Interesting Facts About Belize
Belize being the only country in Central America where English is the official language is due to its British colonial past. This makes it a popular destination for English-speaking tourists who want to explore Central America without any language barriers. While English is the official language, Spanish is also widely spoken in Belize, as are Creole and other indigenous languages.
The Mayan word “belix,” from which Belize’s name is derived, is a reference to the country’s rivers and swamps. These areas are known for having murky, muddy waters. However, Belize is also home to many pristine beaches, clear blue waters, and vibrant coral reefs that attract tourists from all over the world.
With only about 400,000 people living in Belize, it has the lowest population density in Central America. This means that the country has plenty of open spaces and natural beauty to explore, with relatively few crowds. The low population also contributes to a slower pace of life and a friendly, close-knit community feeling in many parts of the country.
The Belize Barrier Reef is second only to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef in size and diversity. It stretches for over 190 miles along the country’s coast and is home to countless species of marine life, including sharks, rays, sea turtles, and colorful fish. Snorkeling and scuba diving on the reef are some of the most popular activities for visitors to Belize.
Belize is home to over 900 ancient Mayan ruins and sites, including the famous ruins of Tikal, Xunantunich, and Caracol. These ruins offer a fascinating glimpse into the ancient civilization that once thrived in the region, with impressive architecture, intricate carvings, and mysterious rituals.
The Great Blue Hole is a massive underwater sinkhole that is over 400 feet deep and almost 1,000 feet across. It is located in the middle of the Belize Barrier Reef and is a popular destination for scuba divers and snorkelers. The hole’s deep blue color and unique geology make it a fascinating natural wonder.
Baird’s tapir is a large, herbivorous mammal that is found in Central and South America. It is the national animal of Belize and is considered a symbol of the country’s commitment to conservation and wildlife protection. Baird’s tapirs are endangered, but conservation efforts in Belize and other countries have helped to protect their populations.
The Belizean dollar is the official currency of Belize and is pegged to the US dollar at a fixed exchange rate. This means that the value of the Belizean dollar stays relatively stable compared to other currencies. However, many businesses in Belize also accept US dollars, and some even prefer them over the local currency.
Doyle’s Delight is a mountain peak in the Maya Mountains that stands at 3,688 feet tall. It is the highest point in Belize and offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape. The hike to the summit is challenging but rewarding, with opportunities to spot wildlife and explore remote areas of the country.
Belize’s lack of a Pacific coastline is due to its location on the eastern coast of Central America, facing the Caribbean Sea. However, this location also makes it a prime spot for beach vacations, with warm waters, white sand, and plenty of sunshine.
The Belize Zoo is a popular destination for visitors to the country, with over 170 species of animals on display. Most of the animals are native to Belize, including jaguars, howler monkeys, and scarlet macaws. The zoo also has a strong focus on conservation and education, with programs to protect endangered species and raise awareness about wildlife issues.
Belize is considered one of the best places in the world to see jaguars in the wild, with the highest concentration of these big cats in Central America. Visitors to Belize can take part in guided tours and hikes to see these elusive predators in their natural habitat.
The Keel-billed Toucan is a colorful and iconic bird native to Belize, known for its distinctive bill and vibrant feathers. It is often featured in local artwork and handicrafts, and is a popular sight for birdwatchers visiting the country.
Belize was colonized by the British in the 17th century, and remained under British rule until it gained independence in 1981. Today, English is the official language of Belize, and the country maintains close ties with the United Kingdom.
The Belizean flag features two men standing on either side of a shield bearing a mahogany tree, which represents the country’s historic reliance on this valuable timber. The blue background symbolizes the Caribbean Sea and the country’s aspirations for peace and prosperity.
The Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary was established in Belize in 1984 as the world’s first jaguar reserve, aimed at protecting these magnificent animals from hunting and habitat loss. Today, the sanctuary is also home to a wide range of other species, including tapirs, monkeys, and birds.
Belize’s system of government is based on a parliamentary democracy, with two major political parties – the United Democratic Party and the People’s United Party – that compete in free and fair elections. This system has helped to ensure political stability and a peaceful transition of power in the country.
Actun Tunichil Muknal is a vast and complex cave system located in the Belizean jungle, known for its ancient Mayan artifacts and impressive natural formations. Visitors to the cave can see ancient pottery, skeletal remains, and even human sacrifices that were made by the Mayans over a thousand years ago.
The Garifuna people are an important cultural group in Belize, known for their distinctive music, dance, and cuisine. Visitors to Belize can experience Garifuna culture through traditional drumming performances, local food festivals, and visits to Garifuna villages.
Belize has invested heavily in its water treatment and distribution systems, making tap water generally safe to drink throughout the country. However, visitors may still prefer to drink bottled water or use a water purification system to avoid any potential health risks.
The official motto of Belize, “Sub Umbra Floreo,” is a Latin phrase that means “Under the shade I flourish.” It reflects the country’s strong agricultural traditions and its reliance on the natural environment for its prosperity.
Belize is home to some of the most stunning and ecologically diverse national parks and reserves in the world. The Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System, for example, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is home to a wide range of marine life, including sea turtles, dolphins, and manatees.
Belizean cuisine is a fusion of Mayan, Caribbean, and Mexican flavors and ingredients, with dishes ranging from spicy stews and soups to fresh seafood and tropical fruits. Some popular Belizean dishes include rice and beans, stewed chicken, and ceviche.
The Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System is the largest barrier reef in the northern hemisphere and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is home to a variety of marine life, including over 500 species of fish and several types of coral. Visitors can explore the reef through snorkeling, diving, and boat tours.
The Belizean dollar is the country’s official currency, and it is pegged to the US dollar at a fixed exchange rate. US dollars are widely accepted in Belize, especially in tourist areas.
Belize is home to many ancient Mayan ruins, including the famous site of Caracol. Visitors can explore the ruins and learn about the history and culture of the Mayan people.
The Belizean coast is a popular destination for whale shark diving, with the world’s largest concentration of whale sharks gathering there each year.
The country has a diverse population, with a mix of Creole, Mestizo, Maya, Garifuna, and other ethnic groups.
Belize has a tropical climate, with warm temperatures and high humidity year-round. The rainy season lasts from June to November, while the dry season runs from December to May.
English is the official language of Belize, but Spanish and Creole are also widely spoken. Many people in Belize are multilingual and can speak several languages fluently.
The country’s national flower is the black orchid, which is a rare and endangered species. It can be found in the Belizean rainforest and is often used in traditional medicine.
Belize has a small but growing film industry, with several films and TV shows being shot in the country in recent years.
The country has a vibrant music scene, with traditional Garifuna music, punta, and reggae being popular genres. The annual Belize International Jazz Festival is a major cultural event in the country.
Belize is a popular destination for eco-tourism, with many opportunities for hiking, birdwatching, and exploring the country’s natural beauty. The country is committed to sustainable tourism and protecting its environment for future generations.