[Country map of Belize]



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

Map references: Central America and the Caribbean

total area: 22,960 sq km
land area: 22,800 sq km
comparative area: slightly larger than Massachusetts

Land boundaries: total 516 km, 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 miles; 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

International disputes: border with Guatemala in dispute; talks to resolve the dispute are stalled

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

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

Natural resources: arable land potential, timber, fish

Land use:
arable land: 2%
permanent crops: 0%
meadows and pastures: 2%
forest and woodland: 44%
other: 52%

Irrigated land: 20 sq km (1989 est.)

current issues: deforestation; water pollution from sewage, industrial effluents, agricultural runoff
natural hazards: frequent, devastating hurricanes (September to December) and coastal flooding (especially in south)
international agreements: party to - Biodiversity, Climate Change, Endangered Species, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping

Note: national capital moved 80 km inland from Belize City to Belmopan because of hurricanes; only country in Central America without a coastline on the North Pacific Ocean


Population: 214,061 (July 1995 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 44% (female 45,812; male 47,618)
15-64 years: 53% (female 55,630; male 57,230)
65 years and over: 3% (female 3,970; male 3,801) (July 1995 est.)

Population growth rate: 2.42% (1995 est.)

Birth rate: 33.71 births/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Death rate: 5.86 deaths/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Net migration rate: -3.7 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 34.7 deaths/1,000 live births (1995 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 68.32 years
male: 66.37 years
female: 70.36 years (1995 est.)

Total fertility rate: 4.25 children born/woman (1995 est.)

noun: Belizean(s)
adjective: Belizean

Ethnic divisions: mestizo 44%, Creole 30%, Maya 11%, Garifuna 7%, other 8%

Religions: Roman Catholic 62%, Protestant 30% (Anglican 12%, Methodist 6%, Mennonite 4%, Seventh-Day Adventist 3%, Pentecostal 2%, Jehovah's Witnesses 1%, other 2%), none 2%, other 6% (1980)

Languages: English (official), Spanish, Maya, Garifuna (Carib)

Literacy: age 15 and over has ever attended school (1970)
total population: 91%
male: 91%
female: 91%

Labor force: 51,500
by occupation: agriculture 30%, services 16%, government 15.4%, commerce 11.2%, manufacturing 10.3%
note: shortage of skilled labor and all types of technical personnel (1985)


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

Digraph: BH

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 (since 17 November 1993)
head of government: Prime Minister Manuel ESQUIVEL (since July 1993); Deputy Prime Minister Dean BARROW (since NA 1993)
cabinet: Cabinet; appointed by the governor general on advice from the prime minister

Legislative branch: bicameral National Assembly
Senate: consists of an 8-member appointed body; 5 members are appointed on the advice of the prime minister, 2 on the advice of the leader of the opposition, and 1 after consultation with the Belize Advisory Council (this council serves as an independent body to advise the governor-general with respect to difficult decisions such as granting pardons, commutations, stays of execution, the removal of justices of appeal who appear to be incompetent, etc.)
National Assembly: elections last held 30 June 1993 (next to be held June 1998); results - percent of vote by party NA; seats - (28 total) PUP 13 UDP 15

Judicial branch: Supreme Court

Political parties and leaders: People's United Party (PUP), George PRICE, Florencio MARIN, Said MUSA; United Democratic Party (UDP), Manuel ESQUIVEL, Dean LINDO, Dean BARROW; National Alliance for Belizean Rights, Philip GOLDSON

Other political or pressure groups: Society for the Promotion of Education and Research (SPEAR), Assad SHOMAN; United Workers Front, leader NA


Diplomatic representation in US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Dean R. LINDO
chancery: 2535 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 332-9636
FAX: [1] (202) 332-6888
consulate(s) general: Los Angeles
consulate(s): New York

US diplomatic representation:
chief of mission: Ambassador George Charles BRUNO
embassy: Gabourel Lane and Hutson Street, Belize City
mailing address: P. O. Box 286, Belize City; APO: Unit 7401, APO AA 34025
telephone: [501] (2) 77161 through 77163
FAX: [501] (2) 30802

Flag: 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


Overview: The small, essentially private enterprise economy is based primarily on agriculture, agro-based industry, and merchandising, with tourism and construction assuming increasing importance. Agriculture accounts for about 30% of GDP and provides 75% of export earnings, while sugar, the chief crop, accounts for almost 40% of hard currency earnings. The US, Belize's main trading partner, is assisting in efforts to reduce dependency on sugar with an agricultural diversification program.

National product: GDP - purchasing power parity - $575 million (1994 est.)

National product real growth rate: 2% (1994 est.)

National product per capita: $2,750 (1994 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 5.5% (1991)

Unemployment rate: 10% (1993 est.)

revenues: $126.8 million
expenditures: $123.1 million, including capital expenditures of $44.8 million (FY90/91 est.)

Exports: $115 million (f.o.b., 1993)
commodities: sugar, citrus fruits, bananas, clothing, fish products, molasses, wood
partners: US 51%, UK, other EC (1992)

Imports: $281 million (c.i.f., 1993)
commodities: machinery and transportation equipment, food, manufactured goods, fuels, chemicals, pharmaceuticals
partners: US 57%, UK 8%, other EC 7%, Mexico (1992)

External debt: $158 million (1992)

Industrial production: growth rate 3.7% (1990); accounts for 12% of GDP

capacity: 34,532 kW
production: 110 million kWh
consumption per capita: 490 kWh (1993)

Industries: garment production, food processing, tourism, construction

Agriculture: commercial crops: bananas, coca, citrus fruits, fish, cultured shrimp, lumber

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

Economic aid:
recipient: US commitments, including Ex-Im (FY70-89), $104 million; Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-89), $215 million

Currency: 1 Belizean dollar (Bz$) = 100 cents

Exchange rates: Belizean dollars (Bz$) per US$1 - 2.00 (fixed rate)

Fiscal year: 1 April - 31 March


Railroads: 0 km

total: 2,710 km
paved: 500 km
unpaved: gravel 1,600 km; improved earth 300 km; unimproved earth 310 km

Inland waterways: 825 km river network used by shallow-draft craft; seasonally navigable

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

Merchant marine:
total: 41 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 170,002 GRT/270,893 DWT
ships by type: bulk 5, cargo 25, container 4, oil tanker 2, refrigerated cargo 1, roll-on/roll-off cargo 3, vehicle carrier 1

total: 46
with paved runways 1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
with paved runways under 914 m: 35
with unpaved runways 2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
with unpaved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 9


Telephone system: 8,650 telephones; above-average system based on microwave radio relay
local: NA
intercity: microwave radio relay
international: 1 INTELSAT (Atlantic Ocean) earth station

broadcast stations: AM 6, FM 5, shortwave 1
radios: NA

broadcast stations: 1
televisions: NA

Defense Forces

Branches: Belize Defense Force (includes Army, Navy, Air Force, and Volunteer Guard), Belize National Police

Manpower availability: males age 15-49 50,499; males fit for military service 30,040; males reach military age (18) annually 2,285 (1995 est.)

Defense expenditures: exchange rate conversion - $11 million, 2.2% of GDP (FY93/94)