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Climate and Weather

Belize - Climate and Weather

The South American country of Belize sits to the north of Honduras and to the south of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. The mountainous area on the Western border meet Guatemala.

The tiny population of just over 360,000 residents makes Belize one of the least populated nations in the region. The mix of English, Creole, Chinese, Spanish and East Indian peoples and culture has created a community which is multicultural and generally tolerant. Many of the social and legal frameworks introduced by the British colonials are still in place.

The capital city of Belmopan City, which is located near the centre of the country, has fewer residents than Belize City. A modestly sized coastal port in the north of the country, Belize City was once the seat of government, and remains the centre of economic and cultural activities. Today it is home to 70,000 people, which is significantly more than the 20,000 in Belmopan City, even though the latter is the capital. The only international airport in Belize is located near Belize City.

Across the flat areas of northern Belize, sugarcane production was introduced in the mid nineteenth century and established twenty years later. This remains an important industry in the area; about 60,000 acres of sugarcane in the Orange Walk and Corozal Districts today produce almost a million tons of cane. This is processed into white, brown and molasses sugar, which form 60 percent of Belize’s agricultural exports each year. Sugarcane bagasse is burnt in special facilities to produce electricity.

Belizean Terrain

The 185 miles of coastline along the Eastern edge of Belize is home to the Belize Barrier Reef. Located between 10 and 40 miles offshore, this is the second largest barrier reef in the world. Only the Great Barrier Reef near Australia is larger. The nearby beaches are often edged with coconut trees and luxury waterfront homes. There are hundreds of offshore islands known as cayes, pronounced ‘keyes’, between the beach and the Belize Barrier Reef. Some of the larger cayes, such as the 8km Caye Caulker and the 40km Ambergris Caye, have been developed and now offer resorts and hotels from which tourists can enjoy the clear and turquoise seawater. Fishing, snorkelling and scuba diving are popular pastimes in these waters.

Almost 70 percent of Belize’s territory is covered in rainforest and tropical jungle, which is protected by government laws. The rolling hills hidden under the canopies can make much of the jungle difficult to access. That said, roads in Belize are poor quality and cars are expensive to buy or rent, so many locals travel by bicycle.

The diverse landscapes in Belize support an astonishing range of animals, birds, fish, butterflies as well as plant life.

Belizean Climate

The climate in Belize is subtropical, with two distinct seasons. The wet season lasts from June to October. Rainfall is to be expected, especially across the southern areas in mountain shadows, with Punta Gorda experiencing up to 200 rain days a year versus the 125 rainy days of the Cayo District. However, rainfall normally happens in the early morning hours rather than during the day, meaning it is unlikely to affect daily activities.

Hurricanes are most likely to occur at this time of year, especially between August and October. As hurricanes form over a number of days, the latest technology is used to predict and track coming storms. The National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO) have emergency plans in place. In November, the coldest weather of the year arrives with the presence of strong northerly winds.

From late November to May, the country enjoys the dry season. This is the peak tourist season, and many leisure and dining activities will cost more. However, Belize does not experience crowded tourist areas that blight many holiday destinations.

Summer temperatures are high. Sometimes, they are similar to the summer temperatures experienced in the southern states of the US, but the air is generally more humid. The ocean breezes can help cool the humid air along the coastline to a comfortable level. Inland, the humidity can leave you feeling very hot and sweaty.

Dressing For Belizean Weather

Many workplaces and leisure facilities will have effective air conditioning units. Even so, an employer will not expect heavy formal clothing. Even for important meetings, a smart linen suit will be acceptable. Never wear woollen items in Belize, as they will make you hot and uncomfortable, and the material is likely to be damaged by the humid air outside.

For both men and women, linen trousers are comfortable in the sub-tropical heat. Jeans should be avoided unless you are going to be in an air conditioned area all day as they make you hot and sweaty when you’re out in the sun.

Dresses and skirts which are made of cotton and are loose flowing also allow air to circulate and cool your legs. Local women generally prefer them to shorts or trousers, especially when access to air conditioning is limited. Never wear tights in Belize as you will be extremely uncomfortable and will probably sweat even more!

Items of clothing which start off white are unlikely to remain so for long. A combination of sweaty skin and dust from the environment around you will turn any white item into a murky grey. Browns, greys and blues will generally look fresher for longer.

Be Prepared For Sun

It is very important to protect your skin in Belize; high factor sunscreen is essential. You may find you develop a tan even with copious amounts of sunscreen, and people with fair skin can find it hard to avoid sunburn. A t-shirt rather than a strappy top will protect your shoulders, and a light, loose long sleeved top will provide further protection, although it may become a little grubby after a few hours!

Lip balm with SPF may not look or feel great, but will help protect your lips from sun damage if you are spending a lot of time outside. You may well feel too hot and sweaty to bother with makeup and jewellery during the day.

A hat with a brim or a baseball cap will keep the top of your head protected and cast some shade for your eyes. Make sure you wear protective sunglasses to keep the UV rays out of your eyes. If you are taking part in outside activities, especially hiking, you may find plastic sunglasses more comfortable than ones with metal frames.

You are likely to be sunburnt at some point, especially if splashing about in the sea for too long. An after sun lotion can help ease the pain.

Take water with you everywhere and remember to keep drinking it. If you need to keep two hands free, such as when you are on a hike, there are a number of water bottle carriers that can be tied to your body or your clothing. Sunstroke can happen quickly and may be fatal if you do not receive help in time.

Flip flops are useful shoes for casual wear. Leather sandals may become uncomfortable if you are walking long distances in the heat. All your shoes are likely to get covered in dust and damp.

If you are taking part in adventurous activity such as hiking, a good quality pair of walking boots with modern lightweight materials will be essential for the comfort and health of your feet. Your boots will get damp from the humidity and from your body’s sweat as it tries to cope with the climate. Activities on offer in Belize usually involve water in some way, including many hikes with trails that encounter rivers and streams, so your boots need to dry quickly to avoid causing problems for your feet. Ziplock bags are a great idea to carry your belongings through the humidity of the jungle, tucked into a rucksack made of modern materials; look for a design which minimises the extent to which the bag and supports have contact with your skin, to keep you feeling as cool as possible.

Read more about this country

Expat Health Insurance Partners

Bupa Global

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