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  • [Country flag of Belize]

    Belize

    [Country map 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 : 22,960 sq km
    land: 22,800 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

    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 February)

    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

    Land use:
    arable land: 2%
    permanent crops: 1%
    permanent pastures: 2%
    forests and woodland: 92%
    other: 3% (1993 est.)

    Irrigated land: 20 sq km (1993 est.)

    Natural hazards: frequent, devastating hurricanes (September to December) and coastal flooding (especially in south)

    Environment - current issues: deforestation; water pollution from sewage, industrial effluents, agricultural runoff

    Environment - international agreements:
    party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Endangered Species, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ship Pollution, Whaling
    signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

    Geography - 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

    People

    Population: 224,663 (July 1997 est.)

    Age structure:
    0-14 years: 43% (male 48,921; female 47,057)
    15-64 years: 54% (male 61,133; female 59,466)
    65 years and over: 3% (male 3,965; female 4,121) (July 1997 est.)

    Population growth rate: 2.42% (1997 est.)

    Birth rate: 31.91 births/1,000 population (1997 est.)

    Death rate: 5.61 deaths/1,000 population (1997 est.)

    Net migration rate: -2.12 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1997 est.)

    Sex ratio:
    at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
    under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
    15-64 years : 1.03 male(s)/female
    65 years and over: 0.96 male(s)/female
    total population: 1.03 male(s)/female (1997 est.)

    Infant mortality rate: 33.2 deaths/1,000 live births (1997 est.)

    Life expectancy at birth:
    total population: 68.75 years
    male: 66.8 years
    female: 70.81 years (1997 est.)

    Total fertility rate: 3.99 children born/woman (1997 est.)

    Nationality:
    noun: Belizean(s)
    adjective: Belizean

    Ethnic groups: 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, Mayan, Garifuna (Carib)

    Literacy:
    definition: age 14 and over has ever attended school
    total population: 70.3%
    male: 70.3%
    female: 70.3% (1991 est.)
    note : other sources list the literacy rate as high as 75%

    Government

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

    Data code: BH

    Government type: parliamentary democracy

    National 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 of the UK (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 July 1993)
    cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister
    elections: none; the queen is a hereditary monarch; governor general appointed by the queen; prime minister appointed by the governor general

    Legislative branch: bicameral National Assembly consists of the Senate (8 members; members are appointed for five-year terms, five on the advice of the prime minister, two on the advice of the leader of the opposition, and one 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.) and the National Assembly (29 seats; members are elected by direct popular vote to serve five-year terms)
    elections: National Assembly - last held 30 June 1993 (next to be held no later than September 1998)
    election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PUP 13, UDP 15, NABR 1

    Judicial branch: Supreme Court, the chief justice is appointed by the governor general on advice of the prime minister

    Political parties and leaders: People's United Party or PUP [Said MUSA]; United Democratic Party or UDP [Manuel ESQUIVEL, Dean BARROW]; National Alliance for Belizean Rights or NABR [Philip GOLDSON]

    Political pressure groups and leaders: Society for the Promotion of Education and Research or SPEAR [Assad SHOMAN]; United Workers Front

    International organization participation: ACP, C, Caricom, CDB, ECLAC, FAO, G-77, IADB, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Intelsat (nonsignatory user), Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), ITU, LAES, NAM, OAS, OPANAL, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WHO, WMO, WTrO

    Diplomatic representation in the US:
    chief of mission: Ambassador James S. MURPHY
    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

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

    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

    Economy

    Economy - 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 20% 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.

    GDP: purchasing power parity - $649 million (1996 est.)

    GDP - real growth rate: 3% (1996 est.)

    GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $2,960 (1996 est.)

    GDP - composition by sector:
    agriculture: 20%
    industry: 27%
    services : 53% (1995 est.)

    Inflation rate - consumer price index: 6.4% (1996 est.)

    Labor force:
    total : 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)

    Unemployment rate: 15% (1996 est.)

    Budget:
    revenues: $140 million
    expenditures: $180 million, including capital expenditures of NA (FY96/97 est.)

    Industries: garment production, food processing, tourism, construction

    Industrial production growth rate: 3.7% (1990)

    Electricity - capacity: 34,000 kW (1995)

    Electricity - production: NA kWh

    Electricity - consumption per capita: NA kWh

    Agriculture - products: bananas, coca, citrus, sugarcane; lumber; fish, cultured shrimp

    Exports:
    total value: $204 million (f.o.b., 1996)
    commodities: sugar, citrus fruits, bananas, clothing, fish products, molasses, wood
    partners : US 38%, UK, other EU (1994)

    Imports:
    total value: $264 million (c.i.f., 1996)
    commodities: machinery and transportation equipment, food, manufactured goods, fuels, chemicals, pharmaceuticals
    partners : US 53%, UK, other EU, Mexico (1994)

    Debt - external: $192 million (1996 est.)

    Economic aid:
    recipient : ODA, $NA

    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

    Communications

    Telephones: 29,000 (1996 est.)

    Telephone system: above-average system
    domestic: trunk network depends primarily on microwave radio relay
    international : satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)

    Radio broadcast stations: AM 6, FM 8, shortwave 1

    Radios: NA

    Television broadcast stations: 2

    Televisions: 27,048 (1993 est.)

    Transportation

    Railways: 0 km

    Highways:
    total: 2,770 km
    paved: 521 km
    unpaved : 2,249 km (1995 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: 166 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 1,592,846 GRT/1,087,555 DWT
    ships by type: bulk 17, cargo 117, chemical tanker 1, combination bulk 1, container 6, liquefied gas tanker 1, oil tanker 13, passenger-cargo 1, refrigerated cargo 4, roll-on/roll-off cargo 3, specialized tanker 1, vehicle carrier 1 (1996 est.)

    Airports: 35 (1996 est.)

    Airports - with paved runways:
    total : 25
    1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
    under 914 m: 24 (1996 est.)

    Airports - with unpaved runways:
    total: 10
    2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
    914 to 1,523 m: 9 (1996 est.)

    Military

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

    Military manpower - military age: 18 years of age

    Military manpower - availability:
    males age 15-49: 54,163 (1997 est.)

    Military manpower - fit for military service:
    males : 32,176 (1997 est.)

    Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
    males : 2,471 (1997 est.)

    Military expenditures - dollar figure: $8.1 million (FY95/96)

    Military expenditures - percent of GDP: NA%

    Transnational Issues

    Disputes - international: border with Guatemala in dispute; talks to resolve the dispute are ongoing

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