Belize Population: 385,854


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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 1862. 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. Both nations have voted to send the dispute for final resolution to the International Court of Justice. Tourism has become the mainstay of the economy. Current concerns include the country's heavy foreign debt burden, high crime rates, high unemployment combined with a majority youth population, growing involvement in the Mexican and South American drug trade, and one of the highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rates in Central America.

    Only country in Central America without a coastline on the North Pacific Ocean
Location: Central America, bordering the Caribbean Sea, between Guatemala and Mexico
Geographic coordinates: 17 15 N, 88 45 W
Area: total: 22,966 sq km
land: 22,806 sq km
water: 160 sq km

Size comparison: slightly smaller than Massachusetts
Land Boundaries: total: 542 km border countries (2): Guatemala 266 km, Mexico 276 km
Coastline: 386 km
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
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
Natural resources: arable land potential, timber, fish, hydropower
Land use: agricultural land: 6.9% (2011 est.) arable land: 3.3% (2011 est.)
permanent crops: 1.4% (2011 est.) permanent pasture: 2.2% (2011 est.) forest: 60.6% (2011 est.)
other: 32.5% (2011 est.)
Irrigated land: 35 sq km (2012)
Natural hazards: frequent, devastating hurricanes (June to November) and coastal flooding (especially in south)
Current Environment Issues: deforestation; water pollution, including pollution of Belize's Barrier Reef System, from sewage, industrial effluents, agricultural runoff; inability to properly dispose of solid waste
International Environment 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
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Nationality: noun: Belizean(s)
adjective: Belizean
Ethnic groups: mestizo 52.9%, Creole 25.9%, Maya 11.3%, Garifuna 6.1%, East Indian 3.9%, Mennonite 3.6%, white 1.2%, Asian 1%, other 1.2%, unknown 0.3% (2010 est.) note: percentages add up to more than 100% because respondents were able to identify more than one ethnic origin
Languages: English 62.9% (official), Spanish 56.6%, Creole 44.6%, Maya 10.5%, German 3.2%, Garifuna 2.9%, other 1.8%, unknown 0.3%, none 0.2% (cannot speak) (2010 est.) note: shares sum to more than 100% because some respondents gave more than one answer on the census
Religions: Roman Catholic 40.1%, Protestant 31.5% (includes Pentecostal 8.4%, Seventh Day Adventist 5.4%, Anglican 4.7%, Mennonite 3.7%, Baptist 3.6%, Methodist 2.9%, Nazarene 2.8%), Jehovah's Witness 1.7%, other 10.5% (includes Baha'i, Buddhist, Hindu, Mormon, Muslim, Rastafarian, Salvation Army), unspecified 0.6%, none 15.5% (2010 est.)
Population: 385,854 (July 2018 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 33.61% (male 66,207 /female 63,466)
15-24 years: 18.74% (male 37,184 /female 35,127)
25-54 years: 37.43% (male 70,222 /female 74,187)
55-64 years: 5.88% (male 11,397 /female 11,284)
65 years and over: 4.35% (male 8,293 /female 8,487) (2018 est.)
Dependency ratios: total dependency ratio: 56.8 (2015 est.)
youth dependency ratio: 50.9 (2015 est.)
elderly dependency ratio: 5.9 (2015 est.)
potential support ratio: 17 (2015 est.)
Median age: total: 23.7 years
male: 23.2 years
female: 24.4 years (2018 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.8% (2018 est.)
Birth rate: 22.9 births/1,000 population (2018 est.)
Death rate: 4.2 deaths/1,000 population (2018 est.)
Net migration rate: -0.6 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2018 est.)
Urbanization: urban population: 45.7% of total population (2018)
rate of urbanization: 2.32% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)
Major urban areas - population: 23,000 BELMOPAN (capital) (2018)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 0.95 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.98 male(s)/female
total population: 1 male(s)/female (2018 est.)
Maternal mortality rate: 28 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 12 deaths/1,000 live births male: 13.3 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 10.7 deaths/1,000 live births (2018 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 74.7 years male: 73.1 years
female: 76.3 years (2018 est.)
Total fertility rate: 2.8 children born/woman (2018 est.)
Contraceptive prevalence rate: 51.4% (2015/16)
Physicians density: 1.13 physicians/1,000 population (2017)
Hospital bed density: 1.3 beds/1,000 population (2014)
Drinking water source: improved:
urban: 98.9% of population
rural: 100% of population
total: 99.5% of population

urban: 1.1% of population
rural: 0% of population
total: 0.5% of population (2015 est.)
Sanitation facility access: improved:
urban: 93.5% of population (2015 est.)
rural: 88.2% of population (2015 est.)
total: 90.5% of population (2015 est.)

urban: 6.5% of population (2015 est.)
rural: 11.8% of population (2015 est.)
total: 9.5% of population (2015 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 1.9% (2017 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: 4,500 (2017 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths: <200 (2017 est.)
Obesity - adult prevalence rate: 24.1% (2016)
Children under the age of 5 years underweight: 4.6% (2015)
Education expenditures: 7.1% of GDP (2017)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education): total: 13 years male: 13 years female: 13 years (2017)
Unemployment, youth ages 15-24: total: 15.3% male: 9.5% female: 24.8% (2017 est.)
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Country name: conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Belize
former: British Honduras
etymology: may be named for the Belize River, whose name possibly derives from the Maya word "belix," meaning "muddy-watered"
Government type: parliamentary democracy (National Assembly) under a constitutional monarchy; a Commonwealth realm
Capital: name: Belmopan
geographic coordinates: 17 15 N, 88 46 W
time difference: UTC-6 (1 hour behind Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
etymology:  the decision to move the capital of the country inland to higher and more stable land was made in the 1960s; the name chosen for the new city was formed from the union of two words: "Belize," the name of the longest river in the country, and "Mopan," one of the rivers in the area of the new capital that empties into the Belize River
Administrative divisions: 6 districts; Belize, Cayo, Corozal, Orange Walk, Stann Creek, Toledo
Independence: 21 September 1981 (from the UK)
National holiday: Battle of St. George's Caye Day (National Day), 10 September (1798); Independence Day, 21 September (1981)
Constitution: history: previous 1954, 1963 (preindependence); latest signed and entered into force 21 September 1981 amendments: proposed and adopted by two-thirds majority vote by the National Assembly House of Representatives except for amendments relating to rights and freedoms, changes to the Assembly, and to elections and judiciary matters, which require at least three-quarters majority vote by the House; both types of amendments require assent by the governor general; amended several times, last in 2018 (2019)
Legal system: English common 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 Norbert YOUNG, Sr. (since 17 November 1993)

head of government: Prime Minister Dean Oliver BARROW (since 8 February 2008); Deputy Prime Minister Patrick FABER (since 7 June 2016)

cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister from among members of the National Assembly elections/appointments: the monarchy is hereditary; governor general appointed by the monarch; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or majority coalition usually appointed prime minister by the governor general; prime minister recommends the deputy prime minister
Legislative branch: description: bicameral National Assembly consists of: Senate (14 seats, including the president); 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, non-governmental organizations in good standing, and the National Trade Union Congress and the Civil Society Steering Committee; Senate president elected from among the Senate members or from outside the Senate; term of appointmentn/aHouse of Representatives (31 seats; members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote to serve 5-year terms)

elections: Senate -  last appointed 13 November 2015 (next appointments NA) House of Representatives - last held on 4 November 2015 (next to be held in November 2020)

election results: Senate - composition as of June 2019 - men 11, women 3, percent of women 21.4% House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - UDP 50%, PUP 47.3%, other 2.7%; seats by party - UDP 19, PUP 12; composition - men 29, women 2; percent of women 6.5%; note - total National Assembly percent of women as of June 2019 - 11.1%
Judicial branch: highest courts: Supreme Court of Judicature (consists of the Court of Appeal with the court president and 3 justices, and the Supreme Court with the chief justice and 10 justices); note - in 2010, Belize acceded to the Caribbean Court of Justice as the final court of appeal, replacing that of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London judge selection and term of office: Court of Appeal president and justices appointed by the governor-general upon advice of the prime minister after consultation with the National Assembly opposition leader; justices' tenures vary by terms of appointment; Supreme Court chief justice appointed by the governor-general upon the advice of the prime minister and the National Assembly opposition leader; other judges appointed by the governor-general upon the advice of the Judicial and Legal Services Section of the Public Services Commission and with the concurrence of the prime minister after consultation with the National Assembly opposition leader; judges can be appointed beyond age 65 but must retire by age 75; in 2013, the Supreme Court chief justice overturned a constitutional amendment that had restricted Court of Appeal judge appointments to as short as 1 year

subordinate courts: Magistrates' Courts; Family Court
Political parties and leaders: Belize Progressive Party or BPP [Patrick ROGERS] (formed in 2015 from a merger of the People's National Party, elements of the Vision Inspired by the People, and other smaller political groups) People's United Party or PUP [Johnny BRICENO] United Democratic Party or UDP [Dean Oliver BARROW] Vision Inspired by the People or VIP [Hubert ENRIQUEZ]
International organization participation: ACP, AOSIS, C, Caricom, CD, CDB, CELAC, FAO, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (NGOs), ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ITU, LAES, MIGA, NAM, OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, PCA, Petrocaribe, SICA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
National symbol(s): Baird's tapir (a large, browsing, forest-dwelling mammal), keel-billed toucan, Black Orchid;
national colors: red, blue
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)
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Francisco Daniel GUTIEREZ (since 21 July 2017)
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): Miami
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d’Affaires Keith R. GILGES (since 24 July 2018)
embassy: 4 Floral Park Road, Belmopan City, Cayo District
mailing address: P.O. Box 497, Belmopan City, Cayo District, Belize
telephone: [011] (501) 822-4011
FAX: [011] (501) 822-4012
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Tourism is the number one foreign exchange earner in this small economy, followed by exports of sugar, bananas, citrus, marine products, and crude oil. The government's expansionary monetary and fiscal policies, initiated in September 1998, led to GDP growth averaging nearly 4% in 1999-2007, but GPD growth has averaged only 2.1% from 2007-2016, with 2.5% growth estimated for 2017. Belize’s dependence on energy imports makes it susceptible to energy price shocks. Although Belize has the third highest per capita income in Central America, the average income figure masks a huge income disparity between rich and poor, and a key government objective remains reducing poverty and inequality with the help of international donors. High unemployment, a growing trade deficit and heavy foreign debt burden continue to be major concerns. Belize faces continued pressure from rising sovereign debt, and a growing trade imbalance.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $3.218 billion (2017 est.) $3.194 billion (2016 est.) $3.21 billion (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars
GDP (official exchange rate): $1.854 billion (2017 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 0.8% (2017 est.) -0.5% (2016 est.) 3.8% (2015 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP): $8,300 (2017 est.) $8,500 (2016 est.) $8,800 (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars
Gross national saving: 11.3% of GDP (2017 est.) 13.3% of GDP (2016 est.) 14.2% of GDP (2015 est.) GDP - composition, by end use: household consumption: 75.1% (2017 est.) government consumption: 15.2% (2017 est.) investment in fixed capital: 22.5% (2017 est.) investment in inventories: 1.2% (2017 est.) exports of goods and services: 49.1% (2017 est.) imports of goods and services: -63.2% (2017 est.) GDP - composition, by sector of origin: agriculture: 10.3% (2017 est.) industry: 21.6% (2017 est.) services: 68% (2017 est.)
Agriculture - products: bananas, cacao, citrus, sugar; fish, cultured shrimp; lumber
Industries: garment production, food processing, tourism, construction, oil
Industrial production growth rate: -0.6% (2017 est.)
Labor force: 120,500 (2008 est.) note: shortage of skilled labor and all types of technical personnel
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 10.2%
industry: 18.1%
services: 71.7% (2007 est.)
Unemployment rate: 9% (2017 est.) 8% (2016 est.)
Population below poverty line: 41% (2013 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: n/a
highest 10%: n/a
Budget: revenues: 553.5 million (2017 est.)
expenditures: 572 million (2017 est.)
Taxes and other revenues: 29.9% (of GDP) (2017 est.) Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-): -1% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
Public debt: 99% of GDP (2017 est.) 95.9% of GDP (2016 est.)
Fiscal year: 1 April - 31 March
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 1.1% (2017 est.) 0.7% (2016 est.)
Current account balance: -$143 million (2017 est.) -$163 million (2016 est.)
Exports: $457.5 million (2017 est.) $442.7 million (2016 est.)
Exports - commodities: sugar, bananas, citrus, clothing, fish products, molasses, wood, crude oil
Exports - partners: UK 33.9%, US 22%, Jamaica 6.7%, Italy 6.4%, Barbados 5.9%, Ireland 5.5%, Netherlands 4.3% (2017)
Imports: $845.9 million (2017 est.) $916.2 million (2016 est.)
Imports - commodities: machinery and transport equipment, manufactured goods; fuels, chemicals, pharmaceuticals; food, beverages, tobacco
Imports - partners: US 35.6%, China 11.2%, Mexico 11.2%, Guatemala 6.9% (2017)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $312.1 million (31 December 2017 est.) $376.7 million (31 December 2016 est.)
Debt - external: $1.315 billion (31 December 2017 est.) $1.338 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home: n/a
Market value of publicly traded shares: n/a
Exchange rates: Belizean dollars (BZD) per US dollar - 2 (2017 est.) 2 (2016 est.) 2 (2015 est.) 2 (2014 est.) 2 (2013 est.)
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Electricity - production: 280 million kWh (2016 est.)
Electricity - consumption: 453 million kWh (2016 est.)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2016 est.)
Electricity - imports: 243 million kWh (2016 est.)
Electricity - installed generating capacity: 198,000 kW (2016 est.)
Electricity - from fossil fuels: 51% of total installed capacity (2016 est.)
Electricity - from nuclear fuels: 0% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
Electricity - from hydroelectric plants: 27% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
Electricity - from other renewable sources: 22% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
Crude oil - production: 2,000 bbl/day (2017 est.)
Crude oil - exports: 1,220 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Crude oil - imports: 0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Crude oil - proved reserves: 6.7 million bbl (1 January 2018 est.)
Refined petroleum products - production: 36 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Refined petroleum products - consumption: 4,000 bbl/day (2016 est.)
Refined petroleum products - exports: 0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Refined petroleum products - imports: 4,161 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Natural gas - production: 0 cu m (2017 est.)
Natural gas - consumption: 0 cu m (2017 est.)
Natural gas - exports: 0 cu m (2017 est.)
Natural gas - imports: 0 cu m (2017 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves: 0 cu m (1 January 2014 est.)
Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy: 556,700 Mt (2017 est.)
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Cellular Phones in use: total subscriptions: 227,000
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 63 (July 2016 est.)
Telephone system: general assessment: govt telecom company, Belize Telemedia Ltd. (BTL), continues to hold a monopoly in fixed-line services and mobile and broadband fixed-line teledensity; small market, underinvestment with lack of competition, yet BTL reports stable telecom revenue for fiscal 2017 (2018)

domestic: mobile sector accounting for over 90% of all phone subscriptions; 6 per 100 fixed-line; mobile-cellular teledensity approaching 65 per 100 persons (2018)

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); mid-2017 completing a submarine cable to Ambergris Caye; SEUL submarine cable connecting the mainland with Ambergris Caye completed
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 (2019)
Internet country code: .bz
Internet users: total: 157,735
percent of population: 44.6% (July 2016 est.)
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Airports: 47 (2013)
Airports (paved runways): total 6
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1 (2017)
914 to 1,523 m: 2 (2017)
under 914 m: 3 (2017)
Airports (unpaved runways): total 41
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1 (2013)
914 to 1,523 m: 11 (2013)
under 914 m: 29 (2013)
Roadways: total 3,281 km
(2017) paved: 601 km (2017)
unpaved: 2,680 km (2017)
Waterways: 825 km (navigable only by small craft) (2011)
Merchant marine: total 764

by type: bulk carrier 54, container ship 4, general cargo 383, oil tanker 57, other 266 (2018)
Ports and terminals: major seaport(s): Belize City, Big Creek
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Military branches: Belize Defense Force (BDF): Army, BDF Air Wing; Belize Coast Guard (2019)
Military service age and obligation: 18 years of age for voluntary military service; laws allow for conscription only if volunteers are insufficient; conscription has never been implemented; volunteers typically outnumber available positions by 3:1; initial service obligation 12 years (2012)
Military expenditures: 1.58% of GDP (2017) 1.17% of GDP (2016) 1.09% of GDP (2015) 1.06% of GDP (2014) 1.1% of GDP (2013)
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 Transnational Issues
Disputes - International: Guatemala persists in its territorial claim to approximately half of Belize, but agrees to the Line of Adjacency to keep Guatemalan squatters out of Belize's forested interior; both countries agreed in April 2012 to hold simultaneous referenda, scheduled for 6 October 2013, to decide whether to refer the dispute to the ICJ for binding resolution, but this vote was suspended indefinitely; Belize and Mexico are working to solve minor border demarcation discrepancies arising from inaccuracies in the 1898 border treaty
Illicit drugs: major 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
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