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Belmopan has been the capital of Belize since 1970. After hurricane Hattie heavily damaged Belize City, the original capital, it was decided that a new capital was to be built: Belmopan. The city's name derives from the first syllable of Belize (Bel) and the name of a Mayan tribe: Mopan. Most government offices were moved to Belmopan, which has a more secure and central location than Belize City. Although Belmopan has been Belize's capital since 1970, it was officially inaugurated two years later. It is located in the center of the Cayo district, about an hour's drive from Belize City, on the crossroads of the Western and Hummingbird highways, Belize's two main thoroughfares. Being an inland city, its temperatures are quite high during the day but much cooler at night.

In the center of town is Independence Plaza. On the square are several administrative buildings, including the National Assembly (or Parliament) Building. Its design was based on Mayan pyramids. There is not much private commercial activity there. Most of the city's inhabitants are government employees and their families, although many workers prefer to live in Belize City or San Ignacio, as there is little to do in Belmopan. The city's archaeological department houses numerous Maya artifacts that were found on sites throughout the country.

Around Belmopan are numerous interesting places, which are all easily accessed. They include the Cayo, Stann Creek and inland Belize districts. Closer to the city are such sites as the Blue Hole and Guanacaste National Park. Most of the activities in these areas are outdoors such as swimming, hiking and caving.

There are several hotels and restaurants in Belmopan. The city is 70 km southwest of the old capital of Belize City.

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Miscellaneous Information

Latitude:    17 13 N
Longitude: 88 48 W
Elevation:  n/a

Population: 10,000
Cost-of-living compared to Washington D.C.: n/a

Hours from UTC: -6
Daylight savings time: n/a

City phone code: 8
Country phone code: 501

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