Facts About Belize
An affordable vacation paradise
If you know people who are so wealthy, they never set a budget when planning vacations, you must hang out with celebrities! Money tends to be the great travel equalizer and determinant; what’s the first thing you do to plan a vacation after deciding to take one? You start shopping for accommodations, airfares and deals. Find terrific prices and discounts in Belize year-round, and there’s no struggling with exchange rates, because Belize currency is frozen at $2 BZD to every $1 USD. Lots of merchants in Belize are happy to take U.S. dollars, so you could spend an entire vacation here without having to covert a single bill, though if you carry traveler’s checks and plastic, all of your financial bases will be covered. Worried about running out of cash? Don’t be. There are ATMs throughout Belize, including Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker, Belize City, Belmopan, Corozal, Dangriga and Placencia.
Belize’s location is no mystery: the country is just beneath Mexico and adjacent to Guatemala, running along the Caribbean Sea from north to south. The number of islands that hug the mainland remain a hot topic for residents and visitors alike because there are hundreds of them, each a unique example of geological history. Due to Belize’s proximity to the sea, the nation has absorbed many people migrating from both hemispheres, which is how so many languages and cultures have come to be represented in a nation that’s only the size of Vermont. The jewel in Belize’s crown is its biodiversity: tour the country and you will spot all types of topography: mountains, hills, valleys, lowlands, mangrove swamps, flatlands and beachfront. Short seasonal showers keep this lush nation verdant, which is why Belize’s jungles, rain forests, flowers, trees and plants remind so many visitors of what Eden must have looked like.
Belize has a delightfully low population density of only 35 people per square mile today, one of the reasons people love moving here if they’ve had enough of crowded cities. But it’s the charm and mystery of the nation’s original inhabitants that fascinate visitors most of all. The Maya established a foothold here about 1500 BCE, settling primarily in Caracol, Lamanai and Lubaantun. These peoples were highly intelligent, industrious—and superstitious–which is why so many of the ruins they left behind are enigmatic. Christopher Columbus landed in Belize in 1502 and by 1638, multiple English settlements had sprung up, which is how the nation came to be called British Honduras. Migration from the north, south and east over centuries have created a colorful melting pot of cultural diversity, but once full independence was achieved on September 21, 1981, no matter what roots migrants brought with them, they all pledged allegiance to one flag.
A polyglot of languages and people
Tourists are often surprised to discover that English is Belize’s first language, but now that you are aware of the nation’s early British presence, you get it. Other migrants added languages to the mix, so even today, expect to hear Kriol, Spanish, Mayan dialects, Arabic, East Indian, Mandarin Chinese, German and Garifuna (a language originating in Africa) spoken here. Kriol is considered the language of the people and the second most often-spoken tongue. Happily, speakers of all languages adopt the Belize way of life once they settle here. Everything about Belize is relaxed, comfortable and laid-back. Are there unique traditions? Lots of them; they originate within myriad cultures and serve as a base for year-round holidays that are as colorful, fascinating and traditional as any you’ll find throughout the world. Most recently, North American ex-pats have discovered Belize in big numbers. Some come for the relaxed vibe. Others adore the warm and welcoming people, while an impressive number of tax advantages offered to ex-pats when they move here is a very motivating reason, too.
Have we mentioned the Belize weather?
Of course weather is a main factor when ex-pats decide to move to Belize—especially those who have had their fill of cold winters, high heating bills and inconvenience born of living and working in congested and stressful cities. Belize’s winter temperatures can dip down to 60-degrees (that’s spring everywhere else) and during the hottest time of year, weather usually maxes out at around 86-degrees. It can be humid at times, but a dip in the ocean or a pool is all that’s necessary to cool down fast. Coastal sea breezes are refreshing and prevalent year-round and while the occasional heart-thumping storm can light up the sky with a fireworks display courtesy of Mother Nature, it won’t last long. How to plan your trip so you get exactly the weather you crave? Use this as your guide: Belize’s green season runs from June to December; dry season lasts from February to May, and the entire month of January is sheer perfection! Seasonal wardrobe changes? There is no such thing! Sound intriguing? Bring your fine self to Belize where lots of other facts wait to be discovered.