31 Interesting Facts About Belize

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  1. 1. Belize is part of the Commonwealth, which means that Queen Elizabeth II of England is also Queen of Belize.

 

  1. 2. The official language of Belize is English, although almost half of the multiethnic population uses Belizean Creole in informal, social settings. Spanish is the second most spoken language. Unsurprisingly, many Belizeans are multilingual.

 

  1. 3. In the northern cities of Belize, people speak Kitchen Spanish, which is a mix of Belizean Creole and Spanish.

 

  1. 4. The tallest two buildings in the country are Mayan temples: Caana Pyramid at Caracol Mayan Ruins and the Mayan temple of Xunantunich.

 

  1. 5. Belize is home to the world’s first and only wilderness sanctuary for the jaguar. The Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary and Jaguar Reserve was founded in 1990.

 

  1. 6. In the jungles of Belize live not only jaguars but also other great cats such as pumas, mountain lions, ocelots, jaguarundis, and margays.

 

  1. 7. The Black Howler Monkeys, also known as baboons, live in the thick forests of Belize and are famous for being one of the loudest animals in the world, able to make themselves heard from three miles away.

 

  1. 8. Belize’s top tourist attraction is the Belize Barrier Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the second-longest barrier reef in the world. In 1842, it attracted the attention of the English naturalist and biologist Charles Darwin, who described it as “remarkable”.

 

  1. 9. Only 60 miles off the coast of Belize is the world’s largest known sea sinkhole, the Great Blue Hole. In 1972, the depths of the sinkhole were investigated by famous French explorer and naval officer Jacques Cousteau. Depending on the viewer’s position, the Great Blue Hole has different colors. From a few miles away it looks turquoise, but once you get closer it turns into crystal blue. To divers, it looks dark blue.

 

  1. 10. The former capital, Belize City, was destroyed two times in the span of thirty years by devastating hurricanes, which compelled the country’s officials to move the capital city to Belmopan. With a population of roughly 20.000 in 2015, Belmopan is the smallest capital city in the world.

 

  1. 11. The country’s culinary delicacy is the Gibnut, also called the “royal rat” after being served to Queen Elizabeth II on one of her visits. The Gibnut is a nocturnal rodent, said to taste similar to rabbit.

 

  1. 12. The national motto is “Sub Umbra Floreo”, meaning “Under the shade I flourish”, which is a tribute to the mahogany tree that populates the forests of Belize.

 

  1. 13. The only national flag in the world that depicts human beings is the Belizean flag, which also includes a mahogany tree and the country’s motto.

 

  1. 14. Madonna’s popular song “La Isla Bonita” was inspired by a Belizean town, San Pedro, located on the beautiful Amegris Caye.

 

  1. 15. The Belizean Big Foot or Sasquatch is named El Sisimito. He eats fruits and leaves but likes to feast on human flesh occasionally. El Sisimito is afraid, however, of dogs and water.

 

  1. 16. Belizean folklore also talks about an evil dwarf named El Duende who lives in the forest and whose job is to punish children who harm animals.

 

  1. 17. Once the heart of the Mayan civilization, Belize has over 900 Mayan sites spread throughout the country.

 

  1. 18. Although American chains have taken over the entire world, it is impossible to find Burger King, Starbucks, KFC, or McDonald’s in Belize.

 

  1. 19. Since more than half of the country is covered by forests, Belize uses speed bumps instead of traffic lights to slow down traffic inside towns and villages. Belizeans nicknamed the speed breakers “sleeping policeman”.

 

  1. 20. One of the common superstitions in Belize is that swimming on Good Friday brings bad luck. Some local mothers tell their children that swimming on Good Friday might even turn one into a mermaid or an actual fish.

 

 

  1. 21. For a long time, iguanas were hunted down and eaten in Belize. When their number decreased worryingly, the practice was condemned and made illegal. The iguanas are now protected.

 

  1. 22. Although Belize has enjoyed a long period of political stability, there are open border disputes between the country and its neighbor Guatemala. The Guatemalan government refused for several years to recognize Belize’s independence and has claimed ownership on some of its territories.

 

  1. 23. Belize has over 450 islands or cayes (pronounced “keys”). Although some are extremely small or even uninhabited, each caye has a permanent watchman officially assigned.

 

  1. 24. There are fewer people in Belize today than there were during the Mayan days. At the peak of the Mayan civilization, the area had a population of one million inhabitants, while now there are only a little over 350, 000 people living in Belize.

 

  1. 25. In Belizean culture, it is impolite to greet a person by their first name when meeting them for the first time.

 

  1. 26. Communities of German Mennonites and Pennsylvania Dutch live in isolated areas of the country.

 

  1. 27. Besides its marine and terrestrial wonders, Belize also has some interesting underground treasures, such as the largest cave system in Central America. Mayans considered the caves the entrance to the underworld.

 

  1. 28. The Baird’s tapir is the national animal of Belize and the famous keel-billed toucan is the national bird.

 

  1. 29. Three Mayan groups live in Belize today: the Yucatec Maya, the Mopan, and Q’eqchi’, each with its own heritage and distinct language.

 

  1. 30. The whale shark, the largest fish in the world, can be spotted in Belize’s Placencia coast, between April and May.

 

  1. 31. A polite sign of greeting in Belize is thumb locking.

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