BELIZE, GEOGRAPHY OF BELIZE

Belize (formerly British Honduras) is a country located on the north eastern coast of Central America and it is the only country in the area where English is the official language, although Kriol and Spanish are more commonly spoken. Belize is bordered to the north by Mexico, south and west by Guatemala, and to the east by the Caribbean Sea. Its mainland is about 290 kilometres (180 mi) long and 110 kilometres (68 mi) wide.

With 22,960 square kilometres (8,860 sq mi) of land and a population of only 333,200 inhabitants (2010 est.), Belize possesses the lowest population density in Central America. The country's population growth rate of 2.21% (2008 est.), however, is the 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 within the globally significant Mesoamerican Biological Corridor.

Belize has a diverse society, comprising many cultures and languages and it is the only nation in the region with a British colonial heritage but as a part of the Western Caribbean Zone, it also shares a common heritage with the Caribbean portions of other Central American countries. In general, Belize is considered to be a Central American nation with strong ties to both the Caribbean and Latin America. Belize is a member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), and Sistema de la Integración Centroamericana (SICA).

Etymology
The origin of the name Belize is unclear, but one possibility is that the name is from the native Maya word belix, meaning "muddy water", applied to the Belize River. Others have suggested that it is derived from a Spanish pronunciation of the name of the Scottish buccaneer Peter Wallace, which was applied to an early settlement along the Belize River and to the river itself. Belize has a sizeable proportion of Africans from the ancient Kingdom of Kongo, who could have brought the name with them, as there is a Belize in Angola as well.