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Belize is home to the second largest coral reef in the world, after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. For such a small country, Belize has over 1000 Mayan sites. Some sites are more impressive than others, but for devotees of the Maya, Belize is about as good as it gets. Picking a favorite Mayan site is difficult, but at a thrust, Caracol might be the one. Or Xunatunich. Or Lamanai.
Surrounded by Central America, Belize is… well… not so Latin American (Central American) Well, maybe it is a little bit, now. It’s “Central American-ness” is starting to increase as the Creole (descendants of African slaves) majority of Belize turns into a minority. And Mayan/Spanish mix (the mestizo) minority turns into the majority. Despite Belize’s efforts against joining Central America, it seems demographics are making that happen anyway.
The Creoles – descendants of African slaves – used to make up around 73 percent of Belize. Over the years, emigration from Belize to (mainly) the US has lowered the Creole population to around 23 percent. During this time emigration to Belize from its neighbors has boosted the Latino population to more than 55 %.
While English is still the official language of Belize, Spanish is the first language of the majority. Most Spanish speakers in Belize are also fluent in English, making Belize a bilingual country.
The other major ethnic group in Belize are the original Mayans who make up over 10 percent of the population. There are also the Garifuna, who account for six percent of all Belizeans. The Garifuna are descendants of shipwrecked Africans and native islanders from the Antilles. Over time the shipwrecked slaves and the native cultures intermingled and became one. The British deported the Garifuna from the Antilles to Central America in the 1730s. They have lived there ever since, in Belize and on the Caribbean coasts of Guatemala and Honduras.
Other ethnicities in Belize include large Indian and Chinese populations. There are also the German-speaking Mennonites, who now make up almost four percent of Belizeans.
I have traveled with David Reyes in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Belize, and Mexico. He is an excellent guide and leader…very knowledgeable about Mayan history and culture. He is an excellent interpreter of and guide to the contemporary society of these countries as well. And then there are the birds! He can spot, identify and beautifully photograph these big and little beauties that are found throughout Central America. He is dynamic, energetic, humorous, multilingual, and a people person bringing out the best in all of his travelers. I eagerly look forward to my next Wonders for Wanders trip! Sharon B, New York
One more full day in Antigua, Guatemala. I highly recommend travel to this country. If you want to travel in Guatemala safely and comfortably...I recommend having David Reyes plan your tour. Does not matter how many people are in your group. David guides one person...to a group of 16-18 people. I thought that our group of 14 was ideal. David has a degree in Tourism. He is highly knowledgable. His English is perfect. I met David, several years ago, when he was our Tour Director for a tour to Guatemala and Belize. Since that time, David has led trips for my groups to Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico.
This trip was 5 star! You cannot beat the organization and agenda skills of Kathy partnered with David’s “on the ground” knowledge, skill set and personal interest in every individual. We smoothly sailed into and out of Honduras and for those with special interests such as birding or hiking, David did not disappoint. It was all there!!!