Last updated on February 15th, 2020
Belize, officially the Republic Belize, is a country located on the eastern coast of Central America. It has an area of 22,966 square km. Belmopan is its capital and Belize City is its largest city. English is the official language of Belize. Belize dollar is its official currency. Its land bordering countries are Mexico and Guatemala. 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.
Flag of Belize
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.
Belize on the map
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.
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