Dazzlingly friendly smiles, warm greetings, and echoes of shared laughter greets traveler’s once they arrive in Belize. It’s no wonder, then, that the tropical destination made Condé Nast Traveler’s list of Top 10 Friendliest Countries in the world.
Small and mighty Belize shared the spotlight with well-known places such as the Botswana and Costa Rica. An honor that piques our curiosity about why all these readers are regaling our little Belize. What separates us apart from everyone else? Or what joins us together with others? Condé Nast shares that these friendliest countries, “…[are] ready to share the love they feel for their country with you.” Out of hundreds of distinct cultures, languages and customs that exist around the globe, Condé Nast readers treasure Belizeans’ passion for their flourishing country.
It’s no secret that Belizeans hold a lot of affection for their home, but it’s even more common for us to share this love with others. It is the one thing out of many that binds us together. Our expert Belizean adventure connoisseurs know every ancient Maya city like the back of their hands. While, the newly independent young Belizean studying abroad for the first time can’t wait to share his heritage. And even the owner of the mom-and-pop shop who meets travelers from all over the world, adds charm and a bit of Belizean history to every purchase.
We’ll all greet you the same way: with warm smiles and enthusiastic stories. Condé Nast calls Belize, “a country with a rich and variety of cultures, traditions and histories.” Discover below how these charming traits make Belize one of the friendliest countries in the world.
A Kaleidoscope of Cultures makes Belize one of the friendliest countries in the world
Although Belize contains a fusion of different cultures, not one is less than the other, and none gets lost within the crowd. Each one stands proud and tall, eager to share stories and customs passed down through the generations.
Northern Belize is the home of the Mestizo (meaning ‘mixed’), who were once refugees escaping the Caste War of Yucatán. While most wear modern clothing, many still choose to wear the traditional huipil and guayabera.
In western Belize, you’ll see a Maya woman walking down the street carrying a full basket on her head. If you stop and ask her, she might tell you her plans to cook dinner with the crops she carries in her woven basket. Or how she cooks it on her fogón (fire hearth).
Venture in the southeast and discover the vibrant culture of the Garifunas. Descending from the Arawaks and the Caribs, the women wear bright yellow and black dresses, and men colorful dashiki shirts. Their upbeat music and lively ambiance will have you signing up for drumming lessons that they eagerly provide.
Though these are only three of the many cultures that call Belize home, every single one is as open and welcoming as the other.
Garifuna woman preparing a traditional Garifuna delicacy
A Trove of Heartfelt Traditions
All these cultures although coexisting have their own treasure chests of traditions to keep alive and share. This is what keeps Belize vibrant and thriving.
The Mestizo have a number of dances such as the Zapateado, Mestizada, Cabeza del Cochino and Paso Doble.These dances keep their cultural identity active, what with the music being influenced by their Spanish heritage. Their beliefs rely heavily on respect for their ancestors and All Souls Day or Dia de los Finados is celebrated similarly to the Mexicans’ Día de los Muertos. So many interesting and supernatural factors find themselves in this culture, with folktales being an important characteristic. Riveting stories that transport you back in time to a less developed Belize, painting the picture of how these legends came to be house-hold stories.
Similarly, Mayas have their own tales to share and traditions to practice. In modern day Belize, Maya descendants still follow recipes and agricultural practices their ancestors created hundreds of years ago. While sacrificial religious ceremonies are a thing from the past, the Mayas still practice their ancient ways of life in different ways. Many opt to live in rural Belize with little to no modern day technology. They possess a wonderful stone carving skill, gifting beautiful crafts to travelers they meet and share stories with.
In Placencia and Hopkins, many festivities are held to celebrate the Garifuna culture. The most famous and fascinating Jankunu dance during Christmas time contains colorful clothing and eye-catching masks. Join the people in dancing and singing and feel the warmth of the Belizean people flow through you. On November 19, Belizeans observe Garifuna Settlement Day, a day filled with copious dancing and mouth-watering food. You don’t have to be Garifuna to feel right at home. They’re friendly personalities are more than enough to bring you in close so you never feel out of place. Enjoy the dancing and laughing, both common for the Garinagu.
A Well-Told History
Belize, though an independent country for 42 years, has a compelling history lurking behind its youth. Formerly known as British Honduras and under the rule of Queen Elizabeth II, the country welcomed all her expanding cultures with open arms. And now, It only makes sense that these cultures continue the practice.
Our first inhabitants were known for their ritualistic ceremonies and reverence for multiple gods, the Mayas were recorded to be resident in Belize since 2600 BC. Delving into mathematics, astronomy and agriculture, the Mayas invented modern day necessities. Who would we be if Belize had not helped to sculpt the impressive culture of the Mayas?
In 1798, the Spaniards sought to claim Belize as their own, and our Baymen defended Belize until they won. While they originally only came to harvest logwood for dye, and later mahogany, these Baymen had fallen in love with Belize, and vowed to protect their new home.
When the Caste War of Yucatán began in 1847, Belize openly offered a safe haven for the Mestizo culture and has stood firm as its home since then. Belize has offered a safe respite and a dose of kindness to all those who sought it. For that, we Belizeans practice kindness in any way we can. It makes us who we are. Our country has the binding structure of companionship built in its very foundation, and it is only natural that we offer it to travelers. After all, it is who we are and always have been. Our friendliness is key to our personhood, and it is what keeps Belize thriving.
Come – visit Belize, one of the friendliest countries in the world!
Learning these tidbits of Belize may have you scrambling to visit. Whether you’re visiting from far, far away, or from a neighboring country, know that Belize will always welcome you with open arms. Check out these exclusive travel offers and book your Belize vacation right away.