Belize is the only county in Central America where English is the official language. The country is only 180 miles from north to south, and 70 miles east to west, and there are only 5 "highways" that carry travelers across the country (In places, the highways are nothing more than an old rail bed with dangerous single lane bridges and potholes big enough to swallow a small car).
The climate in Belize is tropical with temperatures averaging from 75-81 degrees--the extremes are more so marked by humidity levels and rainfall. The rainy season is normally from June through November, and the dry season lasts from February through May. The wet season rainfall averages can range from 53 inches annually in the north, and as much as 180 inches in the south--compared to 41 inches annually here in Pennsylvania. The tropical breezes make the coastal cities and towns seem cooler than the thermometer may suggest.
The topography of the land ranges from coastal marshland to the majestic Mayan mountain range. Throughout the country, you will find anything from the backyard garden to commercial agriculture which includes citrus groves, crop farming and sugar cane production. Crops grown in Belize include, but are not limited to: coffee, tropical fruits, spices, herbs, soy beans, black eyed peas, corn, and sugar cane.
The population is less than 350,000 with a population density of less than 35 people/ square mile--it is the least densely populated country in Central America, here in Pennsylvania, our population density is nearly 300 people per square mile. The Mayan people settled originally what is now Belize around 1500 BC, and flourished until 900 AD. it has been estimated that at their peak, nearly 1 million Mayans inhabited the land, however, little is actually known what contributed to their demise.
In 1506, the Spanish explored the land, but found no gold and thick impassable jungles, so they didn't stick around. Then in 1640, the British began to colonize the land to harvest a specific tree (with the use of African slave labor), which produced a fixing agent vital to the wool dying industry that flourished in Europe at that time. The harvest of that single tree lead to a major exotic wood harvesting export operation. Today, the majority of the trees harvested in Belize must be turned into a value added product before it can leave the country. In 1981, Belize was granted their independence from England without a shot or a skirmish! The new nation still enjoyed the protection the Crown afforded them until 1991.
Belize is struggling to shed it's classification as a third world nation, but the small economy that is based primarily on the limited export of petroleum and crude oil, agriculture, tourism and construction struggles to expand. It is widely believed by the Belizian people that nothing good could be produced in Belize, so until recently, everything grown, made, or raised in country was exported to be refined or processed in a foreign land then imported and sold back to the Belizian people as a finished product. Thankfully, businesses like Marie Sharp, Belkan, and Belize Soy Sauce are changing that mindset. In recent years, the tourist industry has begun to grow, which can be attributed to the cruise industry which brings folks in to see the extensive Mayan ruins and the second largest coral reef in the world. Unfortunately, we know from personal experience this is the worst possible way to truly experience the majesty of the land and the beauty of the people. with plans for a second cruise port, there is hope for greater economic development and improvement.