6. Where Is Belize? -
Belize is located on the Caribbean coast of Central America. The country shares borders with Mexico to the north and Guatemala to the south and west. It encompasses 8,800 square miles of land and has a 240-mile long coastline.
5. History -
Between 1500 BC and around 900 BC, the Maya civilization had control of the region. Estimates suggest that at its height, the population reached around 1 million. Spanish explorers arrived in the 16th century and claimed the territory for Spain, however, they did not establish settlements due to the lack of gold and strong Mayan resistance. It was not until the 17th and 18th centuries that colonizers arrived from England and Scotland. They settled in present-day Belize, establishing a port city, slave trade, and timber industry. In 1798, the Spanish attempted to take back the colony unsuccessfully.
In 1836, Central America won its independence from Spain and England promptly took over. Present-day Belize became known as British Honduras and was a British colony from 1862 until 1981. England granted the country the right to self-government in 1964 and in 1973, it took the name Belize. Guatemala disputed the British claim on the territory and in 1981 when Belize became independent, Guatemala refused to recognize it as a country. This dispute has been ongoing, although Guatemala does recognize Belize to some degree now.
4. Demographics -
The population of Belize is 368,310 with a growth rate of 1.87% annually. Due to its large size and a small number of inhabitants, it is the least densely populated country in Central America. Just over 50% of the people here live in rural areas, and another 25% inhabit Belize City. On average, women have 3.6 children, which is a relatively high fertility rate. The most widely practiced religion is Christianity; Catholicism and Protestantism are the most common denominations.
Because of its complex history of indigenous tribes, African slaves, and Spanish and British colonizers, both the ethnic make-up and languages spoken are diverse. English continues to be the official language and is spoken by 62.9% of the population. Spanish is second with 56.6% of the people speaking the language. These are followed by Creole, which is English mixed with African languages (44.6%); Maya (10.5%); German (3.2%); and Garifuna, an Arawakan language influenced by Carib, French, and Spanish (2.9%). Mestizo, a mix of Mayan and European ancestry is the largest ethnic group in Belize; this group makes up 52.9% of the population. People of Creole descent are 25.9% of the population. Other ethnic groups include Maya (11.3%), Garifuna (6.1%), East Indian (3.9%), Mennonite (3.6%), White (1.2%), and Asian (1%).
3. Climate, Habitat, And Biodiversity -
This country is home to swampy coastal plains, river valleys, mountains, rainforest, and highland plateaus. Due to its geographic diversity and location between North and South America, Belize is rich in unique flora and fauna. Some of the animals inhabiting the country include scarlet macaws, jaguar, monkeys, and armadillos. Additionally, over 5,000 plant species can be found on the mainland. Off the coast, Belize is home to the Belize Barrier Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
2. Economy -
The economy here is based on petroleum, agricultural, and industrial mineral exports. Half of the agricultural industry is dedicated to sugar production. Banana crops are also important. Its major trading partners are the US, European Union, Central America, and Mexico.
1. Tourism And Tourist Activities -
Recently, tourism has increased, contributing to the local economy. In 2012, the country received 917,869 tourists, over half of them from the US. The enjoyable Caribbean climate and a wide range of outdoor activities make this country appealing to tourists. Visitors here can explore the Belize Barrier Reef, where they can snorkel, scuba dive, swim, or fish. The mainland is popular for its rainforest reserves which give tourists the opportunity to spot rare birds, animals, and plants. In addition, hiking around the ancient Mayan ruins is a popular activity among visitors to Belize.