Erin De Santiago a RoamRight Blog Author

Five Things You Didn’t Know About Belize

Belize is a country on the northeastern coast of Central America.

For years Belize has been referred to as “Mother Nature’s Best Kept Secret,” but as tourism continues to trend upwards, the country is becoming more widely recognized. And, with Ambergris Caye being rated #1 Island in the World two years in a row by TripAdvisor’s readers, travelers are definitely doing more research on Belize.

However, even with all the added publicity, there are a number of things that are not necessarily known by the masses. Here’s a look at five things you probably didn’t know about Belize.

1. Belize is an English Speaking Country

It sounds obvious to those of us who live in Belize or visit the country often, but many people are mistakenly under the assumption that Spanish is the official language. Belize is the only country in Central America that has English as its official language, but you will still hear lots of Spanish, Kriol, and in some areas, the UNESCO recognized Garifuna language.

2. World’s First Jaguar Preserve

Belize has the distinction of being the first, and only, country to have a jaguar preserve. Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary is located in southern Belize and has 150 square miles of tropical forest space devoted to the preservation of the jaguar. In 1984, Cockscomb gained status as a forest preserve and just two years later it was declared a jaguar preserve. While spotting an elusive jaguar on your visit may be a long shot, the beautiful area is absolutely worth exploring and is even home to a small Maya ceremonial site.

3. Narrowest Main Street in the World

Did you know Belize has the distinction of claiming the world record for the narrowest Main Street? According to the Guinness World Book of Records, what looks more like a sidewalk qualifies as the narrowest main street in the world. The small fishing village of Placencia was developed around this 4-foot wide footpath that extends just over 4,000 feet. With ample access to shops and restaurants and an upbeat community vibe, it’s easy to see how this came to be Placencia’s “Main Street”.

4. No Big Chains

If you are the type of traveler who prefers to eat at McDonalds in each country you visit, you will be extremely disappointed when you get to Belize. With the exception of the Radisson Hotel in Belize City, you are not going to find recognizable names like McDonalds, Wal-Mart, Burger King, and the like. Most businesses are locally and/or family owned, and even those few businesses with corporate backing lack the commercialized feel and certainly the branding. If you want big fast food chains, head north to Mexico or east into Guatemala. While most travelers love the absence of massive chains, the lack of places like an Apple Store can be devastating if you have a MacBook or iPhone that suddenly stops working.

5. Travel the Entire Country in a Day

Just based on its position on a map, many travelers do not realize how small Belize actually is. With its own airlines, like Tropic Air Belize, it’s ridiculously easy to be in the westernmost point of Belize’s mainland, drive cross country and hop on the water taxi or on a Tropic plane to one of the cayes in a single day. Some travelers mistakenly assume they need to spend the night in Belize City if they are transiting from Belize’s western Cayo District to the cayes to spend a few days relaxing. In fact, it’s very easy to do all day mainland tours from islands like Ambergris Caye and still be back home in time to shower and enjoy one of the best restaurants in town! 

Which of these Belize facts surprises you the most?

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About the Author

Erin De Santiago

Erin De Santiago, a RoamRight Blog Author Erin is a travel and food writer who currently splits her time between the Netherlands and Belize. She's traveled to 60+ countries on 5 continents with a passion for culinary travel, luxury hotels, and all things Disney. Her writing has appeared in numerous online outlets including Gadling, BootsnAll, CNN, Art of Backpacking, TravBuddy, CBS, and more. She was the major author of Belize's official visitor magazine, Destination Belize 2013; wrote the official AFAR Guide to Belize; and is also AFAR Magazine's local Belize expert.. In addition to writing for other publications, Erin maintains several blogs, Our Tasty Travels, No Checked Bags, Pooh's Travels, and the brand new Caye To Belize. Follow Erin on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google Plus.

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