Traveling in Central America can be wonderful, relaxing experience. The pace of life is much slower in Belize, compared to what most guests are used to back home, so it is best to think of it as “I’ll be there in five minutes” when referring to Belize time.
Not only is it a fascinating place to visit, but it is also easy and inexpensive to get to, English is the official language, and it is a great winter destination as it enjoys a warm winter climate. The population (about 380,000) is about the same as Tampa, Florida, and the country itself is about the size of New Hampshire. The society is multicultural, consisting of African-European Creoles, Spanish-Indian Mestizos, African-Indian Garinagus, Mayan Indians, and a few Europeans, North Americans, and Asians. Belizeans are, for the most part, genuinely friendly people, who lead a laid-back Caribbean lifestyle.
Belize is on Central Standard Time and they do not observe Daylight Savings Time. The water is safe to drink in most areas, and the Belize health care system is among the highest quality in Central America.
You have heard references to British Honduras in the past. Belize was known as this from 1862 – 1973. The country became self-governing in 1964 and an independent Commonwealth realm in 1981, with Queen Elizabeth II as head of state.
Belize dollars have been pegged to the US dollar at a fixed rate of BZ$2 to US$1 since 1978 and US dollars (bank notes only) are accepted throughout the country, although you should expect to get any change back in Belize dollars.
The government of Belize approved “The Expansion of Fisheries Replenishment (No-Take) Zones,” which will increase the total area of Belize’s protected waters from 4.5 percent to 11.6 percent.
In addition, the country already protects vast areas of rainforest and is known for its incredible wildlife. From whale sharks to tapirs, toucans to jaguars, it is certainly worth visiting.
Although the capital city is Belmopan, the largest city in the country is Belize City. After Hurricane Hattie struck in 1961 and caused huge damage (estimated 70% damage to buildings), the government decided to construct a new capital in 1962, started construction in 1967 and completed in 1970.
Belize was known as British Honduras until 1973; at that time they named the country after their largest city. Even today, when locals say they are “going to Belize”, they mean the city, not the country. Belize gained their independence from Britain in 1981.