Belize (formerly British Honduras), is a country in Central America, bordered to the south and west by Guatemala, to the north by Mexico, and to the east by the Caribbean Sea.. It gained its independence from the British Empire in 1981. It is the only country in Central America where English is an official language. A combination of natural factors have made tourism a growing industry. Warm climate, excellent Mayan ruins, the Belize Barrier Reef (second longest in the world), 127 offshore Cayes (islands), excellent fishing, safe waters for boating, scuba diving, and snorkeling, numerous rivers for rafting, and kayaking, various jungle and wildlife reserves of fauna and flora, for hiking, bird watching, and helicopter touring, as well the largest cave system in Central America.