If you look at a map, you’ll find Belize situated on the Caribbean coast of Central America just southwest of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Using the exact coordinates, Belize is 17 degrees 15 minutes north of the equator and 88 degrees 45 minutes west of the Prime Meridian.
Belize shares a land and sea border with Mexico’s Quintana Roo state to the north, a land border with Guatemala’s department of El Peten to the west, and a sea border with Guatemala’s department of Izabal in the south.
By air, Belize can be reached in just two hours from Miami or Dallas or three hours from Atlanta. By car, it takes approximately a week to drive from Texas through the Mexican town of Chetumal City to reach Belize. Or, from Guatemala City, Belize can be reached in one day.
Although not connected by any borders in the south, Belize is close to the nation of Honduras. Originally called British Honduras, Belize got its name because the two countries share access to the Bay of Honduras. By boat from Punta Gorda in the south of Belize, you can be in Puerto Cortez in Honduras in about two hours. Belize is also connected by short-hop international flights to Cancun and Merida in Mexico, Flores and Guatemala City in Guatemala, and San Pedro Sula and Roatan in Honduras.
Belize has a long coastline on the Caribbean Sea. Offshore, Belize has hundreds of islands strung out like jewels along the Belize Barrier Reef, the second-largest of its type in the world.
By area, Belize measures 8,867 square miles (22,960 square kilometers), about twice as big as Jamaica and approximately the same size as Massachusetts. North to south, Belize measures approximately 170 miles (280 km) and approximately 62 miles (100 km) from east to south.
The country’s northern and southern borders are defined by the Hondo and Sarstoon rivers, respectively, but there are no natural landmarks that separate Belize’s western land border with Guatemala. Effectively, a colonial official drew an imaginary line between the two countries that is now known as the adjency line. Both countries have disputed the border.
In the north of Belize, the terrain is primarily flat wetlands and coastal plains, many of them heavily forested. Belize’s rich geography has a large diversity of animals and plants, including nearly 600 species of birds. To the south, Belize’s terrain includes the Maya Mountains. The east is a coastal zone with wetlands and many lagoons.