South of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, bordered by Guatemala to the west and south, Belize is approximately the size of Massachusetts, with a population of 250,000.
The coral reefs off the coast provide the longest continuous barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere. Low coastal areas are mangrove forest. Most of the mainland is covered in broadleaf jungle, turning to pine forest at higher elevations. Belize is crisscrossed with navigable rivers including the Mopan, New River, and Belize River. The Maya Mountains have numerous waterfalls.
Climate is sub-tropical, with an annual temperature that averages about 80 degrees F. Rains can bring the temperature down to the low 60s, while mid 90s can be common during the summer.Water temperature averages between 79 and 83 degrees F. Trade winds along the coast and on the cayes help keep temperatures pleasant even in the hottest months.
The "dry season" generally lasts from November through May; the "rainy season" is typically June to November, when brief showers are more prevalent, usually later in the day or in the evening.
Tropical storms can occasionally occur in the Caribbean region, with increased probability late summer/early fall, although the chance of visitors to Belize experiencing such extreme weather is remote.
A parliamentary democracy, Belize is a member of the British Commonwealth.