Belize

A few facts and how to get there

Location Belize lies on the eastern coastline of Central America, bordered on the north by Mexico, on the west and south by Guatemala, and on the east by the Caribbean Sea. It is separated by sea from its neighbor to the southwest, Honduras.

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Area Belize is tiny! It’s only some 23,000 square kilometers (8,867 square miles). Belize’s mainland is approximately 290 kilometers (180 miles) long and no more than 110 kilometers (68 miles) wide. Belize also comprises more than 200 cayes (islands), ranging in size from a few hundred meters to 40 kilometers (25 miles) long and four miles wide, most of which are located inside the Belize Barrier Reef.

Time Zone Central Standard Time. Belize does not observe daylight-saving time.

Population The population of Belize is approximately 320,000, with a great deal of ethnic diversity among Belizeans, who include Hispanic, Creoles (African-European), Mestizo (Spanish-Indian), Mennonite, Garifuna (African-Indian), Mayan, Anglo-European, Middle Eastern and Asian. The largest single group is Hispanic.

Climate Belize’s weather is characterized by two seasons: rainy and dry. Most of the year’s rainfall occurs during the period from June to November, known, of course, as the rainy season. The transition from dry to rainy is very sharp. Belize annual rainfall ranges from 150 centimeters (60 inches) in the north to 400 centimeters (160 inches) in the south. The mean temperature varies from 27°C (81°F) along the coast to 21°C (69°F) in the hills. The coldest month is January, while the warmest is May.

Clothing Light, informal clothing is recommended, except for jungle excursions, where thick forest growth and insects should be taken into account. A sweater or jacket for cool inland mornings and evenings is advisable.

Language English is the official language and is widely spoken, as is Spanish. Other languages include Creole, German, Mayan and Garifuna.

Government Belize is an independent country with a democratically elected parliamentary government. It is a British Commonwealth member.

Currency Exchange Local currency is the Belize Dollar, or Bz. One US dollar is worth $2BZD.

Taxes There is a 9% government/hotel tax. A general sales tax of 12.5% has been implemented and is applicable to goods and services.

Tipping/Gratuity Tipping is voluntary. Usually 10% is acceptable, with 15% for exceptional service. In some cases a gratuity may be added to your check. Ask before paying the bill.

Getting There: International Carriers

AeroCaribe 227-7185
Air Jamaica 800-523-5585
American Airlines 223-2522
Continental Airlines 227-8309
TACA 227-7363
US Airways 800-622-1015

Renting a vehicle – follow these directions: From Philip Goldson International Airport. At the end of Airport Road, you will see a supermarket (SKY Supermarket), turn left. You are now on the Northern Highway. You will be going on a road alongside the Belize river and there was some road work at the time of writing. At the end of the road, you will cross the bridge over the Belize River.  The ocean will be on your left! Keep going on that road until you reach a roundabout and take the first exit. You will pass the Best Western Hotel on your right. Follow that road to the next roundabout and, again, take the first exit. You are now on the Western Highway. There is a new roundabout when you get to Belmopan, so again, take the first exit. Stay on the Western Highway till you reach mile 64 in Santa Elena and watch for the bright yellow “CP Gas” sign on the right. Next to it you will see a green sign “Pine Ridge/Caracol/Barton Creek” pointing to the left. Take that left (stay on the paved section!) and follow for 6 miles. Please note that the first 4 miles of your journey will be on an unpaved road. After 6 miles, you will see our sign on the right. The entrance is 3/4 mile away on another bumpy road!

Please note that prior to reaching Santa Elena, in the small village of Georgeville, you will see a similar “Pine Ridge/Caracol/Barton Creek” sign. We recommend you do not take that road as it will add to your journey.

Airport Departure Tax At present there is an airport departure tax of $39US which includes a security tax and a PACT fee, used to promote, enhance and conserve Belize’s protected areas.

Entry Requirements Visitors to Belize are required to be in possession of valid passports and return/onward tickets. Visas are not required for citizens of the US, European Union, Commonwealth nations, Caricom nations, Mexico, Austria, and Costa Rica. Visas are required for all other nationalities and can be obtained from any Belizean Embassy, consulate or British Embassy. For specific information, please contact the Immigration and Nationality Department. Anyone traveling with an infant must provide proper documentation for the child, including a valid passport. In the event a passport is not available, an exception may be made with an original copy of the child’s birth certificate, and a visitor’s permit may be issued for a fee of $25 US.

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