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9 Interesting Facts About Belize

Continuing my “Interesting Facts…” series, I’ve put together a list of 8 facts about the country of Belize. I had the pleasure of visiting Belize this past June and thoroughly enjoyed this country.

1. Until recent history, the country of Guatemala has claimed ownership of much or all of present day Belize territories. The Guatemalan claim rests on a treaty with the United Kingdom, which the Guatemalan government claims was violated, granting them the territory. After Belize claimed its independence Guatemala refused to recognize it as a country until 1991. Even now, there are continuous border debates between the two countries, and there are currently British military personal in Belize to protect them from any conflict with Guatemala.

2. There are literally hundreds of different cayes (pronounced “keys”) that are part of Belize. Some of them are extremely small and with tiny populations or even uninhabited. One of these is Rendezvous Caye, which I visited while sailing down the coast of Belize. It has a permanent population of zero, and a watchmen who spends the majority of each month on the island. (source)

3. Belize is a very lightly populated country, with roughly 290,000 residents during its last census. This results in an average of 33 people per square mile compared to the United States at 84 people per square mile. (source)

4. Belize is the only country in Central America whose official language is NOT Spanish. Their official language is English.

5. The Belize Barrier Reef (which is a Unesco World Heritage Site) is the largest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere and the second largest in the world behind The Great Barrier Reef of Australia. (source)

6. Belize City was the original capital of Belize, but after a devastating hurricane in the 1960’s the capital was moved to the city of Belmopan. Belize City was deemed unsafe for a capital city and Belmopan is centrally located within the country. (source)

7. Belize was known as British Honduras until it was officially changed in 1973. (source)

8. Roughly 25% of Belize’s territories fall under some sort of protected status (National or State parks, Wildlife reserves, protected reefs, etc). It has previously been reported that over 40% of the territory was protected, but that was a result of mathematical errors. (source1, source2)

9. At 22,966 square kilometers, Belize is the 151st (out of 251) largest country according to the CIA Factbook. It is ranked between Djibouti (150) and Israel (152).
*note – This list contains many “countries” that are not recognized by the United Nations

  1. Michael Figueiredo

    What a fun and informative article! On the TV show “House Hunters International” I’ve seen a lot of expats buying property in Belize and I’ve always wanted to visit there myself.

  2. Kelly

    Cool! I had no idea the official language of Belize was English! Come to think of it, I didn’t know any of these things! I feel so much smarter now. Thanks!!

    1. Matt

      That’s what I’m hear for!

  3. Cathy Sweeney

    I now know 9 things about Belize that I didn’t know before and they’re all very interesting. Would love to spend a few days on Rendezvous Caye!

    1. Matt

      Rendezvous Caye might have been the highlight of my entire month and a half in Central America. Truly a great experience.

  4. Cam

    Belize seems to keep coming up lately. It’s definitely high on our list. We’re thinking of doing a few weeks in Belize and Honduras in the spring, so this is helpful! Cheers 😉

    1. Matt

      Depending on what you are thinking of doing, you should (in my opinion) consider Belize and Guatemala! Belize will give you the beach, and Guatemala the forests and Mayan ruins (Tikal). The only way I’d say pick Honduras over Guatemala is if you are 100% going to be diving. Then go to the Bay Islands in Honduras.

  5. Andrea

    I know nothing about Belize – thanks for sharing these facts!

  6. Laurel

    I’ve been to Belize and it wasn’t my favorite place I’ve ever been, (although I love Guatemala, and Honduras) but very interesting facts. I think a lot of people like it since English is the official language reducing any language barriers.

  7. Jade

    I had no idea that Belize had such a large reef system. One of our friends went to Belize with his girlfriend and absolutely loved it. Can’t wait to visit ourselves!

    1. Matt

      The reef system basically stretches the entire length of the country. There are literally hundreds of islands inside the reef and some outside of it as well. I definitely recommend Caye Caulker as a place to spend some time, and if you can come up with enough money and the weather is right, I suggest the Raggamuffin sailboat trip.

  8. Steve

    I loved Belize when I was there last year. I stayed most of my time on San Pedro, but I dived the barrier reef there. Such a great place to visit. Thanks for sharing such interesting information about the country.

    1. Matt

      The only way that I know is take a sailboat trip with Raggamuffin Tours from Caye Caulker. It is a 3 day/2 night trip from Caye Caulker to Placencia (and back if you want) for $300. It was a great deal and one of the highlights of our entire trip.

  9. Lorna - the roamantics

    great info! especially glad to hear that so much of belize is protected. it’s such an attraction that it’s good to know they’re safeguarding against it being trampled. hope to get there at some point and learned lots of new things here- thanks! 🙂

  10. Nick Laborde

    I got to spend one day there earlier this year. I hope to make it back and actually be able to experience it. Another interesting fact, there are no fast food joints in the country. Except maybe one Subway if I remember correctly.

    1. Matt

      hmmm, that is interesting. Now that you mention it I can’t recall seeing any during my time there.

  11. Jaime

    This is very interesting. The only thing I knew about Belize was that the official language was English other than that I had no clue about the rest. Good tid pits to know.

  12. Norbert

    Really nice article. It’s cool to learn new things about Belize. I really didn’t know much about this country but lately I’ve been reading some interesting stuff that have made me want to go there.

  13. Amy

    Great post! I love the tiny islands (keys) – wouldn’t it be great to own one?

    1. Matt

      It would be amazing! If you go back in my posts a bit there is a picture of English Caye. It is bigger than the one shown here and has like 8 buildings on it where a group of people live. Not a bad life at all.

  14. Michael Schuermann

    Thanks for this. The only thing I knew about Belize is it is the only english-speaking country in mainland Central America, like Jamaica.

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