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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 Mexican and... See More



 Central America, bordering the Caribbean Sea, between Guatemala and Mexico

Geographic Coordinates:

 17 15 N, 88 45 W


 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 (Rank: 121)

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:

 40 sq km (2008)

Total Renewable Water Resources:

 18.6 cu km (2000)

Freshwater Withdrawal:

 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

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 Noun: Belizean(s)
Adjective: Belizean

Ethnic Groups:

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


 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)


 Roman Catholic 49.6%, Protestant 25.5% (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)


 321,115 (July 2011 est.)

Age Structure:

 0-14 years: 36.8% (male 60,327/female 57,933)
15-64 years: 59.6% (male 96,886/female 94,605)
65 years and over: 3.5% (male 5,404/female 5,960) (2011 est.)

Median Age:

 Total: 21 years
Male: 20.8 years
Female: 21.2 years (2011 est.)

Population Growth Rate:

 2.056% (2011 est.)

Birth Rate:

 26.43 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)

Death Rate:

 5.87 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)

Net Migration Rate:

 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)


 Urban population: 52% of total population (2010)
Rate of urbanization: 2.7% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major Cities - Population:

 BELMOPAN (capital) 20,000 (2009)

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 (2011 est.)

Maternal Mortality Rate:

 94 deaths/100,000 live births (2008)

Infant Mortality Rate:

 Total: 21.95 deaths/1,000 live births
Male: 24.43 deaths/1,000 live births
Female: 19.35 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.)

Life Expectancy At Birth:

 Total population: 68.23 years
Male: 66.53 years
Female: 70.02 years (2011 est.)

Total Fertility Rate:

 3.21 children born/woman (2011 est.)

Health Expenditures:

 3.3% of GDP (2009)

Physicians Density:

 0.828 physicians/1,000 population (2009)

Hospital Bed Density:

 1.1 beds/1,000 population (2009)

Drinking Water Source:

 Urban: 99% of population
Rural: 100% of population
Total: 99% of population
Urban: 1% of population
Rural: 0% of population
Total: 1% of population (2008)

Sanitation Facility Access:

 Urban: 93% of population
Rural: 86% of population
Total: 90% of population
Urban: 7% of population
Rural: 14% of population
Total: 10% of population (2008)

HIV/AIDS - Adult Prevalence Rate:

 2.3% (2009 est.)

HIV/AIDS - People Living With HIV/AIDS:

 4,800 (2009 est.)

HIV/AIDS - Deaths:

 Fewer than 500 (2009 est.)

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)

Children Under 5 - Underweight:

 4.9% (2006)

Education Expenditures:

 5.7% of GDP (2008)


 Definition: age 15 and over can read and write
Total population: 76.9%
Male: 76.7%
Female: 77.1% (2000 census)

Average Years of Schooling:

 Total: 12 years
Male: 12 years
Female: 13 years (2009)

Unemployment, Youth Ages 15-24:

 Total: 19.5%
Male: 13.8%
Female: 28.8% (2005)

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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)



Legal System:

 English common law

International Law Organization Participation:

 Has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt 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 from the General Assembly

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:

 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); Summary Jurisdiction Courts (criminal) and District Courts (civil jurisdiction)

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 Symbols:

 Baird's tapir (a large, browsing, forest-dwelling mammal); keel-billed toucan

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)

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Economy - Overview:

 Tourism is the number one foreign exchange earner in this small economy, 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 GDP growth averaging nearly 4% in 1999-2007. Oil discoveries in 2006 bolstered this growth. Exploration efforts have continued and production has increased a small amount. 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. Growth slipped to 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. With weak economic growth and a large public debt burden, fiscal spending is likely to be tight. A key government objective remains the reduction of poverty and inequality with the help of international donors. Although Belize has the second highest per capita income in Central America, the average income figure masks a huge income disparity between rich and poor. The 2010 Poverty Assessment shows that more than 4 out of 10 people live in poverty. The sizable trade deficit and heavy foreign debt burden continue to be major concerns.

GDP (Purchasing Power Parity):

 $2.651 billion (2010 est.)
$2.599 billion (2009 est.)
$2.6 billion (2008 est.)

Note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP (Official Exchange Rate):

 $1.396 billion (2010 est.)

GDP - Real Growth Rate:

 2% (2010 est.)
0% (2009 est.)
3.8% (2008 est.)

GDP - Per Capita (PPP):

 $8,400 (2010 est.)
$8,400 (2009 est.)
$8,600 (2008 est.)

Note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP - Composition By Sector:

 Agriculture: 21.6%
Industry: 20.2%
Services: 58.2% (2010 est.)

Labor Force:


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)

Unemployment Rate:

 13.1% (2009)
8.2% (2008)

Population Below Poverty Line:

 43% (2010 est.)

Household Income / Consumption By Share:

 Lowest 10%: NA%
Highest 10%: NA%

Investment (Gross Fixed):

 24.3% of GDP (2010 est.)


 Revenues: $350 million
Expenditures: $400 million (2010 est.)

Taxes and Other Revenues:

 25.1% of GDP (2010 est.)

Budget Surplus / Deficit:

 -3.6% of GDP (2010 est.)

Public Debt:

 83% of GDP (2010 est.)
83.4% of GDP (2009 est.)

Inflation Rate (Consumer Prices):

 0.9% (2010 est.)
-1.1% (2009 est.)

Central Bank Discount Rate:

 18% (31 December 2010 est.)
12% (31 December 2009 est.)

Commercial Bank Prime Lending Rate:

 13.9% (31 December 2010 est.)
14.1% (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of Money:

 $345.7 million (31 December 2008)
$323.9 million (31 December 2007)

Stock of Quasi Money:

 $653.8 million (31 December 2008)
$549 million (31 December 2007)

Stock of Narrow Money:

 $354 million (31 December 2010 est.)
$356.7 million (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of Broad Money:

 $1.282 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$1.084 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of Domestic Credit:

 $950 million (31 December 2010 est.)
$1 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

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.)

Electricity - Production:

 215.5 million kWh (2008 est.)

Electricity - Production By Source:

 Fossil fuel: 59.9%
Hydro: 40.1%
Nuclear: 0%
Other: 0% (2001)

Electricity - Consumption:

 200.4 million kWh (2008 est.)

Electricity - Exports:

 0 kWh (2009 est.)

Electricity - Imports:

 0 kWh (2009 est.)

Oil - Production:

 4,252 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Oil - Consumption:

 7,000 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Oil - Exports:

 0 bbl/day (2009 est.)

Oil - Imports:

 7,326 bbl/day (2009 est.)

Oil - Proven Reserves:

 6.7 million bbl (1 January 2011 est.)

Natural Gas - Production:

 0 cu m (2009 est.)

Natural Gas - Consumption:

 0 cu m (2009 est.)

Natural Gas - Exports:

 0 cu m (2009 est.)

Natural Gas - Imports:

 0 cu m (2009 est.)

Natural Gas - Proven Reserves:

 0 cu m (1 January 2011 est.)

Current Account Balance:

 -$24.1 million (2010 est.)
-$82.8 million (2009 est.)


 $475.7 million (2010 est.)
$383.9 million (2009 est.)

Exports - Commodities:

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

Exports - Partners:

 US 30.3%, UK 20.8%, Costa Rica 12.7%, Cote dIvoire 4.6%, Nigeria 4.6% (2010)


 $647.2 million (2010 est.)
$620.5 million (2009 est.)

Imports - Commodities:

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

Imports - Partners:

 US 34%, Mexico 14.3%, Cuba 9.5%, Guatemala 7.6%, China 4.7%, Trinidad and Tobago 4.3% (2010)

Reserves of Foreign Exchange and Gold:

 $201.7 million (31 December 2010 est.)
$213.7 million (31 December 2009 est.)

Debt - External:

 $1.01 billion (2009 est.)
$954.1 million (2008 est.)

Exchange Rates:

 Convert Belize Dollar to Any Currency

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

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Telephones - Main Lines In Use:

 30,300 (2010)

Telephones - Cellular:

 194,200 (2010)

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 60 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)

Radio Broadcast Stations:

 AM 1, FM 16, shortwave 0 (2006)

Television Broadcast Stations:

 7 (2008)

Internet Country Code:


Internet Hosts:

 2,880 (2010)

Internet Users:

 36,000 (2009)

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 45 (2010)

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
Paved: 575 km
Unpaved: 2,432 km (2006)


 825 km (navigable only by small craft) (2010)

Merchant Marine:

 Total: 231
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

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Military Branches:

 Belize Defense Force (BDF): Army, BDF Air Wing (includes Special Boat Unit), BDF Volunteer Guard (2011)

Military Service Age and Obligation:

 18 years of age for voluntary military service; law allows 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: 81,284
Females age 16-49: 79,185 (2010 est.)

Manpower Fit For Military Service:

 Males age 16-49: 59,431
Females age 16-49: 57,221 (2010 est.)

Manpower Reaching Militarily Significant Age Annually:

 Male: 3,723
Female: 3,584 (2010 est.)

Military Expenditures:

 1.4% of GDP (2009)

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Disputes - International:

 Guatemala persists in its territorial claim to half of Belize, but agrees to Line of Adjacency to keep Guatemalan squatters out of Belize's forested interior; Belize and Mexico are working to solve minor border demarcation discrepancies arising from inaccuracies in the 1898 border treaty

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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Last Updated: December 2011

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