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Belize

This page is dedicated to letting people get to know the magic, the charm, and the beauty of a small, enchanting Central American/Western Caribbean Nation lovingly called the Jewel: Belize


  

About Belize

 

 

Belize (British Honduras until 1973), my home country, is a beautiful Central American/ Western Caribbean nation located on the Caribbean Sea, bordered by Mexico to the north and northwest, and Guatemala to the west and south.

It has a population of approximately 270,000 and a area of about 8,867 square miles.
Belize's government is a democratic one, but its head of state is officially the Queen of England (a member of the Commonwealth of Nations), but a Prime Minister governs the country.

Belize is subdivided into six districts, which are subdivided into 31 constituencies. The districts (and constituencies) are:

The Belize District - BZ (Albert, Belize Rural Central, Belize Rural North, Belize Rural South, Collet, Caribbean Shores, Fort George, Freetown, Lake Independence, Mesopotamia, Pickstock, Port Loyola, and Queen's Square)

The Cayo District - CY (Belmopan, Cayo Central, Cayo North, Cayo Northeast, Cayo South, and Cayo West)

The Corozal District - CZ (Corozal Bay, Corozal North, Corozal Southeast, and Corozal Southwest)

The Orange Walk District - OW (Orange Walk Central, Orange Walk East, Orange Walk North, and Orange Walk South)

The Stann Creek District - SC (Dangriga, and Stann Creek West)

The Toledo District - TO (Toledo East, and Toledo West)



History


Archaeological evidence suggests that the area was once an important Mayan settlement.
Columbus discovered the coast in 1502 but the first European occupation was an independent settlement of British woodcutters, which held out against the Spanish throughout the 17th century. From the late 18th century the British government exercised more control and in 1862 it became a colony under Jamaica. It became an independent colony in 1884 and attained internal self-government in 1964. Claims, based on early Spanish treaties, were made to it by Guatemala but despite disputes Belize achieved full independence in 1981, becoming the last Commonwealth country on the American mainland to obtain self-government.



Geography



Location:

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


Geographic Coordinates:

17 15 N, 88 45 W


Area:

Total:
               8,867 sq miles (22,966 sq km)
Water:              62 sq miles (160 sq km)
Land:                8,805 sq miles (22806 sq km)

Islands:             266 sq miles (689 sq km)


Area Comparative:

Slightly smaller than
Massachusetts, USA


Land Boundaries:

Total:                            320 miles (516 km)

Border countries:           Guatemala 165 miles (266 km)
                                      
Mexico 155 miles (250 km)


Coastline:

239 miles (386 km)


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 ft (0 m)
Highest point:   
Victoria Peak (S.C.): 3,675 ft (1,120 m)


Natural Resources:

Arable land potential, timber, fish, hydropower


Natural Hazards:

Frequent, devastating hurricanes (June to November) and coastal flooding (especially in the south)



People



Population:

262,999 (July 2002 est.)


Urban:

48.3% (2001 est.)


Age Structure:

0-14 years:                    41.6% (male 55,716; female 53,581)
15-64 years:                  54.9% (male 73,068; female 71,368)
65 years and over:          3.5% (male 4,511; female 4,755)

(2002 est.)


Population Growth Rate:

2.65% (2002 est.)


Birth Rate:

31.08 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)


Death Rate:

4.6 deaths/1,000 population (2002 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 older:         0.95 male(s)/female

Total population:            1.03 male(s)/female

(2002 est.)


Infant Mortality Rate:

24.31 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)



Life Expectancy at Birth:

Total population:            74.5 years
Female:                        75.9 years
Male:                            73.0 years

(2002 est.)


Total Fertility Rate:

3.96 children born/woman (2002 est.)


Nationality:

Noun:                Belizean(s)
Adjective:          Belizean


Ethnic Groups:

Mestizo (Spanish/Indian) 48.7%; Creole (English/African) 24.9%; Maya (indigenous) 10.6%; Garifuna (African/Arawak) 6.1%; Other (North Americans, Europeans, Syrians, Lebanese, Chinese, Taiwanese, East Indians) 9.7%

 

(2000 Census)


Religions:

Roman Catholic 49.6%; 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 census)


Languages:

English (official), Spanish, Maya,
Garifuna (Carib), Creole, German


Literacy:

Definition:                      age 15+ who can read and write
Total population:            94%
Male:                            94.2%
Female:                        93.8%

(2000 census)



Government


Country Name:


Conventional Short Form:          
Belize

Conventional Long Form:            None
Former:                                    
British Honduras


Government Type::

Parliamentary Democracy


Capital:

Belmopan, Cy


Administrative Divisions:

6 districts; 31 constituencies


Independence:

21 September, 1981 (from UK)


Constitution:

21 September, 1981


Legal System:

English Law


Suffrage (Voting Age):

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 - re-elected on 5 March 2003); Deputy Prime Minister John Briceno (since 1 September 1998)

Cabinet:

Cabinet appointed by the 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 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 Civil Society Steering Committee; members are appointed for five-year terms) and the House of Representatives (29 constituency seats; members are elected by popular vote in their respective constituencies to serve five-year terms)

Elections:

House of Representatives - last held 5 March 2003 (next to be held March 2008)

Election Results:

Seats by party: PUP (People's United Party) 21; UDP (United Democratic Party) 8; WTP (We The People) 0


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]; We the People {vacant}


International Organizations:

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


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 white 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.


National Anthem:

Land of the Free

O, land of the free by the
Carib Sea,
our manhood we pledge to thy liberty!
No tyrants here linger, despots must flee
This tranquil haven of democracy
The blood of our sires which hallows the sod,
Brought freedom from slavery oppression's rod,
By the might of truth and the grace of God.
No longer shall we be hewers of wood.

Arise! ye sons of the Baymen's clan,
put on your armour, clear the land!
Drive back the tyrants, let despots flee-
Land of the Free by the
Carib Sea!

Nature has blessed thee with wealth untold,
O'er mountains and valleys where prairies roll;
Our fathers, the Baymen, valiant and bold
Drove back the invader; this heritage hold
From proud Rio Hondo to old Sarstoon
Through coral isle, over blue lagoon;
Keep watch with the angels, the stars and moon;
For freedom comes tomorrow's noon.

Arise! ye sons of the Baymen's clan,
put on your armour, clear the land!
Drive back the tyrants, let despots flee-
Land of the Free by the
Carib Sea!


National Prayer:

The Belizean Prayer

Almighty and Eternal God, who through Jesus Christ
has revealed your glory to all nations, please protect and
preserve
Belize, our beloved country.

God of might, wisdom and justice, please assist our
Belizean government and people with your Holy Spirit of
counsel and fortitude.

Let the light of your divine wisdom direct their plans
and endeavours so that with your help we may attain our
just objectives. With your guidance, may all our
endeavours tend to peace, social justice, liberty, national
happiness, the increase of industry, sobriety and useful knowledge.

We pray, O God of Mercy, for all of us that we may
be blessed in the knowledge and sanctified in the
observance of your most holy law, that we may be
preserved in union and in that peace which the world itself cannot give.
And, after enjoying the blessings of this life, please admit us, dear Lord,
to that eternal reward that you have prepared for those who love you. Amen.


National Animal:

Baird's tapir


National Bird:

Keel-billed toucan


National Flower:

Black orchid


National Tree:

Mahogany



Economy


GDP:

Purchasing Power:         US Million 

 

(2001 est.)


GDP, Real Growth Rate:

3%

 

(2001 est.)


GDP, Per Capita:

Purchasing Power:         US,250

 

(2001 est.)


GDP, Composition By Sector:

Agriculture:        18%
Industry:            24%
Services:           58%

(2001 est.)


Population Below Poverty Line:

33%

 

(1999 est.)


Industries:

Garment production, food processing, tourism, and construction


Agriculture Products:

Bananas, cacao, citrus, sugarcane, lumber, fish, and cultured shrimp


Exports:

US.6 Million

 

(2001 est.)


Exports, Commodities:

Sugar, bananas, citrus, clothing, fish products, molasses, and wood


Exports Partners:

EU 45% (
UK 35%), USA 42%, Caricom (Caribbean Community) 6%, Canada 1%

 

(1999)


Imports Partners:

USA 51%, Mexico 12%, Central America 5%, UK 4%

 

(1999)


Debt External:

US Million

 

(2000 est.)


Currency:


Belizean Dollar (BZD or BZ$)


Exchange Rates:

Belizean Dollars per US Dollar: 2.0000 (fixed rate pegged to the US dollar)


Fiscal Year:

1 April to 31 March



Transportation


Railways:

0 miles (0 km)


Highways:

1,785 miles (2,880 km)


Ports and Harbors:

Belize City, BZ; San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, BZ; Dangriga, SC; Commerce Bight, SC; Big Creek, TO; Punta Gorda, TO; Corozal, CZ


Ports of Entry, Land:

Santa Elena, CZ (
Mexico); La Union, OW (Mexico); Benque Viejo Del Carmen, CY (Guatemala)


Airports:

International:     1
Domestic:         44



Holidays - 2006

 

 

New Year's Day:

 

January 2 (in lieu of Sunday, Jan 1) 

 

Baron Bliss Day:

 

March 6 (in lieu of Thursday, Mar 9)

 

Good Friday:

 

April 14

 

Holy Saturday:

 

April 15

 

Easter Sunday:

 

April 16

 

Easter Monday:

 

April 17

 

Labour Day:

 

May 1

 

Commonwealth Day/Sovereign's Day:

 

May 22 (in lieu of Wednesday, May 24) 

 

St George's Caye Day/National Day:

 

September 11 (in lieu of Sunday, Sep 10)

 

Carnival, Independence (Belize City, BZ):

 

September 9

 

 

Independence Day:

 

September 21

 

 

Carnival (Orange Walk, OW; San Ignacio, CY):

 

September 21

 

Columbus Day/Pan American Day/Day of the Americas:

 

October 9 (in lieu of Thursday, Oct 12)

 

Garifuna Settlement Day:

 

November 20 (in lieu of Sunday, Nov 19)



Christmas Day:

 

December 25

 

Boxing Day:

 

December 26

 

 


The Districts

 

B E L I Z E   ( BZ )


Population:

76,370; ranks 1st


Area:

1,623 sq miles (4,204 sq km); ranks 4th


Capital:

Belize City

 

 

Constituencies:


Albert, Belize Rural Central, Belize Rural North, Belize Rural South, Caribbean Shores, Collet, Fort George, Freetown, Lake Independence, Mesopotamia, Pickstock, Port Loyola, Queen's Square



Main Cities/Towns and Population:

Belize City                                55,380
San Pedro (Ambergris Caye)         5,495
Ladyville                                      3,435
Lord's Bank                                 1,623
Sand Hill                                     1,249
Burrell Boom                               1,033
Caye Caulker                                  742



 

 

C A Y O   ( CY )


Population:

55,950; ranks 2nd


Area:

2,061 sq miles (5,338 sq km); ranks 1st


Capital:

San Ignacio


 

Constituencies:


Belmopan, Cayo Central, Cayo North, Cayo Northeast, Cayo South, Cayo West

 

 


Main Cities/Towns and Population:

San Ignacio/Santa Elena            14,125
Belmopan                                    9,115
Benque Viejo Del Carmen             5,535
San Antonio                                2,124
Camalote                                    1,832
Valley of Peace                           1,809
Spanish Lookout                          1,786
Roaring Creek                              1,684
Calla Creek                                 1,506
Succotz                                      1,463
Ontario                                        1,319
Santa Familia                              1,209
Duck Run                                    1,037




C O R O Z A L    ( CZ )


Population:

33,750; ranks 4th


Area:

718 sq miles (1,860 sq km); ranks 6th


Capital:

Corozal

 

 

Constituencies:


Corozal Bay, Corozal North, Corozal Southest, Corozal Southwest



Main Cities/Towns and Population:

Corozal                         8,215
San Narciso                  2,324
Little Belize                   2,059
Sarteneja                      1,648
Chunox                         1,443
Calcutta                        1,353
Caledonia                      1,276
Xaibe                            1,254
Libertad                         1,226
San Pedro                     1,225
Buena Vista                  1,186
Progresso                     1,165
Patchakan                     1,142



O R A N G E    W A L K    ( OW )


Population:

40,725; ranks 3rd


Area:

1,829 sq miles (4,737 sq km); ranks 2nd


Capital:

Orange Walk

 

 

Constituencies:


Orange Walk Central, Orange Walk East, Orange Walk North, Orange Walk South



Main Cities/Towns and Population:

Orange Walk                 22,085
Trial Farm                        3,443
Guinea Grass                  2,510
Shipyard                         2,385
San Jose                         2,254
August Pine Ridge           1,608
San Estevan                    1,573
Yo Creek                         1,317
Carmelita                        1,269
Indian Church                  1,157

San Jose Palmar             1,109
San Pablo                       1,100
San Felipe                       1,058
San Lazaro                      1,000



S T A N N    C R E E K   ( SC )


Population:

26,000; ranks 5th


Area:

840 sq miles (2,176 sq km); ranks 5th


Capital:

Dangriga

 

 

Constituencies:

Dangriga, Stann Creek West

 

 


Main Cities/Towns and Population:

 

Dangriga                       9,345

Independence                2,255

Maya Mopan                 1,472

San Juan Busco            1,147

Riversdale                     1,072

Melinda                         1,055

Alta Vista                      1,041

Hopkins                        1,027

 

 

 

 

T O L E D O    ( TO )

 

 

Population:

 

24,515; ranks 6th

 

 

Area:

 

1,795 sq miles (4,648 sq km); ranks 3rd

 

 

Capital:

 

Punta Gorda

 

 

Constituencies:

 

Toledo East, Toledo West

 

 

Main Cities/Towns and Population:

 

Punta Gorda                  4,535

San Antonio                  1,411

Big Falls                       1,110

Jalacte                          1,068

Golden Stream              1,067

Aguacate                      1,012

Jacinto                             967

 


To learn more about Belize, visit:
Belize Tourism Board

 
   


UnBelizeable