English-speaking and Creole dominated, the tiny country of Belize has more in common with its Caribbean island neighbours than the bordering Spanish-speaking countries of Mexico and Guatemala. Belize is a tropical treasure, with a laid-back ambiance, swinging hammocks, large swaths of dense jungle with some of the best chances of spotting the elusive Jaguar in the Americas, and a vivid underwater world of twisted corals and gentle manatees; it's one of the most premiere destinations in the world. The Maya lived here for centuries, leaving their mark with ancient ruins deep in the country's interior, before the country was colonised by English buccaneers, and later home to escaped African slaves - an eclectic mixture of cultures which can literally be tasted by savouring spicy Creole creations, standard English corned beef, and the Mayan delicacy of the fried paca (a small jungle rodent).