Belize

by McNab VS
Belize

Despite the fact that, in recent years, Belize has taken Its place In the Caribbean. As an undoubtedly unique destination, it still remains a mystery to many. Often, if Belize is mentioned in conversation, many respond with, Belize… Where is that?

Location and Size

Formerly known as British Honduras, Belize is located on the mainland of Central America with the Caribbean Sea to the East. The country is nestled between Mexico to the North and Guatemala to the West and South. It is both Central America and The Caribbean – a beautiful fusion of the two.

With fewer than 400,000 inhabitants living in just less than 9,000 square miles, Belize has the lowest population density in all of Central America. To put that into perspective, if we were to directly compare the size of Belize to the United States or the United Kingdom, for example, Belize is a little bigger than the state of New Jersey, and would fit almost exactly into the UK country of Wales. The country is divided into 6 districts all with their own unique character, charm, and diversity.

Belize Language

The main languages in this charming country are English, Creole, Spanish, and Maya. However, in this melting pot otherwise known as Belize, there are many other languages used such as Lebanese, German, and Mandarin.

Wonders of Belize (We have a thing or two to boast about!)

Despite it is small size, Belize boasts some of the most incredible sight-seeing destinations in the world. Belize is home to the Largest Living Barrier Reef in the Western Hemisphere and the 2nd Largest in  the  World. We’re also famous for the mysterious Great Blue Hole, which is ranked as one of The 10 Most Amazing Places on Earth by The Discovery Channel. Continuing with the many assets our Barrier Reefs provides us, Belize is home to 3 of the 4 atolls in the Western Hemisphere. The 3 atolls located off Belize’s coast are: Glover’s Reef Atoll, Lighthouse Reef Atoll, and Turneffe Atoll, and provide the most incredible diving opportunities.

Inland, Belize is home to the world’s first and only Jaguar Preserve, an astounding number of ancient Maya sites, and the largest Maya Cave System  throughout Central America. Belize was home to the largest concentration of the ancient Maya people in the region. Searching for the tallest waterfall in Central America? We have that too – the 1,000– foot falls in the Cayo district is a wonder to visit.

Belize’s Diverse Culture

Belize’s long list of natural attractions is mirrored by a unique cultural diversity. Ethnic groups include most prominently the English, Kriol, Garifuna, Mestizo, and Maya peoples. This modern melting pot further includes groups such as West Indian, Eastern European, North American, Mennonite, Chinese, and Lebanese. Altogether, the people of Belize have formed a rich and distinctly Belizean culture of their own.

If you are accustomed to a fast-paced lifestyle, Belize can take some getting used to… Belize has its own version of island time. “Right now” may mean a little while. “A lee while…” may mean later, or tomorrow. For some travelers however, this is a welcome change. Perhaps a siesta in a breezy hammock is just what you needed.

What food you can expect to find here…

There is so much to choose from. Every region, every ethnic group, contributes to the rich variety. From the Spanish influence of North and Central Belize, to Seafood, rich Garifuna fare, plus our usual ‘staples.’ Almost everywhere in the country you can get a tasty, filling plate of rice and beans with its succulent stewed chicken and gravy. There are also vendors everywhere offering Meat Pies, an English type pastry filled with ground beef, also tacos and tamales. We even have ambulatory food trucks which feature local dishes plus our own version of a juicy hamburger.

The majestic beauty of Belize’s Caribbean coast, combined with its many inland adventure opportunities, often inspire travelers to return. Repeat visitors are common, as the country is praised for its friendly locals and eye-opening exploration opportunities.

National Symbols

National Tree – Mahogany Tree

Better known as “the giants of the rainforest”, this is one of the biggest trees in the rainforest, reaching a height of  over 100 feet. In the middle of the 17th century, the British settlers exported Mahogany to the UK as squared logs to make furniture. It has a reddish-brown colour which,  when carved and polished, acquires a beautiful red sheen. The Mahogany Tree is also displayed on the Flag of Belize. 

National Bird – Keel Billed Toucan

These toucans are very sociable, with their vibrant yellow, green, red, orange, and black colours. They are distinguished by their canoe-shaped bill and frog–like croak. Like many birds, their diet consists of fruits, insects, and lizards. If you would like to get a closer look at them, you can visit the Belize Zoo or they may be found wherever there are trumpet trees.

National Flower – Black Orchid

The Black Orchid is one of the hundred species of orchids found here in Belize. It has some tiny greenish-yellow petals and the large petal is dark purple, which almost looks black, hence the name. It grows in damp areas and mainly flourishes in Central America, the West Indies, Colombia, Venezuela, and Florida. 

National Animal – Tapir

Known  to Belizeans as  “the mountain cow”, Tapirs are the largest land mammal in Central and South America. The Tapirs are vegetarian; their diet consists of fruits, vegetables, and leaves. They spend most of their time in water and are very strong swimmers. You can distinguish them by their dusty brown colour and sometimes white patches near their throat and chest. Tapirs are short animals – 3 feet in height, 6 feet in length and have short stumpy legs. This national animal is protected by law, and hunting it is illegal.

Weather in Belize

Similar to other countries in Central America, there are two seasons – wet and dry. The wet season, or hurricane season in Belize, is from June to November while the dry season is December to May.

The temperature around dry season ranges from about 70 degrees F in certain areas to 90 degrees F. The temperature differs by region. Coastal areas experience average temperatures of no less than 60 degrees F while areas in the hills experience 50-55 degrees F during the “cold” weather. 

Being here during the wet season can mean that your days would start off sunny with intermittent shower. In the event of torrential rain, certain tours may be cancelled due to flooding of the river, or impassable areas. The weather during this time usually is humid and still very hot leading up to November when it begins to get mild.