Belize City is the capital and main town of Belize, a low lying city subject to hurricane damage. Legend has it that quaint Belize 'City' (boasting many clapboard colonial buildings with 'gingerbread' trimmings and flower-draped verandahs) stands on mahogany chips and rum bottles used to fill low-lying swampland. Its historical sites include the Governor's Mansion, St John's Cathedral and the Supreme Court. Known as the street-food paradise, Orange Walk Town has a fine location beside the New River, which meanders lazily along the east side of town. Orange Walk Town is easily explored on foot.
Formerly British Honduras, Belize adjoins Guatemala and Mexico on the Yucatan Peninsula. Its special pride is its superb nature reserves, rich in the tropical wildlife of reef, river and rainforest. Visit one of the Wildlife Sanctuaries or take a boat on the Belize river or tube the caves of the Caves Branch River. An equally amazing natural feature is the 185 mile barrier reef with its string of 'cayes'. From here you can visit Goff's Caye and explore the underwater atolls and corals along the reef, the bottomless blue hole and the Manatees and red footed boobies at Half Moon Cay. Ambergris Caye is the largest island in Belize, with beautiful beaches, azure waters, the Maya Mountains and the Pine Ridge. Enjoy a Day in this tropical paradise’s laid back atmosphere, discovering spectacular caves, winding waterfalls, virgin tropical rainforest, and hundreds of limestone caves perfect for long walks, bike rides or snorkelling.
Throughout the country, especially in the central and southernmost forests are many ruins of the Classic Maya Period that flourished here and in the neighbouring Guatemala from the 4th to the 9th century. Explore the ruins of Xunantunich on the Mopan River, Altun Ha or Lamanai, once the largest Mayan ceremonial site in Mesoamerica. Lamanai is one of the biggest and best excavated Mayan sites in northern Belize. The ruins are known both for their impressive architecture and marvelous setting, surrounded by dense rainforest. See the Mask Temple, the High Temple, the Ball Court, the residential area and the Jaguar Temple. Climb up the High Temple via the original stairway built by the Mayas, and get a spectacular panoramic view of the New River Lagoon and the surrounding jungle.
Settled around 1640 by British adventures, the country was never formally claimed by Britain although after a strong Spanish force was decisively beaten off at St. George's Caye in 1798, settlers maintained that it had now become British by conquest and it became acolony in 1862. Belize became independent in 1981.
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