Where are you on a timeline related to vacationing in Belize? Just mulling? Ready to decide? Perhaps you’ve already booked a visit to this intriguing land just hours from home. No matter which category describes you, your visit will be so much more satisfying if you keep these 17 fascinating facts about Belize in mind.
1. Belize is an angler’s nirvana. More than 400 species of fish hang out around the 185-mile-long Barrier Reef, so you could easily land a prize that will be the envy of your fishing buddies.
2. It feels like money goes further in Belize than it does in the U.S. The official exchange rate is $2 BZD per $1 USD, so you’ll feel like a Kardashian every time you pay for something.
3. While surrounded by Spanish-speaking countries, Belize is an epicenter of polyglots. In addition to English, the primary language, you’ll overhear Spanish, Kriol, Mayan, German, Chinese, Garifuna, and more.
4. Belize is a hotbed of patriotism during the month of September. In addition to National Day (aka St. George’s Caye Day) on September 10th, Independence Day is on the 21st, so there are lots to celebrate this month.
5. Belize’s Howler monkey population is so boisterous, these apes can be heard from three miles away. They’re the loudest land animal on the planet. Imagine what Noah had to put up with when he loaded a pair onto the ark!
6. Belize’s capital, Belmopan, was just a sleepy town until a hurricane destroyed Belize City, the former capital, in 1961. Rather than rebuild, the government moved the nation’s epicenter further inland in 1970.
7. Belize could easily have been named Jaguar. From Maya art devoted to jaguar-related gods and symbols to hosting the only Jaguar reserve on Earth within the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife sanctuary, Belize is a wildlife lover’s dream.
8. Since the Queen’s English is dominant, you may be surprised to learn that Belize’s 450 offshore islands and atolls aren’t called keys; they’re called cayes. Happily, the pronunciation is keys, so you won’t err.
9. While Mexico’s reputation for Maya ruins is solid, smaller Belize has its own record to extol. There are around 900 ruins in Belize – above and below ground. More are being unearthed every day.
10. Belize is no one-trick economic pony. The nation is fueled by agriculture, agro-related industries, merchandising enterprises, tourism, construction, and oil production. This diversification offers exceptional promise for a healthy future.
11. The country’s mahogany forests were the biggest draw for conquerors seeking a foothold in the new world. Thanks to the Belize River, cut logs could be transported to offshore ships for transport to Britain in the 1700s.
12. Due to England’s influence, Belize was originally named British Honduras. It took a declaration of independence for the country to restore its original name in 1981.
13. Belize’s flag is unique in that it features people in the design in addition to other symbols representing the nation’s bounty of resources.
14. Mennonites escaping European persecution found in Belize an unlikely home. These peaceful people established a dairy industry that contributes mightily to the economy.
15. Belize is aptly called a little nation with big aspirations. The country’s landmass is comparable to the states of Vermont or Massachusetts.
16. Belize’s earliest inhabitants, the Maya, continue to fuel origin debates. Some date their presence to 1500 BC, while others believe they’ve been around even longer.
17. Names ascribed to Belize wildlife are fantastical. You might spot Owl-Eye, Blue Morpho and Swallow Tail Cattle Heart Butterflies, Peanut-Head Lantern Bugs, Red-footed Booby Birds, Lady-of-the-Night Orchids, and False Vampire Bats.
Fascinated? These 17 facts are the tip of the iceberg. You’ll want to visit to learn more. Where to stay? On one of those 450 islands, of course, and for so many reasons. Ray Caye Island Resort, a private, adult’s-only haven never disappoints. Visit the island’s website where everything you want to know will convince you that a stay at this tropical paradise is exactly the respite you need!