10 Weird and Interesting Facts About Belize

We had an amazing time snorkeling, relaxing on the beach, hiking through the jungle, and visiting the Mayan ruins on our recent trip to Belize.  Here are some of the interesting and unusual facts we learned about Belize during our travels. 

1. Belize had a population of over 1 million people from 200 AD to 950 AD (at the peak of the Mayan Civilization), before reducing to today's population of approximately 350,000.  In fact, it was the first place in the world to have a population go from over 1 million people to below 1 million people; the second was Detroit, USA. 

2. Belize has the second largest reef in the world; the first being the Greater Barrier Reef in Australia.  The best place to visit the reef is from Ambergris Caye, an island off the coast of Belize, and it is home to hundreds of species of fish, coral, manta ray, manatees and sea turtles. 

Swimming with Turtles at Hol Chan Marine Reserve along Belize's Coral Reef. 

Swimming with Turtles at Hol Chan Marine Reserve along Belize's Coral Reef. 

3. Cockscomb Basin Wildlife sanctuary in Belize is the only Jaguar reserve in the world.

4. The government of Belize was shifted from Belize City, the country's largest city, to the town of Belompan after Hurricane Hattie destroyed the majority of Belize City in 1961.  Belmopan is one of the smallest capital cities in the world with a population of only 16,500.

5. Belize's main tourist destination of Ambergris Caye would more than likely be part of Mexico today if the Mayans hadn't dredged a canal at the north end of the island (which turned it into an island).

Sunset in San Pedro on Ambergris Caye

Sunset in San Pedro on Ambergris Caye

6. Belize received its independence from the British in 1981 and as a result Belize is the only Central American country where English is the official language.  However, you will notice that the majority of people can also speak a mixture of of Creole, Spanish and Mayan.

7. Amazingly, the two tallest buildings in Belize are Mayan temples: a Mayan temple at Caracol and the famous Mayan temple of Xunantunich.

8. Over 40% of Belize's coral reef was damaged by bleaching in 1998.  Bleaching is where coral turns white when the coral expel a certain type of algae as a result of warmer than usual water.  As global warming increases, more and more coral reefs around the world are being damaged. 

Snorkeling off the coast of Belize

Snorkeling off the coast of Belize

9. You will find no McDonalds, Burger King, Starbucks, KFCs or any other large international chain in the entire country of Belize!

10. Belize has over 450 Cayes (islands) scattered down its coastline; they offer divers with some of the best diving opportunities in the world including the famous Blue Hole dive. 

Flying from Belize City to San Pedro - Looking out over the Cayes along the Belize Coastline

Flying from Belize City to San Pedro - Looking out over the Cayes along the Belize Coastline

If you have enjoyed these facts and wish to know more about travelling through Belize, visit our guide on snorkeling in San Pedro and our 1 week itinerary here:

- San Pedro

- 1 Week Itinerary