OUR COUNTRY, OUR TOWN, OUR VILLAGE
Belize, a country slightly smaller than the state of Massachusetts, was once home to a number of Mayan city-states. Formerly the colony of British Honduras, Belize became an independent nation in 1981.
Located on the Caribbean Sea, Belize is bordered by Mexico to the north, Guatemala to the west, and Honduras to the south. Its small size hides a surprising variation of geographical features, ranging from reefs, saltwater cayes and mangrove swamps in the coastal areas on the east, to lush hills, mountains and rainforests only a two-hour drive to the west.
Belize boasts the world’s largest population of wild jaguars and is home to the world’s second-largest reef system (after Australia’s Great Barrier Reef). Indeed, Belize has become one of the most biologically diverse nations on earth. As a member of PACT (Protected Areas Conservation Trust — “an environmental trust fund serving an enabling and empowering role in the conservation, preservation, enhancement, and management of Belize’s natural resources and protected areas”), 28% of Belize’s land is under some form of legal environmental protected status. With over 61% of its lands under forest cover, Belize is able to take pride in the fact that it is home to over 500 species of birds, as well as a healthy population of tapirs, kinkajous, howler and spider monkeys, peccary, puma, jaguar, ocelot, jaguarundi, margay, iguanas, and anteaters — most of which have either been seen or heard on the grounds at Table Rock.
With a population of just over 400,000, Belize has one of the lowest population densities in the world, and is home to a unique variety of cultures unlike any other. Mestizo (Spanish/Maya descent), Kriol (descendants of Black Africans mixed with other ethnicities), Maya, Garifuna (descendants of Carib and African peoples), and Mennonite ethnic groups comprise the majority of Belize’s population. But you will also find Chinese, European, American, East Indian, and Middle Eastern cultures represented, as well as everything in between. Belize is one of the rare nations where such an intermingling of groups seems to be natural and expected, and experiencing it yourself is one of the added treats of your time spent here.