Belize - Nature and Culture
Belize is a peaceful and complex country rich with cultural diversity and stunning natural beauty. Just south of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula along the Caribbean coast, this English speaking country offers an uncommonly broad variety of cultures from which to experience and learn. In addition to its bio-diversity and geographical beauty, Belize also boasts a rich ethnic and cultural mix.
Belize achieved independence from England in 1981 and maintains many characteristics of a British colonial port. The economy of the country is based on the export of sugar, fruit, lumber, and fish. As the longest sustained democracy and politically stable country in Central America, Belize increasingly relies upon eco-tourism as a source of income.
The semester program is based in Belmopan and San Ignacio. San Ignacio is an attractive market town and tourist centre in the western part of the country. The town is set among pleasant tropical hills. The friendly people of San Ignacio enable rich cultural exchanges and productive development projects.
A Country in Need
In stark contrast to Belize's lush landscape, close to one third of the country's population lives below the poverty line. Today's population of 266,000 is a blend of Maya, Mestizo, Creole, Mennonite, and Garifuna.
Belize struggles to develop its natural resources in a sustainable way, given the complicated dynamic of vast natural resources, widespread poverty, and intense international pressure to exploit their resources. Furthermore, limited education, inadequate health services, and a lack of productive job opportunities hinder Belizeans from escaping the challenges of a developing nation.
Semester students can expect to go on a number of cultural and outdoor adventures throughout their time in Belize. Excursions may include:
For more information about the project outings please visit the Projects pages.
- Xunantunich and Mayan ruins
- Rainforest and cave exploration
- Remote community cultural events
- Snorkeling the barrier reef and trips to remote islands
- Community development projects