The one minute summary on Belize
This is it: one minute to the best info on Belize. This info alone will put you ahead of 99% of foreigners visiting Belize, garner the admiration of the locals who will instantly want to be your friends, and the envy of your fellow travelers. Read on. You’ll make friends faster that way, become a traveler instead of simply being a tourist, and also enjoy your travels a lot more.
Belize was the site of several Mayan city states until their decline at the end of the first millennium A.D. The British and Spanish disputed the region in the 17th and 18th centuries; it formally became the colony of British Honduras in 1854. Territorial disputes between the UK and Guatemala delayed the independence of Belize until 1981. Guatemala refused to recognize the new nation until 1992 and the two countries are involved in an ongoing border dispute. Tourism has become the mainstay of the economy. Current concerns include the country’s heavy foreign debt burden, high unemployment, growing involvement in the Mexican and South American drug trade, high crime rates, and one of the highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rates in Central America.
That was it. I promised one minute.
For other condensed info check also my other posts on local culture (don’t make the mistakes I made), local food or local drinks. And when you call your friends to tell them you were by far the most knowledgeable at the party, do that with confidence that you’ll not get hit with a 6.99 per minute bill. You’ll also pick the local food from the tray, and order a local drink with confidence.
- Cultural Mistakes To Avoid in Belize
- Does my current phone work in Belize ? Tips to cell phone usage in Belize
- Local food you should try in Belize and No miss drinks in Belize
Now, cheers to the most Belize aware person at the cocktail party.
What are the key history moments for Belize?
Like the neighboring parts of Guatemala and Mexico, this area was settled for thousands of years by the Maya people. They are still here, an important part of Belize’s people and culture. While the Spanish Empire claimed the area in the 16th century, the Spanish made little progress in settling here. The British settled first on the coast and offshore islands for logging. In 1798 British Belizean forces defeated a Spanish attempt to drive them out in “the Battle of St. George’s Caye”, whose anniversary is still celebrated as a holiday each 10 September. The colony of “British Honduras” grew in the 19th century. At first Africans were brought in as slaves, but slavery was abolished here in 1838. Many refugees from the 19th century Caste War of Yucatan escaped the conflict to settle in Belize, especially the northern section.
The government of Guatemala long claimed to have inherited the Spanish claim to Belize; the territorial dispute delayed the independence of Belize until 1981. Guatemala refused to recognize the new nation until 1991. Belize escaped the bloody civil conflicts of the 1980s that engulfed much of Central America, and refugees from the conflict in Guatemala arrived, mostly settling in the west. While Belize has not been immune to the rampant drug crime and grinding poverty of its neighbors it is a comparatively safe destination in a conflict prone part of the world. Tourism has become the mainstay of the economy as the old agricultural products — sugar, banana, and oranges — have lost ground. The country remains plagued by high unemployment, growing involvement in the South American drug trade, and increased urban crime. In 2006 commercial quantity oil was discovered in the Spanish Lookout area.
The one minute summary for Belize geography
Best places to see in Belize
Mayan Ruins Exploration Many of the Maya ruins (listed below) can be visited in person. Unlike most ruins, many of those in Belize can still be climbed and explored by foot. Altun Ha (Northern Belize) – Two large central plazas and mid-size pyramids are exposed. This is the most easily-accessible site from Belize City. Lamanai (Northern Belize) – Three large pyramids and stelae, residential areas, plazas, a unique ball court. Xunantunich (Western Belize) – Very well-excavated carving stelae and an impressive main pyramid. Can drive right up to this site. Access it by crossing the Mopan River aboard a tiny hand-cranked car-ferry in the village of San José Succotz (only about 10 minutes west of San Ignacio on the Western Highway). El Pilar (Western Belize) – 100-acre site with 25+ plazas, on the Belize-Guatemala border. Caracol (Western Belize) – Largest known Maya site in Belize, but not as well-excavated as others.
Main pyramid (Caana, or “Sky Palace”) is the tallest Maya structure in Belize. Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) Cave (Western Belize) – This is not a Maya structure, but a cave that contains Maya skeletons, ceramics, and stoneware. Tikal (Guatemala) – Most grand of the surviving Maya cities, and most extensively excavated. Numerous pyramids, stelae, and temples; grand plaza and main acropolis are often seen in photographs. Toucans, parrots, howler monkeys, and spider monkeys are often seen throughout the park. Xunantunich, Caracol, and ATM Cave are all very easily accessible from San Ignacio, either self-drive or on a guided tour. San Ignacio is also a launching point for visiting Tikal. Most hotels in San Ignacio will arrange tours of the nearby sites and Tikal for guests.
You can also arrange tours through any of the tour companies whose offices can be found in the central part of San Ignacio (on or around the pedestrian stretch of Burns Avenue). Tours to the ruins can also be arranged for visitors staying in the Cayes. On Caye Caulker and in San Pedro, you will find tour companies that can arrange tours of some of the Maya sites. Horseback Riding Come ride with a Belizean cowboy! When traveling inland to San Ignacio, there are lots of opportunities to explore the jungles by horseback. Hanna Stables, Western Highway, San Ignacio, Belize, ? +501 661-1536, . Hanna Stables offers horseback riding, adventure tourism and educational organic eco-farm stay for travelers of all ages and abilities in the San Ignacio, Belize area.
One of the country’s oldest horseback riding establishments, Hanna Stables has been family-owned for generations and is currently operated by Santiago Juan. Horseback riding tours are available for riders of all experience levels, and popular destinations include the Mayan ruins of Xunantunich, unexcavated Mayan ruins of Actun Kan, and the surrounding San Lorenzo Farm. Located not far from Hanna Stables is Nabitunich (The Stone Cottages) which has 20 rooms available for accommodations for travelers. All-inclusive vacation packages are available. The stables and farm are only an hour and half ride away from Belize City, and a 10-minute drive away from the Guatemala border. For more information, please visit http://www.hannastables.com $55-100. Old Belize Old Belize is a landmark attraction, offering a total Belize experience for locals and tourists. At its heart is the Old Belize Exhibit, a stirring cultural and historical display that takes visitors back in time to various defining segments of Belizes past.
The display contains many authentic relics from key periods, a haunting introductory teaser to the Mayan legacy in Belize, an eerie depiction of the Belize City of Colonial days, and an intimate glimpse into 18th century logging camps, and more. Old Belize also features Cucumber Beach (the only beach in Belize City), the Old Belize Marina, a full service restaurant, plus conference facilities and banquet hall. Old Belize is located at Mile 5 on the Western Highway, a $10 US cab ride from the Tourist Village, Brown Sugar Terminal, downtown Belize City, and most central locations in Belize City. Zip-Lining Soar over Belize’s rain forest by taking a Zip-line tour. These tours usually begin with a short hike up to the first base where a tutorial is given on how to safely use your equipment. Costs range from $95USD to $100USD and tours are run by two companies, Jaguar Paw, and Back-A-Bush tours. Sport Fishing Sportfishing in Belize is second to none. The bonefish is the premier fly fishing game fish in the world and it can be found in the grass shallows through Belize. It’s pound for pound perhaps the strongest animal in salt-water. Scuba Diving/Snorkeling Also world-class is the snorkeling and scuba diving.
There are many exceptional dive sites to be found in Belize. One of the best ways to explore Belize waters is by chartering a sailboat or catamaran to make the most of your available dive time. For those with a smaller budget, snorkeling and driving excursions can be found along the beaches of Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker. The most common excursions will take you to both Hol Chan marine reserve and Shark Ray Alley. These trips usually cost about $35USD and includes snorkel gear. Be mindful of an additional $10BZ charged to Foreigners as a park tax. This money goes toward the upkeep, and protection of the reef. / Diving excursions are also offered to the Blue Hole, but expect to pay a lot more for the privilege. Cave Exploration The Cayo district is characterized by limestone hills underlain by a network of underground rivers, caves and sinkholes. The caves are magnificent, with huge caverns and tight passages, underground waterfalls and dazzling arrays of mineral-encrusted stalactites and stalagmites.
This underground world was sacred to the ancient Maya and many artifacts from decorated pots to human remains are still intact in the caves. It is dangerous (and illegal) to enter the caves without a licensed guide. Most guides are trained in both the geology and mythology of the caves as well as in modern first aid and cave rescue techniques. Belize’s greatest attraction Actun Tunichil Muknal, these spectacular caves combine adventure caving with amazing history. Traverse the cave system and river with a guide to see the calcified Mayan sacrifice remains at the end. Don’t be afraid of getting wet.