Belize Dollar - BZD
We are all familiar with some versions of the dollar currency that are used in countries around the world. Among them is the Belizean dollar, which is used in Belize. This may not be the most familiar one to you but you will find out more about it very soon.
What coins and notes are available for this currency?
The Belize dollar is – as you may expect – broken down into 100 cents. This means you can expect to see the dollar sign when any prices are advertised. You may see it with the letters BZ in front of it though, such as BZ$2, to indicate the Belize dollar is being used.
There are six coins in use at present, five of which are in cents. These are the 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 cent coins, so you can see they have a quarter coin as is the case in America. There is also a one dollar coin. The country also uses a number of banknotes, which range from the $2 note through to the $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 notes.
From past to present – the history of the Belizean dollar
This is one of the older currencies in the world that is still in use. The first instance of the Belizean dollar being used was in 1885, so you can see it has a long history. However the story is a little more complex than this. Before 1973 Belize was known as British Honduras. Its name changed to Belize in that year although it did not become formally independent until 1981. However in 1973 the country decided to stop using the form of the dollar it had used up until that point. This was the British Honduran dollar. The currency then changed to become the Belizean dollar which we know today. Needless to say though, the people of this country have long been used to using the dollar in their daily transactions.
How to get hold of the Belizean dollar
The Belizean dollar isn’t too easy to get hold of; most bureaux de change won’t be able to sell you this version of the dollar prior to going away to Belize. However there are a number of other things to be aware of that will help you determine the best ways to get hold of some cash while you are in the country.
Firstly the Belizean dollar is pegged to the US dollar and has been since the late Seventies. The conversion is very easy to remember too – one US dollar will get you two Belizean dollars. To this end it is a good idea to take some US dollars into Belize with you. These are incredibly easy to change for the local currency. However in some areas things might be even easier as some outlets accept US dollars anyway. This isn’t the case all over the country but it can come in handy if you find yourself short of Belizean dollars but you have a few US dollars in your pocket. For the most part travellers recommend taking only small bills – nothing bigger than a twenty. This is to make sure they can be changed when you want to spend them.
Similarly if you decide to take some traveller’s cheques with you (one of the best ways to ensure you can get hold of some cash when you get there) make sure you get them in US dollars. Finally you may also find you can easily use your credit card in Belize, particularly in the more popular areas that are used to having lots of tourists visiting.
How to find out the latest exchange rate between your home currency and the Belizean dollar
This is easy enough to do – and if you want to know the exchange rate between the Belizean dollar and the US dollar we’ve already given you the answer! This is one rate that doesn’t look set to change anytime soon. However if you want to know the exchange rate between their dollar and any other currency you can use a currency converter. These are available online for free and there are a number of apps available as well.
If you are considering going to Belize for any reason it might be a good idea to check out the website for the Belize High Commission in London. This has lots of information about the country and some of its finest features, and it will give you a good head start on researching the country for a potential trip there. The site you need can be found at http://www.belizehighcommission.co.uk/.
Travelling safely with the Belizean dollar
So you’ll undoubtedly want to know what travelling in and to Belize is like. Well the country is relatively safe to visit and there are no particular areas that should be avoided. Of course the usual common sense rules will always apply. Make sure you don’t make a show of your possessions and don’t carry anything on your person you absolutely don’t need to carry. For instance you can keep as much as possible in your hotel safe and only carry what you need. Split any cash you have on you into different pockets too, in case you are unlucky enough to be picked on by a pickpocket.
Belize City poses particular problems in terms of gang violence. Be particularly careful where you go here – the UK government website has the latest travel information and advice on specific areas that should be avoided in this sense.
Where to spend your dollars in Belize – and what to spend them on
In order to visit Belize you need to head for Central America. The country was once known as British Honduras but this was changed when the country became independent back in 1981. It shares its borders with Mexico and Guatemala, and also with the Caribbean Sea, which lies along its eastern edge.
While we have already mentioned Belize City this is not the capital of Belize. Instead the capital is Belmopan, which is located virtually in the centre of the country. Belize City used to be the capital up until the early Sixties, but it was badly damaged by a hurricane that struck the country that year. As a result Belmopan was eventually chosen as the new capital and the government now operates out of this city.
There are some nice museums in the city, including the Belize Archaeology Museum. If you have any interest at all in Mayan history this is definitely the place to be – there are many artefacts here from this period in history and there is much to learn.
There are many other stunning attractions worth seeing in the country too. Perhaps one of the best is the so-called Belize Barrier Reef. The name should give you some idea of what to expect, and you won’t be disappointed when you see pictures of it, let alone the real thing. The entire area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the main images many people associate with it is the aptly named Great Blue Hole. This is actually a sinkhole and it looks at its most impressive from the air. You can see a darkening of the water over the almost perfectly symmetrical hole, which drops an incredible 124 metres. It is a popular place for divers to sink below the waves into the hole itself, even though it is thought to be one of the most challenging and dangerous dive sites in the world.
We’ve already mentioned the Mayan history the country has, and you can see a huge slice of it by visiting a place called Xunantunich. This is an archaeological site that is home to more than two dozen palaces and temples. One of the most iconic structures there is El Castillo, which shares its name with a pyramid at the famous Chichen Itza site. The pyramid here boasts a series of intricate carvings which have stood the test of time throughout hundreds of years.
Finally why not pay a visit to Caye Caulker? This is actually an island off the coast of Belize, but it is included as part of the country itself. It is a popular spots for tourists since it offers superb accommodation choices as well as plenty of things to do on land and in the water. It is situated fairly close to the Barrier Reef and you can enjoy snorkelling and swimming in the water here among other things. One of the nicest things about the island is there are no cars, so you can wander to your heart’s content and really enjoy truly getting away from it all.
As you can see Belize has a lot to offer to tourists wanting to see a slice of this part of the world. There are lots of activities and attractions to draw you in, and once you’ve seen a little of Belize you will almost certainly want to see more. If you know where and when to go you can look forward to a superb holiday.