Known as Belize’s deep south, or even the “forgotten district,” Toledo remains off the beaten track. To the west, the Maya Mountains tower above lush rainforest, and off the coast lies the world’s second largest barrier reef and several pristine cayes in the brilliant blue waters of the Bay of Honduras. But as dazzling as its natural assets are, Belize has more to offer than land and sea: Ancient Maya archaeological sites dot the country, and welcoming villages offer authentic glimpses of vibrant cultures such as that of the Garifuna people.
Southern Belize’s jungle teems with wildlife, from howler monkeys and coatimundi to turtles, crocodiles, tarantulas, iguanas, and hundreds of rare and common bird species. Waterfalls and caves stud the verdant interior, while the pristine Port of Honduras Marine Reserve harbors a vibrant underwater realm filled with the colorful coral gardens of the Belize Barrier Reef.
Maya people make up more than half of the population of the Toledo District, and native Garifuna, East Indian, and Creole cultures also thrive here. A small population of German-Mennonite settlers farm the region, and a sizable Belizean Chinese community lives in Punta Gorda.
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