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Belize Cultural Discovery

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English-speaking and Creole dominated, Belize has more in common with its Caribbean island neighbors than its bordering Spanish-speaking countries. With a laid-back ambiance of swinging hammocks, large swaths of impenetrable jungle, and an underwater world of twisted corals, neon fish, and gentle manatees, Belize is a tropical treasure.

Located in the Yucatán Peninsula, Belize is bordered by Mexico to the North and Guatemala to the West, and the Caribbean Ocean to the East. Although small in size (9087 square miles), it offers a multitude of activities and sights. Belize is one of the most premiere diving destinations in the world, as well as one of the best places in the Americas to see the elusive Jaguar and other large jungle animals. In a single day, visitors can snorkel in the morning and visit ancient Mayan ruins deeper in the interior. Inhabited by the Maya for centuries and colonized by English buccaneers and escaped African slaves later, Belizean food offers spicy Creole creations, standard English corned beef, and the Mayan delicacy of the fried paca (a small jungle rodent).

Biologists, environmentalists, and other travelers to Belize fall in love with its lack of commercial development. The entire country only contains two paved roads, which can make getting around difficult, but is an experience on its own. Prices for food, hotels, and souvenirs are higher as in most out of the way places, but it's worth it! The best idea is to just relax and let yourself fall into the slow rhythm that is Belize.

The majority of Belizeans are Roman Catholic; however due to the heavy British influence, Belize has a larger Protestant population than any other country in Central America. The Maya and Garifuna practice their own fascinating mixture of shamanism and Christianity.

The official language of Belize is English, but many other languages are also used. Along the coast, you're most likely to hear Creole spoken. A colorful variation of English, if you listen carefully, you might notice a familiar word or two - maybe! Spanish is the main language in towns that border Guatemala to the west and Mexico to the north, and it's possible to run into several other languages such as Mayan, German, Chinese, Lebanese, and Arabic.

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