Belize was formerly known as British Honduras. You’ll find it in Central America, bordering Mexico and Guatemala.
The modern name is believed to have come from the Spanish pronunciation of the last name of Peter Wallace, a Scottish buccaneer. It’s also possible that it evolved from the Mayan word ‘belix’, which means ‘muddy water’.
More than 60% of the country is covered by rainforest. There you’ll hear the howler monkey, one of the world’s loudest animals.
The Baird’s tapir or mountain cow can weigh as much as 150–400 kg. It has a protected status as the national animal of Belize.
The Belize Barrier Reef – the world’s second largest barrier reef – is a good place for scuba diving, snorkelling and fishing. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The country has a fishing industry, and was the first to ban bottom trawling, in 2010.
Tourism has overtaken traditional economic sectors such as fishing, forestry and farming. Belize is visited by many cruise ships, and many tourists visit ancient Mayan ruins.
Football, basketball, volleyball and cycling are popular.
Belize became a member of the Commonwealth in 1981.
It made its debut in the Perth1962 British Empire and Commonwealth Games. At Delhi 2010 – the eighth Games in which Belize took part – the country competed in Athletics and Road Cycling.
Fun fact: Belize is one of the birth places of chewing gum as you know it. The gum was made here from chicle, a natural latex that can be found in some flowering plants. It was used as a mouth freshener.
Sport fact: The Holy Saturday Cross Country Cycling Classic is a one-day amateur cycling race held every year during the Easter holidays. It is Belize's biggest cycling event.