cayes(pronounced keys), the offshore atolls, and the barrier reef
are the main attraction to Belize. The barrier reef, which is 185
miles long, is the longest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere.
The cayes are islands and/or mangroves, that are located between
the mainland and the barrier reef, on the barrier reef, and on or
within the barrier reef perimeters of the offshore atolls. Although
the mangrove cayes are normally uninhabitable by humans, they do
provide a superior habitat for birds and marine life.
fish, shellfish, and marine organisms begin their lives within the
protection of the mangrove. On the other hand, the island cayes,
which are distinguishable by their palm trees, have provided the
foundation for the development of many fine resorts to serve the
water sports enthusiasts and the marine naturalists.
cayes and atolls provide superior opportunity for SCUBA diving,
snorkeling, fishing, boating, sailing, sailboarding, and sea kayaking,
as well as habitat for both nesting birds and turtles. The northern
half of the mainland of Belize is a plain that was once the bed
of a sea. The land is covered with a thin layer of soil, that supports
scrub vegetation and dense hardwood tropical forest. The coastal
area is neither land nor sea, but a sodden, swampy transition between
the two. It consists of mangrove and grasses, and it is bordered
by tussock grasses, cypress, and sycamore where the land separates
central part of Belize consists of sandy soil that supports large
savannas. Approximately thirty miles southwest of Belize City, the
land begins to rise dramatically to between 1,500 and 3,680 feet
above sea level in the enchanting Mountain Pine Ridge District and
the Maya Mountains. Abundant rainfall runs off the northwest from
the highlands in a number of streams which flow into the Macal River.
Ultimately, the Macal River and the Mopan River converge to provide
the headwaters of the Belize River.
part of Belize, with its watershed to the southeast from the Maya
Mountains, consists of short rivers that rush through slopes combed
with overhanging ledges and caves. The rivers, carrying sand, clay
and silt, have enriched the coastal belt over the years, allowing
Belize to develop significant agricultural products such as citrus
and bananas. Along with an annual rainfall of some 170 inches, southern
Belize has a true tropical rain forest that is rich with ferns,
palms, lianas, and tropical hardwoods.
The climate is subtropical, with a brisk prevailing wind from the
Caribbean Sea. The country has an annual mean temperature of 79
degrees Fahrenheit, and the humidity is nicely tempered by the Sea
breezes. Variation in weather features, emphasizes the interesting
difference in elevation, geology, plant and animal life. A summer
high temperature, usually never exceeds 96 degrees Fahrenheit, and
winter lows are seldom below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, even at night.
Saltwater temperature varies between 75 degrees Fahrenheit and 84
The population of approximately 200,000 people consists of a mixture
of Creole, Garifuna, Mestizo, Spanish, Maya, English, Mennonite,
Lebanese, Chinese, and Eastern Indian. Due to racial harmony and
religious tolerance, all of these different elements have mixed
and blended successfully, and Belize has gained a widespread reputation
for its friendly people. English is the official language of Belize,
although Spanish, Creole, Garifuna and Mayan are widely spoken throughout
A valid passport and visa, if required, is necessary for entry into
Belize. Visitors are permitted to stay in Belize for a period not
to exceed thirty (30) days. Extensions may be granted upon application
to the Immigration Office, Corner Pickstock and North Front Streets,
Belize City, at a cost of BZ$25.00. Travelers should exhibit that
they have sufficient funds for their visit (US$50.00 per person
per day), as well as, a ticket to their onward destination.
United States citizens and Nationals of the European Community member
nations do not require visas. Visas are required for the Nationals
of the following countries: China, Columbia, Cuba, India, Libya,
Pakistan, Peru, South Africa, and Taiwan. (Telephone: (202)332-9636,
Fax: (202)332-6741), for up-to-date information
this Page to a friend!