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Map of Belize showing archaeological sites currently under investigation.
For printable version of the map above click here


The national flag of Belize

   
   
   
   
   
   

Geography

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: 2.81%
permanent crops: 1.1%
other: 96.09% (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

Population:

266,440 (July 2003 est.)

Age structure:

0-14 years: 41.1% (male 55,880; female 53,706)
15-64 years: 55.3% (male 74,612; female 72,813)
65 years and over: 3.5% (male 4,571; female 4,858) (2003 est.)

Median age:

total: 18.9 years
male: 18.8 years
female: 19 years (2002)

Population growth rate:

2.44% (2003 est.)

Birth rate:

30.46 births/1,000 population (2003 est.)

Death rate:

6.05 deaths/1,000 population (2003 est.)

Net migration rate:

0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2003 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: 0.94 male(s)/female
total population: 1.03 male(s)/female (2003 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 27.07 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 23.42 deaths/1,000 live births (2003 est.)
male: 30.56 deaths/1,000 live births

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 67.36 years
male: 65.19 years
female: 69.63 years (2003 est.)

Total fertility rate:

3.86 children born/woman (2003 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

2% (2001 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:

2,500 (2001 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

300 (2001 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 (Yukatek and K'ek'chi), Garifuna (Carib), Creole

Literacy:

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 94.1%
male: 94.1%
female: 94.1% (2003 est.)

Government

Country name:

conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Belize
former: British Honduras

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 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 - 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 5 March 2003 (next to be held NA 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:

ACP, C, Caricom, CDB, ECLAC, FAO, G-77, IADB, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ITU, LAES, NAM, OAS, OPANAL, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTrO

Diplomatic representation in the US:

chief of mission: Ambassador Lisa M. SHOMAN
consulate(s) general: Los Angeles
FAX: [1] (202) 332-6888
telephone: [1] (202) 332-9636
chancery: 2535 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008

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] 227-7161 through 7163
FAX: [501] 30802

Flag description:

blue with a narrow red stripe along the top and the bottom edges; centred 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

Economy - overview:

In this small, essentially private enterprise economy the tourism industry is the number one foreign exchange earner followed by cane sugar, citrus, marine products, bananas, and garments. The government's expansionary monetary and fiscal policies, initiated in September 1998, led to GDP growth of 6.5% in 1999, 10.8% in 2000, 4.6% in 2001, and 3.7% in 2002. Major concerns continue to be the sizable 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 - $1.28 billion (2002 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

3.7% (2002 est.)

GDP - per capita:

purchasing power parity - $4,900 (2002 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):

1.9% (2002 est.)

Labor force:

90,000
note: shortage of skilled labor and all types of technical personnel

Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture 27%, industry 18%, services 55% (2001 est.)

Unemployment rate:

9.1% (2002)

Budget:

revenues: $224 million
expenditures: $209 million, including capital expenditures of $70 million (2002 est.)

Industries:

garment production, food processing, tourism, construction

Industrial production growth rate:

4.6% (1999)

Electricity - production:

199.5 million kWh (2001)

Electricity - production by source:

fossil fuel: 59.9%
hydro: 40.1%
other: 0% (2001)
nuclear: 0%

Electricity - consumption:

185.5 million kWh (2001)

Electricity - exports:

0 kWh (2001)

Electricity - imports:

0 kWh (2001)

Oil - production:

0 bbl/day (2001 est.)

Oil - consumption:

5,000 bbl/day (2001 est.)

Oil - exports:

NA (2001)

Oil - imports:

NA (2001)

Agriculture - products:

bananas, coca, citrus, sugar; fish, cultured shrimp; lumber; garments

Exports:

$290 million f.o.b. (2002 est.)

Exports - commodities:

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

Exports - partners:

US 40.5%, UK 23.2%, Peru 8.3% (2002)

Imports:

$430 million c.i.f. (2002 est.)

Imports - commodities:

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

Imports - partners:

US 35.7%, Mexico 10.1%, Netherlands Antilles 6.1%, Japan 5.9%, Cuba 5.7%, UK 5.4% (2002)

Debt - external:

$475 million (2001 est.)

Economic aid - recipient:

$NA

Currency:

Belizean dollar (BZD)

Currency code:

BZD

Exchange rates:

Belizean dollars per US dollar - 2 (2002), 2 (2001), 2 (2000), 2 (1999), 2 (1998)

Fiscal year:

1 April - 31 March

Communications

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:

18,000 (2002)

Transportation

Railways:

0 km

Highways:

total: 2,872 km
paved: 488 km
unpaved: 2,384 km (1999 est.)

Waterways:

825 km (river network used by shallow-draft craft; seasonally navigable)

Ports and harbors:

Belize City, Big Creek, Corozol, Punta Gorda

Merchant marine:

total: 292 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 1,030,141 GRT/1,499,777 DWT
ships by type: bulk 15, cargo 200, chemical tanker 7, combination ore/oil 1, container 12, petroleum tanker 31, refrigerated cargo 18, roll on/roll off 5, specialized tanker 2, 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:

42 (2002)

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 4
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 2 (2002)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 38
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 10
under 914 m: 27 (2002)

Military

Military branches:

Belize Defence Force (includes Army, Maritime Wing, Air Wing, and Volunteer Guard)

Military manpower - military age:

18 years of age (2003 est.)

Military manpower - availability:

males age 15-49: 66,332 (2003 est.)

Military manpower - fit for military service:

males age 15-49: 39,337 (2003 est.)

Military manpower - reaching military age annually:

males: 3,046 (2003 est.)

Military expenditures - dollar figure:

$7.7 million (FY00/01)

Military expenditures - percent of GDP:

1.87% (FY00/01)

Trans-national Issues

Disputes - international:

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. Since then Guatemala has claimed half of southern Belize; Guatemalan squatters continue to settle along the border despite a 2000 agreement; OAS brokered a Differendum in 2002 that created a small adjustment to land boundary, a large Guatemalan maritime corridor in the Caribbean, a joint ecological park for disputed Sapodilla Cays, and a substantial US-UK financial package, but agreement was not brought to a popular referendum


Sub Umbra Floreo

All data presented above are from GreatestCities.com City Info and Real Estate TM http://www.greatestcities.com/Central_America/Belize.html

The content of the page was last updated on 18 December, 2003.
For additional information go to: http://www.belize.gov.bz


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