Frequently Asked Questions About Belize
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Formerly known as British Honduras, Belize is one of the last colonies to gain independence from Great Britain - Belize Independence came in 1981 - .Belize is the northernmost country in Central America, with Mexico to its north, Guatemala to the West, and a long shoreline on the Caribbean coast. Its small capital Belmopan is located inland almost in the center of the country at coordinates 17°15'N 88°46'W.
Read more: http://www.belize.com/#ixzz1QVg7cGdi
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The Beautiful Azure Water: Dive, snorkel, fish, para sail, swim or cruise along the coast and the 170 mile Belize Barrier Reef that runs the entire length of the country, with a total of more than one thousand islands, three Atolls, and the magnificent Blue Hole.
Tropical Rainforests: Half of Belize is covered by dense jungle, and eighty percent of its rainforest remains under government protection, much of it unexplored. Tropical rain forests inland make for amazing wildlife and bird watching and an essential eco-tourism destination.
The Mayan Civilization: An important part of Belize’s history includes the Mayan ruins, which are a legacy of palaces and temples. The Mayan civilization began as early as 1500 B.C. and started to decline in 900 A.D., although some Maya cultural centers continued to be occupied until the arrival of the Spanish in the 15th century. Belize's population was thought to be over 1 million people during the classic period (250 A.D. to 900 A.D.) when Belize became the heart of the Mayan civilization. To this day, there is still a significant Mayan population living in small villages throughout the country. Some of the best known ruins are; Altun Ha, Cerros; Caracol; Cuello; Lamanai and Xunantunich.
The Caves: Belize has one of the largest cave systems in Central America. Many resorts offer cave tubing as a means of exploring this unique world.
Nature: Belize is home to 4,000 species of tropical flowers, including 250 kinds of orchids. It harbors over 500 species of birds that soar through Belize's vine trailed jungles: fruit-loop keel-billed toucans (Belize's national bird); jabiru stork, the largest flying bird in the Americas; the rare agami heron; hummingbirds; neon-green-painted parrots; an abundance of macaws, heron and snowy egret. Also known to roam the jungles and waterways of Belize are jaguars, pumas, ocelots, armadillos, tapirs and crocodiles – just to name a few.
English is the official language of the country of Belize and it is used in all official documents. However, many Belizeans are trilingual, meaning they are able to speak English, Spanish and Creole (a mixture of English and West African grammar and syntax).
The local currancy is the Belize Dollar (BD), however the United States Dollar (USD) is accepted almost everywhere at a 1 USD = 2 BD rate.
There are five main banks in Belize; Belize Bank with 12 locations throughout the country and 15 ATMs, Atlantic Bank with 10 locations and seven ATMs, Scotia Bank with nine locations and 11 ATMs, First Caribbean Bank with four locations and four ATMs, and Alliance Bank with five locations and five ATMs. Currently only Belize Bank’s ATM’s will accept debit cards and Visa and Mastercards under the Cirrus and Plus networks. First Caribbean’s ATM’s will dispense cash for Visa and Mastercards under the Plus network. The other banks generally will issue cash advances on Visa and Mastercards with proper identification.
Absolutely! Because Belize is a part of the British Commonwealth and the legal system is based on British common law a foreigner has the same rights as a Belizean citizen to freehold property ownership.
All visitors entering Belize must provide a valid passport before entering the country. However, this does not apply to the approximately 750,000 cruise ship passengers who visit Belize every year. Border officials will not accept drivers licenses or birth certificates as travel documents. You should also make sure your passport will be valid until your scheduled time of departure from Belize, or entry could be refused. (Some airlines will not allow boarding unless your passport has at least six months of validity remaining!)
Belize has a three-tier system for visa requirments to enter the country. Citizens from Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, United States, Venezuela and CARICOM member states do not need a visa to enter Belize. There is a list of 31 countries, including many European and South American nations, whose nationals must get a visa to enter Belize. And there is another list of about 24 countries whose citizens must get a visa, pay appropriate fees, and obtain clearance from the Director of Immigration in Belize. Please refer to the Belize Immigration website to see which list your county is on.
Yes, Belize offers a Qualified Retired Persons (QRP) program. In fact, in a recent article by International Living (http://internationalliving.com/countries/belize/retire/) Belize has one of the world’s best retiree programs. Through the Qualified Retired Persons (QRP) Program, the government gives qualified retirees an exemption from taxes on all income derived from sources outside Belize, whether such income is earned or passive, and whether or not it is remitted to Belize.
To learn more about this program click on the above link or go to the Links section of this webpage to learn more.
Bringing a pet into the country falls under live animal importation and is regulated by the Belize Agricultural Health Authority (BAHA).
Domestic pets will be allowed to enter the country provided that owners present the following:
To apply for an import permit, request application form from:
Permit Unit, Belize Agricultural Health Authority (BAHA), Belmopan Show grounds, Belmopan City, Belize (Central America)
Tel: 822-0197 or 822-0818; Fax: 822-3084; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
You must return completed form to Permit Unit of BAHA (Note: date of arrival must be specified). Approved permits will be faxed to applicant at a cost of US $12.50 to be paid at the point of entry on the day of arrival.
Persons who forego the application process will be subject to a US $100.00 violation fine in addition to the US $30 entry fee.
To learn more about this process, or to check on updates to the program, go to the Links section of this webpage and click on the BAHA link.
Yes it is. There is a well staffed and equipped hospital in Belize City which is the recommended place to receive treatment for any serious ailments. There are also some very well trained private doctors available in Belize City. The rest of the country has regional hospitals located in the towns and major villages. These hospitals often receive visits from American medical volunteers and also usually have one or two ambulances available for emergency calls. The hospitals in Belize are considered above average by Caribbean standards.
Note: The water is considered drinkable in most towns and villages, but of course it’s recommended that tourists stick to bottled water, just to be on the safe side. Because the overall water quality is higher than other countries in the region, there are fewer cases of traveller’s diarhea compared to, say, Mexico.