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Belize was formerly known as British Honduras and is situated on the eastern coast of Central America. Also considered a Caribbean nation, it possesses cultural ties with Latin America and an official language of English.
The only country in Central America without a Pacific coastline, the Belize Barrier Reef is the second largest in the world, after Australia’s, harbouring more than 100 variants of coral and 500 species of tropical fish. Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996, it remains the most popular tourist attraction in Belize, luring approximately 260,000 snorkelers and divers each year. In fact, Charles Darwin, in 1842, described it as ‘the most remarkable reef in the West Indies’. In terms of conservation, Belize was the first country in the world to completely ban bottom trawling in 2010 and subsequently banned offshore oil drilling within 1km of the reef, helping to maintain its pristine appearance.
Exploring inland Belize entails unforgettable jungle treks, spying on some 570 species of bird and keeping a keen eye out for the country’s most celebrated wildlife including howler-monkeys, keel-billed toucans and green iguanas. Boasting a huge network of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, you can easily admire many more animals such as the Baird’s tapir: the national animal of Belize, jaguars and parades of cutter ants.
Like the majority of Central America, Belize features many wonderful testaments to the ancient Maya civilisation. Found in the Cayo District and Toledo are millennia-old archaeological sites adorned with steep steps leading to towering stone temples, affording panoramic views of the surrounding jungles. Topping your itinerary should be exploring excavated tombs and inspecting fascinating hieroglyphs, or tunnelling through deep natural caves which once saw rituals and sacrifices performed by Maya kings to the gods.
The offshore cays are easily reachable from the capital, Belize City, by ferry, which are some of the most popular destinations in the country thanks to their stunning coastlines and snorkelling spots. There are multiple sailings provided every day to Ambergris Cay and Caye Caulker, as well as routes between the cays, lasting approximately 30-45 minutes, depending on the arrival point.