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Belize – Lonely Planet Travel Video

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Belize – Lonely Planet Travel Video

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Belize, formerly British Honduras, is a country in Central America. Belize has a diverse society, composed of many cultures and speaking many languages. Although Kriol and Spanish are also widely spoken among the populace, Belize is the only country in Central America where English is the official language.

It is bordered by Mexico to the north, Guatemala to the south and west, and the Caribbean sea to the east. With 8,867 square miles (22,960 km²) of territory and 320,000 people (2008 est.), the population density is the lowest in the Central American region and one of the lowest in the world. However, the country’s population growth rate, 2.21% (2008 est.), is the highest in the region and one of the highest in the western hemisphere. Culturally, Belize considers itself to be both Caribbean and Central American.

Tourism and Ecotourism

A combination of natural factors—climate, the Belize Barrier Reef, 127 offshore Cayes (islands), excellent fishing, safe waters for boating, scuba diving, and snorkeling, numerous rivers for rafting, and kayaking, various jungle and wildlife reserves of fauna and flora, for hiking, bird watching, and helicopter touring, as well as many Maya ruins—support the thriving tourism and ecotourism industry.

It also has the largest cave system in Central America . Development costs are high, but the Government of Belize has designated tourism as its second development priority after agriculture. In 2007, tourist arrivals totaled 251,655 (more than 210,000 from the U.S.) and tourist receipts amounted to $183.3 million.

Religion

Religious freedom is guaranteed in Belize. Nearly 80% of the inhabitants are Christian, with 49.6% of Belizeans being Roman Catholics and 29% Protestants.. Foreign catholics frequently visit the country for special gospel revivals. The Greek Orthodox Church has a presence in Santa Elena.

Jehovah’s Witnesses have experienced a significant increase in membership in recent years. According to the Witnesses, around 3% of the population attended at least one religious meeting in 2007. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints claims 3,300 members in the country

Other non-Christian minorities include: Hinduism, followed by most Indian immigrants, and Islam, common among Middle Eastern immigrants and has gained a following among some Kriols.

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Mexico – Lonely Planet Travel Video

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Mexico – Lonely Planet Travel Video

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Mexico

The United Mexican States, commonly known as Mexico is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of Mexico. Covering almost 2 million square kilometres, Mexico is the fifth-largest country in the Americas by total area and the 14th largest independent nation in the world. With an estimated population of 109 million, it is the 11th most populous country. Mexico is a federation comprising thirty-one states and a Federal District, the capital city.

In Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica many cultures matured into advanced civilizations such as the Olmec, the Toltec, the Teotihuacan, the Maya and the Aztec before the first contact with Europeans. In 1521, Spain created the New Spain which would eventually become Mexico as the colony gained independence in 1821. The post-independence period was characterized by economic instability, territorial secession and civil war, including foreign intervention, two empires and two long domestic dictatorships. The latter led to the Mexican Revolution in 1910, which culminated with the promulgation of the 1917 Constitution and the emergence of the country’s current political system. Elections held in July 2000 marked the first time that an opposition party won the presidency from the Institutional Revolutionary Party (Spanish: Partido Revolucionario Institucional, PRI).

As a regional power and the only Latin American member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) since 1994, Mexico is firmly established as an upper middle-income country, considered as a newly industrialized country and has the 11th largest economy in the world by GDP by purchasing power parity, and also the largest GDP per capita in Latin America according to the International Monetary Fund. The economy is strongly linked to those of its North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partners. Despite being considered an emerging power, the uneven income distribution and the increase in drug-related violence are issues of concern.

Tourism

According to the World Tourism Organization, Mexico has one of the largest tourism industries in the world. In 2005 it was the seventh most popular tourist destination worldwide, receiving over 20 million tourists per year; it is the only country in Latin America to be within the top 25.

Tourism is also the third largest sector in the country’s industrial GDP. The most notable tourist draws are the ancient Meso-American ruins, and popular beach resorts. The coastal climate and unique culture – a fusion of European (particularly Spanish) and Meso-American cultures; also make Mexico attractive.

The peak tourist seasons in Mexico are during December and during July and August, with brief surges during the week before Easter and during spring break at many of the beach resort sites which are popular among vacationing college students from the United States. Mexico is the twenty-third highest tourism spender in the world, and the highest in Latin America.

Transportation

The paved-roadway network in Mexico is the most extensive in Latin America at 116,802 km in 2005; 10,474 km were multi-lane freeways or expressways, most of which were tollways. Nonetheless, Mexico’s diverse orography—most of the territory is crossed by high-altitude ranges of mountains—as well as economic challenges have led to difficulties in creating an integrated transportation network and even though the network has improved, it still cannot meet national needs adequately.

Being one of the first Latin American countries to promote railway development, the network, though extensive at 30,952 km, is still inefficient to meet the economic demands of transportation. Most of the rail network is mainly used for merchandise or industrial freight and was mostly operated by National Railway of Mexico (Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México, FNM), privatized in 1997.

In 1999, Mexico had 1,806 airports, of which 233 had paved runways; of these, 35 carry 97% of the passenger traffic. The Mexico City International Airport remains the largest in Latin America and the 44th largest in the world[120] transporting 21 million passengers a year. There are more than 30 domestic airline companies of which only two are known internationally: Aeroméxico and Mexicana.

Mass transit in Mexico is modest. Most of the domestic passenger transport needs are served by an extensive bus network with several dozen companies operating by regions. Train passenger transportation between cities is limited. Inner-city rail mass transit is available at Mexico City—with the operation of the metro, elevated and ground train, as well as a Suburban Train connecting the adjacent municipalities of Greater Mexico City—as well as at Guadalajara and Monterrey, the first served by a commuter rail and the second by an underground and elevated metro.

Communications

The telecommunications industry is mostly dominated by Telmex (Teléfonos de México), privatized in 1990. As of 2006, Telmex had expanded its operations to Colombia, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay and the United States. Other players in the domestic industry are Axtel and Maxcom.

Due to Mexican orography, providing landline telephone service at remote mountainous areas is expensive, and the penetration of line-phones per capita is low compared to other Latin American countries, at twenty-percent. Mobile telephony has the advantage of reaching all areas at a lower cost, and the total number of mobile lines is almost three times that of landlines, with an estimation of 57 million lines.[122] The telecommunication industry is regulated by the government through Cofetel (Comisión Federal de Telecomunicaciones).

Usage of radio, television, and Internet in Mexico is prevalent.[119] There are approximately 1,410 radio broadcast stations and 236 television stations (excluding repeaters).[122] Major players in the broadcasting industry are Televisa—the largest Spanish media company in the Spanish-speaking world[123]—and TV Azteca.


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