Belize has a long Mayan history, as the ancient civilization made their way to this edge of the Americas around 1500 BCE. Their presence still retains their mark in many forms, including the Maya Mountains which stretch through Belize and Guatemala. Speaking of Guatemala, Belize has a long-running dispute with its southern neighbor, as Guatemala claims more than half of Belizean territory as its own; this border dispute is still unresolved to this day.
The geography and nature of Belize is sure to delight many kinds of travelers. Off its coast is the Belize Barrier Reef, part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, the largest coral reef system in the world (due to Australia‘s Great Barrier Reef being downgraded due to unfortunate coral bleaching). Moving inland, the terrain is home to high biodiversity and over 60% of the country is still covered by forests.
As far as the Belizean people, they are quite a diverse group, with Mestizos, Creoles, the Garinagu people of West African ancestry, and even German-speaking Mennonites. Because of that, the primary language of Belize is English, though most people speak a Belizean Creole (called “Kriol”) informally.
Tourism is a major contributor to the Belizean economy, and the tourism sector as a whole is the country’s second-largest industry. In 2012, Belize hit the 1 million mark for tourist arrivals. Though a small country, especially compared to its neighbor, Mexico, to the north, tourists are flocking to Belize more than ever. Top attractions include the Great Blue Hole, a marine sinkhole and World Heritage Site, Thousand Foot Falls, the incorrectly-named (because it’s actually 1,600 ft tall) tallest waterfall in Central America, and the Caracol ruins, an ancient Maya archaeological site.
Belize Travel Information & Key Points
General points to know about the country of Belize – demographics, important ages, phone numbers, key statistics, and more, whether you’re traveling there or not.
Largest City: Belize City
Population: 399,000 (2019 estimate)
Language(s): English, Belize Creole (Kriol), Spanish
Prime Minister: Dean Barrow
Governor-General: Colville Young
Monarch: Queen Elizabeth II
Currency: Belize Dollar (BZD)
Area: 22,966 km2 (8,867 mi2)
Dialing Code: +501