Traveling Luck for Belize

Belize is located in Central America, bordering the Caribbean Sea, between Guatemala and Mexico.

Belize has borders with Guatemala for 266km and Mexico for 250km.

Land in Belize is flat, swampy coastal plain; low mountains in south.

Belizean land covers an area of 22966 square kilometers which is slightly smaller than Massachusetts

As for the Belizean climate; tropical; very hot and humid; rainy season (May to November); dry season (February to May).

Belizean(s) speak English (official), Spanish, Mayan, Garifuna (Carib), Creole.

Belizean National Map

Belizean Map

Regions of Belize

Territorial disputes between the UK and Guatemala delayed the independence of Belize (formerly British Honduras) until 1981. Guatemala refused to recognize the new nation until 1992. Tourism has become the mainstay of the economy. Current concerns include high unemployment, growing involvement in the South American drug trade, and increasing urban crime.


Belize Country Profile

In this small, essentially private-enterprise economy the tourism industry is the number one foreign exchange earner followed by marine products, citrus, cane sugar, bananas, and garments. The government's expansionary monetary and fiscal policies, initiated in September 1998, led to sturdy GDP growth averaging nearly 5% in 1999-2005. Major concerns continue to be the sizable trade deficit and foreign debt. A key short-term objective remains the reduction of poverty with the help of international donors.

Belizean natural resources include arable land potential, timber, fish, hydropower

only country in Central America without a coastline on the North Pacific Ocean

Belizean religion is Roman Catholic 49.6%, Protestant 27% (Pentecostal 7.4%, Anglican 5.3%, Seventh-Day Adventist 5.2%, Mennonite 4.1%, Methodist 3.5%, Jehovah's Witnesses 1.5%), other 14%, none 9.4% (2000).

Natural hazards in Belize include frequent, devastating hurricanes (June to November) and coastal flooding (especially in south).

Travel Advice on Belize

Belize

This advice has been reviewed and reissued with an amendment to the Summary, Road Safety and Local Laws and Customs section.  The overall level of the advice has not changed.

SUMMARY

  • Most visits to Belize are trouble-free. The main types of incident for which British nationals require consular assistance in Belize are for petty crime, sports-related incidents and road traffic accidents. However, you should be on your guard and exercise caution, as there have been occasional violent incidents against tourists.

  • The threat from terrorism is low.  But you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by foreigners.

  • The hurricane season in Belize normally runs from June to November. Please see the Natural Disasters section of this Travel Advice and Hurricanes for more information.

  • We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  Please see:  Travel Insurance.


SAFETY AND SECURITY

Crime

There have been incidents of violent crime and physical assaults, including armed robbery and rape, targeted at tourists.  Armed criminal gangs have been known to operate in and around densely forested areas of Belize and close to a number of remote tourist sites.  On 15 May 2006, several vehicles carrying US tourists were held up at gunpoint on the way to visit the Mayan ruins at Caracol, two women were sexually assaulted and a man sustained a gunshot wound.  In February 2006, armed robbers attacked a resort popular with foreign tourists near Belmopan – a member of staff was shot in the hand and guests were robbed of personal possessions.
Mugging is a risk to travellers especially in Belize City and other urban and tourist centres.  Muggings can occur at any time: day or night.  Avoid dark alleys, keep valuables out of sight, do not wear jewellery.  Where possible you should travel in groups.  You should use a qualified guide for trips off the beaten track.
When a crime is reported to the police they will take a statement and investigate the matter.   This may take several weeks.  You can pay a fee at any point during the process to receive a copy of the report on completion.   Regardless of where you gave a statement, payment for a copy of the report can only be made at the main police stations:  Corozal, Orange Walk, Belize City, San Pedro, Belmopan, San Ignacio, Benque Viejo, Dangriga and Punta Gorda.
Political Situation

Belize Country Profile.

Political demonstrations can occur in Belize City and Belmopan, often at short notice.  Though most are peaceful, some demonstrations have resulted in civil disorder. You should avoid getting caught up in demonstrations.

Local Travel

There has been a number of sports-related incidents resulting in injuries to and fatalities of foreign tourists.  Severe weather conditions and inadequate safeguards being applied by local tour operators have been cited as causes.  You should consult weather forecasts locally and ensure that you use registered and licensed operators before undertaking sporting activities.

You should exercise particular care when travelling in the Belize/Guatemala border area because of the ongoing dispute between the two countries.  You are strongly advised to use only the officially recognised border crossings.

You can find more information on local travel on the Belize Tourism Board's website at:  http://www.travelbelize.org.

Road Safety

You can use your UK Driving Licence or an International Driving Permit to drive in Belize for visits under 3 months.  For longer stays, an International Driving Permit is required.

Road traffic accidents are a common occurrence and local driving standards are poor.  You should take great care when driving.


LOCAL LAWS AND CUSTOMS

You should not become involved with drugs of any kind:  possession is still considered a serious crime in Belize and can lead to a fine and/or imprisonment.
Homosexuality is generally considered to be socially unacceptable and some homosexual acts are illegal.


ENTRY REQUIREMENTS

British nationals can normally visit Belize for up to 30 days without needing to obtain a visa.  However, you must ensure that your passport is stamped on entry as failure to do so can result in either a fine and imprisonment when you come to leave the country.
Your passport should have at least 6 months validity before travelling to Belize.
Single parents or other adults travelling alone with children should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country.  For further information on exactly what will be required at Belizean immigration please contact the Belizean High Commission in London:  Belizean Representation in the UK.


HEALTH

We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  Please see:  Travel Insurance.
Medical facilities throughout Belize are limited.  Serious cases are normally evacuated to the United States at the expense of the patient.  Your insurance policy should cover medical evacuation by air ambulance.
Several cases of Dengue fever have occurred in Belize in 2006.  Although there is no preventative medication, mosquito repellent and clothing, which covers as much skin as possible, should help.
You should seek medical advice before travelling and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up to date.  For further information on health, check the Department of Health’s website at: www.dh.gov.uk.
NATURAL DISASTERS
The hurricane season in Belize normally runs from June to November. You should monitor local and international weather updates from the World Meteorological Organisation. You can also access the National Hurricane Centre for updates. Please also see Hurricanes for more detailed information about what to do if you are caught up in a hurricane.


GENERAL

If things go wrong when overseas, please see:  What We Can Do To Help.
The British High Commission in Belmopan does not issue passports and, before setting off, you should ensure that your passport has sufficient validity and a plentiful supply of unused pages.  Applications for new passports are accepted but forwarded to the British Embassy in Mexico City for processing.  This may take up to 6 weeks.  If a courier is used, the cost will have to borne by the applicant.
ATMs are readily available in the larger towns.  However, credit cards and travellers cheques may only be used in large tourist facilities.
You are not required to carry identification whilst in Belize. However, it is advisable to do so.