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Belize Country Guide

  1. CountryFacts
  2. Health
  3. Media
  1. Intro
  2. Geography
  3. People
  4. Travel
  5. Embassies & Visas
  6. Finance
  7. Cities/Regions

Quick Facts

Region: North & Central America & the Caribbean
Full Name: Belize
Capital City: Belmopan
Language Spoken: English (official), Spanish, Mayan, Garifuna (Carib), Creole

Belize Travel Insurance

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Geographic data

17 15 N, 88 45 W

Elevation Extremes

lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m highest point: Victoria Peak 1,160 m

Land boundaries

total: 516 km border countries: Guatemala 266 km, Mexico 250 km

Natural hazards

frequent, devastating hurricanes (June to November) and coastal flooding (especially in south)

Natural resources

arable land potential, timber, fish, hydropower

Land use

arable land: 3.05% permanent crops: 1.39% other: 95.56% (2005)

Environmental current issues

deforestation; water pollution from sewage, industrial effluents, agricultural runoff; solid and sewage waste disposal

Climate

Subtropical with a brisk prevailing wind from the Caribbean Sea. High annual temperatures and humidity. Dry and hot climate from January to April, with rainy season from June. The hurricane season is from June to the end of November.

Time difference

Population

287,730 (July 2006 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 39.5% (male 57,923/female 55,678) 15-64 years: 57% (male 82,960/female 81,046) 65 years and over: 3.5% (male 4,888/female 5,235) (2006 est.)

Median age

total: 19.6 years male: 19.5 years female: 19.8 years (2006 est.)

Population growth rate

2.31% (2006 est.)

Birth rate

28.84 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Death rate

5.72 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Net migration rate

0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.93 male(s)/female total population: 1.03 male(s)/female (2006 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 68.3 years male: 66.43 years female: 70.26 years (2006 est.)

Total fertility rate

3.6 children born/woman (2006 est.)

Business Practices

Meetings in Belize are generally informal and business visitors should not expect to find their local counterparts in suit and tie. In Belize City, Belmopan, and the district capitals, the normal business attire is just an open-collar business shirt or a Guayabera shirt. Normal business hours for the private sector are from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon and from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Government follows the same schedule except that on Fridays government offices close at 4:30 p.m. appointments are preferred and punctuality is encouraged and appreciated.

Crime

Crime is a growing concern. The incidence of crime against tourists at resorts, on the roadways and river ways, including violent crimes such as armed robbery, shooting, stabbing, murder, and rape, is on the rise, with dramatic increases during holidays. Several victims who resisted when confronted by criminals have received serious injuries, including gunshot wounds. Although most incidents are in Belize City, crime occurs in all districts including tourist spots such as San Pedro, Caye Caulker, and Placencia. Rather than traveling alone, use a reputable tour organization. Travel in a caravan consisting of two or more vehicles, and stay on the main roads. Ensure that someone not traveling with you is aware of your itinerary. Do not explore back roads or isolated paths near tourist sites; and remember always to pay close attention to your surroundings. Travel on rural roads, especially at night, carries a higher crime risk. Widespread narcotics and human trafficking can make remote areas especially dangerous. A recent spate of robberies has occurred on side roads in western Belize. One woman was sexually assaulted; another traveler was wounded when a bandit, firing randomly, shot the tourist in the arm. Tourists contemplating visiting the western area of Belize, specifically the Mountain Pine Ridge area of the Caracol ruins, should contact the resorts with which they have reservations and ask specific questions regarding security measures the resorts have put in place to ensure safety. The robberies continue despite a recent increase in the number of police and military units assigned to the area. Over the past year, there has been sexual harassment and/or assault of females traveling alone or in small groups. One of these occurred after the victim accepted the offer of a ride from an acquaintance, while another occurred during an armed robbery at an isolated resort. One of these assaults resulted in the death of the victim. Travel in groups and only in daylight hours, stay off the streets after dark, in urban and rural areas, and avoid wearing jewelry, or carrying valuable or expensive items. Do not leave valuables unattended, including in hotel rooms and on the beach. If you are carrying high-value items such as cameras, exercise especial discretion. Do not wear expensive jewelry on the street. Women?s handbags should be zipped and held close to the body. Men should carry wallets in their front pants pocket. Large amounts of cash should always be handled discreetly. If traveling by taxi, use only vehicles with green license plates, do not get in a taxi that is occupied by more than the driver, and do not let the driver pick up additional fares. Budget hotels are generally more susceptible to crime. A lack of resources and training impedes the ability of the police to investigate crimes effectively and to apprehend serious offenders. As a result, a number of crimes against travelers go unresolved. Still, victims of crime should report immediately to the police all incidents of assault, robbery, theft, or other crimes. Tourists may contact the Belizean tourist police unit as well as the main police office for assistance. Travelers should also report crimes to their embassy. Drug use is common in some tourist areas. Penalties for involvement with drugs are high. Although not common, there is evidence of the use of so-called date rape drugs, such as Rohypnol.

Hotels

Most hotels in Belize are small establishments or bed-and-breakfast inns, however, several first-class hotels exist including the Radisson Fort George. There are also mountain lodges in the interior and resort hotels on the Caribbean coast.

Communications

Telephone IDD is available. Country code: 501. Outgoing international code: 00. Fax facilities are limited, but Belize telecommunications ltd. (BTL) public booth in Belize City and some government and company offices have facilities available.

Electricity

is 110/220 Volts Ac, 60hz. American-Style 2-Pin Plugs Electricity 110 volts AC, 60Hz. American-style two-pin plugs.

Plug Types

B,G

Food And Dining

There is a selection of restaurants which serve international, Chinese, Creole and Latin American food. Service and quality vary but the food is generally cheap.

National specialties:
? Tacos, corn or flour tortillas, with shredded chicken, onions, cabbage and cilantro.
? Hot meat pies.
? Travelers will find it hard to spend a holiday in Belize without eating rice-and-beans. It is the national staple and some people eat it every single day. For a change of pace, switch to beans-and-rice. It is important to be clear when ordering in a restaurant because beans-and-rice is where the beans are cooked separately and spooned with their own gravy over white rice.
? Another favorite is split peas and pigtail over rice.
? A lot of items are stewed: stewed fish, oxtail, beef, chicken or pork. There is even stewed lobster, when the season is open.
? Game meats are popular too, with Belizeans enjoying deer, hicatee, iguana or gibnut.
? Fried to a sweet golden brown, plantains make a tasty side addition to any meal. National drinks:
? Bars are plentiful and local drinks include coconut rum mixed with pineapple juice.
? The local Belikin beer is worth sampling.
? Travelers will also be able to order fresh orange, lime, watermelon or cantaloupe juice.

Tipping:
Few places add service charges, and 15 per cent is normal.

Nightlife
There is live dancing late in the evenings at Bellevue Hotel and quiet music at Fort George Bar overlooking the harbor. In addition, there are popular nightclubs throughout Belize that feature local bands at weekends.

Entry departure requirements

Visa immigration information

Passports

Passport valid for six months beyond the intended length of stay required by all.

Visas

Required by all except the following for stays of up to 30 days:
(a) nationals indicated in the chart above and nationals of their overseas territories (except 1. nationals of Japan who do need a visa);
(b) nationals of Commonwealth countries and nationals of their overseas territories (except nationals of Bangladesh, Cameroon, Chad, The Gambia, Ghana, India, Mozambique, Nauru, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sierra Leone and Sri Lanka who do need a visa);
(c) nationals of Caribbean Community Member States (CARICOM), except nationals of Haiti who do need a visa;
(d) nationals of Chile, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Iceland, Mexico, Norway, Tunisia and Uruguay.

Note

(a) All travelers are required to show evidence of sufficient funds (minimum ?50 per day) and proof of return or onward ticket at the point of entry. (b) Each individual traveller regardless of age must make a separate visa application.

Types of visa and cost

Tourist and Business. Single-entry: US$34 Multiple-entry: US$52

Validity

Single-entry: Three or six months. Multiple-entry: Three months, six months or one year.

Application to

Consulate (or Consular Section at Embassy or High Commission); see Passport/Visa Information.

Application requirements

(a) Application form. (b) One recent passport-size photo. (c) Valid passport. (d) Copies of tickets or a confirmed travel itinerary. (e) Copies of confirmed hotel reservations or full contact details of family or friends in Belize. (f) Copies of most recent bank statements. (g) Fee, payable by bank draft or postal order; personal cheques and credit cards are not accepted (you may pay in cash if the application is made in person). (h) ?5 to cover postal applications, where applicable. Business: (a)-(h) and, (i) Letter from financial officer. (j) Letter of introduction from company or organization and supporting documents.
Note: The visa recipient is advised to carry all evidence submitted in support of the application for possible inspection by the immigration official upon entry into Belize.

Working days required

Visas issued in person will be ready for the following day. Allow two to four weeks if clearance is needed from the Belize Immigration and Nationality Services.

Temporary residence

Apply to Immigration and Nationality Department, Belmopan.

HIV entry requirements

Test requires for anyone staying longer than 3 months

Departure tax

US$35 is levied on all passengers, apart from transit passengers traveling on within 48 hours and children under 12 years of age, who must pay US$32.50.

Embassies

Belize High Commission in the UK

3rd Floor, 45 Crawford Place, London W1H 4LP, UK
Tel: (020) 7723 3603.
Website: www.belizehighcommission.com
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 1000-1800; 1000-1300 (consular section).

Embassy of Belize in the USA

2535 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20008, USA
Tel: (202) 332 9636.
Website: www.embassyofbelize.org

Travel Advice

Most visits to Belize are trouble-free. However, travelers should be on their guard and exercise caution, as there have been occasional violent incidents, including a recent murder, against visitors.
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.
This advice is based on information provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. It is correct at time of publishing. As the situation can change rapidly, visitors are advised to contact the following organizations for the latest travel advice:

British Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Website: www.fco.gov.uk

US Department of State

Website: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel.html

Currency

Belize Dollar (BZD; symbol Bz$) = 100 cents. Notes are in denominations of Bz$100, 50, 20, 10, 5 and 2. Coins are in denominations of Bz$1, and 100, 50, 25, 10, 5 and 1 cents. Note The Belize Dollar is tied to the US Dollar at US$1 = Bz$2.

Currency restrictions

The import and export of local currency is limited to Bz$100. The import of foreign currency is unlimited, provided declared on arrival. The export of foreign currency is limited to the equivalent of Bz$400 for residents, and up to the amount imported and declared for non-residents. Visitors are advised to carry a minimum of Bz$75 for each day they intend to stay.

Banking hours

Mon-Thurs 0800-1300, Fri 0800-1630. Times may vary according to destination.

Currency exchange

Currency can be exchanged at most banks, hotels and travel agencies. Some businesses will even accept dollars. ATMs in Belize generally do not accept foreign cards.

Credit cards

American Express, MasterCard (limited) and Visa are accepted. Check with your credit or debit card company for details of merchant acceptability and other services which may be available. Most establishments will add a 5 per cent service charge to the bills of customers using credit cards.

Travellers cheques

These can be exchanged; commission will usually be charged.

City/RegionCity/Area codeFollowed by
Belize District2+ 6 digits
Cayo District8+ 6 digits
Corozal District4+ 6 digits
Orange Walk District3+ 6 digits
Stann Creek District5+ 6 digits
Toledo District7+ 6 digits
  1. Health Information
  2. Recent Disease Outbreak
  3. Hospital Database

Dental care

Avoid dental treatment in Belize as the standards of care and hygiene cannot be guaranteed.

Medication Availability

Medication is in short supply. Take sufficient supplies of prescription medication from home.

Blood supplies

Blood supplies should be considered as unsafe in Belize

Medical facilities

Medical care is limited.

General caution

Recent medical and dental exams should ensure that the traveler is in good health. Carry appropriate health and accident insurance documents and copies of any important medical records. Bring an adequate supply of all prescription and other medications as well as any necessary personal hygiene items, including a spare pair of eyeglasses or contact lenses if necessary. Drink only bottled beverages (including water) or beverages made with boiled water. Do not use ice cubes or eat raw seafood, rare meat or dairy products. Eat well-cooked foods while they are still hot and fruits that can be peeled without contamination. Avoid roadside stands and street vendors. Swim only in well-maintained, chlorinated pools or ocean water known to be free from pollution. Wear clothing which reduces exposed skin and apply repellents containing DEET to remaining areas. Sleep in well-screened accommodations. Carry anti-diarrheal medication. Reduce problems related to sun exposure by using sunglasses, wide-brimmed hats, sunscreen lotions and lip protection.

Specific concerns

AIDS occurs. Blood supply may not be adequately screened and/or single-use, disposable needles and syringes may be unavailable. When possible, travelers should defer medical treatment until reaching a facility where safety can be assured.

Immunization

Cholera: Although limited in effectiveness, vaccination may be appropriate for persons living and/or working in less than sanitary conditions for more than 3 months where medical facilities are unavailable. Vaccination may also be appropriate for travelers with impaired gastric defenses who are planning an extended visit or being exposed to unsanitary conditions. Vaccination is not advised for pregnant women, infants younger than 6 months old, or persons with a history of severe reaction to the vaccine. Hepatitis A: Consider active immunization with hepatitis A vaccine or passive immunization with immune globulin (IG) for all susceptible travelers. Especially consider choosing active immunization for persons planning to reside for a long period or for persons who take frequent short-term trips to risk areas. The importance of protection against hepatitis A increases as length of stay increases. It is particularly important for persons who will be living in or visiting rural areas, eating or drinking in settings of poor or uncertain sanitation, or who will have close contact with local persons (especially young children) in settings with poor sanitary conditions. Rabies: Preexposure vaccination should be considered for persons staying longer than 30 days who are expected to be at risk to bites from domestic and/or wild animals (particularly dogs), or for persons engaged in high risk activities such as spelunking or animal handling. Need for vaccination is more important if potential exposure is in rural areas and if adequate postexposure care is not readily available. Typhoid: Vaccination should be considered for persons staying longer than 3 weeks, adventurous eaters, and those who will venture off the usual tourist routes into small cities, villages and rural areas. Importance of vaccination increases as access to reasonable medical care becomes limited. Contraindications depend on vaccine type. Note: All routine vaccines (such as DTP or Td, Hib, MMR, polio, varicella, influenza and pneumococcal) should be kept up-to-date as a matter of good health practice unrelated to travel.

Disease risk summary

Insect-borne illness: Dengue fever - occurs Encephalitis (Venezuelan equine) - occurs Leishmaniasis - occurs Malaria - common Trypanosomiasis (Chagas' disease) - occurs Food-borne and water-borne illness: diseases, including amoebic and bacillary dysenteries and other diarrheal diseases, and the typhoid fevers are very common throughout the area. Many shigella dysenteria type I infections have been caused by drug-resistant enterobacteria. Brucellosis - occurs Cholera - occurs Helminthic (parasitic worm) infections - common Hepatitis - occurs Other hazards: High levels of immunization coverage have reduced the incidence of diseases such as measles and diphtheria. Influenza risk extends throughout the year. Rabies - prevalent (usually dogs and bats)

Entry requirements

AIDS: According to the Department of State, testing is required for all applicants for residency permits. Foreign test results are not accepted. Contact Belize's embassy for details. Yellow fever: A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from travelers coming from infected areas. Reportable Disease Status Cholera: Officially considered infected. Infection reported in these districts: Cayo, Toledo.

Recent disease outbreaks

No recent disease outbreaks

Name Address Belize City Medical Center 1 Market Square Belize City Belize Medical Associates Kings Park 5791 St. Thomas Street Belize City Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital Princess Margaret Drive PO Box 1872 Belize City

Media

The constitution guarantees media freedom, but provides exceptions in the interest of national security, public order and morality. Belize has no daily newspapers; some of the privately owned weeklies are subsidised by political parties. State-run radio was privatized in 1998 and listeners now rely on a range of private commercial stations, most of them networked across the country. A number of private television stations are on the air and cable TV is available in the towns.
Press: The major weeklies include Amandala, The Belize Times, The Reporter and The San Pedro Sun, which is a community paper, published on the island of Ambergris Caye. Belize Today is a monthly official paper published in English. The Guardian is a United Democratic Party-affiliated paper.
TV: Commercial channels include Channel 5, Channel 7 and Channel 9.
Radio: Love FM is a commercial, music and news station. Estereo Amor is a private, Spanish-language station. Krem FM is a commercial station. More FM is a private, music station targeted at younger listeners and Wave Radio is United Democratic Party-affiliated.

Need help?

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