Belize Population: 353,858


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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 1854. 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. Tourism has become the mainstay of the economy. Current concerns include the country's heavy foreign debt burden, high unemployment, growing involvement in the Mexican and South American drug trade, high crime rates, 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
Elevation extremes:
Natural resources: arable land potential, timber, fish, hydropower
Land use: agricultural land: 6.9% arable land 3.3%; permanent crops 1.4%; permanent pasture 2.2% forest: 60.6%
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 from sewage, industrial effluents, agricultural runoff; solid and sewage waste disposal
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% note: percentages add up to more than 100% because respondents were able to identify more than one ethnic origin (2010 est.)
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) note: shares sum to more than 100% because some respondents gave more than one answer on the census (2010 est.)
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, Morman, Muslim, Rastafarian), unknown 0.6%, none 15.5% (2010 est.)
Population: 353,858 (July 2016 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 34.41% (male 62,139/female 59,611)
15-24 years: 20.71% (male 37,333/female 35,960)
25-54 years: 36.26% (male 64,968/female 63,346)
55-64 years: 4.84% (male 8,445/female 8,666)
65 years and over: 3.78% (male 6,291/female 7,099) (2016 est.)
Dependency ratios: total dependency ratio: 56.8%
youth dependency ratio: 50.9%
elderly dependency ratio: 5.9%
potential support ratio: 17% (2015 est.)
Median age: total: 22.4 years
male: 22.2 years
female: 22.6 years (2016 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.84% (2016 est.)
Birth rate: 24.3 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)
Death rate: 6 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)
Urbanization: urban population: 44% of total population (2015)
rate of urbanization: 1.93% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
Major urban areas - population: BELMOPAN (capital) 17,000 (2014)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.89 male(s)/female
total population: 1.03 male(s)/female (2016 est.)
Maternal mortality rate: 28 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 19.3 deaths/1,000 live births male: 21.6 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 16.9 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 68.7 years male: 67.2 years
female: 70.4 years (2016 est.)
Total fertility rate: 2.9 children born/woman (2016 est.)
Contraceptive prevalence rate: 55.2% (2011)
Health expenditures: 5.8% of GDP (2014)
Physicians density: 0.83 physicians/1,000 population (2009)
Hospital bed density: 1.1 beds/1,000 population (2012)
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
rural: 88.2% of population
total: 90.5% of population

urban: 6.5% of population
rural: 11.8% of population
total: 9.5% of population (2015 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 1.52% (2015 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: 3,600 (2015 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths: 100 (2015 est.)
Obesity - adult prevalence rate: 20.6% (2014)
Children under the age of 5 years underweight: 6.2% (2011)
Education expenditures: 6.2% of GDP (2013)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education): total: 13 years male: 13 years
female: 13 years (2013)
Unemployment, youth ages 15-24: total: 25% male: 18%
female: 35.6% (2012 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)
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), September 10, 1798; Independence Day, 21 September (1981)
Constitution: previous 1954, 1963 (preindependence); latest signed and entered into force 21 September 1981; amended several times, last in 2012 (2016)
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 YOUNG, Sr. (since 17 November 1993)

head of government: Prime Minister Dean Oliver BARROW (since 8 February 2008); Deputy Prime Minister Gaspar VEGA (since 12 February 2008)

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 the Senate (12 seats; 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, and the National Trade Union Congress and the Civil Society Steering Committee; members serve 5-year terms) and the House of Representatives (31 seats; members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote to serve 5-year terms)

elections: House of Representatives - last held on 4 November 2015 (next to be held in or before 2020)

election results: percent of vote by party - UDP 50.52%, PUP 47.77%, other 1.71%; seats by party - UDP 19, PUP 12
Judicial branch: highest court(s): 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 2 judges); in 2005, Belize ceased final appeals in civil and criminal cases to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (in London), replacing it with the Caribbean Court of Justice, the judicial organ of the Caribbean Community 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: Summary Jurisdiction Courts (criminal) and district courts (civil)
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 VIP, and other smaller political groups) People's United Party or PUP [vacant] United Democratic Party or UDP [Dean Oliver BARROW]
Political pressure groups and leaders: National Trade Union Congress of Belize or NTUC/B [Marvin MORA]
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 Patrick ANDREWS (since 17 September 2015)
chancery: 2535 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 332-9636
FAX: [1] (202) 332-6888
consulate(s) general: Los Angeles
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Carlos Roberto MORENO (since 24 June 2014)
embassy: Floral Park Road, Belmopan City, Cayo District
mailing address: P.O. Box 497, Belmopan City, Cayo District, Belize
telephone: [501] 822-4011
FAX: [501] 822-4012
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Tourism is the number one foreign exchange earner in this small economy, followed by exports of crude oil, marine products, sugar, citrus, and bananas. The government's expansionary monetary and fiscal policies, initiated in September 1998, led to GDP growth averaging nearly 4% in 1999-2007. Oil discoveries in 2006 bolstered this growth and oil exploration continues, but production has fallen in recent years and future oil revenues remain uncertain. Growth slipped to 0% in 2009, due to the global economic slowdown, natural disasters, and a temporary drop in the price of oil, but growth grew to 2.2% in 2015. 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.
GDP (purchasing power parity): GDP (purchasing power parity): $3.088 billion (2016 est.) $3.088 billion (2015 est.) $3.056 billion (2014 est.)

note: data are in 2016 dollars
GDP (official exchange rate): GDP (official exchange rate): $1.77 billion (2015 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 0% (2016 est.) 1% (2015 est.) 4.1% (2014 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP): GDP - per capita (PPP): $8,200 (2016 est.) $8,400 (2015 est.) $8,600 (2014 est.)

note: data are in 2016 dollars
Gross national saving: 7.6% of GDP (2016 est.) 13.7% of GDP (2015 est.) 11.5% of GDP (2014 est.)
GDP - composition, by end use: household consumption: 72.1%
government consumption: 17.2%
investment in fixed capital: 20.3%
investment in inventories: 0.8%
exports of goods and services: 52.6%
imports of goods and services: -63% (2016 est.)
GDP - composition, by sector of origin: household consumption: 72.1%
government consumption: 17.2%
investment in fixed capital: 20.3%
investment in inventories: 0.8%
exports of goods and services: 52.6%
imports of goods and services: -63% (2016 est.)
Agriculture - products: bananas, cacao, citrus, sugar; fish, cultured shrimp; lumber
Industries: garment production, food processing, tourism, construction, oil
Industrial production growth rate: -1% (2016 est.)
Labor force: 120,500 note: shortage of skilled labor and all types of technical personnel (2008 est.)
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 10.2%
industry: 18.1%
services: 71.7% (2007 est.)
Unemployment rate: 12.9% (2014 est.) 14.1% (2013 est.)
Population below poverty line: 41% (2013 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Budget: revenues: $500 million
expenditures: $650 million (2016 est.)
Taxes and other revenues: 28.2% of GDP (2016 est.)
Public debt: 86.3% of GDP (2016 est.) 82.4% of GDP (2015 est.)
Fiscal year: 1 April - 31 March
Inflation rate (consumer prices): Inflation rate (consumer prices): 0.9% (2016 est.) -0.9% (2015 est.)
Current account balance: -$220 million (2016 est.) -$172 million (2015 est.)
Exports: $519.5 million (2016 est.) $537.9 million (2015 est.)
Exports - commodities: sugar, bananas, citrus, clothing, fish products, molasses, wood, crude oil
Exports - partners: UK 30.8%, US 18.7%, Nigeria 6.7%, Trinidad and Tobago 4.8%, Ireland 4.2%, Jamaica 4.2% (2015)
Imports: $895.5 million (2016 est.) $961.3 million (2015 est.)
Imports - commodities: machinery and transport equipment, manufactured goods; fuels, chemicals, pharmaceuticals; food, beverages, tobacco
Imports - partners: US 26.6%, Mexico 11.7%, Cuba 10.2%, Guatemala 9%, China 7.5%, Trinidad and Tobago 5.6% (2015)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $409.3 million (31 December 2016 est.) $437.2 million (31 December 2015 est.)
Debt - external: $1.327 billion (31 December 2016 est.) $1.309 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares: $NA
Exchange rates: Belizean dollars (BZD) per US dollar - 2 (2016 est.) 2 (2015 est.) 2 (2014 est.) 2 (2013 est.) 2 (2012 est.)
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Electricity - production: 300 million kWh (2014 est.)
Electricity - consumption: 400 million kWh (2014 est.)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2013 est.)
Electricity - imports: 200 million kWh (2014 est.)
Electricity - installed generating capacity: 200,000 kW (2014 est.)
Electricity - from fossil fuels: 46.9% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)
Electricity - from nuclear fuels: 0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)
Electricity - from hydroelectric plants: 27.3% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)
Electricity - from other renewable sources: 25.8% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)
Crude oil - production: 2,000 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Crude oil - exports: 3,000 bbl/day (2013 est.)
Crude oil - imports: 0 bbl/day (2013 est.)
Crude oil - proved reserves: 6.7 million bbl (1 January 2016 es)
Refined petroleum products - production: 33.05 bbl/day (2013 est.)
Refined petroleum products - consumption: 3,700 bbl/day (2014 est.)
Refined petroleum products - exports: 0 bbl/day (2013 est.)
Refined petroleum products - imports: 3,638 bbl/day (2013 est.)
Natural gas - production: 0 cu m (2013 est.)
Natural gas - consumption: 0 cu m (2013 est.)
Natural gas - exports: 0 cu m (2013 est.)
Natural gas - imports: 0 cu m (2013 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves: 0 cu m (1 January 2014 es)
Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy: 700,000 Mt (2013 est.)
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Cellular Phones in use: total: 170,000 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 49 (July 2015 est.)
Telephone system: general assessment: above-average system; trunk network depends primarily on microwave radio relay

domestic: fixed-line teledensity of only about 6 per 100 persons; mobile-cellular teledensity approaching 50 per 100 persons

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 (Int (2015)
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 (2007)
Internet country code: .bz
Internet users: total: 144,000 percent of population: 41.6% (July 2015 est.)
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Airports: 47 (2013)
Airports (paved runways): total 6

2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 3 (2013)
Airports (unpaved runways): total 41

2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 11
under 914 m: 29 (2013)
Roadways: total 2,870 km
paved: 488 km
unpaved: 2,382 km (2011)
Waterways: 825 km (navigable only by small craft) (2011)
Merchant marine: total 247

by type: barge carrier 1, bulk carrier 33, cargo 156, chemical tanker 2, liquefied gas 1, passenger/cargo 4, petroleum tanker 9, refrigerated cargo 30, roll on/roll off 10, specialized tanker 1

foreign-owned: 152 (Bulgaria 1, China 61, Croatia 1, Estonia 1, Greece 2, Iceland 1, Italy 3, Latvia 9, Lithuania 1, Netherlands 1, Norway 2, Russia 30, Singapore 4, Switzerland 1, Syria 4, Thailand 1, Turkey 16, UAE 3, UK 4, Ukraine 6) (2010)
Ports and terminals: major seaport(s): Belize City, Big Creek
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Military branches: Belize Defense Force (BDF): Army, BDF Air Wing (includes Special Boat Unit), BDF Volunteer Guard (2011)
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: NA% (2012) 1.08% of GDP (2011) NA% (2010)
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 Transnational Issues
Disputes - International: Guatemala persists in its territorial claim to 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: 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 (2008)
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