Sibun River

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Sibun River
Xibun River.jpg
Aerial view showing the characteristic meanders of the lower reaches of the Xibun or Sibun River before it flows into the Caribbean Sea.
Origin Maya Mountains
17°04′N 88°44′W / 17.067°N 88.733°W / 17.067; -88.733
Mouth Caribbean Sea 10 km south-west of Belize City
17°25′N 88°15′W / 17.417°N 88.250°W / 17.417; -88.250Coordinates: 17°25′N 88°15′W / 17.417°N 88.250°W / 17.417; -88.250
Basin countries Belize
Source elevation 600 m
Mouth elevation 0 m
Basin area Caribbean Sea

The Sibun River is a river in Belize which drains a large central portion of the country.[1] Xibun is an alternate Mayan spelling of Sibun that appears on some Spanish colonial-period maps of the region and is sometimes used to refer to the ancient Maya people who inhabited the region.

Sibun River, view from Hummingbird highway

The river starts in the Maya Mountains, at approximately 800 meters above sea level, where it is known as the Caves Branch River, and flows through a gorge until it reaches an alluvial floodplain, where citrus and cacao are planted. Here the river valley is flanked by Karst topography riddled with Maya cave sites.[2] Before the river reaches the village of Freetown Sibun, river figs and spiny bamboo (Guadua longifolia) are common along its banks; along the stretch of river between the coast and the village, mangroves are predominant. It empties into the Caribbean Sea, south of Belize City. The lower reaches of the river are prominent in scenes from the 1986 film The Mosquito Coast.

The Sibun Watershed Association is a local organization focused on environmental issues within the watershed.


  1. ^ Boles, Ed (1999). The Sibun River Watershed Atlas. Sibun Watershed Association and The Government Printer, Belmopan, Belize.
  2. ^ McAnany, Patricia A., and Ben S. Thomas, editors (2002). Sacred Landscape and Settlement in the Sibun River Valley, Institute for Mesoamerican Studies Occasional Publication 8. Institute for Mesoamerican Studies at the State University of New York, Albany.