Belize - small, beautiful country
Some background information about the country of Belize may enhance your visit. Belize, located in Central America, is a rapidly growing country that is filled with historical sites, beautiful landscape and scenery, and friendly people.
Bordered by Mexico, the Caribbean Sea and Guatemala, the next closest country to Belize is Honduras. Belize became independent in 1981, but it is still a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations. The country, like the United States, has its own Constitution and Bill of Rights that protect the citizens, and it is ruled by a democratic Parliament. Belize has two political parties, the United Democratic Party and the People’s United Party.
The country is small, about the size of Massachusetts, consisting of the mainland and over 200 islands, known as ‘cayes’, that run along its coast line. The islands vary in size, and many of them are located within the area known as the Belize Barrier Reef, a 200-mile stretch of coral reef off of Belize that provides scuba divers and snorkelers with plenty of aquatic vistas.
With a population of around 320,000, the ethnic diversity of this country is impressive. It includes Hispanics - the largest group, Mestizos (Spanish-Indians), Mennonites, Mayans, Anglo-Europeans, Asians, Creoles (African-Europeans), Middle Easterners, and Garifunans (African-Indians). The majority of the residents speak English, but Spanish is also prevalent. Creole, Mayan, German, and Garifuna are also spoken in Belize.
Visitors to Belize can gain entry to the country via international airline transportation and by the sea at various ports of entry. In order to gain entry to the country, visitors are required to have a passport that remains valid until they leave the country. They can stay in the country up to 30 days before requiring an ‘extension of entry,’ which is issued on a month-by-month basis.
If you are planning on working in the country during your stay, you may require a visa depending on your country of origin. Visitors from Australia, Mexico, New Zealand, Canada, Venezuela, members of the European Union, the United States, and CARICOM member states do not need a visa in Belize. These visa requirements are subject to change, and all visitors should check to see if their country of origin requires a visa for entry to Belize and work privileges.
All visitors traveling to Belize should exchange their home currency for the Belize dollar prior to entering the country. Because of the recent financial events around the world, the exchange rate for the Belize dollar is consistently changing. Citizens from the United States visiting Belize can use the American dollar in the country without having to exchange their currency. Traveler’s checks and major credit cards are accepted in most cities, tourist areas, and shops.
Belize does offer all common telecommunication services to visitors, although rates are slightly higher than those in other countries. There are also Internet cafes throughout the country for visitors to enjoy, even in the smallest town in Belize.
MAP OF BELIZE