Where is Belize
Belize is a gorgeous country located on the Caribbean coast of northern Central America. To the north and northwest of Belize lies Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula while the western and southern border of the country is with Guatemala.
As a former British colony, Belize is distinctly different than its other neighbors in Central America. For more than 150 years, Belize was known as British Honduras, not because it borders present-day Honduras but because the country's southeast maritime waters are adjacent to the Bay of Honduras.
The mainland of Belize measures approximately 170 miles (280 km) north to south and just 60 miles (100 kilometers) from east to west. The southern border with Guatemala is delimited by the Sarstoon and Moho Rivers. The northern border with Mexico is marked by the Hondo River which flows into Chetumal Bay. Belize's western border is a perfectly straight line that follows no natural landmarks as it was artificially created by a treaty. Guatemala has an ongoing dispute with Belize about the border, and there is a buffer zone which is administered by the Organization of American States.
The eastern coast of Belize lies along the Caribbean Sea. Just a few miles offshore, Belize has hundreds of atolls and islands, known locally as cayes (pronounced "keys"). These islands form part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, the largest in the western hemisphere and the second-largest in the world after Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Coral reefs compose just 1% of the ocean's surface but are home to approximately one-quarter of all marine species, making Belize's reef one of the most eco-diverse marine habitats on the planet.
There are approximately 450 islands, islets, and atolls located on the reef. The reef under Belize's jurisdiction measures approximately 270 square miles (690 square km) in size, much of it in the form of protected marine conservation areas. The offshore reef is also home to three atolls, the only coral atolls found outside of the Atlantic Ocean. Due to the pristine nature of the reef and the abundance of marine life, Belize is a mecca for sportfishing, snorkeling, scuba diving, sea kayaking, windsurfing, and stand-up paddling.
Much of Belize's mainland is composed of semi-tropical rainforest and dense jungle. In higher elevations, Belize has large broadleaf forests. Along the eastern seaboard, Belize has flat wetlands and coastal plains that are home to much of Belize's agricultural product. In the west of the country, Belize is home to the Maya Mountain range that slopes down towards the coast. The highest point in Belize is Doyle's Delight, part of the Maya Mountain range. Measuring 3,688 feet (1,124 meters) high, it was named for the author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Belize is the least densely populated country in Central America, and the total population is just under 400,000 people. Due to the country's long history, several different cultures can be found in Belize, including the Creole (descendants of enslaved Africans), Mestizos (indigenous people from Mexico who fled wars in the 19th century), the Garifuna (an Afro-Caribbean people), Chinese, East Indians, Mennonites, and even a small community of Americans who fled the Confederacy in 1865 at the end of the American Civil War.
The official language of Belize is English, but much of the population is equally conversant in the local Creole dialect. Spanish is also widely spoken across Belize, particularly near the borders with Mexico and Guatemala. Other languages spoken in Belize include Garifuna, three Mayan dialects, Chinese, Arabic, and Plattdeutsch.
The largest city in Belize is Belize City with a population of around 75,000 people. For centuries, Belize City was the capital, but following a devastating hurricane in the 1960s, a new capital named Belmopan was constructed in the country's western Cayo District.