Quick Facts About Belize

Country Size: 8,867 sq. miles, including 266 sq. miles of offshore islands Climate: The climate is subtropical with prevailing winds from the Caribbean Sea. The annual temperature averages 27° Celsius / 80° Fahrenheit. Government: Belize is an independent country since 1981, with a democratically elected parliamentary government and is a member of the British Commonwealth. Population: The population of Belize is approximately 311,480 comprised of over ten diverse ethnic groups include Creole, Garifuna, Mestizo, Spanish, Maya, English, Mennonite, Lebanese, Chinese and East Indian.

Languages: The official language of Belize is English however because of the diverse mix of cultures, other languages include Creole, Spanish, Mayan (Mopan, Ketchi & Yucatec), Garifuna, German (Mennonites) and Mandarin. Time Zone: Belize occupies time zone GMT-6 or US Central Standard Time however, Daylight Savings Time is not observed.

Currency: The Belize Dollar has a fixed exchange rate to the US dollar (BZ $2 = US $1). Other currencies such as £ Pounds and € Euros can be exchanged at most banks. ATM machines are available in major towns and cities. American Express, Visa and Master Card are widely accepted, however, cash is preferred in most shops.

Clothing: Light, cotton clothing is recommended during the day with a thin jacket or long sleeved shirt for cool evenings. For jungle trekking, pack long pants, long sleeved shirts and comfortable shoes. Binoculars, insect repellent, sunscreen, and hats are essential to tropical travel.

Cuisine: Hotels and restaurant choices include an eclectic combination of local and international cuisine. Tasty local favourites include rice and beans, fish simmered in coconut milk, spicy chicken escabeche with fresh corn tortillas and refreshing tropical fruit.

Water: Tap water in Belize is treated and drinkable, however bottle water is readily available. Passport and Visas: Passport and Visas: All visitors to Belize require a valid passport with proof of a return ticket. Visitors from the United States, United Kingdom and most Caribbean countries do not require visas for stays less than thirty days. Many other nationals do. Check with the Belize Embassy in Washington DC, Belize High Commission in London and the Belize Consulate in Canada or check www.travelbelize.org/visa

Departure Fees: Visitors departing via the Belize International Airport pay US $39.25 per person. Fees via the borders with Mexico and Guatemala are US $18.75.

Taxes: Hotel Room Tax is 9%, the General Sales Tax (GST) is 12.5% on other goods and services. Tipping & Taxes: 10-15% is the standard gratuity for most restaurants and tour guides. Establishments may add a service charge.

Safety: Belize has a good visitor safety record, however, basic safety tips should be followed wherever you go in the world. Ask your hotel manager or local guide for specific advice on local areas.

Health Services: There are three hospitals in Belize City; one public and two private. Several private doctors are also available. The district towns and larger villages also have hospitals or clinics. It is recommended that all international travellers purchase medical insurance prior to travelling.