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Belize and its forests
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Map of Central America

Belize is a small country in Central America with a population of only about 240,000. About a third of the people make their living from some kind of agriculture. Much of the food is eaten locally, but Belize also exports food. The main export crops are bananas, sugar cane and citrus fruits (although some people suggest that marijuana now brings in more foreign money). However, more than half the land area is still covered with the original vegetation, much of it tropical rainforest.

Jaguar© copyright Bruce Pearson, taken from the Collins Guide to Rare Mammals of the world.

Pictures: Tapirs and jaguars are thriving in Belize although they are now extinct in El Salvador and rare in Honduras. Illustrations © copyright Bruce Pearson, taken from the Collins Guide to Rare Mammals of the World.

 
Tapir copyright Bruce Pearson The Belize forest is particularly important as far as plants and animals are concerned. Central America is a crossroads between the temperate north and the tropical south. Animals from the south include anteaters, possums, primates and rodents such as the paca and agouti. Animals from the north include pumas, raccoons, deer, peccaries and squirrels. There are over 130 species of mammal in Belize, some of which are under threat in neighbouring countries where much of the forest has disappeared.