Capital | Belmopan
Population | 307, 899 (July 2009 est)
Area | 22,966 SQ KM
Official language | Spanish 46%, Creole 32.9%, Mayan dialects 8.9%, English 3.9% (official)
Holidays | Independence Day, 21 September (1981 from the U.K.)
Currency | Belizean dollars (BZD)
Time Zone | UTC -6
Best time to visit | It rains less in the first half of the year, but you’ll probably be too relaxed to care either way.
Connecting with the Culture | Flying into Belize City, then hightailing it out to the beaches as quickly as possible. Ordering a Belikin beer, then ordering another one. Riding a bus into Belmopan, Belize’s capital city, still wondering if you’ve arrived as you drive out the other side. Snorkelling in the impossibly warm watersof the Caribbean sea. Exploring Belize’s many beautiful ruins...
Read | Belizious Cuisine, a collection of 200 dishes that demonstrate the richness of Belize’s rich multicultural past
Listen | to the Garifuna rhythms, culture and politics of Andy Palacio’s Til Da Mawnin
Watch | The Mosquito Coast, starring Harrison Ford and River Phoenix, which flaunts the lush beauty of Belize’s interior (though the setting is supposed to be Honduras)
Eat | the two main dishes on a Belizean menu: ‘rice and beans’ and ‘beans and rice’- either way, it tastes great with Marie Sharp’s hot sauce
Drink | Belize’s famous Belikin beer
In a word | You better Belize it! (cringeworthy but ubiquitous)
Characteristics | Mayan ruins; diving the Blue Hole; Marie Sharp’s famous hot sauce
Surprises | Listening in on a conversation in a curious language, only to realise the language is English; it is actually possible to fill an entire day doing absolutely nothing.