Belize – Jewel of the Caribbean
Belize has an area of mainland and cayes that is 8,867 square miles. Belize’s greatest length from north to south is 173.9 miles and its greatest width is 118.0 miles. The Belize climate is subtropical, tempered by trade winds. Temperatures in coastal districts range from about 50°F to about 96°F; inland the range is greater. Rainfall varies from an average of 50.9 inches in the north and 175.0 inches the extreme south. The dry season usually extends from February to May and there is sometimes a dry spell in August.
The Maya civilization spread itself over Belize beginning around 1500 BC, with more than a million strong, it flourished until about AD 900.
The origin of the name Belize is unclear, but one possibility is that the name is from the Maya information belix, meaning “muddy water”, applied to the Belize River.
European settlement began with British Jews, privateers and English seamen as early as 1638. The first settlement in Belize was on the Bay of Honduras growing from a few habitations Belize Town now Belize City grew into a de-facto colony of the United Kingdom during the late 18th century. In the early 19th century the settlement was called British Honduras, and in 1871 it became a Crown Colony.
Britain, taking advantage of Spain’s inability to establish control over present-day Belize, began to use slaves (abolished in 1838) to cut logwood, a dyewood greatly valued in Europe for the wool industry. By the 1770s, a second tropical exotic timber, mahogany, replaced logwood as the main export from Belize. The economy of Belize remained based on the extraction of mahogany until the early 1900s when the cultivation of export crops such as citrus fruits, sugar cane, and bananas came to rule the economy to what it is today.
British Honduras became a self-governing colony in January 1964 and was renamed “Belize” on June 1 1973. Belize was the last colony on the American mainland of any monarchic. George Cadle Price led the country to complete independence on September 21, 1981. After delays caused by territorial disputes with nearby Guatemala, which did not formally recognize the country
Throughout Belize’s history, Guatemala has claimed ownership of all of Belize. This claim is reflected in maps showing Belize as Guatemala’s twenty-third province. As of March 2008, the depute with Guatemala remains quite contentious. At various times the issue has required mediation by the United Kingdom. Since independence, a British garrison has been retained in Belize at the request of the Belizean government. There is no war over this matter and it is safe to travel Belize.
The main industries are sugar, citrus, fisheries and bananas. Sugar accounts for more than 33.4% of the country’s foreign exchange earnings. Belize is also home to a number of growing manufacturing companies.
There are three ways to get to Belize: air boat or car, car is the most time consuming. Many people feel best way is to take a cruse to Belize. Air is the fastest and easiest way to get to Belize one can get direct flights from: Atlanta, GA – Charlotte, NC – Newark, NJ – Dallas/Houston, TX – Los Angeles, CA and Miami, FL.
This Belizean author can give evidence to to the great jubilation throughout Belize that occurred on Friday, February 8, 2008 when the Hon. Dean O. Barrow was sworn in as Belize’s first Creole chief Minister.