Belize (formerly British Honduras), is a country in Central America. Belize has a diverse society, composed of many cultures and speaking many languages. This country comprises of a multi-racial makeup, which includes the Mestizo, Creole, Mayan, Chinese and Garifuna, these being the main ethnic groups with the Arabs, German/Dutch and Asians being the minority. Although Creole and Spanish are spoken among the population, Belize is the only country in Central America where English is the official language.
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, Belize considers itself to be Central American but keeps ties to the Caribbean Islands.
Location – Belize is located in the northern hemisphere above the equator; Belize is bounded on the north by Mexico, the south and west by Guatemala, and to the east by the Caribbean Sea.
Belize’s geographic coordinates are between:
- 15° 52′ 9″ and 18° 29′ 55″ north latitude
- 87° 28″ and 89° 13′ 67″ west longitude
Getting to Belize is easy – by air, by land, and by sea!
Capital and Major City & Towns: (Capital) Belmopan City, (City) Belize City, (Towns) San Ignacio, Santa Elena, Corozal, Orange Walk, Dangriga, Punta Gorda, San Pedro and Benque Viejo del Carmen
Climate: Sub Tropical tempered with usual cool sea breeze. Average annual temperature is 80 Degrees Fahrenheit. Light informal clothing works best. Rainy season is between June to August.
Language and Population: The population of Belize is approximately 311,000. English is the official language and widely spoken. Belizean also speak English- based Creole (Kriol). Other languages spoken throughout Belize include: Spanish, Garifuna, Maya and Mandarin.
Time Zone: Belize occupies time zone GMT-6, same as US Central Standard time and daylight savings time is not observed.
Legal System – The law of Belize is derived from English Common Law, supplemented by local legislation. The court system is also similar to that of England, and contract and commercial law is based on the English law model.
Currency: The local currency is the Belize dollar which is tied to the US dollar with a fixed exchange rate of BZ$2=US$1(since 1976). Exchange rates and control monitored by the Central Bank of Belize.
Economy: Tourism is the number one foreign exchange earner in this small economy, followed by exports of marine products, citrus, cane sugar, bananas, and garments
Tourism: A combination of natural factors—climate, the Belize Barrier Reef, over 1,000 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. Of the hundreds of cave systems, it also has the largest cave system in Central America.
Political: An independent member of the British Commonwealth since September 21, 1981, Belize has a long history of peace, stable, democratically elected (every five years) parliamentary government with two major parties. The political system is based on the British Westminster model with Queen Elizabeth II being represented by a Belizean Governor General.
Communications: All automatic systems: Direct dialing with major countries in the world. Telexes, faxes, cellular, email and internet are also readily available. Belize has excellent satellite and fiber-optic telecommunication services including international roaming with its GSM network. Internet access is readily available through satellite, cable and DSL. International courier services for express delivery through such courier services as DHL and FEDEX are well established.