Welcome to Belize
Belize City is the main city in the country and was the capital until 1970 when the seat of government was moved to Belmopan. Belize City remains the largest and most important city in the country. It sports a population of roughly 80,000 people and because of its location on the coast serves as the country's principal port. Approximately 25 percent of the entire population live in Belize City.
Belmopan, the current capital, has a substantially smaller population, somewhere around 13,300 people. It is located 50 miles inland and with its small population is definitely one of the smaller capitals in the world, in terms of population.
English is the official language of Belize, but Spanish is spoken by much of the population.
Europeans arrived in Belize in the 16th century. Both English and Scottish pirates that were known as Baymen settled in Belize in 1638. They wanted a base from which they could plunder Spanish ships. The British government showed official interest in the country in 1786 and appointed a superintendent of the area. From this time until 1798 Spain repeatedly attempted to drive out the British and assert their own control over Belize but were never successful. Their last attempt came in 1798 at the Battle of St. George's Caye. This battle took place from September 3-10, in 1798 where the British turned away the Spanish fleet. There were no casualties on either the British or Spanish sides. The battle is commemorated on September 10 as St. George's Caye Day.
In 1862, Great Britain formally declared Belize a British Crown Colony and named it British Honduras. This name was changed to Belize in 1973 and full independence came in 1981 on September 21. It is important to note that Guatemala has continually claimed ownership of some or all of Belize at different times and there have been border disputes as recently as 2007.
However, of late Belize and Guatemala have been able to put aside at least some of their quarrel, as they signed a special agreement in 2008.
Public Holidays (2011)
January 1 â New Year's Day
March 9 â Baron Bliss Day
April 22 â Easter
May 1 â Labour Day
May 24 â Commonwealth Day
September 10 â St. George's Caye Day
September 21 â Independence Day
October 10 â Columbus Day
November 19 â Garifuna Settlement Day
December 25 â Christmas Day
December 26 â Boxing Day
Geography and Climate
There are basically three geographical regions in Belize: the north, which is quite flat and low in altitude (300 ft), the southern region which is the coastline on Carribean Sea and finally the offshore area that includes the small islands off of the coast of Belize, these islands are also called cayes (keys). Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker are the two largest islands, with Ambergris Caye having a substantial tourist community.
Belize has a definite dry and rainy season of the year. The dry season lasts from December through May and the rainy season is from June through November. Tourists typically visit the country in the dry season. Even though the amount of rainfall varies greatly from region to region the entire country tends to be very humid. Overall, Belize has a tropical climate.
Belize City is warm all year round, temperatures during the dry season average 72 degrees and 88 degrees in the rainy season. The country in general does not have extreme variations between heat and cold the seasons are marked more by humidity and rainfall.
The economy of Belize is fairly small and based mainly on agriculture, agro-based industries and merchandising. Sugar and bananas are the countries two most important crops. Although, in recent years tourism and construction are showing as strong growth areas in the economic picture of Belize. Also of note is the oilfield (the only one) in the town of Spanish Lookout. Development of this field began in 2006 and is presenting new opportunities and challenges for the country.
The currency in the country is the Belize Dollar and converts at approximately 2:1 (January 2011).
Tourism is an important part of the economy in Belize. The country has are a large number of natural assets that make it a great place to visit. The climate is pleasant, the many cayes or small islands right off of the coast provide excellent fishing and boating. The Belize Barrier Reef is a beautiful location for kayaking, sailing and snorkeling. The rich history of the region also provides fantastic Mayan ruins to visit.
Ambergris Caye & Caye Caulker
Half Moon Caye Natural Monument
Blue Hole National Park
Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary
Tapir Mountain Nature Reserve
Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary
Guanacaste National Park