Belize is a country on the northeastern coast of Central America. It is the only country in the area that has English as its official language; an English creole (Kriol) and Spanish are also commonly spoken. Belize is bordered on the north by Mexico, to the south and west by Guatemala, and to the east by the Caribbean Sea. Its mainland is about 290 km (180 mi) long and 110 km (68 mi) wide.
With 22,800 square kilometres (8,800 sq mi) of land and a population of only 334,297 (2013 est.), Belize has the lowest population density in Central America. Belize's abundance of terrestrial and marine species and its diversity of ecosystems give it a key place in the globally significant Mesoamerican Biological Corridor.
Belize has a diverse society, with many cultures and languages. Originally part of the British Empire, it shares a common colonial history with other Anglophone Caribbean countries. From 1862 to 1973, its name was British Honduras. It became an independent Commonwealth realm in 1981, retaining Queen Elizabeth II as head of state.
In general, Belize is considered a Central American and Caribbean nation with strong ties to the entire Latin American and Caribbean region. Belize is a member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), and the Central American Integration System (SICA), the only country to hold full membership in all three regional organizations.
Belize is on the Caribbean coast of northern Central America. It shares a border on the north with the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, on the west with the Guatemalan department of Petén, and on the south with the Guatemalan department of Izabal. To the east in the Caribbean Sea, the second-longest barrier reef in the world flanks much of the 386 kilometres (240 mi) of predominantly marshy coastline. The abundance of lagoons along the coasts and in the northern interior reduces the actual land area to 21,400 square kilometres (8,263 sq mi).
Belize Barrier Reef
The Belize Barrier Reef is a series of coral reefs straddling the coast of Belize, roughly 300 meters (980 ft) offshore in the north and 40 kilometers (25 mi) in the south within the country limits. The Belize Barrier Reef is a 300 kilometers (190 mi) long section of the 900 kilometers (560 mi) long Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, which is continuous from Cancún on the northeast tip of the Yucatán Peninsula through the Riviera Maya up to Honduras making it one of the largest coral reef systems in the world after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the New Caledonia Barrier Reef.