A national symbol is any visual, verbal or iconic representation that serves to unite the people of a nation, while proudly portraying the country’s values and history. Each country has at least one symbol to celebrate and inspire patriotism and nationalism, Belize is no exception.
A charming, sub-tropical country, Belize possesses 5 unique national symbols. Selected by a bipartisan committee, these symbols are easily recognizable and respected among locals and those familiar with the country. We’ve compiled these 5 “National Symbols” with information on each, so feel free to learn and enjoy!
The Belize Flag & Coat of Arms
Photo Courtesy: flagpedia.net
Adopted on the Belize’s Independence Day (September 21, 1981), the Flag of Belize is arguably the country’s most well-known and respected national symbol. The flag is royal blue with a single red stripe found at the top and bottom of the flag and a white circle in the center.
Within the white circle, the country’s elaborate Coat of Arms is found. It is comprised of a 50 leafed, circular border and two woodcutters; one hoisting a beating axe over his right shoulder and the other a paddle over his left shoulder, while both support a shield. The shield is divided into three sections: an upper right section containing a paddle and squaring axe, an upper left section containing a beating axe and saw, and a lower portion containing a ship in sail, in respect to the loggers standing position. Additionally, the emblem displays a Mahogany Tree behind the shield and the national motto, “Sub Umbra Floreo (translated to Under the Shade I Flourish), below the shield.
The National Tree
Photo Courtesy: Belize Destinations
Regarded as one of Belize’s tallest and most magnificent forest giants, the Big-leaf Mahogany, or simply Mahogany Tree, is the country’s national tree. This mighty tree takes 60 to 80 years to mature and grow to heights between 75 to 100 feet, while its large leaves grow to about 17 inches in length. Between May and June, its leaves turn brown and begin to fall before growing newer, green ones. During the 18th century, British settlers switched from logwood to mahogany as the main export, being highly desirable in furniture making for its tan color, ease to work with and durability.
The National Flower
Photo Courtesy: Belize Info Center
The Black Orchid, also referred to as the Clamshell Orchid, is the national flower of Belize. Contrary to its name, it is actually comprised of a dark-purple and light green labellum, or lip, which forms a hood over its green and purple-spotted column, and yellowish-green petals. This orchid can be found flowering nearly all year round along trees in damp areas across the country. As the national flower, the Black Orchid is well-protected in the forest, making it illegal to transport out of the country without a permit.
The National Bird
Photo Courtesy: birdlist.org
Arguably one of the most popular and colorful bird in Belize, the Keel-billed Toucan is the national bird of the country. This vibrant bird is easily recognized by its large and colorful bill, containing shades of green, red, orange and turquoise, and striking black, yellow and red feathers. Their diet consists of most fruits, with insects and spiders being an occasional option. A very social and friendly bird, toucans are typically found in open areas with large trees, making what is described as a frog-like, croaking sound.
The National Animal
Photo Courtesy: Matthew Sileo Photography
The Baird’s Tapir, also referred to as the Mountain Cow or simply Tapir, is Belize’s national animal. This large land mammal weighs anywhere between 600 to 800 pounds, grows to about 6 ½ feet in length and has a dark-brown fur with white tipped ears. Oftentimes, they may be seen in the wild grazing on nearby vegetation, wallowing in nearby puddles, or going for a refreshing swim. As the national animal of the country, they are protected under the wildlife protection law.
A trip to Belize will present the opportunity to see most, if not all, of these iconic symbols of Belizean pride. Maya Island Air offers daily scheduled flights to 9 destinations across Belize including San Pedro, Dangriga and Placencia. Book your flights today!