Published on March 14, 2014
Peak times in 2011 for sighting whale sharks in Belize are March 17 to 29; April 16 to 28; May 15 to 27; and June 13 to June 25 (the times are in sync with the advent of the new moon)? Belize's Black Howler Monkeys are one of the top 10 loudest animals in the world? Some of the exotic names for Belize's natural wonders include the Owl-Eye Butterfly, the Blue Morph Butterfly, the Swallow Tail Cattle Heart Butterfly, the Peanut-Head Lantern Bug, the Red-footed Booby Bird, the Lady-of-the-Night Orchid and the False Vampire Bat? Close to 1 million tourists visit Belize annually, 70% of whom are Americans? Real estate agents in Belize are not licensed (all the more reason to choose a RE/MAX realtor in Belize!)? The Belizean shoreline water temperature averages between 79 to 83 degrees F? Belize houses the only Jaguar preserve in the world (commonly known as the Jaguar Reserve or Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary)? Whale sharks are harmless to humans (fish eggs are not so lucky)?
High on the list of Belize’s many charms is a very comfortable tropical climate with an average yearly temperature of 84° F (29°C). Costal sea breezes and Belize’s large tracts of jungle and rainforests provide cooling relief even in the hottest summer months while winters can be cool but never very cold. In short, the climate is pretty much near perfect. Even in winter the temperature in Belize rarely falls below 60°F (16°C), while throughout summer the mercury sits at around 86°F (30°C). Humidity is also fairly consistent at around 85 percent. With temperatures so consistent year round, Belize has two, rather than four seasons– the wet and the dry. Belize’s dry season, falling between February and May, has significantly lower rainfall than the rest of the year, and when rain does come it is usually in mild, short bursts. June through December marks Belize’s wet season, when parts of the country receive up to 150 inches of rain and the heavy, sometimes wild storms associated with the Caribbean occur, usually in the late afternoons. The most frequent rainfall usually occurs in June or early July and is punctuated by a break in late July or August known as the "little dry." The wet is also hurricane season, and while statistically Belize does not attract many major direct hits, it does get its share of severe tropical weather with high winds and rain. However, Belize and its neighbors share a cooperative early warning network, and the country’s safety, evacuation and other procedures have proven to be effective.
Population: 314,522 (July 2010 estimate)Capital: Belmopan Bordering Countries: Guatemala and Mexico Land Area: 8,867 square miles (22,966 sq km)Coastline: 320 miles (516 km) Highest Point: Doyle's Delight at 3,805 feet (1,160 m) Belize is a country located in Central America and it is bordered to the north by Mexico, to the south and west by Guatemala and to the east by the Caribbean Sea. It is a diverse country with various cultures and languages. Belize also has the lowest population density in Central America with 35 people per square mile or 14 people per square kilometer. Belize is also known for its extreme biodiversity and distinctive ecosystems. History of Belize The first people to develop Belize were the May around 1500 B.C.E. As shown in archeological records, they established a number of settlements there. These include Caracole, Lamina and Lubaantun. The first European contact with Belize occurred in 1502 when Christopher Columbus reached the area's coast. In 1638, the first European settlement was established by England and for 150 years, many more English settlements were set up. In 1840, Belize became a "Colony of British Honduras" and in 1862, it became a crown colony. For one hundred years after that, Belize was a representative government of England but in January 1964, full self government with a ministerial system was granted. In 1973, the region's name was changed from British Honduras to Belize and on September 21, 1981, full independence was achieved.
The small population of Belize is culturally diverse. This multiplicity of ethnicities, languages, religions, modes of dress, cuisines, styles of music, and folklore reflects the cultural mix. There are many ethnically distinct communities, but people of different groups also mix in many social contexts: at work, in schools, and in the political parties that are not ethnically based. Though prejudices exist, there is no history of interethnic violence in Belize . The social class of the people whether they are poor or middle class affects whether they will have such amenities as a car or television and influences as well whether their children will complete secondary school. Belizeans who have television watch mostly foreign programs, such as Mexican soap operas and North American sports; and the music they listen to largely reflects the traditions of their ethnic group, though recorded music from the Caribbean and United States is widely enjoyed by young people. One hybrid musical form, “Punta rock,” seems to blend Caribbean soda, calypso, and reggae styles with meringue, salsa, and hip-hop. Also popular are the traditional sounds of breakdown the tapping of assorted bottles, tables, cans, or other objects—an energetic percussion that originated in the logging camps. Belize has never really developed a national cuisine. Its cooking borrows elements from the UK, the USA, Mexico and the Caribbean. Therefore the food reflects ethnicity and international influences. Corn tortillas and rice and beans are widespread staples. Other assorted fare may include Jamaican stews and jerks, Mexican- style chilies, or English roasts. Exotic traditional foods include armadillo, green iguana, venison and fried gibnutt (Agouti pace; a relative of the guinea pig), called the “Royal Rat”
The growth and transformation of Belizean education took place in a number of phases, each related to important changes within the political and economic history of the country. During the initial phase, between 1816 and 1892, the church-state partnership became institutionalized. Religious initiative and control, extremely limited state intervention, and vigorous competition of religious denominations for the allegiance of the inhabitants characterized this phase. The intensification of denominational rivalry, the benign neglect of the colonial state, and the growing influence of United States Jesuit missionaries in education characterized the second phase which lasted from 1893 to 1934. In 1934 the director of education in Jamaica made a thorough investigation of British Honduras's education system. Various reforms were proposed to increase spending on the school system and improve the standard of education. Implementation of many of these reforms began in the late 1930s. During the next phase, from the late 1940s and early 1950s, the educational and social activities of the Jesuits influenced the rise of an anti-British, ant colonial nationalist movement. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Jesuits led efforts to redress the elitist, urban-centered biases of post primary education that perpetuated not only social inequality, but also the historical dominance of Belize City over its primarily rural hinterland. By the late 1950s, the Jesuits had emerged as the dominant influence at almost every level of formal education. With the advent of a large degree of self-rule in 1964, the government began to assert its control over schooling. Formal control over education policy and planning passed from British-born clerics and colonial administrators to British-trained Belizeans.
Belize became members of the Commonwealth in 1981 but first competed in the Commonwealth Games in 1962 when the city of Perth in Western Australia hosted the Games. Located in Central America, bordering Mexico and Guatemala, Belize has become an integral member of the Commonwealth Games family. Delhi in 2010 was the eighth Games this proud nation had taken part in with athletics and road cycling seeing athletes compete against the very best of the Commonwealth. The Belize Olympic & Commonwealth Games Association was formed and recognized in 1967 and continues to take care of the sporting interests of this country, including participation in both the Commonwealth Games and Commonwealth Youth Games. Belize’s sports culture reflects the historical influences of Britain (football [soccer] and, to a lesser extent, cricket) and the United States (basketball and softball). Despite poor facilities and little sponsorship or professional training, many Belizeans participate in regional and international competitions. In 1986 Belize became a member of the Federation International de Football Association (FIFA). Semiprofessional football teams from each of the country’s districts compete with each other, and a women’s league was started in the late 1990s. Other popular sports include athletics (track and field), boxing, tennis, and volleyball. Cross-country cycling has been popular since 1928, and there are now two significant annual road races. After participating three times as British Honduras, Belize made its first Olympic appearance as an independent country at the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles.
With more than 3,000 square miles (7,770 square km) of protected waters, Belize is one of the best places in the world for recreational diving. There are an abundance of cays and an underwater cave system. Bird-watching, hiking, snorkeling, and fishing are also popular activities. The music to which Belizeans listen largely reflects the traditions of their ethnic group, though recorded music from the Caribbean and the United States is widely enjoyed by young people. One hybrid musical form, ―Punta rock,‖ blends Caribbean soda, calypso, and reggae styles with meringue, salsa, and hip-hop. One of the country’s best-known and most honored musicians, Andy Vivien Palacio (1960–2008), blended traditional Garifuna music with Punta rock to stimulate interest in the Garifuna culture and language. The traditional sounds of breakdown— the tapping of assorted bottles, tables, cans, or other objects—an energetic percussion that originated in the logging camps, are heard less often now than in the past. The Belize National Dance Company (1990) performs throughout the country and internationally. Belize’s best-known contemporary author is Zee Engel. Her most widely read novel, Beak Lamb (1982), describes the emerging sense of nationalism in the 1950s in Belize City through the eyes of a young Creole girl. Another of Engel's novels, Time and the River (2007), looks at the slave society of Belize in the early 19th century.
Belize's strongest suit is its seafood. Fresh fish, lobster, shrimp, and conch are widely available, especially in the beach and island destinations. Belize has historically been a major exporter of lobster, but overharvesting has caused the population to decline. It is still readily available and relatively inexpensive, but there is a lobster season, from June 15 to February 14.Rice and beans is a major staple, often served as an accompaniment to almost any main dish. A slight difference is to be inferred between "rice and beans," which are usually cooked and served together, and "beans and rice," which are usually cooked and served separately. Belizeans tend to use a small red bean, but black beans are sometimes used. Aside from rice and beans, if there were such a thing as a national dish it would be stew chicken and its close cousins stew beef and stew fish. These Kriol-based recipes are dark stews that get their color from a broad mix of spices, as well as red recede, which is made from annatto seed or achieve. A similar and related stew commonly found around Belize is chi mole, which is sometimes called black gumbo. Water Much of the drinking water in Belize is rainwater. People use the roofs of their houses to collect water in a cistern, which supplies them for the year. Tap water isn't generally considered safe to drink, even in most cities and popular tourist towns. The water in Belize City and San Ignacio is relatively safe to drink, but travelers often get a touch of diarrhea whenever they hit a foreign country, so always play it safe. Ask for bottled drinking water at your hotel, and whenever you can, pick up a bottle of spring or purified water (available in most markets) to have handy. Beer, Wine & Liquor -- The Belize Brewing Company's Beelike beer is the national beer of Belize. It comes in several varieties, including Beelike Lager, Beelike Premium, and Beelike Stout.
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