Caracol is located in the Cayo District. It is situated approximately 40 kilometres south of Xunantunich and the town of San Ignacio. It rests on the Vaca Plateau at an elevation of 500 meters above sea-level, in the foothills of the Maya Mountains. It was one of the most important regional political centers of the Maya Lowlands during the Classic Period. Caracol covered approximately 200 square kilometers, covering an area much larger than present day Belize City (the largest metropolitan area in the country) and supported more than twice the modern city’s population.
The site was first reported by a native logger named Rosa Mai, who came across its remains in 1937 while searching for mahogany hardwood trees to exploit. A. H. Anderson visited the site for two weeks along with a colleague H. B. Jex. It was Anderson who gave the site its modern name of Caracol (Snail in Spanish).