Belize 1998Belize

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Belize - Introduction 1998
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Background: Territorial disputes between the UK and Guatemala delayed the independence of Belize (formerly British Honduras) until 1981. Guatemala refused to recognize the new nation until 1992. Tourism has become the mainstay of the economy. The country remains plagued by high unemployment growing involvement in the South American drug trade and increased urban crime.

Belize - Geography 1998
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Location: Middle America, bordering the Caribbean Sea, between Guatemala and Mexico

Geographic coordinates: 17 15 N, 88 45 W

Map referenceCentral America and the Caribbean

Total: 22,960 km²
Land: 22,800 km²
Water: 160 km²
Comparative: slightly smaller than Massachusetts

Land boundaries
Total: 516 km
Border countries: (2) 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

Extremes lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
Extremes highest point: Victoria Peak 1,160 m

Natural resources: arable land: potential, timber, fish
Land use

Land use
Arable land: 2%
Permanent crops: 1%
Permanent pastures: 2%
Forests and woodland: 92%
Other: 3% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: 20 km² (1993 est.)

Major rivers

Major watersheds area km²

Total water withdrawal

Total renewable water resources

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

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

Belize - People 1998
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Population: 230,160 (July 1998 est.)
Growth rate: 2.42% (1998 est.)

Noun: Belizean(s)
Adjective: Belizean

Ethnic groups: mestizo 44%, Creole 30%, Maya 11%, Garifuna 7%, other 8%

Languages: English (official), Spanish, Mayan, Garifuna (Carib)

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)

Demographic profile
Age structure

Age structure
0-14 years: 42% (male 49,486; female 47,596)
15-64 years: 54% (male 63,259; female 61,567)
65 years and over: 4% (male 4,048; female 4,204) (July 1998 est.)

Dependency ratios

Median age

Population growth rate: 2.42% (1998 est.)

Birth rate: 31.05 births/1000 population (1998 est.)

Death rate: 5.5 deaths/1000 population (1998 est.)

Net migration rate: -1.38 migrant(s)/1000 population (1998 est.)

Population distribution


Major urban areas

Current issues: deforestation; water pollution from sewage, industrial effluents, agricultural runoff
International agreements party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Marine Dumping, Ship Pollution, Whaling
International agreements signed but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Air pollutants

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 (1998 est.)

Mothers mean age at first birth

Maternal mortality ratio

Infant mortality rate: 32.36 deaths/1000 live births (1998 est.)

Life expectancy at birth
Total population: 68.97 years
Male: 67.01 years
Female: 71.03 years (1998 est.)

Total fertility rate: 3.87 children born/woman (1998 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

Drinking water source

Current health expenditure

Physicians density

Hospital bed density

Sanitation facility access


Major infectious diseases

Obesity adult prevalence rate

Alcohol consumption

Tobacco use

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

Education expenditures

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%

School life expectancy primary to tertiary education

Youth unemployment

Belize - Government 1998
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Country name
Conventional long form: none
Conventional short form: Belize
Former: British Honduras

Government type: parliamentary democracy

Capital: Belmopan

Administrative divisions: 6 districts; Belize, Cayo, Corozal, Orange Walk, Stann Creek, Toledo

Dependent areas

Independence: 21 September 1981 (from UK)

National holiday: Independence Day, 21 September (1981)

Constitution: 21 September 1981

Legal system: English law

International law organization participation


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): ead 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

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 Schofield MURPHY
In the us chancery: 2,535 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20,008
In the us telephone: [1] (213) 469-7,343
In the us fax: [1] (202) 332-6,888
In the us consulates general: Los Angeles
In the us mailing address: 5,825 W. Sunset Boulevard, Suite 206, Hollywood, CA 90,028
From the us chief of mission: Ambassador Carolyn CURIEL
From the us embassy: Gabourel Lane and Hutson Street, Belize City
From the us mailing address: P. O. Box 286, Unit 7,401, APO AA 34,025
From the us telephone: [501] (2) 77,161 through 77,163
From the us fax: [501] (2) 30,802

Flag descriptionflag of Belize: 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

National symbols

National anthem

National heritage

Belize - Economy 1998
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Economy overview: The small, essentially private enterprise economy is based primarily on agriculture, agro-based industry, and merchandising, with tourism and construction assuming greater importance. Sugar, the chief crop, accounts for more than one-third of exports, while the banana industry is the country's largest employer. The government's tough austerity program in 1997 resulted in an economic slowdown that is likely to continue in 1998. Political tension in the run-up to the elections will tend to discourage investment, already suffering as a result of tight monetary and fiscal policies. The trade deficit has been growing, mostly as a result of low export prices for sugar and bananas and could increase further if a pre-election boost in government spending leads to a rise in imports. The ruling in 1997 by the World Trade Organization against the European Union's banana import regime_which had granted Belize preferential treatment - is also hurting the prospects for growth, and could contribute to an increase in already high unemployment.

Real gdp purchasing power parity

Real gdp growth rate: 2.9% (1997 est.)

Real gdp per capita ppp

Gross national saving
Gdp composition by sector of origin

Gdp composition by end use

Gdp composition by sector of origin
Agriculture: 20%
Industry: 27%
Services: 53% (1996 est.)

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

Industries: garment production, food processing, tourism, construction

Industrial production growth rate: 0.2% (1996 est.)

Labor force
Total: 71,000
By occupation agriculture: 30%
By occupation services: 16%
By occupation government: 15.4%
By occupation commerce: 11.2%
By occupation manufacturing: 10.3%
Note: shortage of skilled labor and all types of technical personnel (1997 est.)
Labor force

Unemployment rate: 13% (1997 est.)

Youth unemployment

Population below poverty line

Gini index

Household income or consumption by percentage share

Distribution of family income gini index

Revenues: $140 million
Expenditures: $142 million, including capital expenditures of $N/A (FY97/98 est.)

Public debt

Taxes and other revenues


Fiscal year: 1 April_31 March

Current account balance

Inflation rate consumer prices

Central bank discount rate

Commercial bank prime lending rate

Stock of narrow money

Stock of broad money

Stock of domestic credit

Market value of publicly traded shares

Current account balance

Exports: total value:$166 million (f.o.b., 1996)
Commodoties: sugar, citrus fruits, bananas, clothing, fish products, molasses, wood
Partners: US 44%, UK 42%, other EU 5%, Canada 3% (1996)

Imports: total value:$262 million (c.i.f., 1996)
Commodoties: machinery and transportation equipment, food, manufactured goods, fuels, chemicals, pharmaceuticals
Partners: US 55%, Mexico 12%, UK 5% (1997)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

Debt external: $217 million (1996)

Stock of direct foreign investment at home

Stock of direct foreign investment abroad

Exchange rates: Belizean dollars (Bz$) per US$1_2.0000 (fixed rate)

Belize - Energy 1998
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Electricity access

Electricity production: 105 million kWh (1995)

Electricity consumption
Per capita: 491 kWh (1995)

Electricity exports

Electricity imports

Electricity installed generating capacity

Electricity transmission distribution losses

Electricity generation sources


Refined petroleum

Natural gas

Carbon dioxide emissions

Energy consumption per capita

Belize - Communication 1998
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Telephones fixed lines

Telephones mobile cellular

Telephone system: above-average system
Domestic: trunk network depends primarily on microwave radio relay
International: satellite earth station_1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)

Broadcast media

Internet country code

Internet users

Broadband fixed subscriptions

Belize - Military 1998
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Military expenditures
Dollar figure: $15 million (FY97/98)
Percent of gdp: 2%

Military and security forces

Military service age and obligation

Terrorist groups

Belize - Transportation 1998
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National air transport system

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

Airports: 44 (1997 est.)
With paved runways total: 3
With paved runways 15-24 to 2437 m: 1
With paved runways under 914 m: 2 (1997 est.)
With unpaved runways total: 41
With unpaved runways 2438 to 3047 m: 1
With unpaved runways 914 to 1523 m: 10
With unpaved runways under 914 m: 30 (1997 est.)

Airports with paved runways
Total: 3
15-24 to 2437 m: 1
Under 914 m: 2 (1997 est.)

Airports with unpaved runways
Total: 41
2438 to 3047 m: 1
914 to 1523 m: 10
Under 914 m: 30 (1997 est.)



Railways: 0 km


Waterways: 825 km river network used by shallow-draft craft; seasonally navigable

Merchant marine
Total: 265 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 1,298,562 GRT/2,055,027 DWT
Ships by type: bulk 26, cargo 184, chemical tanker 4, combination bulk 1, container 6, liquefied gas tanker 1, oil tanker 26, passenger-cargo 2, refrigerated cargo 8, roll-on/roll-off cargo 4, specialized tanker 2, vehicle carrier 1
Note: a flag of convenience registry; includes ships of 8 countries:Cuba 1, Cyprus 1, Greece 1, Hong Kong 1, Panama 1, Singapore 2, UAE 2, and US 1 (1997 est.)

Ports and terminals

Belize - Transnational issues 1998
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Disputes international: border with Guatemala in dispute; talks to resolve the dispute are ongoing

Refugees and internally displaced persons

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

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