Belize City is the largest city in the Central American country of Belize and was once the capital of the former British Honduras. According to the 2010 census, Belize City has a population of 57,169 people in 16,162 households. It is located at the mouth of the Haulover Creek, which is a tributary of the Belize River. The Belize River empties into the Caribbean Sea 5 miles from Belize City on the Philip Goldson Higway on the coast of the Caribbean. The city is the country's principal port and its financial and industrial hub. Several cruise ships drop anchor outside the port and are tended by local citizens. The city was almost entirely destroyed in 1961 when Hurricane Hattie swept ashore on 31 October. It was the capital of British Honduras (as Belize was then named) until the government was moved to the new capital of Belmopan in 1970.
The first thing you want to do is forget everything you've heard about Belize City. It's really not what many of the guidebooks make it seem, and for the open-minded traveler who's looking for a genuinely fascinating city experience, Belize City delivers.
With the international airport just about 10 miles outside the city in Ladyville, chances are this will be your first taste of Belize. Likelier still is that it will be an assault on your senses initially, at least until you get used to the frenetic pace and the congestion of cars and people that seem to constantly occupy every inch of the place. But Belize City is a storybook of culture and history that definitely can't be appreciated by its cover.
Thought to be built on a foundation of rum bottles, logwood chips and loose coral sitting barely inches above sea level, Belize City gives up ground to the encroaching Caribbean every year. Visited by more than its fair share of natural disasters, one has to admire the persistence with which Belizeans maintain this hub as their commercial and social center, established as such in the early 1700's by the buccaneer Baymen of St. George's Caye.
The city is generally divided into north and south by a swing bridge that sits at the mouth of Haulover Creek where the Belize River meets the Caribbean. The old bridge is the only functional manually operated swing bridge left in the world and turns open twice a day to allow high mast boats upriver or out to sea. The evening opening at 5:30 pm is a sight to behold as it causes intense traffic and people jams on either side of the bridge, erupting an assortment of minor crises that are dealt with and accepted as part of the city's daily routine.
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