Belize is a small Central American nation with a rich history and culture. With these 75 interesting facts about Belize, explore how the country has transitioned over the years; and learn about its culture, history, traditions, people, economy, wildlife and much more.
Facts about Belizian culture and traditions
1. Believe it or not, but the country’s most prized culinary delicacy is a rodent called, Gibnut. Incidentally, it’s also called the “royal rat” because it was served to Queen Elizabeth.
2. Belizeans are high-minded people. The country recently passed a legislation decriminalizing marijuana possession of up to 10 grams.
3. Belize is also known as the “Jewel in the heart of the Caribbean basin”.
4. The country also has some weird folklore characters. One of them, El Sisimito is a dwarf with a thumb complex. He himself has no thumb and he cuts off everyone else’s. He is also notorious for his iconic red hat and silver guitar. Yes, goblin with a guitar and a thumb cutting fetish!
5. The canopy of the forests has inspired the national motto of Belize which is “Under the Shade I flourish”. It can be found everywhere and everything which is official.
6. Thumb locking is actually a sign of greeting in Belize.
7. Belizeans are laid-back people with a go-slow attitude. Most of the country live in small towns and villages and socialize a lot.
8. More than 90% of the population of Belize can read and most can speak in three languages: English, Spanish, and Creole.
9. The national flower of Belize is the black orchid, a true black beauty indeed.
10. Belize food has no distinction and spoils you with surprises and variety. The culinary traditions are a mix of various cultures like French, Spanish, American, Caribbean, Mexican, etc.
11. The Belize Barrier Reef is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and holds more than 450+ fish species. It is comprised of seven protected areas; Bacalar Chico National Park and Marine Reserve, Blue Hole Natural Monument, Half Moon Caye Natural Monument, South Water Caye Marine Reserve, Glover’s Reef Marine Reserve, Laughing Bird Caye National Park and Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve.
12. Do not greet Belizians by their first name. This is considered rude in the country.
Interesting historical facts about Belize
13. A Civil unrest was provoked by the release of a new national budget with significant tax increases in 2005 in Belize.
14. Remember the guys who wrongly predicted the world’s end, the Mayans? Well, Belize was a favorite place for the Mayans to chill out. This small country is home to 900+ Mayan ruins.
15. Belize’s modern history is entwined with British. The little Caribbean country was a colony of the British Empire and a vital source of timber.
16. In fact, Belize got its current named only in 1973, when it gained independence from Britain. Earlier, it was known as British Honduras.
17. Ambergris Caye Island, served as a hideaway for the ships attacking the Spanish fleet during the 17th century. The island was also sold for $625 to a Mr. James Humes Blake in 1869.
18. The formation of the country was a love triangle between Belize-Guatemala and the UK. When the UK declared Belize as a country on 21 September 1981, Guatemala broke off with the UK and Belize.
19. Guatemala, a neighboring country, is not very comfortable with Belize and has always it considered the whole territory of Belize as its “Department No. 23”.
20. Guatemala and Belize, both try to shame each other at international forums and also plan to hold referendums before the UN to validate their claims of the territory.
21. The current location of the nation’s capital changed when Hurricane Hattie struck in 1961 on October 31st. Since then the capital was shifted 50 miles inland. The hurricane killed at least 400 people and demolished half of Belize city.
22. Belize is the conflation of several ethnic groups who came here at different points escaping war, slavery, and prosecution. Some are the Mestizo, Mennonites, Garinagu and Creole.
23. Philip Goldson (newspaper editor), Monrad Metzgen (politician) and George Cadle Price (Father of the Nation) are the three national heroes of Belize.
24. On September 10th each year, the national day of Belize is celebrated. On this day in 1798, one of the colonizers of Belize, the English, defeated and repelled another colonizer, the Spanish. Since then, the Belizeans celebrate what the English themselves don’t.
25. San Pedro, the second largest town in Belize District was founded in 1848. A famous song “La Isla Bonita” was also written as a lament for the town of San Pedro. It was later co-authored by American pop singer Maddona, which later became a huge hit in the music world.
Belize’s economy, tourism and natural attractions
26. The country’s economy is largely dependent on agriculture, agro-based industry, tourism, construction and merchandising.
27. It is the only country in Central America without a coastline on the North Pacific Ocean.
28. Belize have been loosing forest at a rate of 10,000 hectare per year for the past 30 years. The country to this day has lost forest area equal to the size of Rhode Island.
29. Belize has the third highest per capita income in Central America.
30. Belize had a population growth rate of 1.87% per year in 2015, which is the second highest in the region.
31. Belize is home to the second largest barrier reef system in the world, the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System which is also known as Great Mayan Reef.
32. Belize is a hot sunbaked paradise with some cool places to hang out. It has the ONLY jaguar reserve in the world, the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary.
33. The country’s two major political parties are PUP (leftist) and UDP (rightist). That’s all you need to know, the rest are boring political stuff.
34. The Belize Defense Force (BDF) has a combined troop strength of 1400 personnel, spread over its army, navy, and air force. That’s less than the Mc. Donald workforce.
35. But thankfully, Belize has bigger guns protecting her. It is still a commonwealth nation of the British and the head of the state is her majesty, the queen of Buckingham place. Mess with Belize, you mess with the queen.
36. Belize is also known as the “Jewel in the heart of the Caribbean basin”.
37. But the jewel of Belize itself is the majestic Mahogany tree. This is what motivated Her Majesty to set up a British colony here. Extremely prized for its ultra-superior timber, the tree can grow up to 100 meters and live well over a century.
About Belize’s national animal, tallest man-made structure, poisonous cashews, hurricanes, sharks etc
38. The national animal of Belize is a biological mix of a horse and a rhinoceros but is named Mountain Cow. Locally, it’s known as tapir and looks like a giant Guiana pig, weighing over 500 pounds.
39. The highest point of Belize is Doyle’s Delight, a tree covered mountain peak where many jaguars lurk in the dark of the night.
40. The pyramid shaped El Castillo is the tallest man-made structure in Belize. A ghost known as “stone-woman”, who wears white clothes and has fiery eyes, is said to climb the stairs and mix with the temple wall.
41. More than 80% of the rainforests are protected by the government and is inaccessible.
42. Belize is filled with 450 cayes (pronounced keys), which are small islands. They are indeed the key to happiness.
43. In 2016, a Guatemalan minor was killed near the Belize border. This incident led to the deployment of 3000 additional troops by Guatemala on the Belize border.
44. The islands may have remained uninhabited for years, but each Caye has a watchman which is appointed by the government. This has to be the mother of all awesome jobs.
45. The forests here yield an amazing variety of cashew trees. Some are deliciously edible while some are actually poisonous.
46. The Great Blue Hole is the world’s largest sea sinkhole and a paradise for deep sea divers. It’s a huge 984 feet across and 407 feet deep depression in the middle of the sea. It is said that the deeper one goes, the water becomes more clear and the formations, more complex. It is also a part of the larger Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System. (See fact no. 11)
47. In 1971, Jacques Cousteau, a French naval officer became the first to dive into this sinkhole. His historic testimonial led to a tourism frenzy, with scuba enthusiasts flocking to discover the hole.
48. Superstition fact: it’s bad luck to swim on Good Friday in Belize.
49. Cocoa is another exotic gift Mother Nature blessed Belize with. You can get memorable tours into the entire chocolate-making process at the Toledo Cacao Fest.
50. Belize has the lowest population density in Central America, of only 15 persons per square kilometer.
51. The Toledo district is officially known as “the forgotten land” of Belize. It is a pristine, untouched world in the middle of nowhere.
52. Belizeans are pretty passionate about their natural formations. They name their natural wonders and places after animals and often tend to be awkward. Like a forest is known as Old moon monkey or a waterfall, Coral eyed Butterfly and a trek by the name of False Vampire Bat.
53. The worst enemy of Belize is also Mother Nature. Hurricanes and storm destroy a lion’s share of coastal infrastructure each year.
54. Belize is the conflation of several ethnic groups who came here at different points escaping war, slavery, and prosecution. Some are the Mestizo, Mennonites, Garinagu and Creole.
55. These are the top three revenue earners of Belize: tourism, agriculture, and cocaine. The first two are government controlled and the third is controlled by the South-American mafia cartel.
56. Belize is among the top 5 least populated countries.
57. The Shark Ray Alley in reef system has a number of nurse sharks and sting rays and is not as dangerous as they sound.
58. Most Belizeans travel to the US for work but they return back to their tropical paradise to retire.
59. The Belize Rainforest is home to over 500 species of orchid.
60. Belize’s is a vital part of the extremely significant Mesoamerican Biological Corridor.
61. There are some awesome caves in Belize filled with adventurous trekking routes and some spooky stories to entertain you along the way.
62. Fan of caves or of bright sunny beaches, Belize is a magnet for tourists. The little country pulls in two million plus tourists in a year, which is a rare feat.
Fun facts about Belize
63. Gladden Spit in Belize is a hotspot for whale watchers and on full moon you can expect to see the magnanimous whale shark. Choose a boat or scuba diving or snorkeling, this will remain an ineffable experience.
64. Belize has many themed Mayan villages with unique culture, traditions, festivals and geography.
65. Barton Creek Cave is a one-kilometer long creek cave where 5 mysterious human skeletons from the Stone Age were excavated. The bodies were buried one on top of another and included a child’s skeleton.
66. If you like to eat at fast food centers like McDonalds, Burger King, Starbucks or KFC, learn that there is not any of these in Belize. Not even a single outlet.
67. There is only one international airport in Belize which is nearby Belize City.
68. Body 2000 – the largest and most popular gym in Belize City was shut down in May, 2015 because the owner didn’t pay his 2015 trade license. The fitness center had a high-profile clientele including the Prime Minister and his wife and some of the northside nouveau riche.
Belize facts for kids
69. Longest river: Belize River.
70. Highest point: Doyle’s Delight 1,160 m.
71. Did you know Belize is the only Central American country whose official language isn’t Spanish. The country’s official language is however, English.
72. The Belize Rainforest is home to the “jabiru stork”, which is the largest flying bird in all of North, Central and South America.
73. Belize has some hardcore party animals in its backyard. It is home to the noisiest species of monkey on earth, the howler monkey. Their shriek can pierce through 2 miles of forest cover.
74. Belize has been ranked as one of the happiest countries in the world.
75. June to November are the months for hurricane season in Belize.
Quick/fast country facts Belize
|Largest City||Belize City|
|Total area||22,966 sq km|
|Population||347,369 (July 2015 est.)|
|Borders||Central America, Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras|
|Currency||Belize dollar (BZD)|
|Life expectancy||68.59 years (2012)|
Life expectancy at birth indicates the number of years a newborn infant would live if prevailing patterns of mortality at the time of its birth were to stay the same throughout its life.
|Climate||tropical; very hot and humid; rainy season (May to November); dry season (February to May)|
|Terrain||flat, swampy coastal plain; low mountains in south|
|Natural resources||arable land potential, timber, fish, hydropower|
|Birth rate||24.68 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)|
|Death rate||5.97 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)|
|Sex ratio||1.03 male(s)/female (2015 est.)|
|Independence||21 September 1981 (from the UK)|
|National symbols||Baird's tapir (a large, browsing, forest-dwelling mammal), keel-billed toucan, Black Orchid; national colors: red, blue|
|National anthem||"Land of the Free"|
|Industries||garment production, food processing, tourism, construction, oil|
|Exports||$580.7 million (2015 est.)|
sugar, bananas, citrus, clothing, fish products, molasses, wood, crude oil
|Imports||$964.4 million (2015 est.)|
machinery and transport equipment, manufactured goods; fuels, chemicals, pharmaceuticals; food, beverages, tobacco
|GDP - per capita (PPP)||$8,400 (2015 est.)|
|Time Zone||CST (UTC−6)|
percent of population: 41.6% (July 2015 est.)
|Internet country code||.bz|
|Drives on the||Right|