The prevalence of archaeological sites indicate that for hundreds of years Belize was heavily populated by around one million Maya, whose relatively advanced civilization reached its height between AD 250 and 900. Today a small population still exists in Belize, predominantly in Toledo, the southern-most district.
In 1638, British logwood cutters, known as the Baymen, were the first Europeans to settle in the area. The Baymen were dependent on slave labor for their logwood operations. Logwood was used to produce purple and red dyes. These early settlements were subjected to attacks from neighboring Spanish settlements for the next 150 years. It was not until 1763 that Spain, in the Treaty of Paris, allowed British settlers to engage in the logwood industry. But Spanish attacks continued until a decisive victory was won by settlers, with British naval support, in the Battle of St. George’s Caye in 1798. After that, British control over the settlement gradually increased. Constitutional advances came in 1834 with the emancipation of slaves. In 1871, British Honduras was formally declared a British Colony and the Crown Colony System of Government was implemented. 1954 saw the introduction of Universal Adult Suffrage and an elected majority in the legislature. The Ministerial System was adopted in 1961, leading to Self Government in 1964. Finally in 1973, Belize changed its name from British Honduras to Belize. Full independence was achieved on September 21, 1981. This is celebrated annually in grand style countrywide. Belize is now a member of the Commonwealth, the United Nations, OAS and the Association of Caribbean States.
Culturally, Belize is a diverse melting pot. By far the greatest number of settlers are the Mestizo (Spanish Indian) followed by Creole (African-European), Maya, Garifuna, Mennonites. More recently an influx of European, North Americans and Canadians have made the country their home.
The country itself covers 8,867 square miles, an area about the size of New Hampshire.
It is bordered by Mexico in the north, Guatemala to the west and south and by the Caribbean Sea to the east.
Shallow coastal waters are sheltered by the Barrier Reef which is the largest reef system in the Western Hermisphere. This is dotted with hundreds of small Cayes and three separate offshore atolls. Much of the coastline of the mainland is low coastal plain covered with mangrove swamp. The northern plains rise to a slight plateau in the west crisscrossed by waterways. Central Belize is mostly savanna supporting abundant wildlife. Moving southwest from the old capital Belize City, the land rises gradually toward the interior with Mountains of over 1124 meters above sea level. The southern part of the country consists of many steep rivers that carry sand, clay and silt which enrich the coastal belt the the agricultural areas. Much of this area is also covered in virgin tropical rainforest rich in palms, exotic flora and fauna and tropical hardwoods
Belize has a tropical climate with average annual temperatures of 80ºF (highs of 95ºF in summer and lows of 65ºF in winter months). The wet season runs June to November, but most rainfall is predominently short refreshing showers. Ideal clothing is light, breathable. A sweater and waterproof gear may be advisable for mountains and for the jungle, long pants, light long sleeve shirt and good walking shoes.
Please visit our Immigration and Visa page for more details on entry requirements for Belize. (https://www.tropicair.com/en/book-a-flight/belize-immigration-and-visas/)
The Belize Dollar ($) is pegged to the US Dollar at the exchange rate of two (2) Belize Dollars to one (1) US Dollar. US Dollars are accepted countrywide, but we do suggest that you do bring crisp notes as torn, heavily worn, or damaged foreign currency may not be accepted.