Learn About: Belize

I think I've mentioned previously that when I go to new or unfamiliar places, I like to do a little bit of research. I like to familiarize myself with some of the history and culture because for me, that makes the experience of going more fulfilling and satisfying.

Usually, I'll go to my local bookstore and spend an afternoon with a stack of guidebooks and read up that way but today, I thought I'd do something a little different and share what I've learned thus far right here on my blog. And even if you're not planning a trip to Belize, it's always nice to learn new things and maybe this will entice you to go.

First things first, where is Belize? I'd let a few of my friends know about my trip and surprisingly, many of them did not know where Belize actually was. It's in Central America, bordered to the north by Mexico and to the west by Guatemala; the rest of it is coast.

I don't want this post to get all school-ish and boring so I'll just list some facts that I found interesting:
  • The official language is English. To be completely honest, I had just assumed it was Spanish. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that after emancipation from Spain, Britain declared it a colony.
  • Chewing gum was invented here.
  • It was home to much of the Maya civilization (yes, "Maya," not "Mayan" - "Mayan" refers to the language, "Maya" refers to the people) which means there are many amazing ruins to visit.
  • The Belize Barrier Reef is one of the largest in the world - it's only smaller than the Great Barrier Reef (duh) and the New Caledonia Barrier Reef. Charles Darwin has had some nice things to say about it.
    • The reef is so amazing and precious, it's been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
    • It's such a huge and diverse ecosystem, there's still a lot of research and discovering to be done; scientists estimate that only 10% of the reef has been explored thoroughly.
  • The rainforests are full of the Belizean national tree, the mahogany tree, which is the main reason Britain wanted to colonize Belize.
  • The national animal is the Baird's tapir, which I think is adorable. See photo below!
    {via: acuteaday.com}
  • Belizean cuisine is an eclectic mixture influenced by Spanish and Mexican foods (think rice & beans and tortillas) and Caribbean dishes (e.g. coconut milk and seafood).
  • Belize is known for Punta, a style of music and dance. Google it, it's pretty cool.
Okay, so I want to stop before this post gets way too long and ends up being more tedious and boring than interesting. I hope you learned something.