Welcome to a country full of diversity; from its people to its natural environments. Belize may be small and may not be well known around the world, but don’t underestimate the country. The combination of Central American and the Caribbean settings unique to Belize, make it a place like no other. Once you experience the casual lifestyle, affordable cost of living, and welcoming people, you could find it the optimal place to make your home. The un-meddlesome government and financial jurisdictions may also sweeten the idea or provide an opportunity for investment.
English is the official language, and unlike other areas of Central American gaining popularity, English is widely spoken. This is a result of the country’s British roots. Formerly the British Colony of British Honduras, Belize gained its independence in 1981.
Belize has it’s own currency, still adorned with images of the Queen of England. However, the Belize dollar is a fixed to the US dollar, with an exchange rate of BZ$2 = US$1. The US dollar is widely accepted by merchants and businesses.
Belize is a small country. A landmass of 8,867 sq. miles makes it roughly the same size as Massachusetts. The country is approximately 180 miles from North to South and 70 miles from East to West. Although small in size, it is diverse in environment. The Northern half of the country is largely flatlands and river basins. The Southern half features a low mountain range. The Maya Mountains, as they are known, are a little over 3,500 ft. at their highest. Belize is a narrow country, with a mountain range along its western border and the Caribbean Sea as an eastern border. These conditions combine to create weather variations. As you go further south in Belize, annual precipitation increases drastically, giving Southern Belize its lush tropical rain forests.
Just off shore from the mainland, Belize has the second largest barrier reef in the world, including the famous underwater atoll, known as the Great Blue Hole.
Time observed year round is GMT-6 (meaning it is the same as US Central for half the year and US Mountain for the other, due to US daylight savings).
The year round tropical weather in Belize is an attraction on its own. Belize averages daily highs in the eighties (thirties Celsius) accompanied by plenty of tropical sunshine. The coastline can feel cooler due to the sea breezes. Some regions inland also cool because of higher elevation. The only noticeable seasons are associated with the predictable changes in precipitation: the rainy season also known as the “green” season, and the dry season. Rainy season is from May to November with a tendency for a respite in August. Belize is in the dry season from December to April. Average annual rainfall in Northern Belize is approximately 80 inches compared to 180 inches in southern Belize.
Belize is home to all the flora and fauna Central America has to offer. An almost incomprehensible number of plant species are found in the rainforests, and are still being discovered and researched today. The multiple indigenous hardwoods such as Mahogany, Teak, and Santa Maria, first attracted the British to establish the out-of-the-way colony of British Honduras. Trees, including the Sapodilla, which produces chicle for use in making chewing gum, have played a key role in the history of Belize. The tropical foliage, which flourishes year round throughout Belize, provides a beautiful backdrop for your daily life.
You can have a garden filled with tropical fruit trees and exotic flowering plants with fairly little maintenance (of course certain specific locations are better than others). Vegetation just grows in Belize. It’s may be contrary to what you are used to, but if you don’t maintain what you have carved out of the natural surrounding, the jungle has a way of taking it back.
Belize has an abundance of creatures you may find exotic and interesting. Just to mention a few: monkeys, river otters, tapirs, jaguars, coatimundies, jaguarmundies, gibnuts, margays, ocelots, kinkanjous, frogs, snakes, iguanas, crocodiles, and over 500 species of birds. The 500 include the famous toucan, scarlet macaw, and harpy eagle (a wing span of 7ft makes is a rather intimidating bird of prey). Belize is a birdwatcher’s haven, and many bird species are seen on their annual migratory journeys.
Belize is also a haven for marine wildlife. The waters are teaming with life; everything from the giant whale sharks traveling through the waters of Belize on their annual migration to feed and spawn, down to the microorganisms forming the hemisphere’s largest coral reef.
Belize is divided into six districts: Belize District, Cayo District, Corozal District, Orange Walk District, Stann Creek District, and Toledo District. These districts are similar to states or provinces in North America, with each district having a capital and elected representatives to the national assembly.