By Rachael Funk
Referred to as “Mother Nature’s best kept secret,” Belize is a country of unspoiled natural beauty, ancient historical sites, and tropical islands. This gorgeous country in Central America is full of enchanting things to see and do. Check out these fun facts to learn more about Belize!
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Belize has 450 small islands called cayes (pronounced “keys”). Many are uninhabited, but each caye has a government-appointed watchman.
The official language of Belize is English.
Almost every Belizean is trilingual. The most common languages in Belize are English, Spanish, and Creole.
Belize does not observe daylight savings time.
The average annual temperature is about 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
There are two general seasons in Belize: dry and rainy.
The motto of Belize is Sub Umbra Floreo which means “under the shade I flourish.”
One US dollar is equal to two Belize dollars, which makes conversion very simple.
When Hurricane Hattie hit in 1961, the nation’s capital was shifted 50 miles inland.
It is bad luck to swim in the ocean or rivers on Good Friday.
It is rude to greet Belizeans by their first name.
Belizean urban legend tells of a trouble making dwarf named Tata Duende. He is missing both his thumbs, wears a tall, pointy hat, and lures poorly behaved children into the jungle, never to be seen again.
The Belize Barrier Reef is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is home to over 450 species of fish.
This barrier reef is one of only two in the Western Hemisphere.
Three of the world's four coral atolls outside of the Pacific Ocean are found in Belize.
The Great Blue Hole, an undersea sinkhole about 60 miles off the coast, is one of the top diving destinations in the world.
Belize is the only country in Central America without a coastline on the North Pacific Ocean.
There are four categories of protected land in Belize: National Parks, Wildlife Sanctuaries, Natural Monuments, and Nature Reserves.
The Toledo district is known as “the forgotten land” due to its 1,700 square miles of untouched rivers, rain forests, and offshore islands.
Many species of cashew trees grow in the forests, bearing fruit ranging from edible to poisonous.
The rainforest contains over 500 species of orchid.
The national animal (called a Mountain Cow, but better known as a tapir) is biologically related to horses and rhinoceroses.
Native to Central America, the black howler monkey is one of the world’s loudest animals with a shriek that can be heard up to three miles away.
Known as “royal rat” because it was served to Queen Elizabeth, a rodent dish called Gibnut is a Belizean delicacy.
Belize holds the world’s only jaguar nature preserve.
Whale watchers flock to Gladden Spit during the full moon from March to June to spot Whale Sharks.
Shark Ray Alley in Ambergris Caye is a popular spot to dive with nurse sharks and smaller rays.
There are approximately 900 Mayan ruins throughout the country.
The tallest building in Belize is a Mayan temple.
The name Xunantunich means "stone woman."