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Tony Rath's

Northern Belize, along with the rest of the country, straddles an ecological boundary. rainstorm over Orange WalkThe climate neither shows the strong seasonal variation of the northern latitudes nor caters to the relatively constant temperatures and rainfall of equatorial lands. For five months out of the year (usually between Jan through May), you can expect less than 2 inches of rain to fall each month. This is called the "Dry". On the other hand you can bet on more than 6 inches of rain to fall during the other seven months of the year. Belizean call this "rainy season". Northern Belize in general has an average rainfall of less than 80 inches (compared to 160 for extreme southern Belize).

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Albion Quarry The landscape of Northern Belize is not difficult to visualize. Picture the entire eastern shoreline of the Central American land bridge formed into three huge bays. The furthest north and largest is the Gulf of Mexico. The Yucatan peninsula forms the first peninsula between embayments. The furthest south bay is lined by the Moskito coast, Costa Rica and is "drained" by the Panama canal. In between lies the Bay of Honduras whose shoreline is a low-lying shelf called Belize.

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Shipstern forest The pattern of vegetation in Belize is basically determined by two major factors: the prevailing sub-tropical climate of the region and the lay of the land. Northern Belize shows the full gamut of forest types, from the coastal mangroves of the shorelines, to the pine and swamp forests of the flat interior, to the lush jungle of the upland escarpements of northwest Belize.

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Coatimundi "Quash" Chances of viewing wildlife in Belize are probably greater in the northern region than ony other location in Belize. The forests of the protected areas of Rio Bravo and Gallon Jug support relatively tame and abundant populations of ocellated turkey and white tailed deer. The boat ride along the New River to the ancient Mayan city of Lamanai travels through rich marsh and low land forest alive with shore birds, snail kites and crocodiles sunning on the banks. Huge woodstork nesting sites lie on a number of small islands within Shipstern Lagoon.

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