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  READ IT HERE
Update: Belize Telecommunications Limited (BTL) has a new Numbering Plan for Belize, effective from May 1, 2002. With this numbering plan, a new 7-digit number will be applied countrywide, replacing the existing 4 or 5-digit telephone number, plus area code. The new system has no area codes (similar to the system introduced in Guatemala several years ago). You'll now need dial the entire 7 digits for all calls whether within the same area or district or to another area or district. I wish I could tell you about a simple way to convert the old numbers into the new, but in many cases the conversion code depends on whether the number is a landline and on the current area code, or a fixed or mobile cellular phone. However, here are two ways to find out: You can visit one of two websites set up for the conversion: and , then click on the New Numbering Plan icon and type in the old number in the box. If you're already in Belize you can pick up a booklet listing conversion codes from any BTL office (locations of the main ones are covered in the Guide ). BTL introduced this change with very little warning. Certainly they made no mention of it when I interviewed a member of their customer service team last year, while researching the current (2nd) edition of The Rough Guide to Belize . Many businesses had no idea of the forthcoming change until I told them, sometimes only weeks before May 1st. I've tried using the conversion box on the website and I've found it (generally) works for landline phones (most numbers in Belize) but didn't do too well on cell phones. I hope this helps. If you continue to have problems, contact me at and I'll try to find out the correct number for you. Please note that most of the numbers listed on the website have been updated.

-Peter Eltringham

The narrow, crowded streets of BELIZE CITY can initially be daunting to anyone who has been prepared by the usual tales of crime-ridden urban decay. Admittedly, at first glance the city is unprepossessing. Its buildings - many of them dilapidated wooden structures - stand right at the edge of the road, and few sidewalks offer refuge to pedestrians from the ever-increasing numbers of vehicles. The hazards of Belize City, however, are often reported by those who have never been here. If you approach the city with an open mind and take some precautions with your belongings, you may well be pleasantly surprised.

The city has a distinguished history, a handful of sights worth visiting and, particularly during the September celebrations , an astonishing energy. The seventy thousand people of Belize City represent every ethnic group in the country, with the Creole descendants of former slaves and Baymen forming the dominant element, generating an easy-going Caribbean atmosphere.

Belize City is divided neatly into north and south halves by the Haulover Creek , a delta branch of the Belize River. The pivotal point of the city centre is the Swing Bridge , always busy with traffic and opened twice a day to allow larger vessels up and down the river. North of the Swing Bridge is the slightly more upmarket part of town, home to the most expensive hotels. South of the Swing Bridge is the market and commercial zone, the location of all the city's banks and a couple of supermarkets. The city is small enough to make walking the easiest way to get around.

The City
Richard Davies, a British traveller in the mid-nineteenth century, wrote of the city: "There is much to be said for Belize, for in its way it was one of the prettiest ports at which we touched, and its cleanliness and order ? were in great contrast...
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