Where is Belize?
Belize is located on the Gulf of Mexico, south of Mexico in Central America. The nation is approximately 8,867 square miles with hundreds of miles of coastline and many islands. This lush, subtropical nation is still over 60% forested.
Secluded in the Yucatan Peninsula of Central America, Belize offers some of the most breathtaking coastal scenery in the Caribbean. Add to this spectacular waterfalls, dense virgin jungles, the world's second-largest barrier reef, magnificent Maya archaeological sites, stunning wildlife to rival any destination, the alluring Maya Mountains rising to over 1,100 meters and an easy-going, friendly and noticeably uncrowned character. It’s no wonder Belize is now regarded The Jewel of the Caribbean.
Belize is located on the Yucatan Peninsula, 17° north of the equator. There are 542 miles of land borders with Mexico and Guatemala.
The highest point in Belize is Doyle’s Delight at 3,688 ft. The lowest elevation is, of course, the Caribbean Sea.
The nation’s longest river is the Belize River, which is about 180 miles long
Things To Do and See in Belize
Belize has evolved into a world-renowned ecotourism and adventure destination. Be it sea kayaking among some of the best marine reserves in the world, exploring the largest cave system in the Americas, sailing through a Palm-studded island chain scattered along the barrier reef, diving on three of the only four coral atolls in the entire Caribbean, or simply relaxing in a hammock beneath a coconut tree, Belize offers it all and more! Jacques Cousteau marveled at Belize's amazing Blue Hole dive site renowned amongst scuba divers the world over. Thanks to the government's environmental preservation policies, more than 46 percent of the land is legally set aside and over 50 percent of the original forest remains intact--a remarkable feat!
Belize is home to sea turtles, dolphins, abundant coral ecosystems, world-class game fish, 566 bird species, stunning tropical flowers, jaguars, manatees and magnificent whale sharks. Belize spells adventure! Come see for yourself!
The Coastline and Cayes in Belize
The coastline of Belize is over 240 miles of beaches, mangrove swamps, rivers and streams. Much of it is open to public and still in pristine condition. With a barrier reef that is nearly 200 miles long, Belize is protected by the second longest barrier reef in the world.
The Caribbean waters are perfect for boating, fishing, snorkeling, scuba diving, and much more. The people and government of Belize work hard to protect their portion of the ocean to keep it perfect and clean.
Belize is the only Central American nation that doesn’t have a Pacific coastline.
Belize Weather, Seasons, and Average Temperature
Being a subtopic nation, Belize has a dry season and a rainy season. The northern part of the nation will receive about 60 inches of rain, while the south can get 160 inches. Flooding is a concern during particularly wet seasons, June to November, in the southern part of the country.
Temperatures in Belize range from 50 degrees Fahrenheit to 95 degrees Fahrenheit. September to January, the average temperature is about 75 degrees Fahrenheit, while in the summer, the average is 81 degrees Fahrenheit.
Crime in Belize
While Belize is a relatively safe nation, situational awareness is need. While it may be true that, on paper, the country has a one of the highest murder rates in the world; this is due primarily to a small overall population. For example, the capital, Belmopan, has a population of 16,000 people, but recorded a murder rate of 13 deaths in 2016. The US State Department and similar organizations around the world simply advise situational awareness, pay attention to where you are and what’s happening around you.
The most frequent crimes are non-confrontational thefts, such as pickpocketing, hotel room theft, and simple burglary. Cybertheft is typically low tech, such as stealing someone’s credit card number while making a purchase in a restaurant. It’s advised that you simply maintain control of your credit cards and statements at all times.
The History and People of Belize
Belize has always been home to the indigenous peoples of the Yucatan Peninsula. Most notably are the Maya who left ruins all over the nation, as well as thousands of descendants and their language.
Over the centuries, indigenous Mexican citizens and Spanish-speaking citizens have taken shelter in Belize. The islands and cayes along the coastline were havens for rogue pirates and African slaves seeking shelter. The entire nation of Belize is melting pot of the populations of Central America, Europe, and other caribbean nations..
Unlike most of the rest of Central America, Belize was part of the British Empire and thus became an English-speaking territory. Belize achieved independence on September 21, 1981, at which point the nation changed its name from British Honduras to Belize.
Government in Belize
As one of the most stable nations in the world, and particularly in Central America where many governments have come and gone, Belize is a gorgeous safe haven for anyone looking to live in a sunny tropical land that is still maintained as the paradise that it was originally.
The first national election was held in 1984 and since then, Belize has had a stable, democratically-elected government. While the democratic elections have not been without strife, including unrest against the ruling People’s United Party (PUP) in 2005, transition from one Prime Minister has been peaceful and in accordance with the nation’s constitution.
Wikipedia summarizes the governmental structure of Belize most clearly:
Politics of Belize takes place in a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic monarchy, where by Queen Elizabeth II serves as head of state and the prime minister is the head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the Parliament of Belize. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politics_of_Belize
Languages of Belize: English, Spanish, and Belize Kriol
The official language of Belize is English, but the nation has many other language that are common. Spanish and Creole are extremely common. Other languages that can be heard on the streets of the cities include Mayan, Chinese, Mennonite German, Lebanese, Arabic, hindi, and Garifuna, a native tongue that have been declared a world cultural treasure.
Wikipedia describes the Belizean Creole commonly spoken by native Belizeans as follows:
Belize Kriol (also Kriol or Belizean Creole) is an English-based creole language closely related to Miskito Coastal Creole, Jamaican Patois, San Andrés-Providencia Creole, Bocas del Toro Creole, Colón Creole, Rio Abajo Creole and Limón Coastal Creole… Belizean people speak English, Kriol, and often Spanish, while learning the English system of writing and reading in schools. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belizean_Creole
The People and Culture in Belize
The culture of Belize is gathered from the souls of all the people who have lived there before. There is a strong Mexican influence, as well as echoes of the Maya who lived there before the Spanish arrived in the New World. There is currently a strong global influence due to the internet and television. In essence, the whole world comes to Belize and they are all welcomed to contribute to the richness of the nation. Many cultures have found that living in Belize is a wonderful life.
Working and Employment in Belize
As of 2016, Belize had an unemployment rate of 8% (*). In 2010, that rate was 23.3%. The nation’s employment is affected by the global economy due its reliance on tourism. If Americans and others can’t afford to visit, the nation’s economy suffers.
Living and Retiring in Belize: What is The Cost of Living in Belize?
The Belize dollar is tied to the US dollar at a rate of 2 to 1. This means for Americans that you get about twice your money. This is not as great as it might sound. In many places, the rents and home prices are adjusted to that rate. For example, the rent on a condo in Belize City is approximately $800 a month, similar to a small US city.
One place where the costs are very much lower is food. A massive plate of native foods, like chicken and rice, is about $2.50.
The best part of retiring in Belize versus anywhere else in Central America is the stability of the government and the predictable exchange rate. Living in Belize is likely on the most cost-effective ways for a North American retiree to live well in a subtropical nation.
Buying a Home in Belize and Belize Real Estate
Non-Belizians can on property in the country, including waterfront properties and commercial properties. Land taxes are low and “Government Guaranteed Land Certificates” make purchases in Belize extremely safe. Click here for more information about buying real estate in Belize.