Belize lies on the eastern coastline of Central America, bordered on the north by Mexico, on the west and south by Guatemala, and on the east by the Caribbean Sea. It is separated by sea from its neighbor to the southeast, Honduras.
Independent nation since 1981, member of British Commonwealth of Nations. Parliamentary democracy with two major political parties; the United Democratic Party (UDP) and the People’s United Party (PUP). The UDP currently holds power, led by Prime Minister Dean Oliver Barrow who took office February 8, 2008. Belize has a Constitution which includes a Bill of Rights.
Approximately 8,866 square miles, Belize’s mainland is approximately 180 miles long, and up to 68 miles wide. Belize also consists of over 200 cayes (islands) ranging in size from a few hundred square feet to 25 miles long and four miles wide; most of which are located inside the 200 mile Belize Reef. Belize boasts the worlds second largest barrier reef, which is less than one mile off the coast of San Pedro, Belize
The population of Belize is approximately 280,000. There is a great deal of ethnic diversity among Belizeans, who include Hispanic, Creoles (African-European), Mestiz (Spanish-Indian), Mennonite, Garifuna (African-Indian), Mayan, Anglo-European, Middle Eastern and Asian. The largest single group is Hispanic. English is the official language and is widely spoken, as is Spanish. Other languages include Creole, German, Mayan, and Garifuna.
Belize weather is characterized by two seasons: a rainy and a dry season. Belize annual rainfall, most of which occurs during the period of June to November, can range from 60 inches (1542 mm) in the north to 160 inches (4064 mm) in the south. Average temperatures range from 81 degrees Fahrenheit / 27 degrees Celsius along the coast to 69 degrees Fahrenheit/ 21 degrees Celsius in the hills of the mainland.
Ambergris Caye is the larger Caye in Belize. San Pedro is considered town center on the island, and the island itself is approximately 25 miles long, with most of its inhabitants within a 12 mile by 1/4 mile wide stretch. San Pedro is the largest tourist center as well, as the diving, accommodations and people are among the best in the world!
Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley is approximately 4 miles (6.4 km) south of San Pedro, Ambergris Caye. It is the single most popular day trip from San Pedro, perfect for snorkeling and diving.
The Blue Hole is part of the Lighthouse Reef System, it lies approximately 60 miles off the mainland out of Belize City. It is one of the most astounding dive sites to be found anywhere on earth, right in the center of Lighthouse Reef is a large, almost perfectly circular hole approximately one quarter of a mile (.4 km) across.
The Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve is a huge 300 square mile area that features Caribbean Pine and brackens ferns instead of the typical tropical forests and lianas which cover most of the rest of Belize. The area is also dotted with beautiful waterfalls, streams and caves that you can walk through. Deep within the reserve is a 1000 foot falls, a spectacular ribbon of water which drops from the pine forest to the tropical forest below. An overlook allows you to see the top part of the falls.