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Flag of Belize
Map of Belize
Introduction Belize
Belize was the site of several Mayan city states until their decline at the end of the first millennium A.D. The British and Spanish disputed the region in the 17th and 18th centuries; it formally became the colony of British Honduras in 1854. Territorial disputes between the UK and Guatemala delayed the independence of Belize until 1981. Guatemala refused to recognize the new nation until 1992. Tourism has become the mainstay of the economy. Current concerns include high unemployment, growing involvement in the South American drug trade, and increasing urban crime.
Geography Belize
Central America, bordering the Caribbean Sea, between Guatemala and Mexico
Geographic coordinates:
17 15 N, 88 45 W
Map references:
Central America and the Caribbean
total: 22,966 sq km
land: 22,806 sq km
water: 160 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly smaller than Massachusetts
Land boundaries:
total: 516 km
border countries: Guatemala 266 km, Mexico 250 km
386 km
Maritime claims:
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 negotiating a definitive agreement on territorial differences with Guatemala
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
tropical; very hot and humid; rainy season (May to November); dry season (February to May)
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: 3.05%
permanent crops: 1.39%
other: 95.56% (2005)
Irrigated land:
30 sq km (2003)
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, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, 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
287,730 (July 2006 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 39.5% (male 57,923/female 55,678)
15-64 years: 57% (male 82,960/female 81,046)
65 years and over: 3.5% (male 4,888/female 5,235) (2006 est.)
Median age:
total: 19.6 years
male: 19.5 years
female: 19.8 years (2006 est.)
Population growth rate:
2.31% (2006 est.)
Birth rate:
28.84 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Death rate:
5.72 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Net migration rate:
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 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: 0.93 male(s)/female
total population: 1.03 male(s)/female (2006 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 24.89 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 28.07 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 21.55 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 68.3 years
male: 66.43 years
female: 70.26 years (2006 est.)
Total fertility rate:
3.6 children born/woman (2006 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
2.4% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
3,600 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
less than 200 (2003 est.)
noun: Belizean(s)
adjective: Belizean
Ethnic groups:
mestizo 48.7%, Creole 24.9%, Maya 10.6%, Garifuna 6.1%, other 9.7%
Roman Catholic 49.6%, Protestant 27% (Pentecostal 7.4%, Anglican 5.3%, Seventh-Day Adventist 5.2%, Mennonite 4.1%, Methodist 3.5%, Jehovah's Witnesses 1.5%), other 14%, none 9.4% (2000)
English (official), Spanish, Mayan, Garifuna (Carib), Creole
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 94.1%
male: 94.1%
female: 94.1% (2003 est.)
Government Belize
Country name:
conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Belize
former: British Honduras
Government type:
parliamentary democracy
name: Belmopan
geographic coordinates: 17 15 N, 88 46 W
time difference: UTC-6 (1 hour behind Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions:
6 districts; Belize, Cayo, Corozal, Orange Walk, Stann Creek, Toledo
21 September 1981 (from UK)
National holiday:
Independence Day, 21 September (1981)
21 September 1981
Legal system:
English law
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 28 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; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or the leader of the majority coalition is usually appointed prime minister by the governor general; prime minister recommends the deputy prime minister
Legislative branch:
bicameral National Assembly consists of the Senate (12 members appointed by the governor general - 6 on the advice of the prime minister, 3 on the advice of the leader of the opposition, and 1 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 5 March 2003 (next to be held March 2008)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - PUP 21, UDP 8
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 [Adele CATZIM]
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Lisa M. SHOMAN
chancery: 2535 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 332-9636
FAX: [1] (202) 332-6888
consulate(s) general: Los Angeles
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Robert J. DIETER
embassy: Floral Park Road, Belmopan City, Cayo District
mailing address: 3050 Belize Place, Washington DC 20521-3050
telephone: [501] 227-7161 through 7163
FAX: [501] 223-0802
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:
In this small, essentially private-enterprise economy the tourism industry is the number one foreign exchange earner followed by marine products, citrus, cane sugar, bananas, and garments. The government's expansionary monetary and fiscal policies, initiated in September 1998, led to sturdy GDP growth averaging nearly 4% in 1999-2006. Major concerns continue to be the sizable trade deficit and unsustainable foreign debt. The government in 2006 announced it would seek a restructuring of its sovereign debt and has been negotiating with international creditors to find an acceptable formula for doing so. A key short-term objective remains the reduction of poverty with the help of international donors.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$2.307 billion (2006 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate):
$1.141 billion (2006 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
3.5% (2005 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
$8,400 (2006 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 22.5%
industry: 14.8%
services: 62.6% (2006 est.)
Labor force:
note: shortage of skilled labor and all types of technical personnel (2001 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 27%
industry: 18%
services: 55% (2001 est.)
Unemployment rate:
12.9% (2003)
Population below poverty line:
33.5% (2002 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
3% (2006 est.)
Investment (gross fixed):
18.2% of GDP (2006 est.)
revenues: $302.5 million
expenditures: $357.5 million; including capital expenditures of $70 million (2006 est.)
Agriculture - products:
bananas, coca, citrus, sugar; fish, cultured shrimp; lumber; garments
garment production, food processing, tourism, construction
Industrial production growth rate:
4.6% (1999)
Electricity - production:
175 million kWh (2004)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 59.9%
hydro: 40.1%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity - consumption:
162.8 million kWh (2004)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2004)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2004)
Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - consumption:
6,400 bbl/day (2004 est.)
Oil - exports:
NA bbl/day (2001)
Oil - imports:
NA bbl/day (2001)
Natural gas - production:
0 cu m (2004 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
0 cu m (2004 est.)
Current account balance:
$-173.4 million (2006 est.)
$359.5 million f.o.b. (2006 est.)
Exports - commodities:
sugar, bananas, citrus, clothing, fish products, molasses, wood
Exports - partners:
US 30.6%, UK 25%, France 4.8% (2005)
$543 million f.o.b. (2006 est.)
Imports - commodities:
machinery and transport equipment, manufactured goods; fuels, chemicals, pharmaceuticals; food, beverages, tobacco
Imports - partners:
US 31%, Mexico 11.6%, Russia 8.8%, Cuba 6%, Guatemala 5.6%, China 4.6%, Spain 4.5% (2005)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$78.96 million (2006 est.)
Debt - external:
$1.362 billion (June 2004 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
Currency (code):
Belizean dollar (BZD)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
Belizean dollars per US dollar - 2 (2006), 2 (2005), 2 (2004), 2 (2003), 2 (2002)
Fiscal year:
1 April - 31 March
Communications Belize
Telephones - main lines in use:
33,300 (2005)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
93,100 (2005)
Telephone system:
general assessment: above-average system
domestic: trunk network depends primarily on microwave radio relay
international: country code - 501; satellite earth station - 8 (Intelsat - 2, unknown - 6) (2005)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 1, FM 12, shortwave 0 (1998)
133,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
2 (1997)
41,000 (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet hosts:
3,905 (2006)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
2 (2000)
Internet users:
35,000 (2005)
Transportation Belize
43 (2006)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 5
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 2 (2006)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 38
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 11
under 914 m: 26 (2006)
total: 2,872 km
paved: 488 km
unpaved: 2,384 km (1999)
825 km (navigable only by small craft) (2005)
Merchant marine:
total: 285 ships (1000 GRT or over) 985,464 GRT/1,322,629 DWT
by type: bulk carrier 36, cargo 203, chemical tanker 7, container 4, passenger/cargo 3, petroleum tanker 13, refrigerated cargo 12, roll on/roll off 6, specialized tanker 1
foreign-owned: 225 (China 103, Croatia 1, Cyprus 2, Estonia 3, Germany 3, Greece 2, Hong Kong 8, Iceland 2, Indonesia 2, Italy 4, Japan 2, North Korea 2, South Korea 4, Latvia 6, Lithuania 1, Malaysia 1, Mexico 1, Norway 2, Poland 2, Russia 36, Singapore 6, Spain 3, Switzerland 1, Turkey 11, UAE 5, Ukraine 7, US 5) (2006)
Ports and terminals:
Belize City
Military Belize
Military branches:
Belize Defense Force (BDF): Army, Maritime Wing, Air Wing, and Volunteer Guard
Military service age and obligation:
18 years of age for voluntary military service; laws allow for conscription only if volunteers are insufficient; conscription has never been implemented; volunteers typically outnumber available positions by 3:1 (2001)
Manpower available for military service:
males age 18-49: 61,201
females age 18-49: 60,048 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
males age 18-49: 44,238
females age 18-49: 43,633 (2005 est.)
Manpower reaching military service age annually:
males age 18-49: 3,213
females age 18-49: 3,100 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$19 million (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
1.7% (2005 est.)
Transnational Issues Belize
Disputes - international:
Guatemalan squatters continue to settle in the largely uninhabited rain forests of Belize's border region; OAS seeks to revive the 2002 failed Belize-Guatemala Differendum that created a small adjustment to land boundary, a Guatemalan maritime corridor in Caribbean, joint ecological park for disputed Sapodilla Cays, and substantial US-UK financial package
Trafficking in persons:
current situation: Belize is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of labor and sexual exploitation; women and girls are trafficked mainly from Central America, and exploited in prostitution; children are trafficked to Belize for labor exploitation; Belize's largely unmonitored borders with Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico facilitate the movement of illegal migrants who are vulnerable to traffickers; girls are trafficked within the country for sexual exploitation, sometimes with the consent and complicity of their close relatives; there are unconfirmed reports that Indian and Chinese migrants are trafficked for involuntary servitude in homes and shops
tier rating: Tier 3 - Belize has failed to show evidence of significant law enforcement or victim protection efforts
Illicit drugs:
transshipment point for cocaine; small-scale illicit producer of cannabis for the international drug trade; money-laundering activity related to narcotics trafficking and offshore sector

This page was last updated on 18 January, 2007