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Belize

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Background:
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. Guatemala and Belize are gearing up for a simultaneous referendum to determine if this dispute will go before the International Court of Justice at The Hague. Tourism has become the mainstay of the economy. Current concerns include an unsustainable foreign debt, high unemployment, growing involvement in the South American drug trade, high crime rates, and increasing incidences of HIV/AIDS.



Location:
Central 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: 22,966 sq km
country comparison to the world: 151
land: 22,806 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:
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:
Current Weather
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 m
highest point: Doyle's Delight 1,160 m

Natural resources:
arable land potential, timber, fish, hydropower

Land use:
arable land: 3.05%
permanent crops: 1.39%
other: 95.56% (2005)

Irrigated land:
30 sq km (2003)

Total renewable water resources:
18.6 cu km (2000)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 0.15 cu km/yr (7%/73%/20%)
per capita: 556 cu m/yr (2000)

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

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

Environment - international 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

Geography - note:
only country in Central America without a coastline on the North Pacific Ocean



Population:
314,522 (July 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 176

Age structure:
0-14 years: 37.3% (male 59,904/female 57,539)
15-64 years: 59.1% (male 94,091/female 91,885)
65 years and over: 3.5% (male 5,293/female 5,810) (2010 est.)

Median age:
total: 20.7 years
male: 20.5 years
female: 20.9 years (2010 est.)

Population growth rate:
2.102% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 48

Birth rate:
26.84 births/1,000 population (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 56

Death rate:
5.82 deaths/1,000 population (July 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 168

Net migration rate:
NA

Urbanization:
urban population: 52% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 3.1% annual rate of change (2005-10 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 over: 0.91 male(s)/female
total population: 1.03 male(s)/female (2010 est.)

Infant mortality rate:
total: 22.52 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 92
male: 25.22 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 19.68 deaths/1,000 live births (2010 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 68.23 years
country comparison to the world: 150
male: 66.54 years
female: 70 years (2010 est.)

Total fertility rate:
3.28 children born/woman (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 55

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
2.1% (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 30

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
3,600 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 129

HIV/AIDS - deaths:
fewer than 200 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 125

Major infectious diseases:
degree of risk: high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: dengue fever and malaria
water contact disease: leptospirosis (2009)

Nationality:
noun: Belizean(s)
adjective: Belizean

Ethnic groups:
mestizo 48.7%, Creole 24.9%, Maya 10.6%, Garifuna 6.1%, other 9.7% (2000 census)

Religions:
Roman Catholic 49.6%, Protestant 27% (Pentecostal 7.4%, Anglican 5.3%, Seventh-Day Adventist 5.2%, Mennonite 4.1%, Methodist 3.5%, Jehovah's Witnesses 1.5%), other 14%, none 9.4% (2000)

Languages:
Spanish 46%, Creole 32.9%, Mayan dialects 8.9%, English 3.9% (official), Garifuna 3.4% (Carib), German 3.3%, other 1.4%, unknown 0.2% (2000 census)

Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 76.9%
male: 76.7%
female: 77.1% (2000 census)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 13 years
male: 13 years
female: 13 years (2004)

Education expenditures:
5.3% of GDP (2004)
country comparison to the world: 54



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

Government type:
parliamentary democracy and 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:
Independence Day, 21 September (1981)

Constitution:
21 September 1981

Legal system:
English law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

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
(For more information visit the World Leaders website )
elections: the monarchy is hereditary; governor general appointed by the monarch; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or the leader of the majority coalition usually appointed prime minister by the governor general; prime minister recommends the deputy prime minister

Legislative branch:
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; to serve five-year terms) and the House of Representatives (31 seats; members are elected by direct popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: House of Representatives - last held on 6 February 2008 (next to be held in 2013)
election results: percent of vote by party - UDP 56.3%, PUP 40.9%; seats by party - UDP 25, PUP 6

Judicial branch:
Summary Jurisdiction Courts (criminal) and District Courts (civil jurisdiction); Supreme Court (the chief justice is appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister); Court of Appeal; Privy Council in the UK; member of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ)

Political parties and leaders:
National Alliance for Belizean Rights or NABR; National Reform Party or NRP [Cornelius DUECK]; People's National Party or PNP [Wil MAHEIA]; People's United Party or PUP [John BRICENO]; United Democratic Party or UDP [Dean BARROW]; Vision Inspired by the People or VIP [Paul MORGAN]; We the People Reform Movement or WTP [Hipolito BAUTISTA]

Political pressure groups and leaders:
Society for the Promotion of Education and Research or SPEAR [Gustavo PERERA]; Association of Concerned Belizeans or ACB [David VASQUEZ]; National Trade Union Congress of Belize or NTUC/B [Rene GOMEZ]

International organization participation:
ACP, AOSIS, C, Caricom, CDB, FAO, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ITU, ITUC, LAES, MIGA, NAM, OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, PCA, PetroCaribe, RG, SICA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Nestor MENDEZ
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 Vinai THUMMALAPALLY
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

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 of 50 mahogany leaves; the colors are those of the two main political parties: blue for the PUP and red for the UDP; various elements of the coat of arms - the figures, the tools, the mahogany tree, and the garland of leaves - recall the logging industry that led to British settlement of Belize
note: the flag of Belize is the only national banner that depicts human beings; the flags of Montserrat and the British Virgin Islands, both British overseas territories, also depict humans



Economy - overview:
In this small, essentially private-enterprise economy, tourism is the number one foreign exchange earner followed by exports of marine products, citrus, cane sugar, bananas, and garments. The government's expansionary monetary and fiscal policies, initiated in September 1998, led to sturdy GDP growth averaging nearly 4% in 1999-2007, though growth slipped to 2.1% in 2008 and -1.5% in 2009 as a result of the global slowdown, natural disasters, and the drop in the price of oil. Oil discoveries in 2006 bolstered economic growth. Exploration efforts continue and production increased a small amount in 2009. Major concerns continue to be the sizable trade deficit and sizable foreign debt. In February 2007, the government restructured nearly all of its public external commercial debt, which helped reduce interest payments and relieve some of the country's liquidity concerns. A key short-term objective remains the reduction of poverty with the help of international donors.

GDP (purchasing power parity):
$2.485 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 178
$2.522 billion (2008 est.)
$2.471 billion (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate):
$1.424 billion (2009 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:
-1.5% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 132
2.1% (2008 est.)
1.2% (2007 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):
$8,100 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 118
$8,400 (2008 est.)
$8,400 (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 29%
industry: 16.9%
services: 54.1% (2008 est.)

Labor force:
122,300
country comparison to the world: 179
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:
8.1% (2008)
country comparison to the world: 88
9.4% (2006)

Population below poverty line:
33.5% (2002 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%

Investment (gross fixed):
24.4% of GDP (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 48

Budget:
revenues: $359.1 million
expenditures: $399.9 million (2009 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):
0.3% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 31
6.4% (2008 est.)

Central bank discount rate:
12% (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 24
12% (31 December 2007)

Commercial bank prime lending rate:
14.14% (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 53
14.33% (31 December 2007)

Stock of money:
$345.7 million (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 135
$323.9 million (31 December 2007)

Stock of quasi money:
$653.8 million (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 132
$549 million (31 December 2007)

Stock of domestic credit:
$955 million (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 113
$877.6 million (31 December 2007)

Market value of publicly traded shares:
$NA

Agriculture - products:
bananas, cacao, citrus, sugar; fish, cultured shrimp; lumber

Industries:
garment production, food processing, tourism, construction, oil

Industrial production growth rate:
0.5% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 68

Electricity - production:
213.5 million kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 176

Electricity - consumption:
198.5 million kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 178

Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2008 est.)

Electricity - imports:
248.4 million kWh (2005)

Oil - production:
3,990 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 98

Oil - consumption:
7,000 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 158

Oil - exports:
2,260 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 113

Oil - imports:
7,204 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 147

Oil - proved reserves:
6.7 million bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 92

Natural gas - production:
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 96

Natural gas - consumption:
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 207

Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 56

Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 83

Natural gas - proved reserves:
0 cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 200

Current account balance:
-$39 million (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 67
-$144.4 million (2008 est.)

Exports:
$385 million (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 172
$471.9 million (2008 est.)

Exports - commodities:
sugar, bananas, citrus, clothing, fish products, molasses, wood, crude oil

Exports - partners:
US 30.7%, UK 29.77%, Nigeria 4.9%, Cote d'Ivoire 4.45% (2009)

Imports:
$616 million (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 183
$788.1 million (2008 est.)

Imports - commodities:
machinery and transport equipment, manufactured goods; fuels, chemicals, pharmaceuticals; food, beverages, tobacco

Imports - partners:
US 33.65%, Mexico 14.17%, Cuba 8.51%, Guatemala 6.75%, Spain 6.07%, China 4.12% (2009)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$199 million (31 December 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 147
$166.2 million (31 December 2008 est.)

Debt - external:
$954.1 million (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 149
$1.2 billion (June 2005 est.)

Exchange rates:
Belizean dollars (BZD) per US dollar - 2 (2009), 2 (2008), 2 (2007), 2 (2006), 2 (2005)



Telephones - main lines in use:
31,100 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 177

Telephones - mobile cellular:
160,000 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 175

Telephone system:
general assessment: above-average system; trunk network depends primarily on microwave radio relay
domestic: fixed-line teledensity of 10 per 100 persons; mobile-cellular teledensity roughly 55 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 (Intelsat - 2, unknown - 6) (2008)

Radio broadcast stations:
AM 1, FM 16, shortwave 0 (2006)

Television broadcast stations:
7 (2008)

Internet country code:
.bz

Internet hosts:
3,017 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 142

Internet users:
34,000 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 178



Airports:
44 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 96

Airports - with paved runways:
total: 4
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 2 (2009)

Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 40
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 12
under 914 m: 27 (2009)

Roadways:
total: 3,007 km
country comparison to the world: 165
paved: 575 km
unpaved: 2,432 km (2006)

Waterways:
825 km (navigable only by small craft) (2008)
country comparison to the world: 71

Merchant marine:
total: 216
country comparison to the world: 33
by type: barge carrier 1, bulk carrier 32, cargo 152, chemical tanker 2, container 1, passenger 1, petroleum tanker 9, refrigerated cargo 12, roll on/roll off 5, specialized tanker 1
foreign-owned: 178 (Australia 1, China 71, Croatia 2, Cyprus 1, Estonia 6, Greece 1, Iceland 2, Italy 3, Japan 8, South Korea 1, Latvia 12, Norway 3, Peru 1, Russia 31, Singapore 2, Spain 1, Turkey 15, Ukraine 7, UAE 5, UK 5) (2008)

Ports and terminals:
Belize City, Big Creek



Military branches:
Belize Defense Force (BDF): Army, BDF Air Wing (includes Special Boat Unit), BDF Volunteer Guard (2010)

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 (2008)

Manpower available for military service:
males age 16-49: 79,088
females age 16-49: 77,147 (2010 est.)

Manpower fit for military service:
males age 16-49: 57,759
females age 16-49: 55,903 (2010 est.)

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 3,678
female: 3,543 (2010 est.)

Military expenditures:
1.4% of GDP (2009)
country comparison to the world: 105



Disputes - international:
OAS-initiated Agreement on the Framework for Negotiations and Confidence Building Measures saw cooperation in repatriation of Guatemalan squatters and other areas, but Guatemalan land and maritime claims in Belize and the Caribbean Sea remain unresolved; the Line of Adjacency created under the 2002 Differendum serves in lieu of the contiguous international boundary to control squatting in the sparsely inhabited rain forests of Belize's border region; Honduras claims Belizean-administered Sapodilla Cays in its constitution but agreed to a joint ecological park under the Differendum

Trafficking in persons:
current situation: Belize is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor; the most common form of trafficking in Belize is the internal sex trafficking of minors; some Central American men, women, and children, particularly from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, migrate voluntarily to Belize in search of work but are subsequently subjected to conditions of forced labor or forced prostitution
tier rating: Belize is placed on Tier 2 Watch List because it does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so; despite efforts to raise public awareness of human trafficking and provide protection services for trafficking victims, the government did not show evidence of progress in convicting and sentencing trafficking offenders last year (2009)

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)

 

Information from the CIA's "The World Fact Book" 2010

 

 

 

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