Belize is a small, independent country (not an island) nestled between the borders of Mexico and Guatemala and the shallow shorelines of the Caribbean Sea. Tiny English-speaking Belize was once known as British Honduras, a colony mainly known for Mahogany and Sugar production. “British Honduras” became the country of Belize, gaining its political Independence in 1981 – peacefully, and democratically. Belize is now a promising developing nation and a jewel of a tourist destination.
Belize’s landmass is small, about the size of the state of Massachusetts, USA. However, its diversity is staggering, both in terrain, ethnicity, and culture. Belize boasts the largest Barrier Reef in this hemisphere, pristine coral islands, rainforest, jungle, wildlife, and varying food and customs throughout the country.
Here, Mestizos, Maya, Asian, East Indian, Middle Eastern, Mennonite, Garifuna, and Creolemerge to form a unique exotic personality.
Districts of Belize
The country is divided into seven “Districts” from flatlands in the North to mangrove shores on the coast, to the jungle and mountains in the West and South. Moreover, in the North, near the Mexican border, there is a distinct Spanish “feel”. Belmopan, the new capital of Belize, was built inland to protect from hurricanes after Hattie in 1961 practically destroyed the former capital – Belize City.
The Southern districts of Toledo and Dangrigaboasts jungle, mountains, and beaches. This is the region rich in Maya and Garifuna cultures. TheKekchiMaya are of course the original inhabitants of this land. The Garifuna people are the descendants of the Arawak Indians who came to these shores in dug-out canoes from the island of St. Vincent in search of freedom. Both peoples have kept their language and customs, dress, dance, music alive.
Conservation Organizations In Belize
From its inception, Tourism in Belize has been sustainable and eco-friendly.
Our country works hand in hand with International Organizations which promote conservation. Our iconic “Blue Hole” has been deemed a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, as well as the Lighthouse Reef Atolls. PACT (The Protected Areas Conservation Trust) has designated protected areas such as our Jaguar Reserve and the Belize Zoo which features animals in their Natural Habitat. The Belize Audubon Society has been a long-standing partner and sponsor of Birding. The Wildlife Conservation Society assists in providing safe guidelines for responsible fishing practices.
Although Belize has become more popular, to many it is still a secret treasure. It is not as remote as one would imagine – only a two-hour flight from both Miami and Houston.
Today it is astonishing to see how polished this Jewel has become – with modern infrastructure, clean air, friendly people, and accommodation for every adventure seeker’s taste and pocket.
Come and explore!
Written by: Nelita Castillo