Country in Accord
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Belize is a rare tropical paradise as seductive as any in the Caribbean Islands. Her biodiversity rivals that of her Central American neighbors. Her people are some of the warmest and friendliest in the world, and her unspoiled nature has earned comparisons to the Hawaii of the 1950s and the Costa Rica of the 1990s.
Once known to a small following of serious divers, fishermen and eco-travelers, this peaceful nation is preparing for a new wave of pioneers in search of the Caribbean’s next coveted escape.
Secluded on the southern tip of the country, about 30 minutes from Belize City by air, the Placencia Peninsula is considered Belize’s most beautiful location. This 16-mile strip of land, sandwiched between the Caribbean Sea and the Placencia Lagoon, boasts tall coconut palms, “barefoot perfect” beaches and real, though gentle, surf. The Maya Mountains rise to the West, creating a spectacular backdrop for sunsets. To the East, the Caribbean coast offers the most pristine beaches in all of Belize, all manner of water sports and a string of idyllic cayes (“keys”).
- Formerly known as British Honduras, Belize gained independence in 1981 as a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.
- Belizeans are a culturally diverse people made up of Creoles, Mestizos (a mix of Spanish and Indian descent), Garifuna (Caribs), Mayans, plus communities of German Mennonites, Arab, Lebanese, East Indian and Chinese.
- Wedged between Guatemala, Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula and the Caribbean Sea, Belize spans 22,965 square kilometers (8,867 square miles)—roughly the size of Massachusetts.
- More than 40% of the country has been wisely designated as protected parks and natural reserves with 59% covered by forests.
- The Belize Barrier Reef is the second largest in the world and the longest in the Western Hemisphere.
- One of the world’s richest habitats for flora and fauna, Belize is home to jaguar, deer, tapir, abundant species of birds and reptiles and some 4,000 different species of native flowering plants.
- Belize has one of the lowest population densities on the planet with just over 320,000 people.
- Belize is the only Central American nation with English as the official language.
- The literacy rate of 93% is among the highest in Latin America.
- Belize is a peaceful, stable and democratic country with a low crime rate, no capital gains tax, a low 1.75% income tax and no property purchase restrictions for foreigners.
- The Belize Retirement Incentives Program allows Qualified Retired Persons to move personal effects to Belize free of all import duties and taxes. Qualified retirees are exempt from paying taxes and duties on all income or receipts that accrue outside Belize.
- American currency is accepted everywhere, with one U.S. dollar equal to two Belize dollars.