11/2/12

Belize, Caribbean


Situated in one of the last unspoiled places on earth, you can easily tour Belize's rain forests, dive in largest barrier reef of the western Hemisphere and explore the mystical Maya temples.

The multitude of experiences offered by this compact paradise refreshes travelers of all kinds. A single day can take you cross-country through temple tours to marina-side martinis overlooking turquoise water.

For generations, the English-speaking people of Belize have demonstrated a cultural commitment to preserve the country’s one-of-a-kind charms. Through a convergence of natural wonder, delightful people, savory food and rare adventures, you can truly be one with Belize.
Every journey promises opportunities to capture every moment and let the senses come alive.
Things to do and see at Belize:

Altan Ha pyramid. Discover the prevalence of Mayan influence in this culture. This ancient temple was erected as a symbol of Mayan honor and devotion to the Sun God, one of themain figures in their religious beliefs.
Baboon Sanctuary, Belize Zoo and Old Belize River are great places to witness some of Belize's wildlife: tapirs, jaguars, pumas, jaguarundis, crocodiles, monkeys, etc.
Explore Belize's underwater world and its unique coral reefs.
Stroll the local market and mingle with the local vendors selling fruits, vegetables, arts and crafts.
Belize also provides the perfect setting to snorkel and dive.
This is one of the views that I remember so well... a lot of tiny 
islands, some of them just a little bit of sand enough to host 2 or 
3 palm trees, in the middle of the big ocean.
History:
Like the neighboring parts of Guatemala and Mexico, this area was settled for thousands of years by the Maya people. They are still here, an important part of Belize's people and culture. While the Spanish Empire claimed the area in the 16th century, the Spanish made little progress in settling here. The British settled first on the coast and offshore islands for logging. In 1798 British Belizean forces defeated a Spanish attempt to drive them out in "the Battle of St. George's Caye", whose anniversary is still celebrated as a holiday each 10 September.
The colony of "British Honduras" grew in the 19th century. At first Africans were brought in as slaves, but slavery was abolished here in 1838. Many refugees from the 19th century Caste War of Yucatan escaped the conflict to settle in Belize, especially the northern section.
The government of Guatemala long claimed to have inherited the Spanish claim to Belize; the territorial dispute delayed the independence of Belize until 1981. Guatemala refused to recognize the new nation until 1991.
Belize escaped the bloody civil conflicts of the 1980s that engulfed much of Central America, and refugees from the conflict in Guatemala arrived, mostly settling in the west. While Belize has not been immune to the rampant drug crime and grinding poverty of its neighbors it is a comparatively safe destination in a conflict prone part of the world.
Tourism has become the mainstay of the economy as the old agricultural products -- sugar, banana, and oranges -- have lost ground. The country remains plagued by high unemployment, growing involvement in the South American drug trade, and increased urban crime. In 2006 commercial quantity oil was discovered in the Spanish Lookout area.


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