Tropical rainforests, Mayan ruins and temples, stunning beaches, picturesque mountains, and a rich history and culture. This is only the beginning of what you’ll experience in Belize.
Located in Central America, Belize is approximately four hours from both New York City and Detroit, six hours from Seattle, five hours from Los Angeles, three hours from Dallas, and two hours from Miami.
Many people believe Belize to be an island, however it is a Central American country bordered by Mexico to the north, Guatemala to the south and west, and the Caribbean Sea to the east. This misnomer is understandable though, given that one of the biggest draws to Belize is for its hundreds of cayes (islands, pronounced “keys”) dotted along a spectacular Barrier Reef, the second largest (behind Australia’s) in the world.
Once here, you will find that and so much more, as Belize is home to some of the greatest historical, cultural and ecological diversity in the world.
In the Beginning
The earliest inhabitants in this area were the Mayans, who were believed to have come here around 1000 BC, thriving for a millennium in an extensive, very advanced and sophisticated civilization of perhaps more than two million people. Even today, Belize is home to one of the largest concentrations of Mayan temples and underground ritual chambers, including Cahal Pech, Xunantunich, Lamanai, Lubaantun and Nim Li Punit, just to name a few.
Somewhere around 1502 the first European, Christopher Columbus, landed on its shores, with a new settlement following in the mid-1600s.
One of the major cultural influences here is that of the Garifuna people. Around 1796, after losing their fight for independence from French and British forces attempting to colonize their native land in the Lesser Antilles (located in the Caribbean Sea generally from the Virgin Islands to Trinidad, and from Margarita to Aruba), the Garifuna were brought to the islands off Northern Honduras, and, unlike Africans who came to the Americas as slaves, set free. Many of them migrated, establishing new communities along the coasts of Nicaragua,
Honduras, Guatemala and Belize.
Their language, dance and music remain today as one of the world’s most influential cultures, including official recognition by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and their official arrival in Belize is celebrated every November 19 as Garifuna Settlement Day.
When the British staked their claim here in 1840, Belize became a Colony of British Honduras, remaining that way until 1964 when it attained its own self-governing status, followed by an official name change to Belize in 1973, and full independence in 1981.
Other ethnic groups settling in Belize in the decades to follow have resulted in the uniquely diverse population that you find today - a vibrant fusion of Maya, Mestizo, Kriol/Creole, Garifuna, East Indian, Mennonite, Arab and Chinese.
This is Belize
Belize today is about the size of Massachusetts and has one of the lowest population densities in the world with close to 350,000 denizens spread out over 8,868 square miles. The country is divided into eight major cities: Belmopan (the capital), Belize, Corozal, Benque Viejo del Carmen, San Ignacio, San Pedro, Orange Walk, and Dangrigia.
Because of the unique amalgamation of its people, you’ll hear several Maya dialects, Garifuna, Spanish, Mandarin, Kriol (Belizean Creole) and, interestingly, English as the official language. In fact, Belize is the only English-speaking country in Central America.
The weather here averages around 84 degrees at about 85 percent humidity, with a fairly constant breeze both inland and along the coastal areas. There are both dry (February to May) and wet (June to December) seasons, but neither too extreme, making Belize a comfortable destination year-round.
The over 200 spectacular cayes scattered off the mainland each offer their own unique Belizean flavor, and together have earned Belize a reputation as one of the world’s happiest, peaceful and friendly tourist destinations.
You will find some of the most genuinely, warm and accepting people here who only desire to be accepted as the beautiful souls that they are, and who live to share a real exchange of energy and passion.
Once you come here you too will start to repeat their country motto: “You Betta Belize It!”
Learn more about Belize!