Rainforests, reefs and ruins .. lush tropical rainforests,
mystical Maya ruins and the largest barrier reef in the Western
Hemisphere... that is Belize.
Find out more about Caracol
|Nestled on the coast between Mexico's
southern Yucatan and Honduras, this small Caribbean country is home
to over 300 species of birds, the world's densest population of Jaguar,
thousands of colorful and exotic tropical fish and many Maya ruins.
ANCIENT MAYA --Belize
was the home of the earliest Mayan settlements as shown by glyph
translations and diggings. Archaeologists have found traces in the
Orange Walk District of Mayan communities to as far back as 2000
Mayans consider themselves as products of the
This tree is said to be in the center of the universe, holds up the
heaven and is a symbol of life. It is estimated that there are thousands
of Maya Ruins in Belize. Only a few have been found and excavated
by scientists. All of the following sites can be seen:
- Corozal District: Cerros and Santa Rita
- Orange Walk: Lamanai,
Nobmul and Cuello
- Belize District: Altun
- Stann Creek District Mayflower
- Cayo District: Xunantunich, El Pilar, Cahal Pech,
Pacbitun and Caracol
- Toledo District: Nim Li Punit, Uxhenba and Lubaantun.
systems like Che Chem Ha and Barton Creek Cave in the Cayo District
have ancient Maya rituals. Items found include pots used to store
food and skeletal remains of people offered as sacrifices to the
Many Maya could read. Their hieroglyphic writing is
often compared to that of ancient Egypt.
They also developed a complex, accurate calendar
and sophisticated ways to grow crops. Belize comprises a significant
part of the area known to archaeologists as the "Maya Heartland."
It served as a pathway to the sea for the Maya
of cities such as Tikal, in Guatemala. Salt and many items vital
to Maya ritual, such as stingray spines, shells, corals and pearls,
were sent to the interior people in trade for tropical forest by-products
like copal incense, drugs, spices and bird plumes.
-- The Belize Museum displays Mayan artifacts gathered from around
The country is a stable, peaceful democracy enjoying
the protection of Great Britain, as it did when it was a British
Colony. English is the primary language and travelers can use the
Howler Monkeys calling in the high jungle
canopy, exotic birds perched on ancient Maya temples, green crystalline
rivers and blue Caribbean waters are all part of an expedition to
| Belize still contains expansive
tracts of primary rainforest.
The varied and diverse natural environments, including
primary and secondary rainforest, mangrove swamp, cool pine-clad
mountains and grasslands make for a large variety of wildlife for
such a small country.
Belize is a crossroads for species that inhabit
climatic regions of both the temperate north and tropical south and
possesses the highest density of Jaguars
in the world.
Black Howler Monkey, Spider Monkey, Coatimundi, Agouti
and Kinkajou are among the animals frequently seen. Some of the
more exotic birds include the Keel-billed Toucan, Red-lored Parrot,
Jabiru Stork and Montezuma's Oropendola.
The Tapir, also called
a Mountain Cow is the largest land mammal of the American tropics.
tapir is a strong animal with short legs. About the size of a donkey,
it weighs up to 600 pounds.
Usually a dusty brown, it has white fringe around
the eyes and lips, white tipped ears and occasional white patches
of fur on the throat and chest.
In spite of it's local name, the tapir is not a cow.
It is related to the horse and the rhinoceros. A vegetarian, it
spends much of its time in water or mud shallows, and is a strong
The National Animal is protected under the wildlife
protection laws of Belize, and cannot be hunted.
-- The Belize Barrier Reef is the oldest and longest unbroken
living reef on Earth and the largest in the Western Hemisphere.
Its 185-mile length protects many small offshore islands,
preserving beautiful white beaches.
These islands provide shelter
for many species of birds, including Boat-billed Heron, White Ibis,
Magnificent Frigatebird and Red-footed
Booby. Unspoiled patch reefs, mangrove
forests and shelves descending into the depths of the blue Caribbean
are a few of the marine habitats. Belize is world known by scuba divers
for scuba diving in its crystal blue waters.
The population of Belize is only about 200,000 .