Here’s 13 interesting things you probably didn’t know about Belize.
1. Belize is the only Central American country where English is the official language – in fact 80% of Belizeans speak and understand a good amount of English. Although Spanish, Kriol, Garifuna and Mayan are all widely spoken as well, if you are not bilingual and worried about language barriers you should have few problems here.
2. Belize is home to Black Howler Monkeys, which are one of the top 10 loudest animals in the world. Their piercing howls can travel up to three miles through the dense forest.
Entry to the Jaguar Preserve
3. Belize is the first and only country in the world to create a Jaguar nature preserve (officially titled The Cockscomb Wildlife Sanctuary and Jaguar Preserve). The world owes great thanks to Alan Rabinowitz for his hard work and role in this great achievement; and in conservation for all big wild cat species. Read about my experience exploring the Jaguar preserve here.
4. There are approximately 900 Mayan ruins scattered throughout the country. That’s a LOT of ancient history! Many of them are still buried underground to this day. Ruins such as Xunantunich and Caracol are popular tourist destinations.
5. Belize is home to the “Royal Rat” (a rodent named the Gibnut). Gibnut caught this nickname after Queen Elizabeth was famously served one for dinner during a visit to the country. Considered a delicacy it is said to taste similar to rabbit. I searched for it during my visit but never found one to eat.
Belize Barrier Reef
6. Belize is home to the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, the second largest barrier reef in the world. It is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site and home to some of the best scuba diving on the planet.
7. In place of traffic lights, Belize’s roads and highways have speed humps to control traffic and slow speeding vehicles.
8. Cashew trees are found in the forests here. Cashews don’t come in shells, instead they are a seed that grows out of a fruit called a cashew apple. The cashew apple is edible, but the skin around the cashew itself is toxic and must be removed before eating. This is why cashews are bought roasted rather than raw.
9. Iguana is eaten in Belize. Nicknamed “Bamboo Chicken“, Iguana were hunted down to critically low numbers and are now protected. Technically it is illegal to eat them. However for some natives it is still a practiced tradition. Given the chance, would you try it?
10. Belizean rice and beans are cooked together, in coconut milk, rather than served separately.
11. The Belizean dollar is pegged to the US dollar. One U.S. dollar is equal to Two Belize dollars. This makes converting the price of things very easy .
Belize is even more Incredible Underwater
12. Belize possesses the lowest population density in Central America. The number of people per square kilometer was reported at just fifteen in 2010.
13. The Great Blue Hole, roughly 60 miles off the coast of Belize is one of the top ten diving destinations in the world. At 984 feet across and 407 feet deep it is believed to be the world’s largest known sea sinkhole.
Enjoying my First Time in Belize!
What Can I Say? I Love Belize!
Belize was the first foreign country I traveled to and I fell in love with it instantly. Since then I’ve made multiple trips to Belize to scuba dive, go cave tubing, play in waterfalls, and swim with whale sharks for the first time!