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Belize, See : Flags, Maps

Belize (Central America and Caribbean)

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 and the two countries are involved in an ongoing border dispute. Guatemala and Belize plan to hold a simultaneous referendum to determine if this dispute will go before the International Court of Justice at The Hague, though they have not yet set a date. Tourism has become the mainstay of the economy. Current concerns include the country's heavy foreign debt burden, high unemployment, growing involvement in the South American drug trade, high crime rates, and increasing incidences of HIV/AIDS.

Geography ::Belize

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Central America, bordering the Caribbean Sea, between Guatemala and

Geographic coordinates:
17 15 N, 88 45 W

Map references:

Central America and the Caribbean



total: 22,966 sq km country comparison to the world: 151 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: Doyle's Delight 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)

Total renewable water resources:

18.6 cu km (2000)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):

total: 0.15 cu km/yr (7%/73%/20%)

per capita: 556 cu m/yr (2000)

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, Whaling

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


314,522 (July 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 176

Age structure:

0-14 years: 37.9% (male 59,462/female 57,117)

15-64 years: 58.6% (male 91,298/female 89,170)

65 years and over: 3.5% (male 5,185/female 5,667) (2010 est.)

Median age:

total: 20.7 years

male: 20.5 years

female: 20.9 years (2010 est.)

Population growth rate:

2.102% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 48

Birth rate:

26.84 births/1,000 population (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 54

Death rate:

5.82 deaths/1,000 population (July 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 171

Net migration rate:

0 migrant(s)/1,000 population country comparison to the world: 90


urban population: 52% of total population (2008)

rate of urbanization: 3.1% annual rate of change (2005-10 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: 0.91 male(s)/female

total population: 1.03 male(s)/female (2010 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 22.52 deaths/1,000 live births country comparison to the world: 92 male: 25.22 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 19.68 deaths/1,000 live births (2010 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 68.23 years country comparison to the world: 150 male: 66.54 years

female: 70 years (2010 est.)

Total fertility rate:

3.28 children born/woman (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 52

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

2.1% (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 30

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:

3,600 (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 129

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

fewer than 200 (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 125

Major infectious diseases:

degree of risk: high

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever

vectorborne diseases: dengue fever and malaria

water contact disease: leptospirosis (2009)


noun: Belizean(s)

adjective: Belizean

Ethnic groups:

mestizo 48.7%, Creole 24.9%, Maya 10.6%, Garifuna 6.1%, other 9.7% (2000 census)


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)


Spanish 46%, Creole 32.9%, Mayan dialects 8.9%, English 3.9% (official), Garifuna 3.4% (Carib), German 3.3%, other 1.4%, unknown 0.2% (2000 census)


definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 76.9%

male: 76.7%

female: 77.1% (2000 census)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):

total: 12 years

male: 13 years

female: 12 years (2004)

Education expenditures:

5.1% of GDP (2007) country comparison to the world: 62

Government ::Belize

Country name:

conventional long form: none

conventional short form: Belize

former: British Honduras

Government type:

parliamentary democracy and a Commonwealth realm


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 the UK)

National holiday:

Independence Day, 21 September (1981)


21 September 1981

Legal system:

English law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction


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 Dean Oliver BARROW (since 8 February 2008); Deputy Prime Minister Gaspar VEGA (since 12 February 2008)

cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister (For more information visit the World Leaders website ) elections: the monarchy is hereditary; governor general appointed by the monarch; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or the leader of the majority coalition 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 seats; 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; to serve five-year terms) and the House of Representatives (31 seats; members are elected by direct popular vote to serve five-year terms)

elections: House of Representatives - last held on 6 February 2008 (next to be held in 2013)

election results: percent of vote by party - UDP 56.3%, PUP 40.9%; seats by party - UDP 25, PUP 6

Judicial branch:

Summary Jurisdiction Courts (criminal) and District Courts (civil jurisdiction); Supreme Court (the chief justice is appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister); Court of Appeal; Privy Council in the UK; member of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ)

Political parties and leaders:

National Alliance for Belizean Rights or NABR; National Reform Party or NRP [Cornelius DUECK]; People's National Party or PNP [Wil MAHEIA]; People's United Party or PUP [John BRICENO]; United Democratic Party or UDP [Dean BARROW]; Vision Inspired by the People or VIP [Paul MORGAN]; We the People Reform Movement or WTP [Hipolito BAUTISTA]

Political pressure groups and leaders:

Society for the Promotion of Education and Research or SPEAR [Nicole
HAYLOCK]; Association of Concerned Belizeans or ACB [David VASQUEZ];
National Trade Union Congress of Belize or NTUC/B [Rene GOMEZ]

International organization participation:


Diplomatic representation in the US:

chief of mission: Ambassador Nestor MENDEZ

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 Vinai THUMMALAPALLY

embassy: Floral Park Road, Belmopan City, Cayo District

mailing address: P.O. Box 497, Belmopan City, Cayo District, Belize

telephone: [501] 822-4011
FAX: [501] 822-4012

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 of 50 mahogany leaves; the colors are those of the two main political parties: blue for the PUP and red for the UDP; various elements of the coat of arms - the figures, the tools, the mahogany tree, and the garland of leaves - recall the logging industry that led to British settlement of Belize

note: Belize's flag is the only national flag that depicts human beings; two British overseas territories, Montserrat and the British Virgin Islands, also depict humans

National anthem:

name: "Land of the Free"

lyrics/music: Samuel Alfred HAYNES/Selwyn Walford YOUNG

note: adopted 1981; as a Commonwealth country, in addition to the national anthem, "God Save the Queen" serves as the royal anthem (see United Kingdom)

Economy ::Belize

Economy - overview:

In this small, essentially private-enterprise economy, tourism is the number one foreign exchange earner followed by exports of 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 1999-2007, though growth slipped to 3.8% in 2008, 0% in 2009, and 1.5% in 2010 as a result of the global slowdown, natural disasters, and the drop in the price of oil. Oil discoveries in 2006 bolstered economic growth. Exploration efforts continue and production increased a small amount in 2009. Major concerns continue to be the sizable trade deficit and heavy foreign debt burden. In February 2007, the government restructured nearly all of its public external commercial debt, which helped reduce interest payments and relieved some of the country's liquidity concerns. A key objective remains the reduction of poverty and inequality with the help of international donors.

GDP (purchasing power parity):

$2.652 billion (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 180 $2.613 billion (2009 est.)

$2.613 billion (2008 est.)

note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate):

$1.431 billion (2010 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

1.5% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 166 0% (2009 est.)

3.6% (2008 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$8,400 (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 120 $8,500 (2009 est.)

$8,700 (2008 est.)

note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 29%

industry: 16.9%

services: 54.1% (2008 est.)

Labor force:

120,500 country comparison to the world: 179 note: shortage of skilled labor and all types of technical personnel (2008 est.)

Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture: 10.2%

industry: 18.1%

services: 71.7% (2007 est.)

Unemployment rate:

13.1% (2009) country comparison to the world: 137 8.2% (2008)

Population below poverty line:

33.5% (2002 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:

lowest 10%: NA%

highest 10%: NA%

Investment (gross fixed):

26.2% of GDP (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 37

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

4.1% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 118 -1.1% (2009 est.)

Central bank discount rate:

12% (31 December 2009) country comparison to the world: 31 12% (31 December 2008)

Commercial bank prime lending rate:

14.08% (31 December 2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 53 14.14% (31 December 2008 est.)

Stock of narrow money:

$389.5 million (31 December 2010 est) country comparison to the world: 161 $336.5 million (31 December 2009 est)

Stock of broad money:

$1.351 billion (31 December 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 150 $1.084 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of domestic credit:

$1.291 billion (31 December 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 141 $1.036 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares:

Agriculture - products:

bananas, cacao, citrus, sugar; fish, cultured shrimp; lumber


garment production, food processing, tourism, construction, oil

Industrial production growth rate:

1.4% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 142

Electricity - production:

213.5 million kWh (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 176

Electricity - consumption:

198.5 million kWh (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 177

Electricity - exports:

0 kWh (2008 est.)

Electricity - imports:

248.4 million kWh (2005)

Oil - production:

3,990 bbl/day (2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 98

Oil - consumption:

7,000 bbl/day (2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 157

Oil - exports:

2,260 bbl/day (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 111

Oil - imports:

7,204 bbl/day (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 146

Oil - proved reserves:

6.7 million bbl (1 January 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 93

Natural gas - production:

0 cu m (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 96

Natural gas - consumption:

0 cu m (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 206

Natural gas - exports:

0 cu m (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 56

Natural gas - imports:

0 cu m (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 83

Natural gas - proved reserves:

0 cu m (1 January 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 201

Current account balance:

-$151 million (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 84 -$93.3 million (2009 est.)


$404 million (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 171 $381.9 million (2009 est.)

Exports - commodities:

sugar, bananas, citrus, clothing, fish products, molasses, wood, crude oil

Exports - partners:

US 30.7%, UK 29.77%, Nigeria 4.9%, Cote d'Ivoire 4.45% (2009)


$740 million (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 181 $620.5 million (2009 est.)

Imports - commodities:

machinery and transport equipment, manufactured goods; fuels, chemicals, pharmaceuticals; food, beverages, tobacco

Imports - partners:

US 33.65%, Mexico 14.17%, Cuba 8.51%, Guatemala 6.75%, Spain 6.07%,
China 4.12% (2009)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:

$219 million (31 December 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 126 $213.7 million (31 December 2009 est.)

Debt - external:

$1.01 billion (2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 150 $954.1 million (2008 est.)

Exchange rates:

Belizean dollars (BZD) per US dollar - 2 (2010), 2 (2009), 2 (2008), 2 (2007), 2 (2006)

Communications ::Belize

Telephones - main lines in use:

31,200 (2009) country comparison to the world: 178

Telephones - mobile cellular:

161,800 (2009) country comparison to the world: 175

Telephone system:

general assessment: above-average system; trunk network depends primarily on microwave radio relay

domestic: fixed-line teledensity of 10 per 100 persons; mobile-cellular teledensity roughly 55 per 100 persons

international: country code - 501; landing point for the Americas Region Caribbean Ring System (ARCOS-1) fiber-optic telecommunications submarine cable that provides links to South and Central America, parts of the Caribbean, and the US; satellite earth station - 8 (Intelsat - 2, unknown - 6) (2008)

Broadcast media:

8 privately-owned TV stations; multi-channel cable TV provides access to foreign stations; about 25 radio stations broadcasting on roughly 50 different frequencies; state-run radio was privatized in 1998 (2007)

Internet country code:


Internet hosts:

2,880 (2010) country comparison to the world: 147

Internet users:

36,000 (2009) country comparison to the world: 177

Transportation ::Belize


45 (2010) country comparison to the world: 96

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 4

2,438 to 3,047 m: 1

914 to 1,523 m: 1

under 914 m: 2 (2010)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 41

2,438 to 3,047 m: 1

914 to 1,523 m: 13

under 914 m: 27 (2010)


total: 3,007 km country comparison to the world: 165 paved: 575 km

unpaved: 2,432 km (2006)


825 km (navigable only by small craft) (2010) country comparison to the world: 71

Merchant marine:

total: 231 country comparison to the world: 33 by type: barge carrier 1, bulk carrier 37, cargo 146, chemical tanker 1, passenger 1, passenger/cargo 1, petroleum tanker 7, refrigerated cargo 27, roll on/roll off 10

foreign-owned: 171 (Chile 1, China 64, Croatia 1, Cyprus 1, Estonia 1, Germany 1, Greece 2, Iceland 2, Italy 3, Japan 1, Latvia 10, Lithuania 2, Netherlands 1, Nigeria 2, Norway 3, Peru 1, Russia 32, Singapore 7, Spain 1, Syria 2, Turkey 18, UAE 5, UK 4, Ukraine 6) (2010)

Ports and terminals:

Belize City, Big Creek

Military ::Belize

Military branches:

Belize Defense Force (BDF): Army, BDF Air Wing (includes Special
Boat Unit), BDF Volunteer Guard (2010)

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 (2008)

Manpower available for military service:

males age 16-49: 79,088

females age 16-49: 77,147 (2010 est.)

Manpower fit for military service:

males age 16-49: 57,759

females age 16-49: 55,903 (2010 est.)

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:

male: 3,678

female: 3,543 (2010 est.)

Military expenditures:

1.4% of GDP (2009) country comparison to the world: 107

Transnational Issues ::Belize

Disputes - international:

OAS-initiated Agreement on the Framework for Negotiations and Confidence Building Measures saw cooperation in repatriation of Guatemalan squatters and other areas, but Guatemalan land and maritime claims in Belize and the Caribbean Sea remain unresolved; the Line of Adjacency created under the 2002 Differendum serves in lieu of the contiguous international boundary to control squatting in the sparsely inhabited rain forests of Belize's border region; Honduras claims Belizean-administered Sapodilla Cays in its constitution but agreed to a joint ecological park under the Differendum

Trafficking in persons:

current situation: Belize is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor; the most common form of trafficking in Belize is the internal sex trafficking of minors; some Central American men, women, and children, particularly from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, migrate voluntarily to Belize in search of work but are subsequently subjected to conditions of forced labor or forced prostitution

tier rating: Belize is placed on Tier 2 Watch List because it does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so; despite efforts to raise public awareness of human trafficking and provide protection services for trafficking victims, the government did not show evidence of progress in convicting and sentencing trafficking offenders last year (2009)

Illicit drugs:

transshipment point for cocaine; small-scale illicit producer of cannabis, primarily for local consumption; offshore sector money-laundering activity related to narcotics trafficking and other crimes (2008)


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