LOCATION OF THE MONTH
Discovering the Great Blue Hole
"When Jacques Cousteau puts a dive site on his Top Ten list, then you know it must be good. That’s what I was reminding myself as I descended along a wall into the depths of the Great Blue Hole, a World Heritage Site off the coast of Belize."
Its mainland is about 290 km (180 mi) long and 110 km (68 mi) wide.
Belize has an area of 22,800 square kilometres (8,800 sq mi) and a population of 387,879 (2017).
It has the lowest population density in Central America.The country's population growth rate of 1.87% per year (2015) is the second highest in the region and one of the highest in the Western Hemisphere.
Belize's abundance of terrestrial and marine species and its diversity of ecosystems give it a key place in the globally significant Mesoamerican Biological Corridor.
Belize has a diverse society, composed of many cultures and languages that reflect its rich history. English is the official language of Belize, while Belizean Creole is an unofficial native language. Over half the population is multilingual, with Spanish being the second most common spoken language.
Belize is considered a Central American and Caribbean nation with strong ties to both the Latin American and Caribbean regions. It is a member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), and the Central American Integration System (SICA), the only country to hold full membership in all three regional organisations.
A combination of natural factors—climate, the Belize Barrier Reef, over 450 offshore Cays (islands), excellent fishing, safe waters for boating, scuba diving, and snorkelling, numerous rivers for rafting, and kayaking, various jungle and wildlife reserves of fauna and flora, for hiking, bird watching, and helicopter touring, as well as many Maya ruins—support the thriving tourism and ecotourism industry. It also has the largest cave system in Central America.
Belizean cuisine is an amalgamation of all ethnicity in the nation, and their respectively wide variety of foods.
It might best be described as both similar to Mexican/Central American cuisine and Jamaican/Anglo-Caribbean cuisine.
Breakfast typically consists of bread, flour tortillas, or fry jacks that are often homemade. Fry jacks are eaten with various cheeses, refried beans, various forms of eggs or cereal, along with powdered milk, coffee, or tea.
Midday meals vary, from foods such as rice and beans with or without coconut milk, tamales, "panades" (fried maize shells with beans or fish), and meat pies, escabeche (onion soup), chimole (soup), caldo, stewed chicken and garnaches (fried tortillas with beans, cheese, and sauce) to various constituted dinners featuring some type of rice and beans, meat and salad or coleslaw.
In rural areas, meals are typically more simple than in cities. The Maya use maize, beans, or squash for most meals, and the Garifuna are fond of seafood, cassava (particularly made into cassava bread or Ereba) and vegetables.
The nation abounds with restaurants and fast food establishments selling fairly cheaply. Local fruits are quite common, but raw vegetables from the markets less so
Mealtime is a communion for families and schools and some businesses close at midday for lunch, reopening later in the afternoon. Steak is also common.