A Map of Belize


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.
Location: Middle America, bordering the Caribbean Sea, between Guatemala and Mexico Area: Total: 22,966 sq km water: 160 sq km land: 22,806 sq km Area - comparative: Slightly smaller than Massachusetts Land boundaries: Total: 516 km border countries: Guatemala 266 km, Mexico 250 km Coastline: 386 km
Climate and Terrain: 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: Lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m highest point: Victoria Peak 1,160 m Natural resources: Arable land potential, timber, fish, hydropower Land use: Arable land: 3% permanent crops: 1% other: 96% (1998 est.) Geography - note: only country in Central America without a coastline on the North Pacific Ocean
People: Population: 262,999 (July 2002 est.) Ethnic groups: mestizo 48.7%, Creole 24.9%, Maya 10.6%, Garifuna 6.1%, other 9.7% Religions: Roman Catholic 49.6%, Protestant 27% (Anglican 5.3%, Methodist 3.5%, Mennonite 4.1%, Seventh-Day Adventist 5.2%, Pentecostal 7.4%, Jehovah's Witnesses 1.5%), none 9.4%, other 14% (2000) Languages: English (official), Spanish, Mayan, Garifuna (Carib), Creole
Government: Government type: Parliamentary democracy Capital: Belmopan
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 nearly half of exports, while the banana industry is the country's largest employer. The government's expansionary monetary and fiscal policies, initiated in September 1998, led to GDP growth of 6.4% in 1999 and 10.5% in 2000. Growth decelerated in 2001 to 3% due to the global slowdown and severe hurricane damage to agriculture, fishing, and tourism. Major concerns continue to be the rapidly expanding trade deficit and foreign debt. A key short-term objective remains the reduction of poverty with the help of international donors. GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 18% industry: 24% services: 58% (2001 est.) Labor force - by occupation: Agriculture 27%, industry 18%, services 55% (2001 est.) Agriculture - products: bananas, coca, citrus, sugarcane; lumber; fish, cultured shrimp Exports: $239.6 million (f.o.b., 2001 est.) Exports - commodities: sugar, bananas, citrus, clothing, fish products, molasses, wood
Statistics: Telephones - main lines in use: 31,000. Telephones - mobile cellular: 3,023. Radio broadcast stations: AM 1, FM 12. Radios: 133,000. Television broadcast stations: 2. Televisions: 41,000. Internet users: 15,000. Highways:. Km paved: 490 km, unpaved: 2,390 km. Airports - with paved runways: Total: 4, - with unpaved runways: Total: 40.

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