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Belize
Belice  (Spanish)
Flag Coat of arms
Motto“Sub Umbra Floreo”  (Latin)
"Under the Shade I Flourish"
AnthemLand of the Free
Royal anthemGod Save the Queen
Capital Belmopan
17°15′N 88°46′W / 17.25°N 88.767°W / 17.25; -88.767
Largest city Belize City
Official language(s) English
Recognised regional languages Kriol, Spanish, Garifuna, Maya, Plautdietsch
Ethnic groups  Mestizo, Kriol, Spanish, Maya, Garinagu, Mennonite, East Indian
Demonym Belizean (pronounced /bəˈliːziən/ or /bəˈliːʒən)/)
Government Parliamentary democracy and Constitutional monarchy
 -  Monarch Elizabeth II
 -  Governor-General Sir Colville Young
 -  Prime Minister Dean Barrow
Independence from the United Kingdom 
 -  Date 21 September 1981 
Area
 -  Total 22,966 km2 (150th)
8,867 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) 0.7
Population
 -  2009 estimate 307,899[1] (177th)
 -  2000 census 240,204 
 -  Density 15/km2 (198th²)
38/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2008 estimate
 -  Total $2.548 billion[2] (163rd)
 -  Per capita $8,400[1] (74th)
GDP (nominal) 2008 estimate
 -  Total $1.359 billion[2] 
 -  Per capita $7,914[2] 
HDI (2007) 0.772[3] (medium) (93rd)
Currency Belize dollar (BZD)
Time zone central time (UTC-6)
Drives on the right
Internet TLD .bz
Calling code 501
1 1These ranks are based on the 2007 figures.
2The majority language, but not recognized as official, is Spanish.

Belize (formerly British Honduras), is a country in Central America. Belize has a diverse society, composed of many cultures and speaking many languages. Although Kriol and Spanish are spoken among the population, Belize is the only country in Central America where English is the official language. It is bordered by Mexico to the north, Guatemala to the south and west, and the Caribbean Sea to the east.

With 8,867 square miles (22,960 km²) of territory and 320,000 people (2008 est.),[1] the population density is the lowest in the Central American region and one of the lowest in the world. However, the country's population growth rate, 2.21% (2008 est.),[1] is the highest in the region and one of the highest in the western hemisphere. Belize's abundance of biologically significant and unique ecosystems contribute to Mesoamerica's designation as a biodiversity hotspot.

Belize is culturally unique among Central American nations. It is the only nation in Central America with a British colonial heritage, and is the only constituent nation of the Commonwealth of Nations in its region. Culturally and politically, Belize has strong ties to the Caribbean, but in geographical terms it is Central American.

Contents

History

Etymology

The origin of the name Belize is unclear, but one idea is that the name is from the Maya word be'lix, meaning "muddy water", applied to the Belize River. Others have noted that it stems from the conquistador's mispronunciation of 18th century pirate Peter Wallace. It has also been noted that Belize, having a sizeable proportion of Africans from the ancient Kingdom of Kongo could have brought the name with them, as there is a Belize in Angola as well.

"El Castillo" at Xunantunich

Early History

Before the arrival of Europeans, the Maya civilization spread itself over Belize beginning around 1500 BC and flourished until about AD 800. The recorded history of the centre and south is dominated by Caracol, where the inscriptions on their monuments was, as elsewhere, in the Lowland Maya aristocratic tongue Classic Ch'olti'an.[4] North of the Maya Mountains, the inscriptional language at Lamanai was Yucatecan as of 625 CE.[5]

In the late classic period of Maya civilisation (before A.D. 1000), as many as 400,000 people may have lived in the area that is now Belize. Some lowland Maya still occupied the area when Europeans arrived in the 1500s. By then the primary inhabitants were the Mopan branch of the Yucatec Maya.

Spanish colonists tried to settle the inland areas of Belize, but Maya rebellions and attacks forced them to abandon these efforts.

English and Scottish buccaneers known as the Baymen first settled on the coast of Belize in 1638, seeking a sheltered region from which they could attack Spanish ships (see English settlement in Belize). The settlers turned to cutting logwood during the 1700s. The wood yielded a fixing agent for clothing dyes that was vital to the European woollen industry. The Spanish granted the British settlers the right to occupy the area and cut logwood in exchange for an end to piracy.

By 1724, the Baymen began importing African slaves who spent brief periods in Jamaica, the Miskito Coast of Nicaragua and elsewhere in the Western Caribbean to cut logwood and later mahogany. They led a better life than their fellows in the West Indies, but were still mistreated, systematically raped and bullied. Even so, these slaves assisted in the defence of the fledgling settlement for much of the late 1700s. As early as 1800, Africans outnumbered Europeans by about four to one. By then, the settlement's primary export had shifted from logwood to mahogany. Due to the lack of women in the colony, slave women intermingling with the Baymen whites was very common. This mixture created the Kriol ethnic group, accounting for as much as 60% of the colony's population until independence in 1981.[6]

The Battle of St. George's Caye

The Battle of St. George's Caye' was a short military engagement that lasted from 3 September to 10, 1798, fought off the coast of what is now Belize. However, the name is typically reserved for the final battle that occurred on September 10. The British first appointed a superintendent over the Belize area in 1786. Prior to that time, the British government did not initially recognise the settlement in Belize as a colony for fear of provoking Spanish attack. This delay in governmental oversight allowed the settlers to establish their own laws and forms of government. During this time a few wealthy settlers gained control of the local legislature, known as the Public Meeting, as well as of most of the settlement's land and timber.

The battle took place between an invading force from what would become Mexico, attempting to claim Belize for Spain, and a small force of resident woodcutters called Baymen, who fought for their livelihood assisted by black slaves. The Spanish repeatedly tried to gain control by force over Belize, but were unsuccessful. Spain's last effort occurred on 10 September 1798, when the people of Belize decisively defeated a Spanish fleet at the Battle of St. George's Caye. The anniversary of the battle is now a national holiday in Belize.

As part of the British Empire

In the early 1800s the British sought greater control over the settlers, threatening to suspend the Public Meeting unless it observed the government's instructions to abolish slavery. Slavery was abolished in the British Empire in 1838, but this did little to change working conditions for labourers in the Belize settlement. Slaves of the colony were valued for their potentially superior abilities in the work of mahogany extraction. As a result, former slave owners in British Honduras earned £53.6.9 on average per slave, the highest amount paid in any British territory.[7]

Soon after, a series of institutions were put in place to ensure the continued presence of a viable labour force. Some of these included greatly restricting the ability of individuals to obtain land, a debt-peonage system to organise the newly "free". The position of being "extra special" mahogany and logwood cutters undergirded the early ascriptions of the capacities (and consequently limitations) of people of African descent in the colony. Because a small elite controlled the settlement's land and commerce, former slaves had no choice but to continue to work in timber cutting.[7]

In 1836, after the emancipation of Central America from Spanish rule, the British claimed the right to administer the region. In 1862, Great Britain formally declared it a British Crown Colony, subordinate to Jamaica, and named it British Honduras. As a colony, Belize began to attract British investors. Among the British firms that dominated the colony in the late 1800s was the Belize Estate and Produce Company, which eventually acquired half of all the privately held land in the colony. Belize Estate's influence accounts in part for the colony's reliance on the mahogany trade throughout the rest of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century.

Panoramic view of Belize City, c. 1914

The Great Depression of the 1930s caused a near-collapse of the colonial economy as British demand for timber plummeted. The effects of widespread unemployment were worsened by a devastating hurricane that struck the colony in 1931. Perceptions of the government's relief effort as inadequate were aggravated by its refusal to legalise labour unions or introduce a minimum wage. Demonstrations and riots in 1934 marked the beginning of an independence movement. In response, the government repealed criminal penalties for workers who broke their labour contracts and granted workers the right to join unions.

Economic conditions improved during World War II (1939–1945) when many Belizean men entered the armed forces or otherwise contributed labour to the war effort. Following the war, the colony's economy again stagnated. Britain's decision to devalue the British Honduras dollar in 1949 worsened economic conditions and led to the creation of the People's Committee, which demanded independence. The People's Committee's successor, the People's United Party (PUP), sought constitutional reforms that would expand voting rights to all adults.

Independence

Constitutional reforms were initiated in 1954 and resulted in a new constitution ten years later. Britain granted British Honduras self-government in 1964, and the head of the PUP—independence leader George Price—became the colony's prime minister. British Honduras was officially renamed Belize in 1973. Progress toward independence, however, was hampered by a Guatemalan claim to sovereignty over the territory of Belize. When Belize finally attained full independence on 21 September 1981, Guatemala refused to recognise the new nation. About 1,500 British troops remained to protect Belize from the Guatemalan threat.

With Price at the helm, the PUP won all elections until 1984. In that election, first national election after independence, the PUP was defeated by the United Democratic Party (UDP), and UDP leader Manuel Esquivel replaced Price as prime minister. Price returned to power after elections in 1989. Guatemala's president formally recognised Belize's independence in 1992. The following year the United Kingdom announced that it would end its military involvement in Belize. All British soldiers were withdrawn in 1994, apart from a small contingent of troops who remained to train Belizean troops.

The UDP regained power in the 1993 national election, and Esquivel became prime minister for a second time. Soon afterward Esquivel announced the suspension of a pact reached with Guatemala during Price's tenure, claiming Price had made too many concessions in order to gain Guatemalan recognition. The pact would have resolved a 130-year-old border dispute between the two countries. Border tensions continued into the early 2000s, although the two countries cooperated in other areas.

The PUP won a landslide victory in the 1998 national elections, and PUP leader Said Musa was sworn in as prime minister. In the 2003 elections the PUP maintained its majority, and Musa continued as prime minister. He pledged to improve conditions in the underdeveloped and largely inaccessible southern part of Belize.

In 2005, Belize was the site of unrest caused by discontent with the People's United Party government, including tax increases in the national budget. On February 8, 2008, Dean Barrow of the UDP was sworn in as Belize's first black prime minister.

Throughout Belize's history, Guatemala has claimed ownership of all or part of the territory. This claim is occasionally reflected in maps showing Belize as Guatemala's twenty-third department. As of March 2007, the border dispute with Guatemala remains unresolved and quite contentious.[8][9]. Guatemala's claim to Belizean territory rests, in part, on the terms Clause VII of the Anglo-Guatemalan Treaty of 1859 which (supposedly) obligated the British to build a road between Belize City and Guatemala. At various times the issue has required mediation by the United Kingdom, Caribbean Community heads of Government, the Organization of American States, Mexico, and the United States. Since independence, a British garrison has been retained in Belize at the request of the Belizean government. Notably, both Guatemala and Belize are participating in the confidence-building measures approved by the OAS, including the Guatemala-Belize Language Exchange Project.[10]

Geography

Belize Topography
Map of Belize

Belize is located on the Caribbean coast of northern Central America. It shares a border on the north with the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, on the west with the Guatemalan department of Petén, and on the south with the Guatemalan department of Izabal. To the east in the Caribbean Sea, the second-longest barrier reef in the world flanks much of the 386 kilometres (240 mi) of predominantly marshy coastline. The area of the country totals 22,960 square kilometres (8,860 sq mi), an area slightly larger than El Salvador or Massachusetts. The abundance of lagoons along the coasts and in the northern interior reduces the actual land area to 21,400 square kilometres (8,300 sq mi).

Belize is shaped like a rectangle that extends about 280 kilometres (170 mi) north-south and about 100 kilometres (62 mi) east-west, with a total land boundary length of 516 kilometres (321 mi). The undulating courses of two rivers, the Hondo and the Sarstoon, define much of the course of the country's northern and southern boundaries. The western border follows no natural features and runs north-south through lowland forest and highland plateau. The north of Belize consists mostly of flat, swampy coastal plains, in places heavily forested. The flora is highly diverse considering the small geographical area. The south contains the low mountain range of the Maya Mountains. The highest point in Belize is Doyle's Delight at 1,124 m (3,688 ft).[11]

The Caribbean coast is lined with a coral reef and some 450 islets and islands known locally as cayes (pronounced "keys"). They total about 690 square kilometres (270 sq mi), and form the approximately 320-kilometre (200 mi) long Belize Barrier Reef, the longest in the Western Hemisphere and the second longest in the world after the Great Barrier Reef. Three of merely four coral atolls in the Western Hemisphere are located off the coast of Belize.

Belize has a tropical climate with pronounced wet and dry seasons, although there are significant variations in weather patterns by region. Temperatures vary according to elevation, proximity to the coast, and the moderating effects of the northeast trade winds off the Caribbean. Average temperatures in the coastal regions range from 24 °C (75 °F) in January to 27 °C (81 °F) in July. Temperatures are slightly higher inland, except for the southern highland plateaus, such as the Mountain Pine Ridge, where it is noticeably cooler year round. Overall, the seasons are marked more by differences in humidity and rainfall than in temperature.

Average rainfall varies considerably, ranging from 1,350 mm (53 in) in the north and west to over 4,500 millimetres (180 in) in the extreme south. Seasonal differences in rainfall are greatest in the northern and central regions of the country where, between January and April or May, fewer than 100 mm of rain fall per month. The dry season is shorter in the south, normally only lasting from February to April. A shorter, less rainy period, known locally as the "little dry", usually occurs in late July or August, after the initial onset of the rainy season.

Hurricanes have played key—and devastating—roles in Belizean history. In 1931 an unnamed hurricane destroyed over two-thirds of the buildings in Belize City and killed more than 1,000 people. In 1955 Hurricane Janet leveled the northern town of Corozal. Only six years later, Hurricane Hattie struck the central coastal area of the country, with winds in excess of 300 kilometres per hour (190 mph) and 4-metre (13 ft) storm tides. The devastation of Belize City for the second time in thirty years prompted the relocation of the capital some 80 kilometres inland to the planned city of Belmopan. Hurricane Greta caused more than US$25 million in damages along the southern coast in 1978. On October 9, 2001, Hurricane Iris made landfall at Monkey River Town as a 145 mph Category Four storm. The storm demolished most of the homes in the village, and destroyed the banana crop.

According to the most recent vegetation surveys, approximately 60% of Belize is forested, with only about 20% of the country's land subject to human uses (such as agricultural land and human settlements). Savannah, scrubland and wetland constitute extensive parts of the land. As a result, Belize's biodiversity is rich, both marine and terrestrial, with a host of flora and fauna. About 37% of Belize's land territory falls under some form of official protected status. Although a number of economically important minerals exist in Belize, none has been found in quantities large enough to warrant their mining. These minerals include dolomite, barite (source of barium), bauxite (source of aluminum), cassiterite (source of tin), and gold. In 1990 limestone, used in roadbuilding, was the only mineral resource being exploited for either domestic or export use.

The similarity of Belizean geology to that of oil-producing areas of Mexico and Guatemala prompted oil companies, principally from the United States, to explore for petroleum at both offshore and on-land sites in the early 1980s. Initial results were promising, but the pace of exploration slowed later in the decade, and production operations had been halted. As a result, Belize remains almost totally dependent on imported petroleum for its energy needs. In 2006, the cultivation of newly discovered crude oil in the town of Spanish Lookout, has presented new prospects and problems for this developing nation.[12] The country also possess considerable potential for hydroelectric and other renewable energy resources, such as solar and biomass. In the mid-1980s, one Belizean businessman even proposed the construction of a wood-burning power station for the production of electricity, but the idea foundered in the wake of ecological concerns and economic constraints.

Economy

Oil barge being loaded at Big Creek Port. Crude oil is a potentially lucrative resource of Belize.

Overview

Belize has a small, essentially private enterprise economy that is based primarily on agriculture, agro-based industry, and merchandising, with tourism and construction recently assuming greater importance. In 2006, the exploitation of a newly discovered crude oil field near the town of Spanish Lookout, has presented new prospects and problems for this developing nation.[12] It has yet to be seen if significant economic expansion will be made by this. To date, oil production equal 3,000 bbl/day (2007 est.) and oil exports equal 1,960 bbl/day (2006 est.). Sugar, the chief crop, accounts for nearly half of exports, while the banana industry is the country's largest employer.[12]

The new government faces important challenges to economic stability. Rapid action to improve tax collection has been promised, but a lack of progress in reining in spending could bring the exchange rate under pressure. The tourist and construction sectors strengthened in early 1999, leading to a preliminary estimate of revived growth at 4%. Infrastructure continues to be a major challenge for the economic development of Belize.[13] Belize has the most expensive electricity in the region. Trade is important and the major trading partners are the United States, Mexico, the European Union, and Central America.[13]

Banking

Belize has five commercial banks, of which the largest and oldest is Belize Bank. The other four banks are Heritage Bank, Atlantic Bank, FirstCaribbean International Bank, and Scotiabank (Belize).

Tourism

A combination of natural factors—climate, the Belize Barrier Reef, over 1,000 offshore Cayes (islands), excellent fishing, safe waters for boating, scuba diving, and snorkeling, numerous rivers for rafting, and kayaking, various jungle and wildlife reserves of fauna and flora, for hiking, bird watching, and helicopter touring, as well as many Maya ruins—support the thriving tourism and ecotourism industry. It also has the largest cave system in Central America . Development costs are high, but the Government of Belize has designated tourism as its second development priority after agriculture. In 2007, tourist arrivals totaled 251,655 (more than 210,000 from the U.S.) and tourist receipts amounted to $183.3 million.

Attractions

Belize District

Stann Creek District

Orange Walk District

Cayo District

Toledo District

Corozal District

Education

Transport

Politics

Belize is a parliamentary democracy, a Commonwealth realm, and therefore a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.

The structure of government is based on the British parliamentary system, and the legal system is modelled on the Common Law of England. The current head of state is Elizabeth II, Queen of Belize. Since the Queen primarily resides in the United Kingdom, she is represented in Belize by the Governor-General. However, the cabinet, led by the Prime Minister of Belize, who is head of government, acting as advisors to the Governor-General, in practice exercise executive authority. Cabinet ministers are members of the majority political party in parliament and usually hold elected seats within it concurrent with their cabinet positions.

The bicameral National Assembly of Belize is composed of a House of Representatives and a Senate. The thirty-one members of the House are popularly elected to a maximum five-year term and introduce legislation affecting the development of Belize. The Governor-General appoints the twelve members of the Senate, with a Senate president selected by the members. The Senate is responsible for debating and approving bills passed by the House.

Belize is a full participating member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

Districts and constituencies

Districts of Belize

Belize is divided into 6 districts:

  1. Belize District
  2. Cayo District
  3. Corozal District
  4. Orange Walk District
  5. Stann Creek District
  6. Toledo District

These districts are further divided into 31 constituencies.

Demographics

Two Kekchi Maya Children. The Maya predominate in the Toledo District of Belize

Colonization, slavery, and immigration have played major roles in affecting the ethnic composition of the population and as a result, Belize is a country with numerous cultures, languages, and ethnic groups.[14][15][16] The country's population is currently estimated to be a little over 320,000.[1] Mestizos comprise about 34% of the population, Kriols 25%, Spanish 15%, Maya 11%, and Garinagu 6%.[17]

Maya and early settlers

The Maya are thought to have been in Belize and the Yucatán region since the second millennium BC; however, much of Belize's original Maya population was wiped out by disease and conflicts between tribes and with Europeans. Three Maya groups now inhabit the country: The Yucatec (who came from Yucatán, Mexico to escape the Caste War of the 1840s), the Mopan (indigenous to Belize but were forced out by the British; they returned from Guatemala to evade slavery in the 19th century), and Kekchi (also fled from slavery in Guatemala in the 19th century).[18] The later groups are chiefly found in the Toledo District.

White, initially Spanish conquistadors explored and declared the land a Spanish colony but chose not to settle due to the lack of resources such as gold and the strong defense of the Yucatan by the Maya. Later English and Scottish settlers and pirates known as the "Baymen" entered the area in the 16th and 17th century respectively and established a logwood trade colony in what would become the Belize District.[7]

Kriols

Kriols are descendants of the Baymen log cutters, and Black African slaves brought to Belize to assist in the logging industry.[19] These slaves were mostly Black and the Miskito from Nicaragua and born Africans who had spent very brief periods in Jamaica.[20] Bay Islanders and more Jamaicans came in the late-1800s, further adding these all ready varied peoples have all mixed to create this ethnic group.

Today, identifying as a Kriol may confuse some; a blonde, blue-eyed Kriol is not an uncommon sight as the term also denotes a culture more than physical appearance.[20] Kriol was historically only spoken by them, but this ethnicity has become synonymous with the Belizean national identity, and as a result it is now spoken by about 75% of Belizeans.[17][21] Kriols are found all over Belize, but predominantly in urban areas such as Belize City, coastal towns and villages, and in the Belize River Valley.

Garinagu

The Garinagu (singular Garifuna) are a mix of African, Arawak, and Carib ancestry.[7] More precisely, the average Garifuna is 76% Sub Saharan African, 20% Arawak/Carib and 4% European.[22]

Throughout history they have been incorrectly labeled as Black Caribs. When the British took over Saint Vincent after the Treaty of Paris in 1763, they were opposed by French settlers and their Carib allies. The Caribs eventually surrendered to the British in 1796. The British separated the more African-looking Caribs from the more indigenous looking ones. 5,000 Garinagu were exiled, but only about 2,500 of them survived the voyage to Roatán, an island off the coast of Honduras.

Because Roatán was too small and infertile to support their population, the Garinagu petitioned the Spanish authorities of Honduras to be allowed to settle on the mainland coast. The Spanish employed them as soldiers, and they spread along the Caribbean coast of Central America. The Garinagu settled in Seine Bight, Punta Gorda and Punta Negra, Belize by way of Honduras as early as 1802. However, in Belize November 19, 1832 is the date officially recognized as "Garifuna Settlement Day" in Dangriga.[17]

Mestizos and Spanish

Around the 1840s, Mestizo, Spanish, and Yucatec settlers from Mexico began to settle in the north due to the Caste War of Yucatán.[23] [24] Currently, the Mestizos are the largest ethnic group in Belize, making up 34% of the population in 2000, and Spanish make up 15%. They predominate in the Corozal, Orange Walk, and much of the Cayo district, as well as San Pedro town in Ambergris Caye.[17]

The Mestizo towns of Belize have much more in common with neighboring Yucatán and most of Guatemala and Central America than central, southern or coastal Belize. Towns center on a main square, and social life focuses on the Catholic Church built on one side of it. Most Mestizos and Spanish speak Spanish, English and Kriol.[23]

Other groups

Mennonite children selling peanuts near Lamanai in Belize. Roughly 10,000 German-speaking Mennonites live in Belize, farming the land and living according to their religious beliefs.

The remaining 9% is a mix of Mennonite farmers, Indians, Chinese, whites from the United States, and many other foreign groups brought to assist the country's development. During the 1860s, a large influx of Indians and American Civil War veterans from Louisiana and other Southern states established Confederate settlements in British Honduras and introduced commercial sugar cane production to the colony, establishing eleven settlements in the interior. The 1900s saw the arrival of Asian settlers from mainland China, India, Taiwan, Syria, and Lebanon. Central American immigrants and expatriate Americans and Africans also began to settle in the country.[17]

Emigration, immigration, and demographic shifts

Kriols and other ethnic groups are emigrating mostly to the United States, but also to the United Kingdom and other developed nations for better opportunities. Based on the latest U.S. Census, the number of Belizeans in the United States is appoximately 160,000 (including 70,000 legal residents and naturalised citizens), consisting mainly of Kriols and Garinagu.[25]

Due to conflicts in neighboring Central American nations, Mestizo refugees from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras have fled to Belize in significant numbers during the 1980s, and have been significantly adding to this group.[26] These two events have been changing the demographics of the nation for the last 30 years.[26]

According to estimates by the CIA in 2009, Belize's total fertility rate currently stands at approximately 3.6 children per woman. Its birth rate is 27.33 births/1,000 population, and the death rate is 5.8 deaths/1,000 population.[1]

Language

English is the only official language of Belize due to being a former British colony. It is the main language used in government and education.[27] Although only 5.6% of the population speaks it as the main language at home, 54% can speak it very well, and another 26% can speak some English.

  • Kriol is the most extended language when mother tongue and second/third language speakers are included. 37% of Belizeans consider their primary language to be Kriol, an English Creole of words and syntax from various African languages (namely Akan, Igbo, and Twi),[28] and other languages (Miskito, Caliche). It is also a second or third language for another 40% of the multilingual country.[17] Kriol shares similarities with many Caribbean English Creoles as far as phonology and pronunciations are concerned. Also, many of its words and structures are both lexically and phonologically similar to English, its superstrate language. Due to the fact that it is English-based, all Kriol speakers can understand English. A number of linguists classify Belizean Kriol as a separate language, while others consider it to be a dialect of English.
  • Spanish is the second most extended language in Belize. It is commonly spoken at home by 50% of the population and spoken as a second language to many Belizeans.

English is the primary language of public education, with Spanish taught in primary and secondary school as well. Bilingualism is very common.

English & Spanish Language Proficiency[17]
Language Speaks Very Well Speaks Some Total
English 54% 26% 80%
Spanish 52% 11% 63%
Languages in Belize according to 2000 census[30]
Language Mother tongue speakers Percentage Second language speakers Percentage
Kriol 67,527 32.9% 88,822 49.4%
Spanish 101,422 46.0% 8,121 34.0%
English 7,946 3.9% 59,551 20.9%
Garifuna 16,029 6.1% 71 0.2%
Maya Kek'chi 11,142 4.9% 314 4.5%
Maya Mopan 9,909 3.4% 493 3.0%
Plautdietsch 6,783 3.3% 24 3.2%
Chinese 1,607 0.8% 29 0.7%
Maya Yucateco 1,176 0.6% 13 0.3%
Hindi 280 0.1% 3 0.1%
Others / no answer 1,402 0.7% 1,192 0.6%

Religion

Religious freedom is guaranteed in Belize. Nearly 80% of the inhabitants are Christian, with 49.6% of Belizeans being Roman Catholics and 29% Protestants.[31]. Foreign Catholics frequently visit the country for special gospel revivals. The Greek Orthodox Church has a presence in Santa Elena.[32] Jehovah's Witnesses have experienced a significant increase in membership in recent years. According to the Witnesses, around 3% of the population attended at least one religious meeting in 2007.[33] The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints claims 3,300 members in the country [34]

Other non-Christian minorities include: Hinduism, followed by most Indian immigrants, and Islam, common among Middle Eastern immigrants and has gained a following among some Kriols.

Culture

"The Bliss Center" in Belize City
Garifuna performance at the Bliss Center in Belize City

Cuisine

Belizean cuisine is heavily inspired by British, Mexican and Western Caribbean cuisines. Basic ingredients are rice and beans, often consumed with chickens, pigs, calves and fish or vegetables, coconut milk and fried bananas added to the dishes truly tropical taste. The traditional exotic recipes include armadillo meat, venison and fried paca, brown rodent similar to a guinea pig. This guinea pig is called Gibnut in Kriol, called Tepezcuintle in Mexico and other countries where Spanish speaking is called Paca or Majaz. Another traditional dish is the soup called "Conch Soup" or conch soup that has a characteristic taste and slightly thick consistency that is added okra, potatoes, yams, cassava flour and a touch of toast habanero. The migration has also brought Garifuna dishes based on fish and plantains, among the most famous is the fish Hudut, Darasa, Ereba, Bundiga, etc ... Always accompanied by rich white rice in coconut milk.

Sport

The major sports in Belize are football (soccer), basketball, volleyball and cycling, with smaller followings of boat racing, track & field, softball and cricket. The Cross Country Cycling Classic, also known as the "cross country" race or as Holy Saturday Cross Country Cycling Classic, is considered to be one of the most important Belize sports events. This one-day sports event is meant for amateur cyclists but has also gained a worldwide popularity.

This cycling event in Belize has seven categories based on the age, gender and the route that has to be taken. Action packed and thrilling, this sporting event in Belize is one of the most interesting activities that tourists and visitors from all over the world like to participate in. The cycling routes offer enchanting and mesmerizing views across the meandering rivers and the resplendent greenery of the forest areas. This makes the event even more popular among the tourists.

The history of Cross Country Cycling Classic in Belize dates back to the period when Monrad Metzgen picked up the idea from a small village in the Northern highway. The people in this village used to cover miles on their bicycles to attend the weekly game of cricket in the Belizean villages. He improvised on this observation and added thrill by sowing the idea of a sporting event in the difficult regions of western highways, which was then poorly built.

Folklore

In their folklore, we find the legends of Lang Bobi Suzi, La Llorona, Cadejo, La Sucia, the Tata Duende and X'tabai.

Holidays

The following holidays are observed in Belize.[35]

Date English Name Remarks
January 1 New Year's Day
March 9 Baron Bliss Day Henry Edward Ernest Victor Bliss, commonly known as Baron Bliss (16 February 1869 – 9 March 1926), was a British-born traveller who willed some two million U.S. dollars to a trust fund for the benefit of the citizens of what was then the colony of British Honduras, now Belize.
variable Easter Good Friday and Easter Sunday (both Christian days marking the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ respectively) are both public holidays. When holidays fall on a Sunday, the Monday is given as a public holiday. Therefore "Easter Monday", the Monday following Easter Sunday, is a public holiday.
May 1 Labour Day Address by the Minister of Labour or a representative, followed by parades and rallies held throughout the country. Kite contests, cycle races, harbour regatta, and horse races are held, also.
May 24 Commonwealth Day Celebrated nationwide as the Queen's birthday. National Sports Council holds horse races in Belize City at the National Stadium and in Orange Walk Town at the People's Stadium. Cycle races are held between Cayo and Belmopan.
September 10 St. George's Caye Day The Battle of St. George's Caye was a short military engagement that lasted from September 3 to 10, 1798, fought off the coast of what is now Belize. However, the name is typically reserved for the final battle that occurred on September 10.
September 21 Independence Day The day Belize declared independence from the United Kingdom in 1981.
October 12 Pan American Day Celebrated mainly in Orange Walk, Cayo and Corozal where the Mestizo culture is predominant. Fiestas and beauty contests are held to celebrate Mestizo culture. Horse and cycle races countrywide. Tourism Week: Activities include silent and Dutch auction, grand vacation raffle drawing and fair.
November 19 Garifuna Settlement Day Festivals, parades, and re-enactments, marking the first arrival of the Garifuna in 1832 in Dangriga.
December 25 Christmas The Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.
December 26 Boxing Day A Commonwealth gift-giving traditional holiday.

National symbols

Black Orchid

The national flower of Belize is the black orchid (Prosthechea cochleata), also known as Encyclia cochleata).[36]

Mahogany Tree

The national tree of Belize is the mahogany tree (Swietenia macrophylla). British settlers exploited the Belizean forest for mahogany, beginning around the middle of the 17th century. It was originally exported to the United Kingdom in the form of squared logs, but shipments now consist mainly of sawn lumber. The motto "Sub Umbra Florero" means: Under the shade (of the mahogany tree) I flourish.[37]

Keel Billed Toucan

The Keel Billed Toucan (Ramphastos sulfuratus) is the National Bird of Belize. It is noted for its great, canoe-shaped bill and its brightly colored green, blue, red and orange feathers. Toucans are found in open areas of the country with large trees.

Tapir

Belize's national animal is the Baird's Tapir (Tapirus bairdii), the largest land mammal of the American tropics. It is also known as the mountain cow, although it is actually related to the horse and the rhinoceros. It is protected under the law.

National heroes

The three persons who have received Belize's highest honors, Order of National Hero and Order of Belize. are:

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f "Belize". The World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/bh.html. Retrieved 2008-09-09. 
  2. ^ a b c "Belize". International Monetary Fund. http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2009/02/weodata/weorept.aspx?sy=2006&ey=2009&scsm=1&ssd=1&sort=country&ds=.&br=1&c=339&s=NGDPD%2CNGDPDPC%2CPPPGDP%2CPPPPC%2CLP&grp=0&a=&pr.x=60&pr.y=11. Retrieved 2009-10-01. 
  3. ^ "Human Development Report 2009. Human development index trends: Table G". The United Nations. http://hdr.undp.org/en/media/HDR_2009_EN_Complete.pdf. Retrieved 2009-10-05. 
  4. ^ Houston, Stephen D.; Robertson, J; Stuart, D (2000). "The Language of Classic Maya Inscriptions". Current Anthropology 41 (3): 321–356. ISSN 0010-3204. PMID 10768879. 
  5. ^ Michael P. Closs, <a href=http://www.mesoweb.com/bearc/cmr/21_text.html>The Hieroglyphic Text of Stela 9, Lamanai, Belize</a>, 13 from Closs, 1987
  6. ^ Belize-Guatemala Territorial Issue – Chapter 1
  7. ^ a b c d Johnson, Melissa A. (October 2003). "The Making of Race and Place in Nineteenth-Century British Honduras". Environmental History 8 (4): 598–617. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3985885. 
  8. ^ Nation News 2006
  9. ^ ACP-EU summit 2000
  10. ^ Guatemala-Belize Language Exchange Project
  11. ^ BERDS Topography
  12. ^ a b c Burnett, John (2006). Maya Homeland. Large Oil Field Is Found in Belize; the Angling Begins, 4 January 2007.
  13. ^ a b "Background Note: Belize". Department of State, United States. http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/1955.htm. 
  14. ^ Volz, Joe and Coy, Cissie, "Belize: Central American Jewel," on aarp.org
  15. ^ Smith, Vicki (2007), "Belize beckons with unspoiled Caribbean isles, friendly faces, rich marine life," The San Diego Union-Tribune, February 18, 2007, at SignOnSanDiego.com
  16. ^ Link, Matthew R. (2002), "Central America's perfect, penny-pinching blend of island beaches, virgin rain forest, and Maya mysteries,", Budget Travel, January/February 2002 issue at budgettravelonline.com
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h "Belize 2000 Housing and Population Census". Belize Central Statistical Office. 2000. http://celade.cepal.org/cgibin/RpWebEngine.exe/PortalAction?&MODE=MAIN&BASE=CPVBLZ2000&MAIN=WebServerMain.inl. Retrieved 2008-09-09. 
  18. ^ Cho, Julian (1998). Maya Homeland. University of California Berkeley Geography Department and the Toledo Maya of Southern Belize. Retrieved 4 January 2007.
  19. ^ Belize-Guatemala Territorial Issue - Chapter 1
  20. ^ a b (Johnson,Melissa A.) The Making of Race and Place in Nineteenth-Century British Honduras. Environmental History, Vol. 8, No. 4 (Oct., 2003), pp. 598-617,
  21. ^ (Johnson,Melissa A.)The Making of Race and Place in Nineteenth-Century British Honduras. Environmental History, Vol. 8, No. 4 (Oct., 2003), pp. 598–617, [1]
  22. ^ Crawford, M.H. 1997 Biocultural adaptation to disease in the Caribbean: Case study of a migrant population. Journal of Caribbean Studies. Health and Disease in the Caribbean. 12(1): 141-155. on [2]
  23. ^ a b "Mestizo location in Belize; Location". http://www.mybelizeadventure.com/about_belize/people.php. Retrieved 2008-02-14. 
  24. ^ "Northern Belize Caste War History; Location". http://www.northernbelize.com/hist_caste.html. Retrieved 2008-02-14. 
  25. ^ "Diaspora of Belize" Council on Diplomacy, Washington, D.C. and Consulate General of Belize.
  26. ^ a b "Mestizo location in Belize; Location". http://www.paulglassman.com/bg4.htm. Retrieved 2008-02-14. 
  27. ^ "Belize: Language and Religion". MSN Encarta Encyclopedia. Microsoft Corporation. Archived from the original on 2009-10-31. http://www.webcitation.org/5kwPxvQRn. Retrieved 2008-09-09. 
  28. ^ http://www.kriol.org.bz/
  29. ^ "Belize: Language and Religion". Gordon, Raymond G., Jr. (ed.), 2005. "Garifuna". Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Fifteenth edition. Dallas, Tex.: SIL International. Retrieved on 2007-03-14.. http://www.ethnologue.com/show_language.asp?code=cab/Belize.html#s3. Retrieved 2008-09-09. 
  30. ^ http://www.ethnologue.com/show_country.asp?name=BZ
  31. ^ "[3]", International Religious Freedom Report 2008
  32. ^ Orthodox Church of Belize homepage
  33. ^ "2007 Report of Jehovah's Witnesses Worldwide", Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania
  34. ^ Belize. LDS Newsroom. retrieved 2008-12-13
  35. ^ "National Holidays of Belize" Council on Diplomacy, Washington, D.C. and Consulate General of Belize. Retrieved 5 February 2008.
  36. ^ "National Symbols of Belize" Council on Diplomacy, Washington, D.C. and Consulate General of Belize. Retrieved 5 February 2008.
  37. ^ "National Symbols of Belize" Council on Diplomacy, Washington, D.C. and Consulate General of Belize.

Further reading

  • Belize In Focus: A Guide to the People, Politics and Culture Ian Peedle
  • Belize: A Concise History P. A. B. Thomson
  • Belize: Land of the Free By The Carib Sea Thor Janson
  • Belize: Reefs, Rain Forests, and Mayan Ruins Dick Lutz
  • Confederate Settlements in British Honduras Donald C.Simmons, Jr.
  • Education and Multi-cultural Cohesion in Belize, 1931–1981 Peter Ronald Hitchen Unpublished PhD Thesis. University of Central Lancashire, England. April 2002.
  • Escaping the Rat Race – Freedom in Paradise: Real-life Stories About Living, Working, Investing, and Retiring in Belize by Dr. Helga Peham, 2007.
  • Fodor's Guide: Belize and Guatemala
  • Formerly British Honduras: A Profile of a New Nation of Belize William David Stetzekorn
  • Insight Guide: Belize Huw Hennessy
  • Lonely Planet World Guide: Belize Carolyn Miller Caelstrom and Debra Miller
  • The Making of Belize Anne Sutherland
  • Monrad Metzgen: Notes on British Honduras.
  • Monrad Metzgen, Henry Edney and Conrad Cain Handbook of British Honduras:
  • Monrad Metzgen: Shoulder to Shoulder or the Battle of St George's Caye, 1798.
  • Moon Handbooks: Belize Chicki Mallan and Joshua Berman
  • Our Man in Belize: A Memoir Richard Timothy Conroy
  • The Guatemalan Claim to Belize: A Handbook on the Negotiations James S. Murphy
  • The Rough Guide: Belize Peter Eltringham
  • Time Among the Maya: Travels in Belize, Guatemala and Mexico Ronald Wright
  • Thirteen Chapters of A History of Belize Assad Shoman
  • Traveller's Wildlife Guide: Belize and Northern Guatemala Les Beletsky

External links



Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

noframe
Location
noframe
Flag
Image:bh-flag.png
Quick Facts
Capital Belmopan
Government parliamentary democracy
Currency Belizean dollar (BZD)
Area 22,966 km2
Population 287,730 (July 2006 est.)
Language English (official), Spanish, Mayan, Garifuna (Black Carib), Creole
Religion Roman Catholic 50%, Protestant 27% (Pentecostal 7%, Anglican 5%, Seventh-Day Adventist 5%, Mennonite 4%, Methodist 3.5%, Jehovah's Witnesses 1.5%), none 9.4%, other 14%
Electricity 110/60Hz (North American plug)
Calling Code +501
Internet TLD .bz
Time Zone UTC-6

Belize, [1] formerly the colony of British Honduras, is the only country in Central America without a coastline on the Pacific Ocean (only the Caribbean Sea to its east), and the only one in the region with English as its official language. The country is located between Guatemala to the west and south and Mexico to the north.

Along the Caribbean it is culturally similar to many of Britain's former island colonies. Inland are native Maya people, and especially in the north and northwest of the country Spanish is often spoken. Many refugees from the Caste War of Yucatan settled here. In the south east along the Caribbean coast live the Garifuna (Black Caribs) an Afro-Amerindian culture.

World class attractions include exploring the lush jungles with exotic plants and animals, deep sea fishing, swimming, snorkeling and diving in the Caribbean sea with its attractive reefs, and visiting the Mayan ruins. Belize escaped the bloody civil conflicts of the 80's that engulfed Central America and while it has not been immune to the rampant drug crime and grinding poverty of its neighbors it is a rather safe destination for the most part located in a part of the world that is not always considered safe. Income levels are still very low and the infrastructure is very basic. The Belizians are very proud and friendly to visitors and the tourist industry grew greatly in the last decade.

  • Northern Belize - districts of Corozal (coastal) and Orange Walk (inland)
  • Cayo - teeming with adventure, this central district is filled with jungles, caves, rivers, Mayan ruins and much more
  • Stann Creek - coastal region south of Belize District
  • Toledo - southern coastal/inland region
Map of Belize
Map of Belize
Glass Wing Butterfly, Belize Butterfly Ranch
Glass Wing Butterfly, Belize Butterfly Ranch

Climate

Tropical; very hot and humid; rainy season (May to November); dry season (February to May). Hurricanes season (June to November) brings coastal flooding (especially in south).

Terrain

Flat, swampy coastal plain; low mountains in south. Highest point: Victoria Peak 1,160 m. Lowest Point: Caribbean Sea, at 0 m.

History

Territorial disputes between the UK and Guatemala delayed the independence of Belize (formerly British Honduras) until 1981. Guatemala refused to recognize the new nation until 1991. Tourism has become the mainstay of the economy as the old agricultural products -- sugar, banana, and oranges -- have lost ground. The country remains plagued by high unemployment, growing involvement in the South American drug trade, and increased urban crime. In 2006 commercial quantity oil was discovered in the Spanish Lookout area.

Get in

US, Mexican, Canadian, Australian, and EU passport holders do not need a visa, but need a valid passport. Cruise ship visitors do not even need a passport. The Belize Tourism Board [2] maintains up-to-date information.

By plane

The Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport (IATA: BZE) (ICAO: MZBZ) is in Ladyville, to the northwest of Belize City where it receives international direct flights from Atlanta, Charlotte, Newark, Miami, Dallas, Houston, Flores, San Salvador, Roatan and San Pedro Sula.

By car

From Mexico via Chetumal, or on a much rougher road from Guatemala via Melchor de Mencos.

By bus

Buses from Guatemala City and Belmopan operate to Flores in Guatemala, and to Chetumal in Mexico.

By boat

Several cruise lines call on Belize City. Unfortunately they usually stay only one day, which doesn't allow the opportunity to really see Belize. You can visit one of the Maya ruins, ride an airboat in the salt marshes just outside the city, shop, go to the museum, go to the zoo or take either a short cave rafting trip or go snorkeling, but that's about it. That means about 70% of the things most tourists would like aren't available, not mention the eco-tourism points of interest.

To Puerto Cortés, Honduras, the Gulf Cruza, a small rickety speed boat (20 people) leaves Placencia each Friday at around 9:30AM (4h US$50), going first to Big Creek. It returns to Placencia on Monday. Tickets are sold in the tourist office next to the gas station. Stop by immigration first.

Small speedboats operate on a daily basis between Puerto Barrios in Guatemala to Punta Gorda, cost is around US$20 one way [3]. On Tuesday and Fridays, boats operate from Livingston in Guatemala to Punta Gorda. The ride take no more than 1 hour. Its B$50, which is a rip off! Even worse is the B$30 departure tax plus B$7.50 marine park fee. I never EVER heard of paying a departure tax when leaving by land. Absolute scam!

Get around

Belize is a fairly small country, and transportation between most destinations is rarely long and tedious.

By plane

Tropic Air [4] and Maya Island Air [5] both have multiple flights daily to various towns around the country and to Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker. They fly out of both of Belize City's airports, but flights from Belize City Airport (IATA: TZA) are often significantly cheaper than those out of Phillip Goldson International (IATA: BZE). Domestic flights are generally pretty reasonable, and thus popular if your time is limited and budget is not. Most flights are in small Cessnas that seat around 8-15 people.

By bus

Several competing buslines operate on the main road in the north-south direction from Punta Gorda to Belmopan and Belize City. There are bus stations in the main towns, or simply stand on the side of the highway and wave at an approaching bus. Most buses have a conductor in addition to the driver, who stands by the door and will come to your seat to collect the fare at some point during the trip. Fares run anywhere from BZ$2-25 depending on distance traveled.

Express buses can save up to an hour and a half (depending on the distance of your trip); they do not stop for passengers waiting on the roadside, making only scheduled pick-ups and drop-offs in towns.

Most buses in Belize are retired US school buses [6] (Bluebirds), that have been given a slight makeover, a luggage rack installed, and sometimes a new paint job. They generally aren't too crowded, but you may have to stand occasionally.

Children selling snacks and soft drinks often board the buses at stops, and this is an inexpensive way to have a snack if you've exhausted what you've brought along or just want to try some home-made travel foods.

Car Hire

Of course, if you like to make our own itinerary when travelling around Blize, car hire is an option. There are several car hire companies based at the major airports for travellers convenience and some basic rules to remember are that the roads are bumpy - very bumpy - so a four wheel drive is the best choice. Lighting on minor roads is not great so stick to highways or day time driving. The main highways through Belize are the Northern Highway, beginning at the Mexican border, The Western Highway from Belize City to the border of Guatamala and the Hummingbird Highway. These will take you pretty much anywhere you need to be and are relatively well-maintaned roads.

Talk

As a former British colony the official language of Belize is English, which makes it stand out from its Spanish speaking neighbors. Spanish, Maya, Garifuna (Carib), and Belizean Creole are widely spoken in various parts of the country. Many Belizeans speak a mix of Creole and English among friends, and full English to foreigners.

Buy

The Belize dollar (BZD, usually symbolized with a "$") is officially worth exactly 1/2 of a U.S. dollar. Because of this simple and consistent exchange rate, U.S. dollars are widely accepted, but this means you should be careful to clarify which "dollars" you're talking about when negotiating prices. It's often better to assume Belize dollars because many merchants will jump on your uncertainty and attempt to double their price by saying "No, in US Dollars". Belize dollars come in denominations of $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100; $1 and smaller amounts are coins. The 25-cent coin is often called a "shilling".

Eat

The primary meal found virtually everywhere is red beans, clean rice, and chicken.

Most chicken in the country is prepared and served on the bone.

Rice and Beans is a mixed dish with some spices and usually coconut milk added to make a sweet and hot staple of the Belizean diet. Beans and Rice is white cooked rice with a side of stewed pinto beans.

Citrus plantations are numerous, so fresh oranges and grapefruits are abundant. Pineapples, papayas, bananas and plantains are also grown and sold in roadside markets.

A famous hot sauce in Belize is Marie Sharp's made from the very potent local habanero pepper. It comes in a variety of flavors (mild, hot, extremely hot).

Drink

Belikin is the national beer and comes in four varieties: Belikin Premium, Belikin Beer, Belikin Stout, and Lighthouse Lager. Guinness Stout is also available in Belize but it is brewed by the Belikin Brewing Co. All are sold in returnable bottles, so make sure you are aware of the deposit if you are taking your beverages to go.

One Barrel Rum is the locally-distilled molasses-tasting rum. Travelers Rum has a distillary on the Northern Highway about 6 miles from Belize City with a gift shop and hospitality bar. You can purchase rum in a variety of colors and sizes, up to a 70 gallon cask.

Both are widely available around the country. But if you also like wine there is cashew wine (which is very popular in Belize), ginger wine, sorrel wine and blackberry wine.

Learn

There are great opportunities for scuba diving off of Belize atolls. Check out reefci.com for some very interesting 1 week adventures that are both informative conservation education as well as great scuba diving. If you want to learn about Belize's history the Museum of Belize, House of Culture, and of course, traveling and discovering are recommended.

Stay safe

Note: Violent gang related crime is extremely high as of late, especially in Belize City and surrounding areas. The violence is a relate of narcotic trafficking and the struggle for power in the streets. Rape, theft and assaults are daily occurrences in many parts of the country. Human trafficking also plays a role. Travelers should maintain a high degree of vigilance when traveling the country. As similar in South Africa, Belize can be equally as safe as it is dangerous. Due to the gaps in the economy and the lack of social welfare, many of the poor areas are prone to crime. Exercise caution, don't visit areas that have obvious amounts of poverty or crime, and Belize can be a very safe and rewarding country.

Belize City is one of the most dangerous cities in Belize, although it's very easy to be safe there. It's highly recommended that you remain in the tourist zone that runs just north of the marina to the southern extension to the east of the main canal. There are plenty of khaki tourist police monitoring the area, and should you have a problem, feel free to approach them. Be sure to know the police officer. Belize city is known for corrupted police officers. Just exercise common sense and do not go wandering around alone after dark. Stay near tourist areas or other commercial zones.

Other areas of Belize are generally safe as well, but like any other place in the world, one should always have some skepticism when dealing with strangers. Most are genuinely helpful, but it never hurts to be cautious. Belize City south side is beautiful as well as dangerous. Otherwise, Belize city is a great place to go if you want to eat learn or shop.

Stay healthy

Belize is a relatively healthy country. Bottled water is a must in most areas. And, unless you eat only at ultra-touristic restaurants, dysentery will probably strike at some point; be prepared with over-the-counter medication and prescription antibiotics.

The CDC lists all of Belize except Belize City as a malaria risk area, and recommends the antimalarial drug chloroquine. Other drugs may also be recommended in certain circumstances - consult a qualified professional specialist.

Insect/mosquito bites should be prevented with appropriate clothing, repellents and insecticides, and bed nets if sleeping in non-air-con/unscreened rooms.

The sun, as anywhere else in the tropics, is very intense. A hat, high-SPF sunscreen, and sunglasses should do you fine.

Many places in Belize are very hot and humid, and dehydration is a risk. An expat suggests to drink as much water as you want, and then drink that much again.

The adult HIV/AIDS prevalence rate is currently at 2.5% or 1 per 40 adults, which is 4 times higher than the USA and 25 times higher than the UK. Safety First!

Respect

Belizeans are some of the most socially relaxed people in the world, especially if you venture inland away from the tourist islands of Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker. The pace of life is generally slower in Belize, so it's good practice to begin any social interaction, even to ask a quick question, with eye contact and a genuinely pleasant greeting. Most rural Belizeans enjoy casual conversation and you could easily find yourself chatting it up for a few hours. Hey, it's part of the charm!

The Maya communities can be a little more reserved at times. As always, a little respect and politeness will carry you through.

Contact

Payphones are the most common public phones in country, and accept pre-purchased phone cards.

Internet cafes can be found in larger tourist areas, but are infrequent in rural areas. Keep in touch with expats at the Central America Forum. [7]

This article is an outline and needs more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. Please plunge forward and help it grow!

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

BELIZE, or Balize, the capital and principal seaport of British Honduras, on the Caribbean Sea, in 17° 29' N. and 88° 11' W. Pop. (1904) 99 6 9. Belize occupies both banks of the river Belize, at its mouth. Its houses are generally built of wood, with high roofs and wide verandahs shaded by cocoanut or cabbage palms. The principal buildings are the court house, in the centre of the town, government house, at the southern end, Fort George, towards the north, the British bank of Honduras, the hospital, the Roman Catholic convent, and the Wesleyan church, which is the largest and handsomest of all. Mangrove swamps surround the town and epidemics of cholera, yellow fever and other tropical diseases have been frequent; but the unhealthiness of the climate is mitigated to some extent by the high tides which cover the marshes, and the invigorating breezes which blow in from the sea. Belize is connected by telegraph and telephone with the other chief towns of British Honduras, but there is no railway, and communication even by road is defective. The exports are mahogany, rosewood, cedar, logwood and other cabinet-woods and dye-woods, with cocoanuts, sugar, sarsaparilla, tortoiseshell, deerskins, turtles and fruit, especially bananas. Breadstuffs, cotton fabrics and hardware are imported.

Belize probably derives its name from the French balise, " a beacon," as no doubt some signal or light was raised here for the guidance of the buccaneers who once infested this region. Local tradition connects the name with that of Wallis or Wallace, a Scottish buccaneer, who, in 1638, settled, with a party of logwood cutters, on St George's Cay, a small island off the town. In the 18th century the names Wallis and Belize were used interchangeably for the town, the river and the whole country. The history of Belize is inextricably bound up with that of the rest of British Honduras (q. v.).


<< Belit

Alexandre Beljame >>


Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

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Wikipedia has an article on:

Wikipedia

Contents

English

Proper noun

Belize

  1. An English-speaking country in Central America, formerly called British Honduras. Official name: Belize. The capital is Belmopan, and the chief seaport is Belize City.

Translations

See also


Breton

Proper noun

Belize

  1. Belize

Croatian

Proper noun

Belize m.

  1. Belize

Czech

Proper noun

Belize n.

  1. Belize

Danish

Proper noun

Belize

  1. Belize

Dutch

Pronunciation

Proper noun

Belize

  1. Belize

Estonian

Proper noun

Belize

  1. Belize

Finnish

Wikipedia-logo.png
Finnish Wikipedia has an article on:
Belize

Wikipedia fi

Pronunciation

  • Hyphenation: Be‧li‧ze
  • IPA: /ˈbelitse/

Proper noun

Belize

  1. Belize

Declension


French

Proper noun

Belize

  1. Belize

Anagrams


German

Proper noun

Belize n.

  1. Belize

Hungarian

Wikipedia-logo.png
Hungarian Wikipedia has an article on:
Belize

Wikipedia hu

Proper noun

Belize

  1. Belize

Interlingua

Proper noun

Belize

  1. Belize

Italian

Wikipedia-logo.png
Italian Wikipedia has an article on:
Belize

Wikipedia it

Proper noun

Belize m.

  1. Belize

Norwegian

Proper noun

Belize

  1. Belize

Related terms


Polish

Proper noun

Belize n. (undeclinable)

  1. Belize (country)
  2. Belize (city)

Derived terms

  • (#1)Belizeńczyk m., Belizenka f.
  • (#2)belizeńczyk m., belizenka f.
  • adjective: belizeński

Portuguese

Proper noun

Belize

  1. Belize

Romanian

Proper noun

Belize

  1. Belize

Swedish

Proper noun

Belize

  1. Belize

Turkish

Proper noun

Belize

  1. Belize







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