

There are few places on the planet where you will enjoy looking at the wildlife like you do in Belize. There are countless opportunities to do this across the country in various locations. Exotic birds, crocodiles, monkey and butterflies are among the top creatures to look out for here. The huge level of diversity in the wildlife here means that you never know what you will see next.

Get Out of the City

If we’re being completely honest, getting out of the city in Belize is going to be easy to do. Even the biggest city in this beautiful country isn’t exactly a sprawling metropolis. While Belmopan and Belize City are interesting places to spend some time, the real charms of Belize are to be found in the smaller towns and villages as well as in the countryside.

Check Out the Culture

If we’re being completely honest, getting out of the city in Belize is going to be easy to do. Even the biggest city in this beautiful country isn’t exactly a sprawling metropolis. While Belmopan and Belize City are interesting places to spend some time, the real charms of Belize are to be found in the smaller towns and villages as well as in the countryside.

Head to the Jungle

Belize is famed for having some of the finest and most pristine jungle areas in the world. If you want to explore places where the rest of the world feels very, very far away then this is an ideal spot to do it. Arranging jungle treks and tours is easy to do and immensely rewarding too.

Best time to visit Belize

Tourists visit Belize from December through May

The high season for tourism here is in the dry season, from December through to May. The end of year holiday season is a popular time of year with visitors and prices can be higher in December than at other times. Hot and humid is the name of the game in Belize, as it is all over Central America. The temperature varies very little throughout the day and, indeed, throughout the year. It gets cooler in higher altitude regions, though. The year is split up into the dry season and the rainy season. The wet part of the year is from May to November. In truth, the first part of the rainy season usually sees some rain fall, with the dry season only really beginning in February and continuing until April.

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