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Belize is blessed in that you can have the best of both worlds. You can visit the mainland cities, towns, and interior and meet friendly people, see historic sights, ancient Maya cities, or go to the cayes, thus enjoying the sea, beaches, and coral reef. The wonders of Belize are yours to choose.

We invite you to visit this quick summary of Belize. We have purposely left out graphics and photos so that you may quickly get an overview of Belize. Most of the information found here is covered in greater depth throughout the award winning Belize by Naturalight website, including liberal use of graphics and photos.

Belize welcomes all visitors to her shores. Below lies information that will help you make decisions and plan your vacation. This information is the most current available, but as with all such sources of information, you should check with your travel agent, airlines, or embassy for the official and late breaking information.
Choose from the topics below
Location
Geography
Climate
Rainfall
People
Language
Business Hours
Public & Bank Holidays
Currency
Electric
Postal Rates
Health Services
Taxes & Service Charges
Taxis
Telephone Service
Time
Entry Requirements
Visas
What to Wear
What to Bring
LOCATION
Belize, previously known as British Honduras, lies on the East coast of Central America in the heart of the Caribbean Basin, bordering on Mexico to the North, Guatemala to the West and South, and flanked by the Caribbean Sea to the East.
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GEOGRAPHY
The cayes(pronounced keys), the offshore atolls, and the barrier reef are the main attraction to Belize. The barrier reef, which is 185 miles long, is the longest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere. The cayes are islands and/or mangroves, that are located between the mainland and the barrier reef, on the barrier reef, and on or within the barrier reef perimeters of the offshore atolls.

Although the mangrove cayes are normally uninhabitable by humans, they do provide a superior habitat for birds and marine life. Many birds, fish, shellfish, and marine organisms begin their lives within the protection of the mangrove.

On the other hand, the island cayes, which are distinguishable by their palm trees, have provided the foundation for the development of many fine resorts to serve the water sports enthusiasts and the marine naturalists. The cayes and atolls provide superior opportunity for SCUBA diving, snorkeling, fishing, boating, sailing, sailboarding, and sea kayaking, as well as habitat for both nesting birds and turtles.

The northern half of the mainland of Belize is a plain that was once the bed of a sea. The land is covered with a thin layer of soil, that supports scrub vegetation and dense hardwood tropical forest. The coastal area is neither land nor sea, but a sodden, swampy transition between the two. It consists of mangrove and grasses, and it is bordered by tussock grasses, cypress, and sycamore where the land separates the water.

The central part of Belize consists of sandy soil that supports large savannas. Approximately thirty miles southwest of Belize City, the land begins to rise dramatically to between 1,500 and 3,680 feet above sea level in the enchanting Mountain Pine Ridge District and the Maya Mountains. Abundant rainfall runs off the northwest from the highlands in a number of streams which flow into the Macal River. Ultimately, the Macal River and the Mopan River converge to provide the headwaters of the Belize River.

The southern part of Belize, with its watershed to the southeast from the Maya Mountains, consists of short rivers that rush through slopes combed with overhanging ledges and caves. The rivers, carrying sand, clay and silt, have enriched the coastal belt over the years, allowing Belize to develop significant agricultural products such as citrus and bananas. Along with an annual rainfall of some 170 inches, southern Belize has a true tropical rain forest that is rich with ferns, palms, lianas, and tropical hardwoods.

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CLIMATE
The climate is subtropical, with a brisk prevailing wind from the Caribbean Sea. The country has an annual mean temperature of 79 degrees Fahrenheit, and the humidity is nicely tempered by the Sea breezes.

Variation in weather features, emphasizes the interesting difference in elevation, geology, plant and animal life. A summer high temperature, usually never exceeds 96 degrees Fahrenheit, and winter lows are seldom below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, even at night.

Saltwater temperature varies between 75 degrees Fahrenheit and 84 degrees Fahrenheit.

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RAINFALL
Annual rainfall ranges from 50 inches in the North to 170 inches in the South. Although the rainy season is usually between June and August and the dry season is between February and May, global weather changes are making historical predictions somewhat invalid. At the end of October, the weather does become cooler, and from November to February, it is pleasant with showers of rain. Average humidity is 85 percent.
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PEOPLE
The population of approximately 200,000 people consists of a mixture of Creole, Garifuna, Mestizo, Spanish, Maya, English, Mennonite, Lebanese, Chinese, and Eastern Indian. Due to racial harmony and religious tolerance, all of these different elements have mixed and blended successfully, and Belize has gained a widespread reputation for its friendly people.
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LANGUAGE
English is the official language of Belize, although Spanish, Creole, Garifuna and Mayan are widely spoken throughout the country.
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BUSINESS HOURS
Banks:
Monday - Thursday 8:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M.
Friday 8:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M. and 3:00 P.M. to 6:00 P.M.
Commerce & Industry:
Monday - Friday 8:00 A.M. to 12:00P.M./1:00 P.M. to 5:00 P.M.
Some businesses are open on Saturdays
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PUBLIC & BANK HOLIDAYS
New Years Day - January 1
Baron Bliss Day- March 9
Good Friday
Holy Saturday
Easter Monday
Labour Day-May 1
Commonwealth Day- May 24
St. George's Caye Day- September 10
Independence Day- September 21
Columbus Day- October 12
Garifuna Settlement Day- November 19
Christmas Day- December 25
Boxing Day- December 26.
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CURRENCY
The Belize Dollar (BZ$) has a fixed rate of exchange of BZ$2 to US$1. Most hotels, resorts, restaurants, and tour operators will accept U.S. currency, traveler's checks, or credit cards. When using your credit cards in Belize, most establishments will add a 5% service charge to your bill. Always make sure that you understand which dollar rate is being quoted. Is it Belize Dollars or U.S. Dollars?
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ELECTRICITY
Although most of the electricity is provided by Diesel/Generator Sets, the power is stable at 110 Volts A.C., which is the same voltage as in the United States.
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HEALTH SERVICES
There is a well staffed hospital and several private doctors in Belize City. Also the District Towns and larger Villages have hospitals or clinics.

Potable water is available in most areas of Belize, but it is advisable to ask, and if in doubt, to drink boiled or bottled water.

There are no serious epidemic diseases in Belize. No inoculations are required for entry, but anti-malaria tablets are recommended for extended stays in the jungle.

POSTAL RATES
Postal rates to the United States are BZ$0.60 for letters and BZ$0.30 for postcards. Postal rates to Europe are BZ$0.75 for letters and BZ$0.40 for postcards.
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TAXES & SERVICE CHARGES
Taxes:
Hotel Room Tax..................................7%
Service Charge (In lieu of tips)...............10%
Sales tax (on goods & services).................9%

Int'l passenger Airport Departure Fee.......US $35.00 (payable only in US currency)
Int'l Airport to Domestic Airport...............US $0.75 or BZ $1.50
Boat departure to Int'l Destination.............US $3.75 or BZ $7.50
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TAXIS
Taxis are available in towns and resort areas, and they are easily recognized by their green license plates. Unless specific arrangements are made prior to your arrival at Philip Goldson International Airport (P.G.I.A.), taxis are available at the entrance to the main terminal.

Although there are no meters on the taxis, the drivers do charge somewhat standard fares, but it is always important to understand what your fare will be, prior to hiring a taxi.

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TELEPHONE SERVICE
Belize Telecommunications Limited provides telephone communication between Belize and the United States and Canada. Direct dial service is available.
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TIME
Time observed year round is GMT-6, which is the same as United States Central Standard Time. Daylight Savings Time is not observed in Belize
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ENTRY REQUIREMENTS
A valid passport and visa, if required, is necessary for entry into Belize. Visitors are permitted to stay in Belize for a period not to exceed thirty (30) days. Extensions may be granted upon application to the Immigration Office, telephone +501-222-4620 and fax +501-222-4056, at a cost of BZ$25.00. Travelers should exhibit that they have sufficient funds for their visit (US$50.00 per person per day), as well as, a ticket to their onward destination.
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VISAS
United States citizens and Nationals of the European Community member nations do not require visas. Visas are required for the Nationals of the following countries: China, Columbia, Cuba, India, Libya, Pakistan, Peru, South Africa, and Taiwan. To obtain a visitor's permit, an application must be submitted to the Belize Immigration and Nationality Department, Belmopan, Cayo District, Belize, Central America (Telephone 501-822-2423 or Fax: 501-822-2662). Since visa requirements are subject to change, please contact the Belize Embassy, 2535 Massachusetts Avenue Northwest, Washington, D.C. 20008 (Telephone: (202)332-9636, Fax: (202)332-6888), for up-to-date information
WHAT TO WEAR
Belize is a very informal country, with a very casual life-style. Unless you are invited to a Government function, please leave your "After Five" attire at home.

Leave your jewelry and expensive watches at home because you will not need them. If you must have a watch, bring an inexpensive watch that is suitable for diving and hiking.

If you are visiting the Cayes and/or the Barrier Reef, bring your shorts, T-shirts, and bathing suits, as well as some comfortable tennis shoes or deck shoes. As the sun is probably more intense than what you are used to at home, bring a cap to protect your head from the tropical sun when you are boating and/or fishing. In addition to protecting your eyes from both the sun and the reflective glare off of the water, a pair of "polarized" sunglasses will enhance the variable colors of the coastal waters of Belize.

Loose fitting, light colored cotton pants and camping shirts, along with a comfortable pair of hiking shoes or boots are appropriate for exploring the Mainland or trekking through the rain forest. When visiting the Maya Ruins or traipsing through the jungle, a hat with a wide brim will provide shade from the tropical sun, as well as provide protection from a tropical shower.

Be aware that water, beverages, and snacks are not always readily available while sightseeing- so a day pack, to carry a water bottle, energy bars, camera, film, binoculars, poncho, hand towel, etc., is a welcomed accessory. Although you do not wear it, a hiking staff can prove to be a valuable aid to climbing ruins, crossing streams, or walking up or down steep trails

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WHAT TO BRING
Passport, Visa (if applicable), Prescription Drugs, Personal Items, Spare Eye-glasses, Sunglasses, Sun Tan Lotion, Sun Screen, Sun Burn Cream, Insect Repellant, Camera/Film, Batteries, Cash, Travel Checks, Credit Cards.
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