Where is Belize located?
on the East Coast of northern Central America. Belize shares a border on the north with the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, on the south with the Guatemalan department of Izabal, on the east with the Caribbean and on the west with the Guatemalan department of El Petén.
Direct air service from gateway cities in the US make Belize easily accessible from anywhere in the US with non-stop flights of just under 2 hours from Miami, Houston and Dallas-Ft. Worth. Belize is also served from Atlanta, Charlotte, Los Angeles, New York and Washington, DC, as well as Toronto, Canada.
coastal waters are sheltered by a line of coral reefs, with
many small islands, called Cayes, ranging in size
from a few hundred feet to 25 miles long and four miles wide; most
of which are located inside the 200 mile Belize Barrier Reef.
A low coastal plain, much of it covered with
mangrove swamp, typifies the coastline. Total land area measures
8,866 sq. miles, including 266 sq. miles of islands, roughly
the size of the state of Massachusetts.
under water, are swampy near the coast, then
rise to a slight plateau in the west. Today the terrain
is crisscrossed by waterways and much of the Corozal and Orange
Walk area is heavily cultivated in sugar cane.
soil supports large savannas. The Rio Bravo Conservation
Area is located here. This area, largely uninhabited, supports
an abundance of wildlife.
City, the land begins to rise gradually towards the interior. Cayo
District, with San Ignacio and Belmopan in the west,
is home to the Mountain Pine Ridge at 305 to 914 meters above
The Maya Mountains and
Cockscomb Range form the backbone of the southern
half of the country. Doyles's Delight, located in the Cockscomb
Range is the highest point in Belize at 1,124 meters above
its watershed to the southeast of the Maya Mountains, consists
of many steep rivers carrying sand, clay, and silt, which have
enriched the coastal belt over the years. This has allowed
the area to develop significant agricultural products such
as citrus and bananas. Along with an annual rainfall of some 170 inches,
southern Belize has a true tropical rainforest that is rich
with ferns, palms, and tropical hardwoods.
About the People ....
with 65,000 living in
Belize City .... with the main ethnic groups Mestizo
(43.7%), Creole (29.8%), Maya (11.1%), and
Garifuna (6.6%). Each of the other ethnic groups
account for less than five percent
of the population (East Indian 3.5% and German/Dutch/Mennonite
3.1%). All the rest account for 2.2%. Ethnic
groups, however, are heavily intermixed.
and the language of instruction
in schools. Spanish is also widely spoken.
In Orange Walk and Corozal Districts
in the north and Cayo District
border towns, near Guatemala in the west, are where
a majority of people speak Spanish as a mother
tongue. For many in the southern districts
of Stann Creek and Toledo,
the first language is Garifuna or Maya.
Most everyone in Belize speaks an English dialect, called Creole. A recent census indicated 54.3% of
the Belizean population to be very fluent in English,
22.5% not so fluent and 23.2% not fluent at all.
43.9% are very fluent in Spanish, 11.1% not so fluent
and 45% not fluent at all.
indicate that for hundreds of years Belize
was heavily populated by around one million Maya, whose
relatively advanced civilization reached its height between
AD. 250 and 900. Today a small population still exists
in Belize, predominantly in Toledo, the southern-most district.
The first reference to European settlement came in 1638.
British logwood cutters, known as the Baymen, were the first Europeans
to settle in the area. The Baymen were dependent on slave labor for their
logwood operations. Logwood was used to produce purple and red dyes.
These early settlements were
subjected to attacks from neighboring Spanish settlements for
the next 150 years. It was not until 1763 that Spain,
in the Treaty of Paris, allowed British settlers to engage
in the logwood industry. However, Spanish attacks continued until
a decisive victory was won by settlers, with British naval
support, in the Battle of St. George's Caye in 1798. After
that, British control over the settlement gradually increased.
In 1871 British Honduras was formally declared a British
Colony and the Crown Colony System of Government implemented.
In 1954 came the introduction of Universal Adult
Suffrage and an elected majority in the legislature. The Ministerial
System was adopted in 1961, leading to Self Government in 1964.
In 1973 Belize changed it's name from British Honduras
on September 21, 1981. Belize is now a member of the Commonwealth, the
United Nations, OAS and the Association of Caribbean States.