Welcome to Belize
In early 1500’s, the first group of Europeans to land on the shores of Belize were Spanish sailors whose ship had run aground near Cabo Catoche. The sailors were captured by the Maya Indians and most were sacrificed. One survivor, Gonzalez Guerrrero, married Chief Chetumal’s daughter and had three children representing the first Mestizos (Amerindian-European) on the island. Around 1670, English logging camps were established under the permission of the Spanish who wanted to maintain sovereignty. War eventually broke out in the late 1700’s leading to British rule and eventually a crown colony in 1862. A constitutional change in the 1960’s resulted in the establishment of a self-ruling government followed by an official name change to Belize in 1973. The capital was moved from Belize City to Belmopan in 1974 in response to severe damage from several hurricanes.
Today, Belize is the only country to hold membership in CARICOM (Caribbean Community), CELAC (Community of Latin America and Caribbean states) and SICA (Central America Integration System). The official language is English; however, many citizens also speak Spanish. Belize shares borders with Mexico and Guatemala and is only 62 miles wide. Because of the wide range of climates and majority of land covered by rainforest, Belize is the habitat for a wide range of plant and animal life. The banana industry is the country’s largest employer and sugar accounts for nearly half of the exports. The economy also relies heavily on crude oil production and tourism. The climate and natural factors such as the barrier reef provide for wonderful fishing, diving and snorkeling opportunities. Wildlife reserves and Mayan Ruins draw many tourists to the country’s interior.
Belize has attracted many celebrities over the years including Charlize Theron, Leonardo DiCaprio, Harrison Ford and Francis Ford Coppola. Many have bought property in Belize due to the wonderful diving, fishing and tropical blue waters.