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Belize is a small country in Central America and the Caribbean, very popular with tourists especially those of a more adventurous nature. Belize is typically pictured in tourist brochures as a idyllic tropical paradise which is perfect in every way, but I can tell you there are problems! I'll explain these in more detail from my own experience, but first here are a few references, questions, answers etc:
Where is Belize ? //// Is Belize a small country ? //// What's the Belize currency like ? //// Other Tax Havens //// Belize Real Estate //// about the Belize Telephone Directory //// a hotel I know about in Belize
It has to be said there are many good things about Belize. Besides the obvious things such as the fact it's a tropical tax haven* and a place where tourists visit, and it's got excellent diving and the second largest barrier reef in the world (not bad for a country somewhat smaller than Australia!). Less obvious are things such as the fact it's nearer to being a Free Country than some more mainstream places that are hidebound in stifling rules and regulations and nanny-state laws. For example, if you own some land, and you want to build something, you just Build! It's not like in the UK where you have to ask permission to build on your own land! You're allowed to do risky things and learn for yourself.
As far as I can tell, there are plenty of scorpions, snakes, and reptiles, but there are no no win no fee lawyers, so if you fall into one of those gaping chasms in the walkway which haven't been filled since the previous hurricane, there's no point in suing anyone. Instead, you just have to be careful, and avoid falling into any traps.
Now about the problems in Belize. Some of these problems are "minor problems", ie these are solvable by reasonable means, by thinking up solutions in advance, and by practical methods, and some of the problems are "major problems" where even with good thinking and the application of considerable resources to possible solutions, it's hard to see any way they could be solved. This is subject to change, if solutions appear! Let's start with the minor (solvable) problems first...
* Heat: Initially not a problem as I like it hot, but in the end I found my brain overheated and there was some delirium. Solution: Air Conditioning. It doesn't even need to be on all the time. It's just a matter of being able to have some refuge from the heat.
* Beasts: Mosquitoes, scorpions, mad dogs, parasitic flies, snakes, big spiders, and microscopic bugs that get into the skin. Again not a major problem as these things can be avoided, deterred, or their attacks remedied by prompt action after the fact.
* Fire: Solution - take extra care and provide own fire detection and extinguishing systems.
* Poor quality of road surfaces: They're not bad for a low tax country. Solution: get a 4x4 wheel drive.
* Widespread small-time crime: Solution - get burglar bars and other security measures.
* Problems with Internet: It's poor form to ban VoIP, but there is a solution: get satellite Internet. Satellite dishes proliferate, including such networks as DirecTV even though the companies refuse to respond favourably when you say you're in Belize. This kind of regional discrimination would be something you'd suppose the satellite companies would be Above. But no. Anyway, most people asked said they just lied about their location.
* Electricity unreliable: Get own generator. And a big enough fuel tank!
Now onto the major problems, things which are more tricky to solve...
* Homophobia and prejudice: Despite international cultural progress, there is still a small minority of bigots in places that time forgot. Most people are very tolerant and friendly, but there are a few people who seem to be unaware we are living in the 21st Century and that old-fashioned prejudice is no longer acceptable. Well, you might say, it's just a few village idiots / yokels. Oddly the problem is not exclusive to people of low intelligence. There are some intelligent-sounding but totally misguided articles published in otherwise supposedly mostly reputable newspapers in Belize. Of course such things are roundly criticised on the Internet, but the harm is already done on the local level, influencing the values of society towards being retarded in a quazi-Victorian way which is laughable in the modern world. Laughable, that is, if it wasn't so deadly serious! Update note: Human Rights and the fight against prejudice and homophobia are being pioneered by UniBAM as featured on the LGBT page. (note: you don't have to be gay to suffer because of homophobia).
* Police dishonesty and corruption: Regarded as a major problem because, although it might be possible to build a burglar-proof house, it's another matter to build a police-proof house. This problem was discovered the hard way after homophobic police committed an abuse of police powers, which is documented on the page linked following the one about my experience of violent crime
* Violent crime: Although the problem I suffered would have been preventable, other people have suffered worse situations, where gangs of robbers armed with machine guns have attacked resorts or hijacked tourist tours of ancient Maya sites. To make a house well enough defended against such attacks requires techniques more like war than anti-burglar measures. Difficult, but not impossible. Made much more tricky by the police not necessarily being on the side of the honest person!
* Injustice: Various stories by people who have either personally suffered, or who know of other people who have suffered, inappropriate detention or "guilty until proven innocent" type problems. Paranoid fear of persecution is not a delusion, but a fact.
Obviously I would have preferred it if the problems had all been of the "solvable" variety, and I was willing to put into effect practical measures to fix problems. The trouble is, with problems such as homophobia and police corruption, it is difficult to engineer practical solutions. So, it currently appears I will have to migrate the tax-exileship of my profitable online business to a different tax haven, unless there's a sudden reform or other miracle solution! Still, I have given plenty of opportunity for solutions to be found, and only as a last resort published my story of how things went wrong in Belize
It's sad, because despite initial promising signs, the outcome of the prejudice and other problems has been to deter foreign investment!
This page is subject to change in the future if things improve!
Also note: I am telling it how it is. This is a personal account from my own experiences. Most people in Belize are friendly and it's likely that most of the police are honest. It's just that the problems and isolated incidents make it awkward for the good folks. Also, this account is based around the idea of me moving to Belize and living there, rather than being a tourist. If you're planning on visiting Belize, don't be put off, because Belize is mostly a good place and tourists are a protected species! You are reasonably safe visiting Belize, but as with any adventurous place, reasonable cautiousness is recommended. How about Travel Insurance?!
* TAX HAVEN: Different places can be considered tax havens for different people in different circumstances. For more about this see the page of Tax Havens
A special commendation goes to the Belize domain registry! Well done to those kind people at www.BelizeNic.bz (University Management) for being so good in their merciful dealing with overdue accounts. Now, if only they had an affiliate program that was LIVE...?! Note: Avoid "Go Daddy" and "Network Solutions" both of which have been known to be a problem before. Instead visit www.BelizeNic.bz (University Management)
The German Rockband SOULHUNTER would like you to visit their website, especially if you are in Belize!