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North America

Belize

A map of BelizeA map of Belize The small, tropical country of Belize lies on the Caribbean coast. Much of the country is covered by tropical rainforest. In the north are swampy lowlands; in the centre are forested uplands, the Maya Mountains. At the coast, the land is flat and marshy, dotted with lagoons, mangrove swamps and sandy beaches. Around 450 small islands, called cayes, and the Belize Barrier Reef stretch the length of the coastline. Belize’s climate is hot all year round. Between January and May there is a dry season, followed by a wetter season with a risk of hurricanes.


Maya children from BelizeMaya children from Belize

People

Belize was once home to the great Maya civilization. Today, the country has a diverse population: its people have a mix of Maya, Caribbean, European, African and Spanish ancestry. About half are mestizos (of mixed European and Native American descent). Belize’s Creole people are descended from West and Central African slaves brought to work in the timber industry in the 1700s. Today, they make up around a fifth of the population, and their language, Kriol, is widely spoken in Belize. Kriol has English, Native American and West African origins. Although many people speak Kriol at home, children are taught in English at school.



Economy

The tallest building in Belize is a Maya temple. El Caana, meaning “sky place” stands at 42 m (137 ft) tall.

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