Location: Central America
Time zone: GMT/UTC minus 6 hours
Daylight savings time: no
Current time: 12:19
Currency: Belize dollar
Dialling code: +501
Internet suffix: .bz
Belize is a tropical Central American country notable for being predominantly English-speaking, albeit with large Spanish and Creole speaking communities. It enjoys significant biodiversity and is a popular tourist destination, although it lacks development and suffers from a high crime rate.
Overall security situation: mostly secure with some issues of concern
Crime rate: very high
Murder rate: extremely high
Gun ownership levels: moderately high by global standards
Kidnapping hotspot: no
Maritime piracy hotspot: no
Do landmines/unexploded munitions pose a significant risk in parts of the country: no
While Belize is an overall stable country, the crime rate is very high, with an extensive risk of associated violence. Firearms are widespread and the murder rate is one of the highest in the world. Institutions are also under-developed and the police and judiciary are underfunded.
Some elements of society are discontented, particularly related to economic underdevelopment, corruption and unemployment but there is a low level of risk posed by civil unrest. Protests and demonstrations are fairly frequent and occasionally disruptive but they are normally non-violent.
Otherwise there is a minimal risk of conflict and an extremely low risk posed by terrorism.
Aviation safety levels: potential concern
Annual road fatality rates: high
Vehicles drive on the: right
Infrastructure quality: very poor
Urban ATM availability: moderate
Electricity supply: 110V/220V 60Hz
Electricity supply reliability: poor
Plug types: A, B and G
Plug type A (2 flat pins, not grounded/earthed)
Plug type B (2 flat pins and 1 rounded pin, grounded/earthed, socket compatible with plug type A)
Plug type G (3 rectangular pins, grounded/earthed)
Is tap water drinkable: no
Healthcare quality: very good healthcare provision
Infectious disease prevalence: some infectious diseases are prevalent
Travellers should consult a medical practitioner prior to their trip but the following vaccines may be considered before travelling to the country, depending on factors such as specific destination, planned activities, intended time and length of stay as well as personal medical conditions (in some cases no additional vaccines may be required at all):
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B (not always needed)
- Rabies (usually only for long-term stays, or for those spending time in isolated areas or coming into contact with animals)
- Standard vaccinations (ie those commonly used in the developed world, such as diphtheria, measles, mumps, polio, rubella, tuberculosis and tetanus)
Malaria risk: very low
Yellow fever presence: no
Dengue fever prevalence: frequent cases
Rabies prevalence: high risk
HIV prevalence in society: high
Hepatitis A prevalence: high
Hepatitis B prevalence: intermediate
Hepatitis E prevalence: not highly endemic
Cholera status: low risk
Chikungunya virus presence: present
Zika virus presence: country is considered at risk of future outbreaks
Japanese encephalitis presence: no
Cutaneous leishmaniasis presence: some reported cases
Visceral leishmaniasis presence: non-endemic
Onchocerciasis presence: non-endemic
Schistosomiasis presence: none
Tick-borne encephalitis status: low/non-existent risk
Chagas disease presence: endemic
Typhoid fever presence: strongly endemic
African trypanosomiasis presence: none
Plague status: not thought to be present
Rift Valley fever status: not present
Lassa fever status: not present
Polio status: not endemic
Ebola outbreaks: no
Meningococcal meningitis hotspot: no
Climate: tropical; very hot and humid; rainy season (May to November); dry season (February to May)
Terrain: flat, swampy coastal plain; low mountains in south
Natural disaster risk: moderately high
Natural hazards: frequent, devastating hurricanes (June to November) and coastal flooding (especially in south)
Tropical storms: common
Volcanic activity: low/none
Previous earthquake(s) with over 1,000 fatalities: no
Government type: parliamentary democracy and a Commonwealth realm
Socio-economic development score: 5/10 (medium levels of socio-economic development)
Adult literacy rate: 82.7%
Unemployment rate: moderately high
Civil liberties: well respected
Investment rating: sub-investment grade / speculative grade / junk status
Corruption levels: fairly high
Same-sex sexual activity: illegal
Death penalty: official punishment but not used in practice
Languages: English 62.9% (official), Spanish 56.6%, Creole 44.6%, Maya 10.5%, German 3.2%, Garifuna 2.9%, other 1.8%
Ethnic groups: mestizo 52.9%, Creole 25.9%, Maya 11.3%, Garifuna 6.1%, East Indian 3.9%, Mennonite 3.6%, white 1.2%, Asian 1%, other 1.2%
Beliefs: Roman Catholic 40.1%, Protestant 31.5% (includes Pentecostal 8.4%, Seventh Day Adventist 5.4%, Anglican 4.7%, Mennonite 3.7%, Baptist 3.6%, Methodist 2.9%, Nazarene 2.8%), Jehovah’s Witness 1.7%, other 10.5% (includes Baha’i, Buddhist, Hindu, Mormon, Muslim, Rastafarian), unknown 0.6%, none 15.5%
- The following advice has been compiled by travel safety specialists and ex-special forces personnel.
- However, please note that it is of a general nature only and may not reflect the reality of your circumstances.
- Ensure you have proper insurance cover in place.
- Select good quality accommodation and properly prepare for any tasks, excursions or other activities you have to undertake.
- Be mindful of local laws and cultural norms, bearing in mind that they might be different to what you are accustomed to.
- Consider conducting or obtaining a risk assessment specific to you, your profile and your trip, task or operation.
- This should take into account the likelihood of potential risks affecting you, as well as the likely impact they will have, and will help you decide, depending on your risk appetite and implementable risk mitigation measures, whether or not you should proceed.
- Research and familiarise yourself with your destination in advance of travel.
- Find out what the local criminal trends are and identify any potential hotspots, such as certain neighbourhoods.
- Note than crime levels can often be higher around public transport, shopping areas and crowded places.
- In higher risk areas exercise caution and be aware of your surroundings.
- Try not to overtly display your belongings or anything that could make you appear wealthy.
- Ask yourself if you need to show off your jewellery, watch, mobile phone or other items or equipment.
- Try to keep your wallet or cash hidden.
- It also helps to avoid appearing vulnerable in at-risk areas so try to display confidence and purpose as you move around.
- Avoid consulting a map in public as this will mark you out as both unfamiliar with the environment as well as being potentially vulnerable.
- Familiarise yourself with local maps and directions before wandering around.
- Identify routes to your accommodation and other safe havens (such as police stations, embassies, commercial areas with a police presence or quieter, safer neighbourhoods for example).
- Familiarise yourself with landmarks so you can orientate yourself and find your way out of trouble spots if you need to.
- Note that crime trends can change, and the level of risk can become higher, after dark.
- It might be advisable to avoid wandering around at night.
- Avoid dark alleys in urban areas.
- It is might also be advisable to travel in pairs or in a group.
- It may also be preferable to drive or be driven around certain areas rather than walking around in the street, even for going relatively short distances.
- In general, use your gut instincts and be prepared to avoid situations, places or people that seem suspicious, odd or wrong in some way.
- If rainfall, flooding, extreme temperatures or other types of severe weather are a concern, check the local weather patterns to find out if there are times of the year where the risk is much higher.
- Consider avoiding travel to at-risk destinations during these times.
- Try to stay in good quality accommodation.
- Take appropriate clothing and footwear.
- Take appropriate protection for any sensitive equipment you wish to bring.
- Note that storms, flooding and other types of harsh weather can overload infrastructure, lead to traffic jams and power cuts.
- Flooding and heavy rainfall can also raise the risk of landslides, as well as insect- and water-borne diseases in some parts of the world.
- As such, be prepared to delay, alter or even cancel travel plans to affected or high-risk areas.
- Be prepared for potentially poor-quality roads and other forms of transportation.
- This can make it difficult to get around.
- Consider obtaining a high-quality vehicle that can handle difficult terrain if you intend to travel anywhere with particularly bad-quality roads.
- Bear in mind that traffic safety conditions may be poor.
- Try to ensure that any accommodation or workplace is located in a good quality building.
- Bear in mind that in the event of an accident or emergency, the emergency response services may have very limited resources available.
- Try to use reputable airlines.
- Check the safety records of any companies you use to charter flights.
- Check the weather forecast in advance of travel – particularly for domestic flights.
- Consider delaying your trip or using an alternative means of transport rather than taking a risky flight.
- Bear in mind that healthcare facilities and services may be significantly less extensive than more developed countries.
- There may be very limited facilities, staff, techniques and medications available, especially in more isolated or underdeveloped areas.
- There may not be adequate reliable blood supplies in local hospitals.
- Pharmacists and other sources of even basic medical products may be difficult to find.
- Aim to be as medically self-sufficient as possible, taking basic medical supplies.
- Research whether or not certain medications are legal in your destination(s).
- Take extra supplies of any routinely-taken medicines.
- It may also be advisable to have them accompanied by a note from your doctor.
- Avoid carrying medication for other travellers.
- In the event of serious illness or injury it may be necessary for a patient to be evacuated out of the country.
- Ensure that there is sufficient medical insurance in place to cover such an event.
- Find out what specific diseases are present in your intended travel destinations.
- Research the specific measures you should take to lower the risk of infection, bearing in mind that the disease(s) in question could be water, air or insect-borne.
- It might be useful to seek medical advice prior to your trip.
- If possible, do this several weeks in advance of your travel, in case you need to obtain specific vaccinations, some of which can take time to be administered properly.
- Be aware of any potential outbreaks which may be taking place in the country.
- Be careful with any cuts and grazes which might be more susceptible to infection in your travel destination than at home.
- Hygiene will be very important, but it can be more challenging to maintain good standards of hygiene in some parts of the world where sanitary products, cleaning products and even clean water can be hard to obtain.
- It might be advisable to bring extra supplies with you.
- It would be better to take them and not use them than to leave them behind and then need them in a challenging situation.
- You may also encounter challenges over where and what you want to eat.
- Try to avoid venues which appear unsanitary.
- Be very aware of any medical symptoms which might arise, both when you are travelling and for up to a month after you return home.
- Seek medical assistance if you have any concerns.
- Bear in mind that local doctors in your home country might not be familiar with certain tropical diseases.
- If you become ill on your return, inform your doctor where you have been and ensure that unfamiliar tropical diseases are taken into consideration as a possible diagnosis.
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