Sub Umbra Floreo: I flourish in the shadows
Sub Umbra Floreo: I flourish in the shadows

~Belize~



Belize
Belize
Belize is a country in eastern Central America. Formerly, it was known as British Honduras. The country encompasses 8,867 square miles (22,960 km²), the mainland being 180 miles long and 68 miles wide. Belize also has a population of 333,200 people. This gives it one of the lowest population densities in the Americas, and the lowest population density in Central America. The population growth rate is 2.21%, which makes it the highest of neighboring countries, and one of the highest in the entire Western Hemisphere. The country's government is a parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy. The Monarch of Belize is Queen Elizabeth the Second. However, she is represented by Governor General Sir Colville Young. They also elect a prime minister with five year terms. The current prime minister is Dean Barrow.

Geography

Belize is located on the Caribbean coast of northern Central America. It shares a border with the countries Mexico and Guatemala. Off the coast lies the Belize Barrier Reef, the world's second longest barrier reef. All oversea shipping must travel through gaps in this reef. Scattered along the coast are some 450 cayes (small islands).
external image 475604587_4f3824142b.jpg
Belize's climate is tropical, with wet and dry seasons. Temperatures will change do to elevation, nearness to the coast, and the activity of the northeast trade winds of the Caribbean. Hurricanes also play a major role in Belize, as they constantly appear. The hurricanes can be so devastating, the countries government was forced to change the capital from Belize city to Belmopan, located 50 miles (80 kilometers) away. There is also a large amount of flora and fauna in Belize, including the rare Baird's Tapir, or Mountain Cow as the natives call them. It is the national animal of Belize.

Brief History

Belize was home to the Mayans, who flourished from 1500 BC to 800 AD. Many Mayan ruins are scattered throughout the landscape. But when the European's arrived, the Mayan empire had declined, and they found mostly the Mopan descendants of the Mayans. The Spaniards later tried to colonize the area, but fierce rebellions and revolts forced them to abandon their efforts. Soon afterward, Scottish and British pirates known as Baymen used the coast and coral reef as a protected area from which to attack Spanish ships. In response, the Spaniards made repeated attempts to take Belize, but they were always repelled. Eventually, the Spanish agreed to stop invading if the English stopped sending out boats to attack Spanish trade vessels. After becoming part of the British empire, the people of Belize demanded independence, which was granted by Britain is 1964.

Economy

The Belizean currency is the Belize Dollar (BZ). The current exchange rate is one Belize Dollar to approximately 50 US cents. The Belizean GDP is 2.534 billion US dollars, according to a 2009 estimate. The GDP per capita is 8,200 US dollars. The largest industry in Belize by far is the tourism industry, which according o the US government site is 54.1% of Belize's total GDP in 2009. Other major industries include the agriculture business and the fishing industry.
Xunantunich, a popular Mayan temple in Belize
Xunantunich, a popular Mayan temple in Belize



Ethnic Makeup and Culture

Belize is a melting pot of culture and people. Approximately 49% of Belizeans are Mestizo, or mixed Mayan and European descent. Nearly 25% of Belizeans are Creole, which is Afro-European descent. About 11% are of pure Mayan descent, and 6% of people are Garifuna, which is African and Native descent. The other 9% consist of people of Chinese, Middle Eastern, European, North American, and East Indian descent.


Approximately 45% of Belizeans speak Spanish as either a first or second language. However, although Spanish is the most common language, it is not the national language. English is the national language, which is spoken by 21% of the population. The rest of the languages are Kriol English and native dialects.

The most common religion in Belize is Christianity, with over 90% of Belizeans being Christians. About 50% of the Christian population is Roman catholic, with the rest being Protestant groups, and a small group being Mennonite, or Amish.

Milt Palacio

Milt Palacio
Milt Palacio

Milt Palacio is a Belizean American Basketball Player. He had a seven year professional NBA career, during which time he played for Vancouver Grizzlies, Boston Celtics, Phoenix Suns, Cleveland Cavaliers,Toronto Raptors and the Utah Jazz with a career scoring average of 4.8 points per game. He is famous for a game winning buzzer beater during his time with the Celtics. The shot still haunts the Nets to this day.

Unfortunately, he was unable to continue playing in the NBA, and is currently playing for the Kavala club in Greece.

Tourism

Belize is a beautiful tourist destination. With many tropical animals and birds, such as Mot-Mots and iguanas, and great snorkeling, it's no surprise Belize is an extremely popular. The many Mayan temples scattered throughout the country are awe inspiring. In the mountains of Belize lies Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM), the Cave of the Stone Sepulcher (See 2 day itinerary). Another tourist destination the the Blue Hole, deep underwater cave teeming with life. Finally, a very popular place to go is the Belize Zoo, where many rare native animals can be found, especially if you are unlucky in your search for wild animals.

Three Day Itinerary (Because what are the odds of you coming all this way for one day?)
Day One: Arrive in Belize City. Don't stay in the city. Instead, take a smaller plane or boat to Ambergris Caye, and San Pedro. When you arrive, there are many options. If you enjoy exploring, walk to the town on the beach, and maybe buy some souvenirs to remember your trip, such as a handmade wooden shark made of Ziricote wood, a naturally two toned wood. Make sure to enjoy the locals company, and eat a seafood lunch. Its fresh! If walking through town isn't your'e kind of thing, go snorkeli
The Belize Blue Hole
The Belize Blue Hole
ng or scuba diving. Go to Shark Ray Alley. It is the feeding grounds of the area's nurse sharks and rays. Don't worry, they don't bite. Not only are there sharks, but sea turtles, and countless numbers of fish. If you don't like swimming, then hire a guide and go fishing. Its a relaxing way to spend an afternoon, and you can take your catch to a restaurant, and they may cook it up for you. For the true adventurers, visit the Great Blue Hole. A 480 feet deep sea cave, formed by the collapse of limestone during the ice age. It teems with life, such as fish and coral. In fact, the Belize Blue Hole is one of the most famous diving sites in the world. After you spend the
Extinct in the US.
Extinct in the US.

day here, enjoy a coke, in a glass bottle. Finally, enjoy some dinner. Try some ceviche, a local specialty, and try some (more) sea food. It'll be fresh. Also, enjoy a Belikin, Belize's local beer.

Day Two: Get up early (like 7 AM), and hop on a plane to Belize City. From there, take a ride to the Maya Mountains. From here, you have a variety of options. If you arrive early enough, and are up for a challenge, try to visit Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM). It is a Mayan cave in which hundreds of artifacts can be found. It will require almost all day, and by the time you return to your resort, you will be exhausted. If you don't want to go explore caves, perhaps you'd rather go kayaking on the Belize river. If you do, you are likely to see toucans, iguanas, and maybe even a
A coatimundi.
A coatimundi.

coatimundi, a red raccoon like animal. Make sure to relax as you go, your're in no hurry! Spend the rest of the day relaxing after you get home, and get some good sleep.

Day Three: Feel free to do what you didn't do yesterday. But, if you're so inclined, get on a tourist van and head over into Guatemala and Tikal. Tikal was a major city in the Mayan empire, and some of the largest Mayan temples in the world are here. It is also notable as the Yavin 4 scene from Star Wars IV, A New Hope was filmed in these temples. Tikal is a most of the day venture, as it is about an hour drive from the Belizean Border. If you desire to sleep in, do so. Instead of going to Tikal, see some of the less grand, but no less cool, temples, such as Xunantunich. Make sure to enjoy the view from the top of the temples, and learn some history from your guide. When you leave your hotel for the airport, leave about five hours early, and make a two hour stop at the Belize National Zoo, a zoo filled with over 100 native Belizean Animals. In the zoo, you can find spider monkey, wild cats, and adorable little mammals. Enjoy your time. And make sure you remember to buy some souvenirs from your stay. It helps the locals and reminds you of your amazing trip. Thanks for visiting Belize, and come back soon. Because no matter how many times you visit, you will always find something new.


Fry Jacks


2 Cups Flour
1/4 Cup Shortening
1 tsp Baking Powder (prove)
About 3/8 Cup Water
1/4 tsp Salt



Mix dry ingredients well. Cut in shortening with a fork until it disappears. Add water & knead until you have dough. (Add water, one tsp at a time, if it's too dry.) Cover & allow to rest for 10 minutes. Cut into six equal pieces and knead each piece until you can make a nice round ball. Coat the inside of a flat bottomed bowl with shortening. Flatten each ball into an apple fritter shape on the bottom of the bowl. Fry until they puff up and fry in fairly deep fat until they brown and puff up. Wonderful with honey or Gallon Jug jams.


Notes

Although Belize is a very nice place, it is still a third world country. If you go, you will have to take medicines for malaria, and get shots for other diseases. and when you first arrive, get used to the food. Do not eat a salad as the first thing, eat something cooked, as it will prevent food poisoning. After a day or two, you can begin eating no cooked things. It is not a bad thing, it is just to prevent you from possibly getting sick, and you not enjoying what should be one of the greatest times of your life.

References

[[http://www.belizenorth.com/belizean_recipes_text.htm#Fry Jacks]]

http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=belize

http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/1955.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belize

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/bh.html

http://maps.google.com/maps?t=h&ie=UTF8&ll=17.25,-88.7667&z=12

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milt_Palacio

http://farm1.static.flickr.com/208/475604587_4f3824142b.jpg

http://webecoist.com/2009/01/19/worlds-deepest-and-most-dangerous-dive-sites/

http://www.belizezoo.org/

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3240/2440120046_aeabbe2a72_o.jpg

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2173/2144948663_c9e91983b6.jpg

http://www.partizan.rs/activepics/2008/425_0.jpg

http://images.travelpod.com/users/tonka_eng/1.1252714158.el-castillo-main-temple-at-xunantunich.jpg

http://www.worldmapnow.com/images/2011/01/Belize-Map.gif

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e7/Flag_of_Belize.svg