Belize is divided into two main geographic regions.

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 Belize.

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 City.

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 century.

The New River empties into Corozal 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.