Belize is a small country located in Central America. The country covers just 22,966 km2 (8,867 sq mi) and is only about 290 km (280 mi) long and 110 km (68 mi) wide! It is bordered by Mexico to the north and Guatemala to the south and west. The area was originally claimed for Spain, but was settled by the British. The country eventually came under formal British control as British Honduras. The country was renamed in 1973 and achieved full independence on September 21, 1981. Let’s take a look at some more fun facts about Belize.
Interesting facts about Belize
- The population of Belize is about 333,000 and about 80,000 of these people live in the largest city of Belize City, which was the former capital. The capital of the country is Belmopan, which has a population of just 20,000. Despite the small population, the country has one of the fastest population growth rates in the Western Hemisphere (estimated at 2.21% in 2008).
- The official language of the country is English, but many other regional languages are also recognized.
- Despite the fact that the country is now an independent nation it is still a member of the Commonwealth of Nations and the Queen of England is the head of state. Although the national anthem was changed in 1981, God Save the Queen remains the royal anthem of the country.
- Belize has had a long standing disagreement with Guatemala. The entire territory of Belize is claimed by Guatemala and, despite formally recognizing the country in 1992, the border dispute remains unresolved.
- The most popular sports in Belize are football (soccer), basketball, cycling and volleyball. The traditional English sport of cricket also has a small following.
- The largest religion in Belize in Christianity and about 72% of the population identify with this religion.
- Belize is made up of 60% forests with about 20% used for farming and human settlements. The remaining is savannah, scrub and wetlands. The country has a tropical climate with a wet and dry season. Belize is in a hurricane area and is often impacted by these storms. Belize City was devastated by two hurricanes in 30 years the after the second storm the capital was moved inland.
- Belize is home to the longest barrier reef in the Northern Hemisphere and the second longest in the world after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. There are over 1000 small islands (called Cayes) in this region. This is one of the reasons that Belize has a strong tourism industry. Another important industry in the country is agriculture. Belize exports a large amount of sugar and the banana industry employs more than any other in the country.
- The cuisine of Belize is a unique mixture of British, Mexican and Caribbean cooking. Rice in coconut milk is consumed with most meals.
- The Mahogany Tree, found in the rainforest, is the National Tree of Belize. It grows over 30m (100 ft) and takes at least 60 years to mature. These trees were logged by the British settlers and the wood was sent back to the United Kingdom.