While researching a trip to Central America, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about the history of Belize and its current state of being today. But before we get to that information, let’s answer a common question: Where is Belize?
Belize is located in Central America and it is bordered to the north by Mexico, to the south and west by Guatemala and to the east by the Caribbean Sea. We are a diverse country with various cultures and languages. We also have the lowest population density in Central America with 35 people per square mile or 14 people per square kilometer.
Belize is also known for its extreme biodiversity and distinctive ecosystems. On the coast, there is a swampy coastal plain with mangrove swamps. In the south and interior there are hills and low mountains. Most of our land is undeveloped and is forested with hardwoods. It is a part of the Mesoamerican biodiversity hotspot and it has many jungles, wildlife reserves, a large variety of different species of flora and fauna and the largest cave system in Central America. Some species of Belize’s flora and fauna include the black orchid, the mahogany tree, the toucan and tapirs.
The first people to develop Belize were the Maya around 1500 B.C.E. In fact, much of the culture in Belize is heavily influenced by Mayan ruins history. As shown in archeological records, they established a number of settlements here. These include Caracol, Lamanai and Lubaantun. Many of these Mayan ruins in Belize are among the major tourist attractions heavily sought after by visitors. The first European contact with Belize occurred in 1502 when Christopher Columbus reached the area’s coast. In 1638, the first European settlement was established by England and for 150 years, many more English settlements were set up.
In 1840, Belize became a “Colony of British Honduras” and in 1862, it became a crown colony. For one hundred years after that, Belize was a representative government of England but in January 1964, full self government with a ministerial system was granted. In 1973, the region’s name was changed from British Honduras to Belize and on September 21, 1981, full independence was achieved.
- Location: Central America, bordering the Caribbean Sea, between Guatemala and Mexico.
- Area: 8,867 square miles (22,966 square kilometers)
- Capital: Belmopan
- Geography: Flat, swampy coastal plain; low mountains in south.
- Time Zone: UTC-6 (1 hour behind Washington, DC during Standard Time)
- Climate: Tropical. Belize has a very hot and humid; rainy season (May to November); dry season (February to May).
- Government: Parliamentary democracy and a Commonwealth realm.
- Chief of State: Queen Elizabeth II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Governor General Sir Colville Young, Sr. (since 17 November 1993)
- Head of Government: Prime Minister Dean Oliver Barrow (since 8 February 2008)