Environment

Belize Environment

Dabbling its toes in the Caribbean Sea, Belize has more in common with its island neighbors than with the fiery volatility of Central America. English-speaking, Creole-dominated and with a thoroughly coup-free history, this tiny country has an atmosphere so laid-back it’s almost comatose.

Belize possesses an unparalleled natural beauty, rich with animal and plant life. Belize also posses an unspoiled Caribbean coastline, lush rain forest, clear tropical waters and coral reefs.

Land
Half of the country is covered by dense jungle, the rest is farmland, scrub and swamp. The tropical forests provide habitats for a wide range of animals, including jaguar, puma, ocelot, armadillo, tapir and crocodile. The country also harbors keel-billed toucan, an abundance of macaws and parrots, and heron and snowy egret.

Normal conditions in Belize are sub-tropical; sunny and warm with temperatures averaging between 23 and 30 degrees Celsius or 74 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Evening temperatures drop a little, but generally remain warm and comfortable throughout the day and night. The dry season runs from late November to early May.

Sugar was still the Belizean economy’s single largest export earner. Sugar production involved a unique hybrid of agricultural and industrial activity. Sugarcane cultivation, on one hand, and the mechanical chemical transformation of cane into sugar, on the other hand, made for this peculiarity. Both processes needed to be coordinated because of the perish ability of the crop.

Citrus production, mainly oranges and grapefruit, occurs predominantly in Belize ‘s Stann Creek District. The citrus trade began in the 1920s, but became significant only in the 1980s, when Belizean-produced citrus concentrate became exempt from United States tariff duties under the terms of the CBI. Exports of fresh citrus fruit to the United States were restricted because of infestation of the Mediterranean fruit fly. Citrus, much like sugar, underwent sharp price and production fluctuations, although overall export receipts from citrus concentrate markedly increased during the 1980s because of high prices.

Commercial cultivation of bananas began in the late nineteenth century, when United States and British investors first established plantations. Although the banana trade between British Honduras and New Orleans at first seemed promising, commerce was wiped out in the 1920s by an outbreak of the Panama disease. Another attempt to cultivate bananas was begun by the British during the 1960s, but the plantations were destroyed by hurricanes in 1975 and 1978. The subsequent takeover of banana cultivation by the Banana Control Board, a public enterprise, had the effect of further inhibiting production.