Belize (formerly British Honduras until the name of the country was changed in 1973) lies on the eastern or Caribbean coast of Central America, bounded on the north and part of the west by Mexico, and on the south and the remainder of the west by Guatemala. The inner coastal waters are shallow and are sheltered by a line of coral reefs, dotted with islets called 'cayes', extending almost the entire length of the country.
There is a low coastal plain, much of it covered with mangrove swamp, but the land rises gradually towards the interior. The Maya Mountains and the Cockscomb Range form the backbone of the southern half of the country, the highest point being Doyle's Delight (1124 meters above sea level) in the Cockscomb Range. The Cayo District in the west includes the Mountain Pine Ridge, ranging from 305 to around 914 metres above sea level. The northern districts contain considerable areas of tableland. There are many rivers, some of them navigable for short distances by shallow-draught vessels. A large part of the mainland is forest.
The area of the mainland and cayes is 8,867 square miles. The country's greatest length from north to south is 280 kilometres and its greatest width is 109 kilometres. The climate is subtropical, tempered by trade winds. Temperatures in coastal districts range from about 10 °C (50°F) to about 35.6°C (96°F); inland the range is greater. Rainfall varies from an average of 1,295 millimetres in the north to 4,445 millimetres in the extreme south. The dry season usually extends from February to May and there is sometimes a dry spell in August.
In Belize, the people have a myriad of traditions and customs that represent more than eight diverse cultures. For generations, the people of Belize have demonstrated a cultural commitment to preserve the country’s unique charms.
Belize is truly a melting pot of colorful personalities, making our 321,115 residents the country’s greatest resource for tourism. The Belizean people are composed of a harmonious combination of Maya, Mestizo, Creole, Garifuna, East Indian, Mennonite, Arab and Chinese.
There also are a number of expatriates in Belize from Canada, Europe and the United States – and many of them retire here. A blending of cultures has resulted in one of the happiest and most peaceful countries in the region and a widespread reputation as one of the world’s friendliest tourist destination.
In Belize (formerly British Honduras), English remains the official language, but the most diverse language in Belize is Kriol (Belizean Creole). Other languages spoken include Garifuna, Mandarin, Spanish and Maya.
It’s easy to fit in … and become one with the people of Belize.