Tiny, island-dotted Belize, perched on the Caribbean, south of Mexico and east of Guatemala, is a fascinating blend of Creole, Mestizo, Maya, Garifuna, English, East Indian, Mennonite, Lebanese and Chinese cultures. With its colonial background (English remains the official language) and a history of fending off its Latin neighbours, Belize has emerged as a relatively stable democracy that is as much Caribbean as it is Central American. In "Understanding Belize," Alan Twigg tells the story of the country, from its bizarre early days as a haven for pirates, through its colonial period as British Honduras, to its new status as an ecotourism mecca and a hotspot for Mayan archaeology. This lively history includes original photos, a comprehensive timeline and a feature on nation founder George Price, the longest serving democratically elected leader in history. "Understanding Belize" is an eye-opening alternative to the glossy tourist brochures. Lobster-and-orchid-rich Belize looks great from a hammock on Ambergris Caye, the place that inspired Madonna's song "La Isla Bonita," but don't go buying that seaside lot until you learn more about this beautiful--but problematic--paradise from the author of "Cuba: A Concise History for Travellers."
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