The Belize Barrier Reef is a series of coral reefs straddling the coast of Belize, roughly 300 meters (980 ft) offshore in the north and 40 kilometers (25 mi) in the south within the country limits. The Belize Barrier Reef is a 300 kilometers (190 mi) long section of the 900 kilometers (560 mi) long Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, which is continuous from Cancún on the northeast tip of the Yucatán Peninsula through the Riviera Maya up to Honduras making it one of the largest coral reef systems in the World after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the New Caledonia Barrier Reef.
It is Belize's top tourist destination popular for scuba diving and snorkeling and attracting almost half of its 260,000 visitors, and is vital to its fishing industry.
The Belize Barrier Reef is home to a large diversity of plants and animals, and is one of the most diverse ecosystems of the world:
- 70 hard coral species
- 36 soft coral species
- 500 species of fish
- hundreds of invertebrate species
With 90% of the reef still needing to be researched, it is estimated that only 10% of all species have been discovered.