The country of Belize is located in Central America on the Yucatan Peninsula. The coordinates are 17”15’ north of the equator and 88”45’ west of the Prime Meridian. To the east lies the Caribbean Sea where there are 386 km of coastline. Mexico lies to northwest and they share a 250 km border and Guatemala lies to the south-southwest sharing 266 km of land. It is the only country in Central America that has no Pacific coastline. Belize boasts the second largest coral reef, second only to the Great Barrier Reef of Australia. The reef is known as the Belize Barrier Reef and is 322 km long.
Throughout most of Belize there are various types of limestone. In the Maya Mountains there is a block of granite that runs from the northeast to southwest part of the country. Throughout most of the country there is fertile soil which has been cultivated for 4,000 years. Throughout the country there are many caverns, sinkholes, and underground streams.
The mountain areas are not very populated. The soil in these areas is not fertile. The southern coastal plain has 18 major rivers with streams that drain this area. The coastal area a flat and appears to be swamp-like, containing many lagoons. As one travels westward from the coast inland there are forests of hardwood and tropical pine savannas. The large Belize River begins near the northern edge of the Mayan Mountains and ends near the sea close to Belize City.
Although the nation is considered to have a tropical climate, there are variations throughout the country and pronounced wet and dry seasons. In the higher elevations, the temperatures are cooler than the rest of the country. The coast is cooler than the inland low-lying areas. During the wet seasons it is the humidity that is more of a factor than the change in temperature. February, March, April, July and August are the dryer months in Belize. The other months are the wet months. The south gets almost three times as much rain as the northern part of the country.
Belize enjoyed a hurricane free period from 1978-1998. In October, 1998, Mitch hit the country. In 2000 Belize was hit twice by Tropical Storm Chantal and Hurricane Keith. In 2001, Hurricane Iris devastated the banana industry and damaged the citrus crop and tourism industry. In 2007, Hurricane Dean destroyed the papaya and sugar cane crops .
Belize was developed by the Mayans around 1500 B.C.E. In 1502 was the first European contact, when Christopher Columbus landed on the country’s coast. It was not until 1638 that an English settlement was established in Belize and for 150 years, more were added within the country. In 1840, the country became known internationally as a Colony of British Honduras and it became a crown colony in 1862. This status meant that the country was a representative government of England. In January 1964, a ministerial system with self-government was granted by England. In 1973, the name Belize was adopted and on September 21, 1981, full independence was granted. Members of the Senate receive their position through appointment. Members of the House of Representatives are voted into their position through direct election every five years. There are six districts within Belize to handle the affairs of local government. The six districts are Belize, Cayo, Orange Walk, Stann Creek, Corozal, and Toledo. The judicial branch has a privy council in the United Kingdom and the Caribbean Court of Justice. There are also the Summary Jurisdiction Courts, District Courts, Court of Appeal, and the Supreme Court.
Belize uses English as its official language and is the only country is Central America to do so. There are also five regional languages: Plautdietsch, Maya, Garifuna, Kriol, and Spanish.
It is a country with one of the lowest population densities worldwide. There are a wealth of religions practiced throughout the country, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Roman Catholicism, and a variety of Protestant faiths.
Most revenue generated in the country is through the tourism industry. Tourists seek the Mayan historical sites and the underdeveloped areas where recreational opportunities have been made. The underdeveloped areas have forests of hardwoods. There are many jungles and wildlife reserves. It also boasts the largest cave system in Central America. The tourism industry has found ways to capitalize on these natural wonders of the region. The tropical weather conditions are highly sought by vacationers. The industries that are most prominent in the economy are tourism, construction, oil, food processing, and garment assembly. The most often exported goods are lumber, shrimp, fish, sugar cane, citrus, cacao, and bananas.
Belize.net. n.d. Web. 16 December 2012.
Briney, A. Geography of Belize. n.d. Web. 16 December 2012.