101 Fascinating Facts About Belize
Got a minute? Okay – you’ll need more than a minute to peruse our list of 101 fascinating Belize tidbits, so allow us to thank you upfront for taking part of your busy day to read this compendium. You’ll be happy to know that we stopped at #101, given the fact that fascination is the secret to Belize’s charm.
About the people
1. Belize has the lowest population density in Central America at just 15 people per square kilometer.
2. It’s never a good idea to address Belizeans you don’t know by their first names; in fact, it’s downright rude.
3. Belize’s national flag features people in the design unlike other nations using symbols only.
4. The nation’s ethnic roots are deep, diverse, and include Spanish, Mestizo, Mennonites, Garinagu, and Creole.
5. The Belizean philosophy could easily be: “If it can’t be done slowly, it’s not laid-back enough.”
6. Belize’s National Defense Force consists of 1400 troops, far fewer than fast-food purveyor McDonald’s workforce.
7. Come to Belize if you’re depressed; the country has been rated one of the world’s happiest places to live.
8. Belize lays claim to its own 3 Wise Men: Philip Goldson (newspaper editor), Monrad Metzgen (politician), and George Cadle Price (Father of the Nation)…
9. …but a woman’s in charge. Belize remains a commonwealth nation with allegiances to Queen Elizabeth II.
10. Yes, people can get high in Belize. The government passed laws decriminalizing up to 10 grams of weed.
All about the neighborhood
11. Belize is the youngest nation in Central America. It took until 1973 to earn its current name.
12. Belize is frequently called the Jewel in the Heart of the Caribbean Basin.
13. Unlike neighboring nations, Belize rioted when a new national budget mandated increased taxes in 2005. People across the borders wouldn’t have dared to follow suit.
14. Belize was once the epicenter of a territorial love triangle that included Guatemala and the UK. Guatemala demanded exclusivity so Guatemala got dumped.
15. Guatemala still hasn’t come to terms with the divorce. The nation refers to Belize as “Department No. 23.”
16. Things remain dicey between these two. When a Guatemalan teen was killed in 2016, 3,000 additional Guatemalan armed forces showed up at the border as a show of force.
17. Guatemala and Belize continue to have contentious relationships as evidenced by regular name-calling during United Nations sessions.
18. Both Guatemala and Belize continue to play the upmanship game with each other at international forums and each challenges the other nation to validate their right to the territory beneath each flag.
19. Belize is the only Central American country that has no North Pacific Ocean coastline.
20. Surrounded by Spanish-speaking people on all borders, Belize’s first language, a gift from the Brits, is English.
About Belize food
21. Talk about fusion! Belize foods represent British, Spanish, American, Caribbean, Mexican cuisine, and more.
22. Think you’ve tasted hot sauce? Not until you sample the products produced in Belize by Marie Sharps.
23. At least one Belikin beer is required sipping during your visit, especially if it’s from a limited edition series.
24. Queen Elizabeth once feasted on Gibnut during a visit. The delicacy earned the name “the royal rat.”
25. Careful when picking wild cashews in Belize. Some of them wind up in wine. Others can be poisonous.
26. Chocolate addicts love Belize. Cacao trees produce the best beans and lots of festivals pay tribute to the delicacy.
27. Few people know that the secret ingredient in chocolate when the Mayas invented it was hot chilis.
28. Don’t look for fast food joints in Belize. There are none. Eat your Big Macs before leaving the U.S.
29. Lobster season arrives each June. You won’t find more creative ways to prepare this delicacy than in Belize.
30. Rum is the libation of choice throughout Belize. A distillery tour is mandatory if you love to sample.
About Belize’s natural beauty
31. Belize’s natural beauty inspired Belize’s motto: “Under the Shade I flourish.”
32. The exotic black orchid is the national flower, but there are over 500 species of orchids in Belize.
33. Despite conservation efforts, Belize has lost forest land equal to Rhode Island over the past 30 years.
34. Once the hemisphere’s mahogany tree capital, Belize mahogany trees can live more than a century.
35. The Toledo District was once known as “the forgotten land” because it was so pristine and untouched.
36. More than 80-percent of Belize’s rainforests are inaccessible due to government prohibitions.
37. There are 450 cayes (islands and atolls) off Belize’s shoreline. Some are developed; some are not.
38. Even uninhabited Cayes have official “watchmen” assigned to each by the government.
39. The Belize Barrier Reef can be seen from outer space.
40. Belize’s highest point is Doyle’s Delight, a tree-covered peak that rises 1,160 meters into the sky.
About Belize history
41. There are 900+ Maya ruins located in Belize; a disproportionate number given the nation’s small size.
42. Belize had three names: Black River Settlements (1749–1862) British Honduras (1862–1973) and Belize (1973–1981).
43. Ambergris Caye Island became a hideaway for the ships attacking the Spanish fleet during the 17th century.
44. Ambergris Caye was sold to Mr. James Humes Blake in 1869 for $625.
45. Belize’s capital, Belize City, was destroyed by Hurricane Hattie in 1961. The capital was moved 50 miles inland.
46. In 1789, British occupiers repelled a Spanish takeover celebrated to this day on September 10th.
47. Around 90-percent of all citizens of Belize read and/or speak English, Spanish and Creole.
48. Founded in 1848, San Pedro Town was immortalized by pop singer Madonna’s “La Isla Bonita.”
49. In 1971, French naval officer Jacques Cousteau dove into Belize’s Great Blue Hole, launching a frenzy of tourism.
50. Despite their disappearance, Belize pays tribute to ancient Mayas by continuing to practice cultural celebrations.
About Belize wildlife
51. Belize’s Barrier Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is home to 450+ fish species.
52. The world’s only jaguar reserve protects endangered cats within the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary.
53. Belize’s “national animal” is the mountain cow, a horse/rhinoceros mix weighing over 500 pounds.
54. Whale sharks return to Gladden Spit annually following full moons in March, April, May and June.
55. The largest flying bird in this hemisphere, the jabiru stork, hangs out in Belize’s Crooked Tree Bird Sanctuary.
56. Howler monkeys, the loudest apes on earth, scream so loud, they can be heard 3 miles away.
57. Best estimates of Belize bird populations are 608 species.
58. Belizeans love giving sites animal names (e.g., Old Moon Monkey Forest, Coral-eyed Butterfly Waterfall and False Vampire Bat Trail).
59. The Belize government has sanctioned 7 protected wildlife areas.
60. The Belize Wildlife Protection Act defines wildlife as any undomesticated mammal, reptile or bird, amphibian and any egg, nest or part or product thereof.
About Belize societies and protocols
61. Thumb locking is a sign of greeting between Belizeans.
62. It is considered bad luck to swim on Good Friday in Belize.
63. While haggling is acceptable, it’s considered rude outside street market environments.
64. InSan Pedro Town, people refer to locations as front, middle and back rather than by street names.
65. Belize cultures include Asian, Creole, East Indian, Garifuna, Maya, Mennonite, Mestizo and more.
67. The nation’s character was shaped by the wars, slave eras and non-stop persecution.
68. Belize’s legal system is based on U.K.’s parliamentary democracy system.
69. While there are few food taboos in Belize, but ethnic groups believe that soups and drinks restore health.
70. Only Maya and Garifuna people are considered descendents of aboriginal peoples.
Off the beaten road
71. Belize has the third-highest per-capita income in Central America.
72. Belize’s economic base relies upon agriculture, agro-based industry, and tourism.
73. Belize’s population grows at an average rate of 1.87-percent annually.
74. Like the U.S, Belize has 2 predominant political parties: PUP (left-leaning) and UDP (right-leaning).
75. While Belizeans spend time working in the U.S., most return home when they retire.
76. Protect your thumbs when visiting since El Sisimito the dwarf has none, so yours could be confiscated.
77. A ghost woman hangs out around El Castillo, Belize’s tallest man-made structure. She wears white and her eyes are on fire, so you won’t mistake her for another ghost.
78. Other Belize ghosts hang out in caves, so keep an eye out for them when you tour.
79. Belize hurricanes and storms regularly wipe out coastal infrastructure.
80. Get your fill of human skeletal remains by visiting Stone Age relics “residing” in Barton Creek Cave.
Statistics worth mentioning
81. Belize hosts around two million visitors annually (pre-Covid).
82. There’s only one international airport in the nation; it’s located near Belize City.
83. The nation’s longest waterway is the Belize River that is 180 miles long.
84. Belize’s religions include: Roman Catholic 49.6-percent; Protestant 27-percent; Pentecostal 7.4-percent; Anglican 5.3- percent; Seventh-Day Adventist 5.2- percent; Mennonite 4.1-percent; Methodist 3.5- percent; Jehovah’s Witnesses 1.5- percent. The remaining 23-percent have no affiliations.
85. Belize’s population was estimated at 419,199 people in 2020.
86. The nation’s Gross National Product is $1.624 billion BZD.
87. Belize only measures 8867 square miles.
88. The average Belize temperature is 84-degrees F, falling to 60-degrees F in winter.
89. 60.3-percent of all Belize households have Internet access.
90. Only 11.6-percent of the populace suffer recurring illnesses, likely due to Belize’s stress-free lifestyle.
About pop culture
91. Belizean Arts, The Gallery of San Pedro and Jack Westerhold Fine Art are epicenters of culture by representing the best of Belize fine art and crafts.
92. Even modern music in Belize is influenced by African and Caribbean beats.
93. Punta, a unique music style, lost its most beloved star, Andy Palacio, in 2008.
94. Paranda music enlists Mother Nature’s wood blocks and turtle shells to accompany acoustic guitars.
95. Brukdown, originating in the 1800s, counts on found items like empty bottles and coconuts in concert with instruments to produce a distinct musical style.
96. A modern version of Brukdown, represented by Mr. Peters and his Boom and Chime, calls for guitars, banjos and harmonica to enhance performances.
97. Belize’s premier recording company is Stonetree Records.
98. Dancing in the streets is mandatory for celebrants at holidays and festivals.
99. Belize is home to the Belize National Dance Company, formed in 1990.
100. Belize art scene newcomers are Walter Castilo, Curvin Mitchel, Pen Caytano, Jorge Landero, Eduardo Garcia, Nelson Young, Orlando, Leo Vasquez, Carolyn Carr, Pamela Braun, Alissa Reid, Amy Brown, and Katrina Samuels.
101. Rebecca Marie Stirm, an internationally renowned fashion designer from Belize, shows her collections on runways around the globe.
As if this isn’t enough, Belize athletes are making their names known via international competitions, three of whom represented the nation at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Small nation? Not when you understand the scope of Belize’s history, people and ethnic mix. We would add more, but you only asked for 101, gentle reader.