By Liliana Usvat
Many countries interested in the conservation and protection of natural and cultural heritage sites of the world accede to the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage that was adopted by UNESCO in 1972.
In 1996 the Reserve System was designated a World Heritage Site because of its vulnerability and the fact that it contains the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biodiversity.
A combination of natural factors—climate, the Belize Barrier Reef, over 450 offshore Cayes (islands), excellent fishing, safe waters for boating, scuba diving, and snorkeling, 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.
Of the hundreds of cave systems, it also has the largest cave system in Central America. Development costs are high, but the Government of Belize has designated tourism as its second development priority after agriculture.
More than half of the country consists of subtropical jungle or rainforest. Belize officials have determined that preserving the nation’s vast natural resources is a priority and now over 75% of the rainforest is under government protection. All this unspoiled wilderness has led to the growth of ecotourism, which is now the nation’s second largest source of revenue.
Altun Ha Maya Ruins
The pictures of ruins bellow are from Altun Ha (Northern Belize): One of the most easily accessible Mayan ruins from Belize City, Altun Ha is a small yet well-preserved site featuring two large central plazas surrounded by midsized pyramids and mounds. Only a few of the most imposing temples, tombs, and pyramids have been uncovered and rebuilt; hundreds more lie under the jungle foliage. Many jade, pearl, and obsidian artifacts have been discovered here, including the unique jade-head sculpture of Kinich Ahau (the Mayan sun god), the largest carved jade piece from the Mayan era.
The Belize rainforest is home to an incredible variety of wildlife including wild cats such as the elusive jaguar, tapir, crocodile, howler monkeys, armadillo, the keel-billed toucan, parrots, hummingbirds, heron, macaws, coati, and more.
The forests and jungles of Belize draw amateur and professional horticulturists who come to explore the natural habitat of some 4000 tropical flower species. Belize is also home to over 250 varieties of orchids. Hundreds of bird species thrive within the nation’s forests and jungles where there are a number of sanctuaries managed by the Belize Audobon Society.
Wildlife enthusiasts and adventurous visitors agree that one of the most exciting perspectives of the rainforest is from above. Belize now has a rainforest canopy zip line tour that provides an exhilarating tree top perspective. I have been in this tour and I can confirm is outstanding. I will recommend to anyone loving adventure and nature.
Amazing ruins found in Jungle of Belize and exceptional guides tours that provide education and entertainment in the same time will make your visit to this country a pleasant surprise.
Belize is a country located on the northeastern coast of Central America. It is the only country in the area where English is the official language, although an English creole and Spanish are more commonly spoken.
Belize is bordered on the north by Mexico, to the south and west by Guatemala and to the east by the Caribbean Sea. Its mainland is about 290 km (180 mi) long and 110 km (68 mi) wide.
Extent of the Maya civilization
The Maya civilization emerged at least three millennia ago in the lowland area of the Yucatán Peninsula and the highlands to the south, in what is now southeastern Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and western Honduras. Many aspects of this culture persist in the area despite nearly 500 years of European domination. Prior to about 2500 BCE, some hunting and foraging bands settled in small farming villages; they later domesticated crops such as corn, beans, squash, and chili peppers.
A profusion of languages and subcultures developed within the Maya core culture. Between about 2500 BCE. and 250 CE, the basic institutions of Maya civilization emerged. The peak of this civilization occurred during the classic period, which began about 250 CE.
The recorded history of the center and south is dominated by Caracol, where the inscriptions on their monuments was, as elsewhere, in the Lowland Maya aristocratic tongue Classic Ch’olti’an.North of the Maya Mountains, the inscriptional language at Lamanai was Yucatecan as of 625 CE.The last date recorded in Ch’olti’an within Belizean borders is 859 CE in Caracol, stele 10. Yucatec civilisation, in Lamanai, lasted longer.
The Maya civilization spread itself over the area which is today Belize beginning in around 1500 BCE and flourished there until about 800 CE.
The recorded history of the centre and south is dominated by Caracol, where the inscriptions on their monuments were, as elsewhere, in the Lowland Maya aristocratic tongue Classic Ch’olti’an. North of the Maya Mountains, the inscriptional language at Lamanai was Yucatecan as of CE 625.
In the late classic period of Maya civilization (before 1000 BCE), as many as 400,000 people may have lived in the area that is now Belize. Some lowland Maya still occupied the area when Europeans arrived in the 16th century. By then the primary inhabitants were the Mopan branch of the Yucatec Maya.