Belize is divided into two main geographic
1) The Maya Mountains along the western border of
Belize with Guatemala rise to 1,100 meters and almost reach the southern coast of Belize. The Maya
Mountains are very sparsely inhabited.
2) The second region comprises the northern lowlands
and the southern coastal plain. Eighteen major rivers drain these areas into a flat and swampy
coastline. From the coastline of the Sartenejan Region to inland the vegetation changes from
mangrove estuaries, swamps and lagoons, to the threatened semi-deciduous tropical rainforests.
Mangroves can vary from patches along sandy beaches, to vast swathes that reach hundreds of meters
inland, or grow along rivers.
Of these rivers the 290 km long Belize River, the New
River, and the Hondo River are the main rivers of Belize. There are many lagoons in the 40 miles coastal strip of northern and central
The largest and most historically important river is
the Belize River, which drains more than one-quarter of the country as it winds along the northern
edge of the Maya Mountains then across the center of Belize and eventually to the sea near Belize
The interlocking networks of rivers, creeks, and
lagoons in Belize have played a key role in the historical geography of
Belize. The Belize River is navigable served as the main
artery of commerce between the interior and the coast until well into the twentieth
The New River empties
Bay after flowing through northern
sugar-growing areas. The valley of the New River has
fertile alluvial soils that supported the Maya civilisation for over 3,000 years.
The Hondo River empties info Corazal Bay at the
northern border fo Belize with Mexico.