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Belize Flag

Country Profile

Capital City: Belmopan (2000 pop. est. 8 305)

Other Cities:
Belize City (54 125), Corozal (8075), Orange Walk (13 795), San Ignacio & Santa Elena (13 545), Dangriga (9020), Punta Gorda (4425), San Pedro (4965).

Local Time: UTC -6h

Belize lies on the eastern or Caribbean coast of Central America, bounded on the north and part of the west by Mexico, and on the south and the remainder of the west by Guatemala.
Location: Central America, bordering the Caribbean Sea, between Guatemala and Mexico.
Area (mainland and cayes): 22 966 sq. km. (8 867 sq. mi.)
Terrain: plain coastline covered with mangrove swamps, low mountains in interior, highest point Doyle's Delight (1124 m).
Border countries: Guatemala, Mexico

Tropical, hot and humid. Rainy season May to November; dry season February to May.

Type: Parliamentary democracy
Independence: 21 September 1981 from the UK.
Constitution: 21 September 1981.

Nationality: Noun and adjective--Belizean(s).
Population: 274 000.
GNI per capita PPP: $ 7 635 (year)
Ethnic groups: Mestizo, Creole, Ketchi, Yucatec and Mopan Mayas, Garifuna and East Indian.
Religions: Roman Catholic, Anglican, Methodist, other Protestant, Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist.
Languages: English (official), Creole, Spanish, Garifuna, Mayan.
Literacy: 76%.


Natural resources: Arable land, timber, seafood, minerals.

Agriculture Products: Sugar, citrus fruits and juices, bananas, mangoes, papayas, honey, corn, beans, rice, cattle (12.7% of GDP).

Industries: Garment production, food processing, tourism, construction.

Exports partners:
USA 37.2%, UK 26.8%, Jamaica 4.6% (2004)

Imports partners: USA 30.1%, Mexico 12%, Guatemala 7.4%, Cuba 7.2%, China 4.2%, Japan 4.1% (2004)

Currency: Belizean Dollar (BZD)

Other Links

Official Sites of Belize
Government of Belize

Ministry of Foreign Affairs - Belize

Diplomatic Missions
Embassy of Belize

Belize Missions Abroad

Embassies and Consulates in Belize

Visas/ Entry Requirements

Map of Belize

Map of Central America and the Caribbean



Background:  Territorial disputes between the UK and Guatemala delayed the
independence of Belize (formerly British Honduras) until 1981. Guatemala
refused to recognize the new nation until 1992. Tourism has become the
mainstay of the economy. The country remains plagued by high unemployment,
growing involvement in the South American drug trade, and increased
urban crime.

Geography Belize

Location:  Middle America, bordering the Caribbean Sea, between Guatemala
and Mexico

Geographic coordinates:  17 15 N, 88 45 W

Map references:  Central America and the Caribbean

Area:  total: 22,966 sq km water: 160 sq km land: 22,806 sq km

Area - comparative:  slightly smaller than Massachusetts

Land boundaries:  total: 516 km border countries: Guatemala 266 km,
Mexico 250 km

Coastline:  386 km

Maritime claims:  exclusive economic zone: 200 NM territorial sea: 12 NM
in the north, 3 NM in the south; note - from the mouth of the Sarstoon
River to Ranguana Cay, Belize's territorial sea is 3 NM; according to
Belize's Maritime Areas Act, 1992, the purpose of this limitation is
to provide a framework for the negotiation of a definitive agreement on
territorial differences with Guatemala

Climate:  tropical; very hot and humid; rainy season (May to November);
dry season (February to May)

Terrain:  flat, swampy coastal plain; low mountains in south

Elevation extremes:  lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m highest point:
Victoria Peak 1,160 m

Natural resources:  arable land potential, timber, fish, hydropower

Land use:  arable land: 3% permanent crops: 1% other: 96% (1998 est.)

Irrigated land:  30 sq km (1998 est.)

Natural hazards:  frequent, devastating hurricanes (June to November)
and coastal flooding (especially in south)

Environment - current issues:  deforestation; water pollution from sewage,
industrial effluents, agricultural runoff; solid and sewage waste disposal

Environment - international agreements:  party to: Biodiversity, Climate
Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of
the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands signed, but
not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography - note:  only country in Central America without a coastline
on the North Pacific Ocean

People Belize

Population:  262,999 (July 2002 est.)

Age structure:  0-14 years: 41.6% (male 55,716; female 53,581) 15-64
years: 54.9% (male 73,068; female 71,368) 65 years and over: 3.5%
(male 4,511; female 4,755) (2002 est.)

Population growth rate:  2.65% (2002 est.)

Birth rate:  31.08 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Death rate:  4.6 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Net migration rate:  0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Sex ratio:  at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.04
male(s)/female 15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female 65 years and over:
0.95 male(s)/female total population: 1.03 male(s)/female (2002 est.)

Infant mortality rate:  24.31 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:   73.87 years (2002 est.)  male: Total fertility
rate:  3.96 children born/woman (2002 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:  2.01% (1999 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:  2,400 (1999 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:  170 (1999 est.)

Nationality:  noun: Belizean(s) adjective: Belizean

Ethnic groups:  mestizo 48.7%, Creole 24.9%, Maya 10.6%, Garifuna 6.1%,
other 9.7%

Religions:  Roman Catholic 49.6%, Protestant 27% (Anglican 5.3%, Methodist
3.5%, Mennonite 4.1%, Seventh-Day Adventist 5.2%, Pentecostal 7.4%,
Jehovah's Witnesses 1.5%), none 9.4%, other 14% (2000)

Languages:  English (official), Spanish, Mayan, Garifuna (Carib), Creole

Literacy:  definition: age 15 and over can read and write total
population: 70.3% male: 70.3% female: 70.3% (1991 est.)  note: other
sources list the literacy rate as high as 75%

Government Belize

Country name:   Belize former: Government type:  parliamentary democracy

Capital:  Belmopan

Administrative divisions:  6 districts; Belize, Cayo, Corozal, Orange
Walk, Stann Creek, Toledo

Independence:  21 September 1981 (from UK)

National holiday:  Independence Day, 21 September (1981)

Constitution:  21 September 1981

Legal system:  English law

Suffrage:  18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:  chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February
1952), represented by Governor General Sir Colville YOUNG, Sr. (since
17 November 1993) head of government: Prime Minister Said Wilbert MUSA
(since 27 August 1998); Deputy Prime Minister John BRICENO (since 1
September 1998) cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the governor general on the
advice of the prime minister elections: none; the monarch is hereditary;
governor general appointed by the monarch; governor general appoints
the member of the House of Representatives who is leader of the majority
party to be prime minister

Legislative branch:  bicameral National Assembly consists of the Senate
(12 members appointed by the governor general - six on the advice of the
prime minister, three on the advice of the leader of the opposition, and
one each on the advice of the Belize Council of Churches and Evangelical
Association of Churches, the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry
and the Belize Better Business Bureau, and the National Trade Union
Congress and the Civil Society Steering Committee; members are appointed
for five-year terms) and the House of Representatives (29 seats; members
are elected by direct popular vote to serve five-year terms) elections:
House of Representatives - last held 27 August 1998 (next to be held by
NA August 2003) election results: percent of vote by party - PUP 59.2%,
UDP 40.8%; seats by party - PUP 26, UDP 3

Judicial branch:  Supreme Court (the chief justice is appointed by the
governor general on the advice of the prime minister)

Political parties and leaders:  People's United Party or PUP [Said MUSA];
United Democratic Party or UDP [Dean BARROW, party leader; Douglas SINGH,
party chairman]

Political pressure groups and leaders:  Society for the Promotion of
Education and Research or SPEAR [Diane HAYLOCK]; United Worker's Front

International organization participation:  ACP, C, Caricom, CDB, ECLAC,

Diplomatic representation in the US:  chief of mission: Ambassador Lisa
M. SHOMAN consulate(s) general: Los
 [1] (202) 332-9636 chancery:
Diplomatic representation from the US:  chief of mission: Ambassador
Russell F. FREEMAN embassy: 29 Gabourel Lane and Hutson Street, Belize
City mailing address: P. O. Box 286, Unit 7401, APO AA 34025 telephone:
[501] (2) 77161 FAX: [501] (2) 30802

Flag description:  blue with a narrow red stripe along the top and the
bottom edges; centered is a large white disk bearing the coat of arms;
the coat of arms features a shield flanked by two workers in front of
a mahogany tree with the related motto SUB UMBRA FLOREO (I Flourish in
the Shade) on a scroll at the bottom, all encircled by a green garland

Economy Belize

Economy - overview:  The small, essentially private enterprise economy is
based primarily on agriculture, agro-based industry, and merchandising,
with tourism and construction assuming greater importance. Sugar,
the chief crop, accounts for nearly half of exports, while the banana
industry is the country's largest employer. The government's expansionary
monetary and fiscal policies, initiated in September 1998, led to GDP
growth of 6.4% in 1999 and 10.5% in 2000. Growth decelerated in 2001 to
3% due to the global slowdown and severe hurricane damage to agriculture,
fishing, and tourism. Major concerns continue to be the rapidly expanding
trade deficit and foreign debt. A key short-term objective remains the
reduction of poverty with the help of international donors.

GDP:  purchasing power parity - $830 million (2001 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:  3% (2001 est.)

GDP - per capita:  purchasing power parity - $3,250 (2001 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:  agriculture: 18% industry: 24% services:
58% (2001 est.)

Population below poverty line:  33% (1999 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:  lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%

Inflation rate (consumer prices):  1.7% (2001 est.)

Labor force:  90,000 note: shortage of skilled labor and all types of
technical personnel (1997 est.)

Labor force - by occupation:  agriculture 27%, industry 18%, services 55%
(2001 est.)

Unemployment rate:  11.5% (2000)

Budget:  revenues: $186 million expenditures: $253 million, including
capital expenditures of $NA (2000 est.)

Industries:  garment production, food processing, tourism, construction

Industrial production growth rate:  4.6% (1999)

Electricity - production:  192 million kWh (2000)

Electricity - production by source:  fossil fuel: 58.33% hydro: 41.67%
other: 0% (2000) nuclear: 0%

Electricity - consumption:  178.56 million kWh (2000)

Electricity - exports:  0 kWh (2000)

Electricity - imports:  0 kWh (2000)

Agriculture - products:  bananas, coca, citrus, sugarcane; lumber; fish,
cultured shrimp

Exports:  $239.6 million (f.o.b., 2001 est.)

Exports - commodities:  sugar, bananas, citrus, clothing, fish products,
molasses, wood

Exports - partners:  EU 45% (UK 33%), US 42%, Caricom 6%, Canada 1% (1999)

Imports:  $505 million (c.i.f., 2001 est.)

Imports - commodities:  machinery and transportation equipment,
manufactured goods; food, beverages, tobacco; fuels, chemicals,

Imports - partners:  US 51%, Mexico 12%, Central America 5%, UK 4% (1999)

Debt - external:  $500 million (2000 est.)

Economic aid - recipient:  $NA

Currency:  Belizean dollar (BZD)

Currency code:  BZD

Exchange rates:  Belizean dollars per US dollar - 2.0000 (fixed rate
pegged to the US dollar)

Fiscal year:  1 April - 31 March

Communications Belize

Telephones - main lines in use:  31,000 (1997)

Telephones - mobile cellular:  3,023 (1997)

Telephone system:  general assessment: above-average system domestic:
trunk network depends primarily on microwave radio relay international:
satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)

Radio broadcast stations:  AM 1, FM 12, shortwave 0 (1998)

Radios:  133,000 (1997)

Television broadcast stations:  2 (1997)

Televisions:  41,000 (1997)

Internet country code:  .bz

Internet Service Providers (ISPs):  2 (2000)

Internet users:  15,000 (2000)

Transportation Belize

Railways:  0 km

Highways:  total: 2,880 km paved: 490 km unpaved: 2,390 km (1998 est.)

Waterways:  825 km (river network used by shallow-draft craft; seasonally

Ports and harbors:  Belize City, Big Creek, Corozol, Punta Gorda

Merchant marine:  total: 315 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 1,240,551
GRT/1,761,168 DWT ships by type: bulk 26, cargo 204, chemical tanker 6,
combination ore/oil 1, container 12, passenger/cargo 1, petroleum tanker
39, refrigerated cargo 15, roll on/roll off 8, short-sea passenger 1,
specialized tanker 1, vehicle carrier 1 note: includes some foreign-owned
ships registered here as a flag of convenience: Albania 2, Belgium 3,
British Virgin Islands 6, Cambodia 1, China 38, Cyprus 1, Ecuador 1,
Egypt 1, Equatorial Guinea 1, Eritrea 1, Estonia 7, Germany 3, Greece
4, Grenada 1, Honduras 1, Hong Kong 20, Indonesia 6, Italy 2, Japan 4,
Jordan 1, Lebanon 1, Liberia 5, Malaysia 3, Malta 2, Man, Isle of 1,
Marshall Islands 13, Mexico 1, Netherlands 1, Nigeria 1, Panama 12,
Philippines 4, Portugal 1, Romania 1, Russia 3, Saint Vincent and the
Grenadines 3, Saudi Arabia 1, Singapore 22, South Korea 10, Spain 4,
Switzerland 1, Taiwan 1, Thailand 6, Tunisia 1, Turkey 1, Ukraine 3,
United Arab Emirates 9, United Kingdom 2, United States 4, Virgin Islands
(UK) 6, Yemen 1 (2002 est.)

Airports:  44 (2001)

Airports - with paved runways:  total: 4 1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 914 to
1,523 m: 1 under 914 m: 2 (2001)

Airports - with unpaved runways:  total: 40 2,438 to 3,047 m: 1 914 to
1,523 m: 10 under 914 m: 29 (2001)

Military Belize

Military branches:  Belize Defense Force (includes Army, Maritime Wing,
Air Wing, and Volunteer Guard)

Military manpower - military age:  18 years of age (2002 est.)

Military manpower - availability:  males age 15-49: 64,909 (2002 est.)

Military manpower - fit for military service:  males age 15-49: 38,472
(2002 est.)

Military manpower - reaching military age annually:  males: 2,847
(2002 est.)

Military expenditures - dollar figure:  $7.7 million (FY00/01)

Military expenditures - percent of GDP:  1.87% (FY00/01)

Transnational Issues Belize

Disputes - international:  the "Line of Adjacency" established in 2000
as an agreed limit to check squatters settling in Belize, remains in
place while the Organization of American States (OAS) assists states to
resolve Guatemalan territorial claims in Belize and Guatemalan maritime
access to the Caribbean Sea; Honduras claims the Sapodilla Cays off the
coast of Belize

Illicit drugs:  major transshipment point for cocaine; small-scale
illicit producer of cannabis for the international drug trade; minor
money-laundering center

This page was last updated on 1 January 2002

Belize Times


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The Reporter

Arts & Culture
The Belize International Film Festival


Belize Kriol

Seine Bight Village

Business & Economy
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Maya Island Air

Tropic Air



Belize Tourism


Belize by Naturalight

Belize Report

Southern Belize

University College of Belize

Five Blues Lake

Belize-Eco-Tourism-Association (BETA)

The History

A Brief History of Belize

A History of Belize

Issues Belize
Belize-Guatemala Territorial Issue





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