Belize is a nation-state located on the eastern coast of Central America. It is bordered on the north by Mexico, on the south and west by Guatemala, and on the east by the Caribbean Sea. It is the only country in Central America whose official language is English, though Belizean Creole, (colloquially Kriol), and Spanish are also commonly spoken.
Belize is known for its rich terrestrial and marine life. It is filled with a diversity of ecosystems, giving it a key place in the globally significant Mesoamerican Biological Corridor. It is also known for having one of the lowest population densities in the Americas, with 22,800 square kilometres of land as against a population of 340,844 (2014). Further, Belize's society mirrors its natural resources: diverse, colourful, and rich. The country is composed of many cultures and languages that reflect its history, being part of the British Empire and being within the Caribbean region.
What to see & do
Xunantunich – Set on a levelled hilltop, the Xunantunich is one of Belize's most accessible and impressive Mayan archaeological sites. It is believed to have been occupied as early as 1000 BC, but it was little more than a village. The architecture that is seen today began to be built in the seventh century AD, hundreds of years after it was first settled in. The 'complex' is comprised of various ancestral shrines, temples, palaces, and others, which are further classified depending on who is using it (ruling family, commoners, etc.).
Lamanai – Lamanai, or literally the “submerged crocodile”, is a Mesoamerican archaeological site, which was once a considerably sized city of the Maya civilisation. It is located in the Orange Walk District, north of Belize. The Lamanai was occupied as early as the 16th century BC. The site became a prominent centre in the Pre-Classic period, from the fourth century BC Towards the first century. Several large structures here include the Mask Temple, the Jaguar Temple, and the High Temple.
Actun Tunichil Muknal – Also known as Xibalba or ATM, the Actun Tunichil Muknal or the Cave of the Crystal Sepulchre is a cave located near San Ignacio in the Cayo District. It is notable as a Mayan archaeological site that includes skeletons, ceramics, and stoneware. There are several areas of skeletal remains in the main chamber, with the best known one called as the “Crystal Maiden”. The “Crystal Maiden” is the skeleton of a teenage girl, possibly a sacrifice victim, whose bones have been calcified to a sparkling, crystallised appearance.
Belize Barrier Reef – The Belize Barrier Reef is a series of coral reefs straddling the coast of Belize, roughly 300 metres offshore in the north and 40 kilometres in the south within the country limits. It is a long section of the 900-kilometre Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, which is continuous from Cancun on the north-eastern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula through the Riviera Maya and up to Honduras. The Belize Barrier Reef is home to a large diversity of plants and animals, and is one of the most diverse ecosystems of the world. It contains 70 hard coral species, 36 soft coral species, 500 species of fish, and hundreds of invertebrates. With 90% of the reef unexplored, it is estimated that only 10% of all species here have been discovered.
How to get around within Belize
Belize is a fairly small country and transportation between most destinations is covered either by water or by land. Several competing bus lines operate on the main road in the north-south direction from Punta Gorda to Belmopan and Belize City. There are bus stations in the main towns, and while travellers may always head here, they may also hail buses from the main streets. Meanwhile, water taxis take people from city to city. Other means include car hires and taxis.
How to get there
The Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport is the main airport serving Belize's largest city, Belize City. It is the world's gateway to the country, and is connected to many airports within North and South America. Airline services are provided by American Airlines, Avianca El Salvador, Delta, Maya Island Air, Tropic Air, US Airways, United Airlines, and Transportes Aereos Guatemaltecos.