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Destination: visit Belize

visit belize travel

Geography

Located on the northeastern coast of Central America, Belize borders the Caribbean Sea, between Guatemala to the west and south and Mexico to the north. Given its 22,800 km² of land, 386 km of coastline and a population of 340,844, Belize has the lowest population density in Central America with 35 people per square mile or 14 people per square kilometer. The capital of Belize is Belmopan, but Belize City is the largest city of the country.

Belize is the only Central America country that has English as its official language, but Spanish and Kriol (English creole) are also spoken. Belize has a multicultural society: the majority of population is creole or Afro-Caribbean, but inland are the native Maya people, while along the Caribbean coast live the Garifuna (Black Caribs), an Afro-American culture.

GENERAL INFORMATION

DOCUMENTS
Passport is required and must have a period of validity of 6 further months upon arrival in the country.
Visa is not required for tourists staying in the country up to 90 days. However it is necessary to hold a return airline ticket and currency for living expenses.

AIR TRAVEL TAXES
The departure tax (35 US dollars) can be paid only in US dollars, the Belize Dollars are not accepted.
This cost of departure may be included in the ticket price.

VACCINATIONS AND HEALTH SITUATION

Health situation is generally quite good in this country.
Drugs' cost is quite high and medical facilities are limited , therefore it is recommended to take out an appropriate health insurance.

LANGUAGE
While English is the official language of Belize, Kriol is the one mainly spoken by population.
Spanish is very popular, while other dialects (Maya, Mandarin, Mennonite German, etc,) are less spoken.

TIME ZONE
Belize Standard Time is 6 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time.

ELETTRICITY
Usually 100 or 220 volt with British or American socket. It is advisable to bring an adapter and pay attention to the voltage suitable for the device.

SECURITY
It is registered in Belize, especially in Belize City, an increase in incidents of common crime (muggings, theft, etc.) whose victims are mostly foreign tourists.

COMUNICATIONS
International area code of Belize: 00501.

TIPS
In restaurants tips from 10 to 15% are expected and appreciated.

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Currency

The Belize dollar is the national currency. Currency exchange is extremely easy for American visitors, since 2 Belize dollars = $1 American dollar. Most places accept USD, and ATMs are available throughout the country, especially in tourists locations.

Weather

The weather is one of the nicest things in Belize. It is tropical, that is to say it is very hot and humid, however the average yearly temperature is of about 29°C (84°F). Even if it is humid, the coastal sea breeze as well the jungle and rainforests keep you cool. As in all tropical regions, in Belize there are two seasons: the dry season, that starts in May and ends in November, and the wet season that starts in June and ends in December. There is also a hurricane season (June to November) that occasionally brings coastal flooding especially in the south.

History

The Maya civilization developed over Belize beginning in 1500BC and flourished there until 900. Caracol, Lamanai and Lubaantun are a few of the settlements that they established in there. Spanish explorers arrived in 1502, when Christopher Columbus reached the area’s coast. While Spanish conquistadores declared Belize a Spanish colony, they decided not to settle, because of the lack of resources. In 1638 the first European settlement was established by England and in 1840 Belize became a “Colony of the English Honduras”. In 1862 Great Britain formally declared it a British Crown Colony, changing its name to British Honduras. In 1973 the name was changed to Belize and on September 21, 1981 Belize became an independent country.

Cuisine

Belizean cuisine is influenced by both the Mexican/Central American and the Jamaican/Anglo-American cuisine. The primary meal consists of red beans, clean rice, and chicken. In rural areas the Maya use maize, beans or squash for most meals, while the Garifuna prefer seafood, cassava, and vegetables. Marie Sharp’s is a famous hot sauce, made from the local habanero pepper and it comes in a several flavors (mild, hot, or extremely hot). Ceviche is another typical salsa, which is a citrus-marinated seafood dish. If you want to eat on a budget, papusas, which are maize pancakes with different topics, are a perfect choice!
Belikin is the national beer, while One Barrel Rum is the locally distilled molasses-tasting rum.

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Destinations

Belize is divided in seven different regions: the central coast, the north islands, the northern, the reef, the southeast coast, the southern region and the western region. Each one of these regions has something unique to offer.
In the central Coast you can explore the Maya temples at Altun Ha,but you can also experience the Kriol culture and the colonial architecture of Belize City. This area is also perfect for those who want to get into the wild, since it is the home of the howler monkeys and many rare bird species.

The north islands are perfect for relaxing and they are famous for snorkeling and scuba diving in the Hol Chan Marine Reserve and the Shark Ray Alley.

In Northern Belize you can take a boat ride to the ancient Maya Temples and discover the wildlife.

The Belize Barrier Reef is the largest reef system in the western hemisphere, spanning 185 miles, and consisting of offshore atolls, several hundred sand cays, mangrove forests, coastal lagoons and estuaries. The reef is the perfect habitat for threatened species such as marine turtles, manatees and the American marine crocodile.

The southeast coast offers a little bit of everything. It is famous for its Maya mountain views, but also for the world’s only jaguar sanctuary. Dangriga and Placencia are famous for kayaking, snorkeling, diving, saltwater fly-fishing, and shark watching. Other destinations include the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, the Blue Hole National Park, and the Mayflower Bocawina Park.

Punta Gorda is the main destination in Southern Belize. Here you can go on river trips, off shore fishing, bird watching, caving.

Western Belize is characterized by the numerous archaeological sites such as Cahal Pech. You can also visit the Nachuch Che’em Park, Butterfly Farm and the Rainforest Medicinal Trails.

Things to do in Belize

Some of the things to do in Belize include:

  • Exploring Mayan ruins (in Altun Ha, Lamanai, Xunantunich, El Pilar, Caracol, just to mention a few)
  • Horseback Riding
  • Zip Lining
  • Scuba Diving, snorkeling
  • Exploring caves (in the Cayo district)
  • Sport fishing

Curiosities

Belize is known for its September Celebrations and for being the birthplace of chewing gum and Punta music.

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