Belize, previously British Honduras, lies on the East coast of Central America and in the heart of the Caribbean Basin. It is bordered by Mexico to the North, Guatemala to the West and South, and the Caribbean Sea to the East. Geographically Belize is located between 15° 52′ 9″ and 18° 29′ 55″ North Latitude, and 87° 28″ and 89° 13′ 67″ West Longitude with an area of 8,866 sq. miles including 266 sq. miles of islands.
The cayes or islands, the offshore atolls, and the barrier reef are the main attractions to Belize. The barrier reef, which is the longest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere, is 185 miles long. The cayes and atolls provide great opportunity for SCUBA diving, snorkeling, fishing, boating, sailing, and kayaking, and also serve as a habitat for both nesting birds and turtles. In the central part of Belize the land is higher. It is between 1,500 and 3,680 feet above sea level in the Mountain Pine Ridge Area and the Maya Mountains. Breathtaking waterfalls, historic Mayan cities and majestic mountains are but a few of the attractions that can be enjoyed in this area.
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. The variation in weather further emphasizes the interesting difference in elevation, geology, plant and animal life. Summer high temperatures, are normally around 98 degrees Fahrenheit, and winter lows have rarely gone below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, even at night.
Normally, the rainy season is usually between June and November and the dry season is between February and May. Usually, the weather becomes cooler at the end of October and this lasts up until February. Average humidity is 85 percent. Annual rainfall ranges from 50 inches in the North to 170 inches in the South.
The population of approximately 250,000 people consists of a mixture of Creoles, Garifunas, Mestizos, Mayas, Caucasians, Mennonites, Lebanese, Chinese, and East Indians. Belize has gained a widespread reputation for its friendly people.
English is the official language of Belize, Spanish is the second language and Creole is the commonly used dialect you will hear spoken throughout the country.
The Belize Dollar (BZ$) has a fixed rate of exchange of BZ$2 to US$1. Most hotels, resorts, restaurants, and tour operators will accept U.S. currency, traveler’s checks, or credit cards.
Time observed year round is GMT-6, which is the same as United States Central Standard Time. Daylight Savings Time is not observed in Belize.