Situated in northern Belize, Corozal Bay is an inlet located in the significantly larger Chetumal Bay. Several resorts are sprinkled around the bay, and its Caribbean waters provide great views for those enjoying the laid-back Corozal atmosphere. Corozal Town, the capital of the Corozal district, is just nine miles from the Mexican border. Despite the resorts in the area, the town itself sees few tourists. It is a quaint, sleepy town with friendly people.
The Corozal Bay Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the nationally protected areas in Belize. Corozal Bay also boasts a sailing club and a thriving real estate market. Thanks to its beauty, climate and peaceful lifestyle, area is growing in popularity as a retirement destination. Several expat communities have also been built around Corozal, and North American home ownership is on the rise with European ownership.
Corozal Trade Free Zone.
The Corozal Free Zone, as it is commonly called in the region, serves as a duty free shopping destination for visitors to the area. In particular, visitors from Mexico frequent the complex of retailers in the Free Zone, the search for bargains bringing residents from across the border in high numbers. Cruise ship passengers may occasionally venture to the Free Zone, time permitting. In addition to the shopping arcade, the Free Zone also offers casinos and hotels. Although it provides employment and an economic boost to the area, the Free Zone is closed to residents of Belize.
The Free Zone was created to spur financial growth in an area that had been hit with economic hardship. The Liberated Sugar Factory closure in 1985 brought significant unemployment to the district of Corozal, and something needed to be done to create jobs and stimulate the local economy.
The 1994 development of the Free Zone brought the foreign investment that was intended, and hundreds of shipping containers from around the world currently arrive in the area each year. Funds generated by the Corozal Free Zone also help to support several social development projects for Belize. Efforts include areas such as medical care, cultural initiatives, sports and scholarship programs.
Belize continues to promote the benefits of foreign investing in business endeavors through the Corozal Free Zone. An increasingly stable and growing economy is one reason for businesses to give the matter consideration. The area also offers an excellent location, development incentives, a bilingual workforce and reliable telecommunications. Incentives in the form of tax holidays represent further advantages to businesses.
The Corozal District
The villages and areas of the district tend to have populations that are dominated by separate ethnic groups and languages. Scattered across the district, people of Hispanic, Creole and East Indian cultures are among those represented in various clusters. Little Belize boasts a large population of Mennonites, and that demographic mostly speaks German. Corozal Town is comprised of the most diverse mix of populations in the district. Both Spanish and English are widely spoken in the town.
The Corozal Free Zone has certainly provided a welcome boost to the economy in the area, but agriculture still plays a role in the job market and the lives of the people. As an extension of the Free Zone, contraband has also grown to contribute to the local economy. The products involved in the contraband trade are typically cigarettes, alcohol, gasoline, fruits and vegetables.
Corozal Town was settled primarily by Mestizo refugees from the Yucatán Caste War. Founded in 1848, the town was developed over the ancient Mayan city known as Santa Rita. Ruins from Santa Rita can be found today near the town’s hospital. The Corozal Town Hall features a mural that depicts the rich history of the area. The Yucatán Caste War is one of the events etched in both graphic and beautiful detail.
The area surrounding Corozal Bay has much to offer. Visitors and residents can walk along the bay area and shop for exotic fruit, and they can visit the beautiful Corozal limestone beach. The Cerros ruins are located just across the bay, but the area is now accessible from Corozal by traveling a gravel road. Reaching Chetumal City is a convenient ride of five minutes by boat, but a drive will take about thirty minutes. With Corozal having a more quiet and tranquil atmosphere, nearby Chetumal City offers more lively entertainment and further opportunities to explore regional culture and shop.