Click for larger view.
Piracy was seasonal in the late 1600's early 1700's and so English and other sailors who became known as "Baymen" tried logging up the coastal rivers. They did this with some success, a good number freeing their slaves and sometimes marrying the women.
The first evidence of European settlement dates from about 1670, well before Australia was settled. By the late 1700's when freed women also had a say in the affairs of the settlement, there was a vote to flee or to stay and fight off a Spanish fleet who wanted to claim the area for Spanish maps.
Matters culminated on September 10th 1798 at the battle of Saint Georges Caye when a small Spanish fleet was fought off by the Baymen and their slaves, with some help from a British Naval detachment under a Captain Moss in HMS Merlin. The roots of Belize's harmonious multi racial society evolved from the event
The settlement developed and came under direct British administration in the mid 1800's acquiring the name British Honduras. Happily Belize recovered its original name in June 1973 and become fully independent on 21st September 1981.
The origin of Belize's name is variously reported as having been derived from a pirate called Wallace, to a Spanish word for marker buoy, and even to a Greek word "obelize" used in early map making to mark an unnamed or doubtful spot.
Today the country of Belize is rich in resources and operates under a Westminster style of Government being a monarchy with an upper appointed senate and a lower house of elected representatives.
The language of Government is English. Since there is no monarch the country "borrows" Queen Elizabeth as titular Head of State while she appoints from time to time a Governor General who is nominated by the Government but is not political. Democratic elections are freely held every five years and the governing party changes as dictated by the electorate.
Belize has a population of about three hundred thousand people in area the size of Massachusetts or Wales. It is a country of rivers, of forests, of islands, and of diverse wildlife. She exports sugar, citrus fruit and concentrate, bananas, shrimp, farmed fish and reef product, papaya, value added timber products, tourism, and most recently light crude oil. Road links with Mexico and Guatemala are much improved in recent times.
Several cultures and languages are found in Belize with Kekchi and Mopan Maya Indians to the south and west, mestizo and Yucatecan Maya in the north. The Garifuna culture is found in the central and southern coastland; East Indians are found across the country. Creole (more directly of African decent than the Garifuna who mixed with Amerindians of the Eastern and southern Caribbean) populate Belize City and the river valley. The mutual respect between these and other cultures is inspiring. These days there are few British but a good number of Americans and Canadians who choose to work or retire there. The wars of Central America in the late 20th century brought many spanish speaking refugees to Belize and there is also a sizeable oriental population.
Commerce thrives in Belize; air service is non stop from Houston, Dallas, Miami, Atlanta, Miami, Charlotte, and Newark, as well as Los Angeles via El Salvador.
The Dollar Belize Team
Safari Limited was founded in 1993 by Paul and Betty Jean Hunt naming the company from their success in East Africa operating safari lodges. Paul has worked in tourism in many countries settling in Belize from 1975; Betty Jean is a 4th generation Belizean. The company operated independently and was granted its first international franchise in 1997. The Hertz name in Belize is now widely regarded as the industry leader with Safari Limited, the Dollar International Licensee, setting the industry standard. Paul also continues in a consultative role for tourism development
The local company continues to operate two locations and is now developing a third location some 120 miles south of Belize City at Placencia. In addition Dollar Belize is pleased to offer customized pick up and drop off "On request locations". Company policy in Belize is to offer mainly Sport Utility type of vehicles until roads become more predicable as the country develops.
"Our staff are part of our family." says Betty Jean Hunt, Managing Director of Safari Limited. "..we work together, we train on new systems together, and will always find the best rate for the customer within the Dollar system."
"Each one of our team will go to great lengths to carefully answer customers questions about hotels, lodges, roads, trails, attractions, and finding good value services amongst those diverse and smiling Belizean faces" says Paul Hunt Chairman of the local licensee company. "Even people staying on the Cayes to fish and dive can fly into the mainland for the day and see a little of the inland before catching the evening air taxi back to San Pedro or Caye Caulker."