Belize: Barrier reef, rainforest, Maya heritage

Belize, located in Central America — bordering Mexico and Guatemala — is one of the best dive sites in the Caribbean and is home to the second largest barrier reef in the world. Much of Belize is still unexplored wilderness and 75 percent of the rainforest is under government protection.  This has led to considerable growth in ecotourism, which is now the nation’s second-largest source of revenue.

Belize has around 900 Mayan ruin sites, and the tallest building in Belize is a Mayan temple called El Caana (“Sky Place”). You can climb to the top and see for miles over the rainforest canopy.

Belize was part of the British Empire until fairly recently, and it was not until Sept. 21, 1981, that Belize was granted independence. English is the official language of Belize, yet Kriol and Spanish are commonly spoken. You can also still hear a mixture of Creole, Spanish, Garifuna, and Mayan languages being spoken on the street.

Did you know…? Belize is the only English-speaking country in Central America. There are no McDonalds, Burger King, Starbucks, or KFC in the entire country. Belizean cuisine can best be described as a mix of Mexican, Central American, Jamaican, Anglo, and Caribbean cuisines.

This is the fifth in a series of articles spotlighting different countries in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month. To see a complete list of previous entries, click here.