Located in the heart of Central America, is a place known as Belize. Belize is bordered by Mexico to the north and Guatemala to the west and south. Belize consists of a land area of 8,867 square miles and is known for having the longest living Barrier Reef in the world that stretches out along the Eastern Coast of Belize.
WHERE DO WE LIVE IN BELIZE?
Belize is a very small country. In 1980, the population was estimated at approximately 145,000 people – of which most resided in eight urban areas. More than 30% of the population lives in Belize City. Belize is one of the least densely populated countries in the Americas, averaging only 8.5 persons per square kilometer in 1991.
The northern part of Belize is mostly low-lying and swampy with a dense tropical rainforest. The Maya Mountains are located in Southern Belize and the highest point is Victoria Peak at 1122m. The Mayan Mountains form the watershed for thousands of streams and rivers such as the Belize and Honda Rivers.
The coast of Belize, which is on the Atlantic side of Central America has a chain of small coral islands which forms a long barrier reef second only to Australia.
Aside from Belize’s ethnic diversity its most remarkable feature is its small size. Approximately 145,000 people lives there in the early 80’s and twenty years later the population has increased to 191,000. Most people live in the rural areas, outside the city. Only about 30 percent of the population basically divided into six main districts, Corozal, Orange Walk, Belize, Cayo, Stann Creek, and Toledo. The most populated are is the Belize District where more than one third of the population resides. The Belizean population, in the early 1900’s was very unevenly divided, men outnumbered women in every age group. In the 40’s and 50’s most emigrants were male, however, since 1980 the majority has turned to women. Recently the women are beginning to outnumber the men.
TOURISM SITES OF INTEREST IN BELIZE
Belize is a great tourist site that people keep going back to because of its beauty, marine life, tropical climate, beautiful breezes and friendly people.
Belize is the only English-speaking country in Central America, but is also considered part of the Caribbean.
There are many things to do in Belize. You can go swimming, scuba diving, snorkeling, sailing, windsurfing, and fishing on the Cayes and Belize Reef.
Travelers can also canoe on the Mopan, Macal, and Belize Rivers, and tube through caves along the Chiquibul Rver.
The Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve and the Ceckscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary are the best hiking trails.
Tourists should also see the rivers, swamps, and lagoons of the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary.
There are lots of fun and exciting activities to do in Belize. Water sports are very popular and the Cayes and the Belize Reef are the perfect spots for water sports such as sailing, windsurfing, scuba diving, snorkeling, swimming and fishing. Hiking is another popular activity for the people of Belize. The best hiking Trails are the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve and the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary.
People in Belize make a living in many different ways such as agriculture, agro-based industry, and merchandising, also with tourism and construction. The country’s largest employer is the banana industry, and another large crop is sugar.
Differences in quality of life reflected and shaped social inequality in Belize. In 1984 the average salary of an employee was Bz $6,000. Almost 2/3 of the working population earned between Bz $3,000 and Bz $9,000 while 20% earned less than Bz $3,000.
Despite these differences in wealth, all Belizeans shared a liking for foreign products. In the 1980’s, most Belizeans’ aspirations for a high standard of living stemmed not only from the long period of colonial rule, but also from tales of emigrants to the United States and television images of the good life there.
Main exports from Belize are sugar, citrus concentrate, garments, marine products, bananas, and forestry products.
Tax concessions and other incentives have encouraged the development of plywood and veneer manufacture, beer, rum, soft drinks, boat building, and battery assembly.
The fastest growing sector is the construction industry which has tripled since 1986.
A dairy plant has a capacity of 400 gallons of milk per day.
In Columbia River Forest Reserve, trees have begun to fall in the 103000 acres. It is one of the last great tropical rain forests in Central America. Companies such as Atlantic Industries Limited have access to 1.1 million acres of “national land” in the Toledo district. In the Toledo district, many of the 30000 inhabitants are Maya Indians and don’t have any deeds to their traditional lands.
The Inter-American Development Bank is awaiting approval for a $60 million loan that would make the government to pave a road through communal land. Some indigenous and environmental organizations think it would create more logging.
Prime Minister Manuel Esquived and Natural Resources Minister Eduardo Juan promise operations will remain small scale. The possibility of job creation and road building for tourism has caused widespread support for logging in the capital, Belmopan.
The opposition Toledo Maya Cultural Council lead by Julian Cho, a Mopan Maya and US educated Jesuit have maps that show logging imposes on traditional land. This group is supported by environmental groups such as the Kekchi Community Council, the Catholic prelate say there are serious violations as: logging in the habitat of prohibited species, cutting untagged trees, bulldozing roads through restricted areas and logging during the rainy season.
The Belizean school system is based on British Education. It is broken down into three main levels; primary, secondary, and tertiary. Management of the system went according to level. In the later half of the 1980s, religious denominations controlled the majority of the primary schools. The government controlled 50% of secondary schools, while denominational representatives retained considerable influence on the tertiary levels. Most private schools emphasize academic and commercial studies, however some do focus on technical-vocational studies. For nearly 30 years, the Peace Corp and United States Volunteer teachers have also influenced Belizean education. They ensure to erode any further British pedagogical legacies.
CLIMATE AND WEATHER – BELIZE
The overall climate of Belize can be described as sub-tropical. The mean annual humidity is 83% but many days the humidity is masked by the cooling sea breezes.
Temperatures in Belize range from 50ºF to 95ºF with an annual mean of 79ºF. November to January are traditionally the coolest months, with a 75ºF average and May to September is the warmest at about 81ºF average.
There are definite wet and dry seasons. The onset of the dry varies widely from year to year, but once the onset of the dry commences, the actual amount of rain falling during the ”dry” is a predictable amount. This does not mean that it will be like that the rest of the year. As a general rule, the higher the average rainfall, the greater are the departures from the norm. The number of rainy days varies considerably from place to place.