The country of Belize is located on the Caribbean coast of Central America. It is bordered on the north by Mexico and on the west and south by Guatemala. The Caribbean Sea washes its entire 180 mile long eastern coastline which is paralleled by the second largest Barrier Reef in the world and countless islands, called cayes (pronounced “keys”). Just past the Barrier Reef you’ll find 3 of the 4 coral atolls in the Western Hemisphere. Some 13% of the country’s marine territory is under protected marine reserve status. Belize’s land territory covers 8,867 square miles (180 miles long by 68 miles wide). Approximately 36% of Belize’s land territory is under protected natural reserve status. The country’s lush flora and fauna form an important part of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor that stretches from Mexico to Panama.
Belize is the only Central American country with a British colonial heritage, while its neighboring countries were originally Spanish colonies. As a result, it is the only country in Central America that has English as the official language rather than Spanish. As part of the Western Caribbean, Belize also shares a lot culturally with the Caribbean along with the Latin influence from its neighbors. In addition, the country was part of the Maya civilization that stretched from Mexico to Honduras and their culture is still present today. This rich history has resulted in the Belize’s diverse cultural heritage.
Belize is a small country with a population of only 333,200 (2010 census). It’s also a new country, having only gotten its independence on September 21, 1981. Belize is so small and new that it’s no wonder not many people know where it’s located! When people read about Belize’s great diving along its Barrier Reef or lush jungles filled with wildlife it sounds like some remote faraway land. The famous English novelist Aldous Huxley wrote, “If the world had any ends, Belize would certainly be one of them”. However, in reality Belize is only a 1 to 2 hour flight from major airport hubs like Miami, New York and Los Angeles. The country’s bountiful lands and seas, which ounce made the Mayan civilization flourish, are now your springboard to countless adventures during your Belize vacation.