Capital: Belmopan

Size: 23,300 km²

Population: 280,000

Currency: Belizean dollar

Language: English (official), Spanish

Visas: Not required by UK nationals.

Food: Seafood is abundant.

Drink: Cashew wine – very sweet and made from the cashew fruit rather than the nut.

Festivals: February: Carnival (Belize City and San Pedro, Ambergris Caye). May (though variable!): Cashew Festival (Crooked Tree).

When to go: Officially the wet season is June to August and the dry season is February to May. Realistically,
you could get rained on at any time, especially in the south. Hurricane season is August
to October.

Belize, formerly known as British Honduras, nestles on the coast between Mexico and Guatemala. Within this small country the landscape varies incredibly, from mountainous, tropical rainforests with abundant wildlife, to fertile subtropical foothills where sugar, rice, cattle and fruit trees are cultivated, to bird-filled coastal wetlands and cayes with beautiful beaches. The coral and cayes form a 184-mile barrier reef with crystal-clear water, perfect for world-class sport fishing, diving and snorkelling. Warm tropical breezes encourage the laid-back attitude of the small but ethnically diverse population, who are as warm and friendly as the climate.

Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker in the north are the most popular destinations. From here you can take excursions to the smaller cayes and marine parks, and sample spectacular diving at the world famous Blue Hole.

Back on the mainland in the west you can visit Guanacaste National Park and a number of eco-resorts, lodges and working farms offering accommodation in idyllic forest and riverside settings. A side trip to the Mountain Pine Ridge area offers great hiking, amid spectacular forests, rivers, rapids, waterfalls and caves. San Ignacio and its twin town Santa Elena have a pleasant climate, and lie in a beautiful setting of wooded hills. The whole of Belize – and especially the west – is littered with ancient Maya sites.

In the south, Cockscomb Basin Wildlife (Jaguar) Sanctuary is the main attraction. The coastal area around Placencia offers some spectacular sport fishing and diving, while offshore cayes reached by boat from Dangriga or Mango Creek offer seclusion, relaxation, lovely beaches and fabulous water

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Getting there