Known as British Honduras until 1973, Belize is the only English speaking British Commonwealth country located in Central America. Independent from the United Kingdom since 1981, the stable democracy welcomes tourists, immigrants, and foreign investors, and is considered an emerging market for real estate investment. The Belize Dollar is pegged to the U.S. Dollar ($1.U.S =$2.Bz.). There is no capital gains tax, and requirements for land purchases by foreigners are identical to those for Belizeans.
Belize's 8,867 square miles, with a population of 331,480 allows us all plenty of breathing room. In the past decades, one mainly heard of Belize as a scubadiving and fishing destination. Our Barrier Reef is the 2nd longest in the world (185 miles) and a designated World Heritage Site, which is the reason in past decades, most tourists did not venture inland. All that is changing, and rapidly. Although Belize City, on the Caribbean Sea, remains the commercial center, (nearly half of the country's population still reside there) the new capital, Belmopan is coming of age. Only an hour's drive west from Belize City and the International Airport, will land you in Belmopan, known as the Garden City. With the relocation of foreign embassies to Belmopan, development is ripe. Posh neighborhoods have sprung up in and around Belmopan, and property values are rising.
A further 45 minute's drive will land you in San Ignacio, the heart of Belize, and its most popular inland tourism destination. The Cayo District: the lush hill and river valley region of western Belize, has been inhabited for millenia. You'll find it a very productive agricultural area, and a great place to call home.
The Macal River meanders between the twin towns of San Ignacio and Santa Elena. Just downstream from town, the Mopan River greets the Macal and they unite to become the Belize River. The Saturday morning market, held in the open air along the banks of the Macal River, is the center of weekly activity. Every March, the towns host the start up celebrations of The Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge, a 4 day canoe race to the sea, which begins right under the Hawksworth Bridge. Although famous for its jungle lodges, ancient Maya centers (Caracol, Xunantunich, Cahal Pech), the Belize Botanic Gardens, and several butterfly farms, Cayo remains primarily an agricultural center. More importantly, Cayo, as locals refer to the twin towns, retains a friendly ambience, where the market vendors will remember you, and where strangers often greet each other. A fluency in English will suffice, but opportunities for you to practice your Spanish, Chinese, German, Lebanese, and Maya abound. Gated communities are being developed, but the majority of land purchases here in the Cayo District are reflective of the populace: individual and unique properties.
How can you get here? A 5 hours drive south from Cancun will land you at the northern border of Belize, or catch any one of the direct flights into Belize City originating in Miami, Houston, Dallas, Atlanta or Charlotte. Expected in late 2008 are direct connections from Europe.