Belize Natural Environment

Geography of Belize 

Belize is on the Caribbean coast, nestled between Mexico and Guatemala.  The coordinates are about 17 degrees north and 88 degrees west.  The total area is 22,966 sq km.  It consists of the mainland of Belize and a number of cayes.  The north of the mainland is a plain which was once a seabed, and is now covered with a thin layer of soil.  Along the coast are mangrove swamps, dotted with cypress and sycamore.  The centre of the mainland is partly covered with sandy soil with savanna topography; further inland consists of highlands which rise to between 1,500 and 3,700 feet above sea level to form the Pine Ridge Area and the Maya Mountains.  They become the water source for several streams which allow rain to run off the mountains into the Macal River and the Mapan River, which eventually merge to become the Belize River.

In the south are the Maya Mountains from where short rivers flow down the slopes carrying sand, clay and silt to form rich alluvial plains along the coast.  It is in this region which has rich soil and abundant annual rainfall of about 170 inches that one can find tropical rainforests that provide a home for a multitude of vegetation, including tropical hardwoods, ferns and palms.  Apart from the forests, most of the agricultural activities in Belize take place in this region, from where citrus fruits, bananas and many other kinds of fruits and vegetables are grown.

Along the coast and offshore are cayes ("keys"), the offshore atolls, and the barrier reef. The cayes are islands that are located between the mainland and the barrier reef, and around the reef.  Many cayes are not habitable but has mangroves along their shores which provide sanctuary for marine life and birds.  Some offshore cayes have more solid grounds and have been developed for human inhabitation, including hotels and resorts.  The barrier reef off the coast is 185 miles long, and is teaming with marine life. 

Last edited Dec 2, 08 12:58 PM. Contributors: Contributors: Andrew W.
Belize Climate 

Belize has a subtropical climate, with prevailing winds from the Caribbean.  The annual average  temperature is about 80 degrees Fahrenheit, but there are regional variations because of the terrain.  In the summer, the high temperature usually does not exceed 96 degrees Fahrenheit, and in the winter, the lows are seldom below 60 degrees Fahrenheit.  Annual rainfall is about 50 inches in the north and 170 inches in the south, and rains tend to fall between June and August and the dry season is between February and May, with occasional showers in the rest of the year.  Average relative humidity is 85 percent, but is tempered by sea breezes.

Last edited Dec 2, 08 12:58 PM. Contributors: Contributors: Andrew W.
Hopkins, Stann Creek, Belize
For SCUBA diving, I recommend staying at The Hamanasi Dive Resort ( www.hamanasi.com ) They are a top notch dive resort with an excellent staff that mostly does everything for you, like hauling your gear to the boat and rinsing it off after the dives. I don't recall there being any shore diving, but you can go out on kayaks. All the diving was by boat and if you can luck out with the weather, go diving when a high pressure system is in the area as that flattens out the water and it won't be as choppy plus it cuts your time on the boat by almost half. The reefs are amazing and visibility is 80+ feet typically. The food is very good, but I thought the breakfasts could have been improved. The beverages (milk, juices) could have been colder. I also recommend going on the jungle hike to the falls, but it can be a rigorous lot of exercise... hot and humid. I've heard the Jaguar Preserve can be hit or miss with being able to spot the animals. I opted not to go. Hopkins is a small town with a little nightlife. Not a lot to choose from.
Good tip?
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