Belize (known as British Honduras from 1862 to 1973) is on the Caribbean Coast of Central America, bordered by Mexico to the north and Guatemala to the west and south. To the east is the Caribbean Sea. In Belize waters are as many as 400 islands, most unpopulated specks of sand or mangrove. Belize is about the size of the state of Massachusetts — 8,866 square miles — with a population of 420,000 Statistical Institute of Belize projection (the 2020 census was cancelled due to budget constraints), about as many people as in Arlington, Texas, making it one of least densely populated countries in the hemisphere. From north to south Belize is 200 miles in length, and at its widest point it is a little over 70 miles across.
The Calculus Of Value
There’s no point in arguing whether Belize is an expensive or inexpensive place to visit or live. That argument, for all practical purposes, has already been lost. Rightly or wrongly, most people perceive Belize as expensive, at least in comparison with other countries in Central America. It’s difficult if not impossible to change their minds. That’s a shame, too, because Belize has some terrific values. For travelers, there are many small hotels and inns with big time charm and Motel 6 prices (or lower).
In terms of living costs, Belize still has some of the least expensive land in North or Central America (though there also is overpriced land). A house doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg, either, especially if you build instead of buy. On much of the mainland, you can still build a nice concrete house for US$55 a square foot. Fruits and vegetables in markets also are a great buy. Ditto for dining out. There are many places around the country where you can get a nice, simple meal of stew chicken or fry chicken for US$5 or 6. Bus travel in Belize is an excellent value, and water taxis generally are inexpensive, too. But there’s a lot in Belize that simply isn’t a good value. In some cases this has to do with government taxes or import duties, but in other cases it’s because businesses deal with low volume not by becoming more competitive but by raising prices over and over
again. – Lan Sluder
What Is The Currency Of Belize?
Belize currency exchange is extremely easy for visitors. The Belize dollar is locked at $2 Belize = $1 USD. So it’s very easy to see how much something is costing in USD when you go shopping. Most accommodations and tours are listed in $US prices, and most restaurants, shops, etc. are listed in $BZ. Nearly every place readily accepts USD currency. Most also should accept traveler’s checks as long as you write your passport number or driver’s license number on the back. Large bills (anything above a $20) are a little more difficult to cash. Shopkeepers generally ask you to spend a minimum amount.
Bank Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) are also available across the country, particularly in most tourist destinations- including Corozal, Placenica, Punta Gorda, Belmopan, Dangriga, Belize City, San Pedro Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker, Orange Walk, and San Ignacio / Santa Elena (SISE). All ATMS dispense Belize Currency.
What Is The Geography Of Belize Like?
Belize 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 400,000 people (2021 projection), the population density is the lowest in Central American at about 35 people per square mile or 14 people per square kilometre. Belize’s population growth rate, 2.21%, is the highest in the region. Its rich biologically significant and unique ecosystems contribute to it being designated as a bio diversity hot spot and a center for eco-tourism.
What Is The History Of Belize?
Belize’s was the center of the vast Mayan Civilization founded about 2,000 B.C. Dozens of pyramids and temples – most not yet excavated – can be found throughout the country once known as British Honduras. Archeological records show that the Maya established significant settlements here including Xunantunich, Caracol, Lamanai and Lubaantun.
The first European contact with Belize occurred in 1502 when Christopher Columbus reached the area’s coast. In 1511 the first European to settle in Belize was Spanish soldier Gonzalo Guerrero. In 1638, the first European settlement was established by England and for 150 years, many more English settlements were set up.
What Language Is Spoken In Belize?
In Belize you’ll hear familiar words of the English language. In fact, we are the only English language-speaking country in Central America. English is the official language of Belize but Spanish is widely spoken. Most Belizeans are bilingual in English and Spanish and most everyone speaks and understands Creole which is an English-derived dialect. The education system is in English and is well regarded by immigrants.
When you hear us, you know you’re in a country unlike any other. Even our most up-tight citizens sound relaxed. We have a Caribbean lilt and our words seem a bit shorter. But don’t worry, you’ll understand everything and we may teach you a few phrases you don’t know. Here, even our language is a diverse adventure. Spanish, African-based Garifuna, Maya-Kekchi, Maya Mopan, Mandarin, German are just a few of the languages that form the unique dialects we speak throughout the country.
Who Are The People Of Belize?
From the moment you arrive in Belize – whether you are an adventure traveler, member of a family trip or in the country for business or a relaxing beach vacation – Belize people and culture make you feel as welcome and comfortable, like nowhere you’ve ever visited. In Belize, our traditions and customs are varied and represent more than eight diverse cultures. For generations, the people of Belize have demonstrated a cultural commitment to preserve the country’s unique charms. This enduring promise to the land, the waters and you, our visitor, inspires all to achieve a genuine and intimate connection to a variety of extraordinary experiences.
We are truly a melting pot of colorful personalities, making our 400,115 residents the country’s greatest resource for tourism. The Belizean people are made up of Latinos, Maya, Mestizo, Creole, Garifuna, East Indian, Mennonite, Arab and Chinese.There also are a number of expatriates in Belize from Canada, Europe and the United States – and many of them retire here. A blending of cultures has resulted in one of the happiest and most peaceful countries in the region and a widespread reputation as one of the world’s friendliest tourist destinations.
What Is Belize Weather Like?
One of the nicest things about visiting Belize is the weather. With an average yearly temperature of 84° F (29°C), it’s always warm, yet comfortable. Coastal sea breezes as well as our jungle and rainforests keep you cool even in the hottest summer months while winters can be cool but never very cold. In short, the climate is pretty much near perfect. Even in winter (November-March) the temperature in Belize rarely falls below 60°F (16°C), while the summer (May-September) is around 86°F (30°C). Humidity is also fairly consistent at around 85 percent. Belize’s dry season is between February and May and has significantly lower rainfall than the rest of the year. When it does rain, it is usually in mild, short bursts.
June through December is our wet season, when parts of the country receive up to 150 inches of rain and the heavy, sometimes wild storms associated with the Caribbean occur, usually in the late afternoons. The most frequent rainfall usually happens in June or early July and is punctuated by a break in late July or August known as the “little dry.” The weather in Belize is characterized by two seasons: a rainy and a dry season. Belize annual rainfall: most of the year’s rainfall occurs during the period June to November, that is, the rainy season. It is noted that the transition from dry to the rainy is very sharp. Annual rainfall ranges from 60 inches (1524mm) in the north to 160 inches (4064mm) in the south.
What Type Of Government Does Belize Have?
The country gained its independence from the Great Britain on 21 September 1981 under the Peoples United Party Government led by Prime Minister Rt. Hon. George Cadle Price now known as the Father Of The Nation. Mr. Price, along with Phillip Goldson and Leigh Richardson launched the movement for self-government with the formation of the People’s Committee on 31 December 1949 after the British Colonial rulers devalued the British Honduras Dollar bringing much economic hardship to the colony’s residents.
Capital: City Of Belmopan. Parliamentary democracy with two major political parties, the People’s United Party (PUP), and the United Democratic Party (UDP). The Executive Branch of government consists of the Governor General, the Prime Minister and The Cabinet. The Governor General’s role is ceremonial. The executive authority of Belize is vested in the Queen of England as the Head of State, who appoints the Governor General to represent her. The Prime Minister is the Head of Government and heads the Cabinet. The Cabinet is the chief policy-making body in the government. Cabinet members are appointed by the Prime Minister from members of the House of Representatives or the Senate.
What Kind Of Legal System Does Belize Have?
Belize’s legal system and rule of law are firmly rooted in the English Common Law and supplemented by local legislation and that of the British Commonwealth. The Belize Judiciary consists of the Supreme Court headed by a Chief Justice and Justices of the Supreme Court. The country has its own court of Appeals. The final court of appeal is the Caribbean Court of Justice. The lower courts are known as the Magistrate Courts. The members of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal are appointed by the Prime Minister “in consultation” with the Leader of the Opposition.
What Are The Entry Requirements For Travel To Belize?
Citizens from the U.S.A., Canada, the European Community (E.U) and CARICOM countries do not require a visa to enter Belize. Individuals from any country who have a U.S.A. visa in their passport valid for 6 or more months, do not require any additional visa to enter Belize. See more detailed information at our Belize Visa and Entry Requirements page. See our Belize Visa Page.
Is Belize Safe?
Most visitors to Belize feel entirely safe. However, crime does exist as “rich tourists” are a magnet for bad local elements and those from other parts of Central America. Use common sense, avoid walking in unlit or isolated areas at night, including dark areas of beach, and keep an eye on cameras and other personal possessions. Leave all your fancy jewelry and Rolex watches at home. They will impress only thieves.
Article by M.A. Romero – Chief Information Officer (RET) to the Government of Belize.
Updated 8 August 2021