Despite its small size, the landscape of Belize is incredibly diverse. Offshore, the islands and atolls of the Belize Barrier Reef are some of the most ecologically diverse marine environments on the planet. On the mainland, pure white sandy beaches make way for vast stretches of tropical rainforests, thick jungles, and broadleaf forests. And, despite its popularity as a tourist destination, much of Belize remains uninhabited and unexplored.
More than half of Belize's territory is protected by law in the form of a national park, animal refuge, or wilderness sanctuary. More than 500 species of birds have been recorded in Belize, and the country is home to exotic animals like black howler monkeys, harpy eagles, giant iguanas, and five different species of big cats, including ocelots, pumas, and jaguars.
Belize is a melting pot society composed of many different cultures, including the living descendents of the ancient Maya, Mestizos originally from neighboring Mexico, Mennonite farmers from Europe, Chinese, East Indians, the Afro-Caribbean Garifuna people, and the Creoles, which speak a unique dialect of English.
Ready for an exciting vacation in Belize? Stay at the Belize Boutique Resort and Spa. Located just a few miles from the Belize international airport, this hotel is an oasis of comfort and luxury located in the heart of the Belizean jungle. And when it comes time for exploration and adventure, the Belize resort is close to all of the top destinations on both the mainland and offshore reef, including ancient Maya ruins, national parks, and animal sanctuaries.
Archeologists now call the height of the ancient Maya civilization the Classic Period, which ran from around 300 A.D. to around 900 A.D., when, for reasons that aren't very well understood, their civilization collapsed and most of the larger cities were abandoned. Some Maya outposts continued until the end of the Post-Classic Period (1000 A.D. to around 1500 A.D.) when the Spanish crushed the remnants of one of the planet's most advanced civilizations.
The first European to visit the area that is now Belize was Christopher Columbus. In 1502, as part of his final voyage to the Western Hemisphere, Columbus sailed down the coast of Belize, naming the Bay of Honduras which lies along Belize's extreme southern border. The Spanish made several incursions into Belize but were met with stiff resistance from the surviving Maya population.
But without any gold or other valuable resources, Belize was largely untouched by Europeans until the 1700s. Pirates, shipwrecked sailors, and a motley crew of rugged individuals who were primarily of English or Scottish extraction moved to the coastal areas of Belize to begin logging valuable hardwoods. They were soon collectively known as Baymen, named after the nearby Bay of Honduras.
After a series of skirmishes, treaties, and global political intrigue, the Spanish navy clashed with the Bayman and a small number of British ships just off the coast of the island of St. George's Caye in 1798. The Spanish were repelled, and shortly afterward, Britain claimed the region as its new colony of British Honduras.
With the arrival of British administrative forces, the population of Belize soon swelled. Enslaved Africans, now known as Creole, along with indigenous people from nearby Mexico, now known as Mestizos, began farming and developing the agricultural industry in the country. Chinese laborers and the Garifuna people from the Caribbean also emigrated to the country. Add in Mennonites escaping religious persecution in Europe and a small group of Confederate veterans from the American Civil War, and Belize soon became a multicultural society.
In 1973, British Honduras changed its name to Belize. In 1981, Belize gained full independence from Great Britain.
Nope! With its laidback Caribbean atmosphere, Belize often feels like an island, but the country is actually located in Central America just south of Mexico. Belize does, however, have more than 400 offshore islands.
Belize Is Located in the Caribbean
Yes. Belize definitely has a Caribbean vibe to it, and Belize is a proud member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). Belize isn't an island nation in the Caribbean like Jamaica or Trinidad and Tobago, but Belize has more than 200 miles of Caribbean coastline.
Belize Is in South America
This one is a puzzler because Belize is nowhere near South America. Perhaps some people get it confused with Guyana, the only other English-speaking nation in Latin America, which is in South America.
Belize Is Part of Honduras
Nope. The confusion stems from the fact that Belize's colonial name was British Honduras. The Honduras part of the name stems from the fact that Belize borders the Bay of Honduras, a body of water that also borders the modern-day nations of Guatemala and Honduras. The country now called Honduras was formerly known as Spanish Honduras to distinguish it from British Honduras (today's Belize).
What's In a (Mis)spelling?
In Spanish, it's written "Belice," but English speakers have come up with a lot of different ways to write the name of the country, including Balize, Baleeze, Belise, and Belease. Regardless of how you spell it, you better "Belize" it's the perfect place to enjoy an amazing vacation!
Belize! It's Not Just A Vacation! It's An Experience!
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