Summary: Belize is the second smallest country in Central America, located between Guatemala and Mexico, and the only Central American country that doesn't border the Pacific Ocean. Although its terrain is mostly flat with a rather swampy plain region on the coast, tourism and agriculture have become a large part of the reforming Belizean economy as it works away from unemployment and crime.
Time Zone: Standard Time -0600 UTC
Languages: English, Spanish, Mayan, Garifuna, Creole
Power: 110 V and 220 V, 60 Hz
Currency: Belizean Dollar
- Currently 1 BZD = 0.4950 USD $
Climate: Belize has a tropical climate that is hot and humid. Its dry season runs from February to May, and its wet season is from May to November, with hurricanes that can strike from June to late October, although late August tends to be quite dry.
- Currently 90º, var t
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| Belize City: Belize City was the capital until a hurricane prompted the government to move inland to Belmopan. There are, however, still great examples of colonial-style architecture, and the fact that the city makes for a perfect base for exploring the countryside, means that this is a must see. Screeching howler monkeys are only a little over 20 miles to the west in the Bermudian Landing Community Baboon Sanctuary, and the Mayan ruins of Lamanai are about a dozen miles further north- west and feature about 60 buildings in its archaeological reserve. Of course, since it is right on the coast, you can also just step onto a beach or take a boat off to the sandy Cayes.|
| Belmopan: The construction of capital Belmopan, started in 1966. The creation of the inland capital was prompted by the coastal destruction caused by Hurricane Hattie in 1965. It is on the eastern side of the Cayo district, one of the riches areas for Mayan ruins, reserves and parks. Among these riches are the Mountain Pine Ridge, about 20 miles to the south featuring the pools and small massaging falls of Rio On and Rio Frio Cave not far from Augustine, and Xunantunich, a stunning "stone woman" Mayan plaza about 20 miles to the west that peeks over the valley and jungle that surrounds it from a small hill.|
| The Cayes: Considered one of the best reasons to visit Belize, there are 180 miles of islets that range from tiny sand bars to islands dozens of miles long. San Pedro is the main town, located on the northerly Ambergris Caye, and half-day or full-day trips through to snorkeling and diving spots are easy to arrange from here. On Caye Caulker to the south, you can find cheaper places to stay and the same access to excursions out to reefs although there are enough restaurants that you may not want to leave.|
Security: Crime does not normally play a part of a tourist trek, however, be street smart and keep your wallet and valuables hidden.
Ecotourism: Some of the biggest draws for Belize are its rain forests, reefs, and nature preserves. Belize is working to both promote and protect these for the benefit of its economy, as well as its ecology.
Morning Banking: While banks are normally open Friday afternoons, that is the only afternoon they are open. The rest of the time, they're open from around 8am to noon, however, credit cards and traveller's checks are normally accepted where you will be traveling.
When To Visit: November to May is the longest dry season, and also the busiest tourist time, with prices higher as well. The last half August is probably the safest part of the rainy season from hurricanes, as it is normally quite dry.
Food: Traditional Belizean cooking is based on rice and beans, with chicken, beef or fish, and coconut milk or fried plantain.
Phrases: Yes = si, no = no, hello = hola, please = por favor, thank you = gracias, do you speak English = usted habla inglés?
Tipping: A service charge is normally not included in your bill, so add a 10% gratuity in restaurants and bars. Taxi fares don't require a tip.
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