Study in Belize City, Belize
Study in Belize City, BelizeA dense urban center in a country of tranquil coastline and thick, uninhabited rain forest, Belize City stands in contrast to its surroundings. Home to 80,000 of Belize’s 300,000 inhabitants, it is the only major city in this small tropical nation, and serves as its commercial and industrial heart. Although the official capital is the small town of Belmopan, located some distance inland, Belize City is the most well-known and well-developed city in Belize.
Despite its prominence in the culture and economy of Belize, the city is not a major travel destination. Tourists, who generally come to Belize in search of seaside solitude or long treks through the rain forest, prefer to use Belize City as a way in and out, rather than a destination in itself. As a result, it has developed little in the way of entertainment and terse attractions–a few scattered museums and a zoo are the extent of the “activities” to be found in Belize City. On the other hand, the relative absence of foreign visitors lens and authenticity and honesty to Belize City that other nearby travel hubs lack. There are no gaudy souvenir shops or Disneyland-esque expanses of plastic and concrete. Instead, Belize City is a place of dusty streets and low-slung houses huddling by the river, a pleasantly un-manicured palm trees growing alongside faded colonial churches.
Belize City's unpopularity among tourists has also enabled a flourishing of its culture, a patchwork of global heritages stitched together by the nation's unique history. A center of the ancient Mayan civilization, Belize was more or less abandoned when the Mayan empire collapsed in the 14th century A.D. Unlike nearby Mexico and Central America, which were inundated with waves of Spanish conquerors, this small patch of coastal rain forest was largely ignored by the Spaniards and saw only a trickle of European immigrants. Later, pirates from England, drawn to Belize’s secluded harbors, began establishing themselves along the coast–this is why Belize is today the only country in Latin America where English is the official language. The mix of British, Spanish, and native influences (along with the strong influence of West Africans who came to Belize in the 18th century as slaves) has created a rich diversity of linguistic and cultural traditions in Belize, notably Belizean Creole. The 1st language of about 70% of the population, this blend of English, Mayan, and various West African languages is ubiquitous on the streets of Belize City.
The city continues to attract immigrants from around the region, although today they mostly come for education rather than trade and piracy. Belizean children from the countryside often attend classes in Belize City during the week if their own villages lacked appropriate facilities. Attendance rates in Belize are higher than in most Central American nations, and the majority of teenagers in the city managed to complete high school. Post-secondary education is rare in Belize, which only has one national University and a handful of private institutions, but Belize City is the place to go for college and university classes - The University of Belize has its one small campus in the middle of town.