Government: 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 PUP currently holds power, led by Prime Minister Said Musa (took office March 5 2003). Belize has a Constitution, which includes a Bill of Rights.
Location: 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 southwest, Honduras.
Size: 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 feet to 25 miles long and four miles wide; most of which are located inside the 200 mile Belize Reef.
Population: The population of Belize is approximately 280,000. There is a great deal of ethnic diversity among Belizeans, who include Hispanic, Creoles (African-European), Mestizo (Spanish-Indian), Mennonite, Garifuna (African-Indian), Mayan, Anglo-European, Middle Eastern and Asian. The largest single group is Hispanic.
Climate: Belize weather is characterized by two seasons: a rainy and a dry season. Belize annual rainfall: most of the year’s rainfall occurs during the period June to November, that is, the rainy season. It is noted that the transition from dry to the rainy is very sharp. Belize annual rainfall ranges from 60 inches (1524mm) in the north to 160 inches (4064mm) in the south. Except for the southern regions, the rainfall is variable from year to year.
The onset of the rainy season begins in the early May in Toledo, (where the Belize annual rainfall is highest) progressing north to the Stann Creek, Belize, Cayo and Orange Walk District in late May, followed by Corozal District in early June. The mean temperature varies from 81°F/ 27°C along the coast to 69°F/21°C in the hills. The coldest month is January while the highest temperatures are experienced during the month of May.
Language: English is the official language and is widely spoken, as is Spanish. Other languages include Creole, German, Mayan and Garifuna.
Getting to Belize: Belize is about 2 hours and 15 minutes by air from Miami, Florida and Houston, Texas. U.S. gateway cities to Belize include Miami, Houston and New Orleans, Louisiana. Direct flights are also available from Los Angeles, New York and Washington, D.C; and from Toronto, Canada. From Mexico, direct flights to Belize are available from Cancun and Chetumal. Most Central American countries offer direct flights to Belize, including Guatemala, Honduras and Costa Rica. Direct service from the UK and/or Europe may be available sometime in 1996.
International airlines serving Belize:
American Airlines: . Direct flights from Dallas/Ft. Worth, Miami.
Continental Airlines: Nonstop from Houston.
Taca (El Salvador): Direct flights from Houston, Miami.
Getting Around by Air in Belize: International travelers fly into the newly renovated and expanded Philip Goldson International Airport in Belize City. From there, connections can be made to various destinations within Belize, including: Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker, Caye Chapel, Corozal, Dangriga, Big Creek, Placencia and Punta Gorda; as well as to Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, etc. Travelers already in Belize City should utilize the smaller Municipal Airport for in-country flights, as costs are much lower.
Belizean Airlines Offering In-Country Service:
Tropic Air: Belize International, Belize Municipal, Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker, Caye Chapel, Corozal, Placencia, Punta Gorda, Flores (Guatemala)
Island Air-Island Air: Belize International, Belize Municipal, Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker, Corozal
Private Aircraft: Private aircraft must enter Philip Goldson International Airport in Belize City.