Currency: Belize dollar
Calling Code: 501
Belize is one of the smallest countries in Central America and the least populated. Despite this, it is a country full of forests and nature in its purest state, which makes it a very pleasant environment for the most daring tourists.
Belize is a sovereign country of America located
in the far northeast of Central America whose form of government is
the parliamentary constitutional monarchy. The capital is the city
of Belmopan and the most populated city is the City of Belize. It
limits the north with Mexico and the south and the west with
Guatemala. The Gulf of Honduras separates it from the country of the
same name, which is why it was formerly known as British Honduras
until it acquired its current name due to the city of Belize (Mayan
Holzuz) and the river on whose mouth it is built. Its capital is
Belmopan and the city of Belize, the former capital of the country,
is the main urban agglomeration and also the main port that is
Although the predominant languages are Spanish and Belizean Creole, Belize is the only country in Central America where the official language is English, although only 62.9% of the population speaks it, compared to 56.6% of the population. the population that speaks Spanish, 44.6% that speaks Creole, and 10.5% that speaks Mayan Belize shares a common past not only with the countries of Central America, but also with the Caribbean. It is part of the Caricom and the Central American Integration System (SICA).
Actun Tunichil Muknal cave is hidden in the jungles of the Yucatan peninsula offers an interesting view of the religious practices of the Mayan culture.
Fairly large partially excavated Mayan site of Altun Ha harmoniously co exist on the back drop of the rain forest.
Ambergris Caye Island is the largest island situated of the coast off Belize famous for its pristine nature and laid back atmosphere.
Baking Pot is an ancient Mayan archeological site situated off George Price Highway in Cayo District in Belize. First ancient settlement was found in Pre-classic Period.
Belize Barrier Reef is a majestic underwater ecosystem off the coast of Belize that draws thousands divers annually.
Barton Creek Cave is a natural geologic formation for its ancient Mayan artifacts discovered inside and its vicinity.
Belize City is the largest and one of the most beautiful cities in the country of Belize and Mesoamerica in general.
Cahal Pech is an ancient archeological Mayan site located in Cayo District in Belize. It was occuped for about 21 centuries.
Caracol or El Caracol (Spanish for snail) is located 25 miles from a Xunantunich in the Cayo District in Belize. Sitting high above sea level on the Vaca Plateau at 503 meters (1500 ft) this beautiful city was one of the largest Mayan cities and the largest in Belize.
Cerros is an ancient Mayan archeological site. The city was established at the mouth of the New River as it empties its water into sea.
Chaa Creek is a small tributary of the Macal River. It is located in the Cayo District of Belize on the border with Guatemala.
Che Chem Ha Cave is an archeological religious site of the Mayan civilization. It is situated 16 miles South of San Ignacio in Belize.
Colha is an ancient Mayan city situated 52 km North of Belize City on the outskirts of Orange Walk Town, Orange Town District in Belize.
Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary in Belize is famous for its diverse diverse ecosystem and particularly its many bird species that flock here annually.
Cuello is an ancient Mayan archeological site located in Orange Walk District of Belize. It was first settled around 2600 BC or Preclassic period.
El Pilar is an ancient Mayan archeological site located 12 mi (19 km) North- West of San Ignacio, Cayo District. 'El Pilar' in Spanish mean 'watering basin'.
Guanacaste National Park gets its name from Guanacaste tree that is prevalent in this protected area of Belize.
Ka'Kabish is an ancient Mayan archeological site located in Orange Walk District. It was first found during Late Preclassic Period around 400- 200 BC.
K'axob is an ancient Mayan archeological site located near town of Orange Walk in Orange Walk District Belize.
La Milpa is one of the largest archaeological Mayan site located in the Three River Region in the Northwest Belize.
Lamanai is an ancient Mayan archeological site located on the shore of the New River in the Orange Walk District of Belize.
Louisville is an ancient Mayan archeological site located in Corozal District Belize.
Lubaantun is an ancient Mayan pre- Columbian archaeological site situated in Belize. Its name can be translated as the 'city of fallen stones'.
Marco Gonzalez is an ancient Mayan pre- Columbian archaeological site situated in Southern Ambergris Caye Island in Belize.
Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve is nature preserve of majestic mountains, waterfalls and endless pristine untouched jungles.
Nim Li Punit is a fairy large ancient Mayan pre- Columbian archaeological site situated in Belize.
Nohmul is an ancient Mayan pre- Columbian archaeological site situated in Belize. Although its main site, the pyramid, was virtually destroyed in 2013.
Nohoch Che'en is an ancient Mayan pre- Columbian archaeological site situated in Belize. Unlike other ancient sites in the country Nonoch Che'en consists of a network of limestone caves.
Pusilha is an ancient Mayan pre- Columbian archaeological site situated in Toledo District of Belize. It was occupied between 570AD and circa 800AD.
Saint Herman's Blue Hole National Park protects natural caves of Belize. It is one of the few undeground spaces you can explore on your own.
San Estevan is an ancient Mayan pre- Columbian archaeological site situated in Orange Walk District in Belize.
Santa Rita Corozal is an ancient Mayan pre- Columbian archaeological site situated in Belize. It is largely remains unexcavated.
Tipu is an ancient Mayan pre- Columbian archaeological site situated in Maya Mountains in Belize on the border with Guatemala.
Uxbenka is an ancient Mayan pre- Columbian archaeological site situated in Toledo District of Belize. Uxbenka was found around 250 AD by Peten tribes.
Xnaheb is an ancient Mayan archeological site situated in Toledo District. Xnaheb was settled during Classic period by settlers from nearby Peten.
Xunantunich is an ancient Mayan site located in the Western Belize in the Cayo District some 80 miles (130 km) West of Belize city.
The origin of the name Belize has not been definitively established. According to one version, this is a Mayan word be'lix, meaning "muddy water" and applied to the name of the Belize River. According to another version, this name comes from the incorrect pronunciation of the name of the 18th century pirate Peter Wallace by the conquistadors. It is possible that African slaves from the Congo brought this name with them, since Belize also exists in Angola.
Most of the country's territory is occupied by a low,
sometimes swampy plain with many lakes and lagoons. In the south, the
Maya Mountains stretch up to 1122 m high. This is the most sparsely
populated part of Belize. The bowels of the country have been poorly
studied, and oil fields are being searched.
The climate of Belize is tropical trade wind. The average monthly temperature is around 26°C with little seasonal variation. The northeast trade wind brings a lot of precipitation. Their number increases from north to south from 1300 to 3500 mm per year. The rainy season lasts from May to July and the dry season from January to May. Hurricanes from the Caribbean, accompanied by downpours and floods, bring severe disasters to the country.
About half of the country's territory is covered by tropical rainforests. In the southwest and north of Belize, large areas are occupied by deciduous broad-leaved and coniferous forests. Mangrove thickets stretch along the coast. The forests are rich in valuable species of trees, of which mahogany and pine are of the greatest economic importance.
The fauna of Belize is quite diverse. Broad-nosed monkeys, jaguars, armadillos, large iguanas and other animals live there. There are a lot of birds, including parrots and hummingbirds. Sea waters off the coast are rich in fish, crustaceans and turtles.
In the past, Maya Indians inhabited almost the entire western part of what is now Belize. In the late classical period of the Mayan civilization (by the end of the 1st millennium AD), about 400 thousand people lived on the territory of the modern state of Belize. Maya culture reached its peak by the 9th century. In the 10th century, almost all Maya Indians left this region and migrated to the north of the Yucatan Peninsula (south of modern Mexico).
At the beginning of the 16th century, when Europeans (Spaniards) first landed here, some Mayan tribes still lived on the coastal lowlands. The Spaniards tried to penetrate into the interior of Belize, but were forced to abandon these intentions, having met with strong opposition from the Maya.
After the conquest of Central America by the Spaniards (1509-1524), the northern part of modern Belize was nominally included in the viceroyalty of New Spain (Mexico), and the southern part of the captaincy general of Guatemala. However, the Spaniards practically did not colonize this remote and almost deserted area, and the British began to penetrate there.
The Maya Indians who existed in this area before the arrival of Europeans left their inhabited places and moved to the mountainous regions on the border of Guatemala and modern Belize. Until the end of the 17th century, the Mayan settlement of Tipu existed in the mountains, which was not controlled by the Spanish colonial authorities. The final conquest of the Maya by the Spaniards in the region took place in 1697.
The first to create settlements on the Belizean coast were English and Scottish pirates, who found here a convenient base for attacks against Spanish ships. From here, pirates raided and devastated the Spanish colonies in southern Yucatán, ending Spanish control of the area.
The first English colony on the banks of the Belize River was established in 1638. In the middle of the 17th century, other English settlements were established. Later, British settlers began harvesting logwood, from which they extracted a substance used in the manufacture of dyes for fabrics and which was of great importance for the wool-spinning industry in Europe.
The bulk of the English settlers were pirates and colonists from the island of Jamaica, who brought with them black slaves to work in logging and plantations. By 1800 Africans outnumbered settlers of European origin by four times. By this time, mahogany had become the main export item, pushing sandalwood into second place (this position continued until the 1950s).
In the 18th century, the Spaniards repeatedly tried to oust the British from Belize by force of arms, but the colonists successfully repelled all attacks, which allowed the settlers to establish their own laws and form a government independent of England. During this period, the local legislature - the People's Assembly - was controlled by a few wealthy colonists who owned most of the forests and lands. The first such assembly was formed in 1738 as a result of an election.
Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, Britain refrained from formally declaring its sovereignty over the area for fear of friction with Spain.
In 1784, the British government first appointed its official representative to Belize - the superintendent. In 1786, a convention was signed between Spain and Britain, according to which the territory of modern Belize was officially under Spanish sovereignty. At the same time, English settlers had the right to settle in Belize, engage in logging there, but did not have the right to build fortifications, maintain armed forces or create any form of self-government. Under this agreement, Britain liquidated its Mosquito Bay colony on the coast of Nicaragua. About 2,000 settlers and their slaves moved from there to Belize in 1787. Despite the agreement, large plantations were created in the colony, and an elected magistrate continued to exist. The large planters were unwilling to submit to the British superintendent, and the colony continued to be semi-independent.
In 1798, the Spaniards tried to recapture Belize and sent a fleet of 2,000 soldiers there under the leadership of the Governor General of Yucatán. As a result of the battle, which lasted two and a half hours, the Spaniards were defeated.
At the beginning of the 19th century, Great Britain tried to establish tighter administrative control over the settlements in Belize, demanding, in particular, under the threat of suspending the activities of the People's Assembly, to comply with the instructions of the British government to abolish slavery. Slavery was officially abolished in 1838.
Since 1840, the British began to call this territory
British Honduras. In 1862, Britain officially declared British Honduras
to be its colony, and a lieutenant governor was placed at the head of
the administration instead of a superintendent.
At the beginning of the 19th century, the population of British Honduras consisted mainly of Creoles of Anglo-Negro origin and Garifuna (African-Indian origin), resettled by the British from the islands of the Caribbean, as well as from the British. Then Spanish-Indian mestizos and Maya Indians from Mexico and Guatemala began to move to the territory of Belize. A large number of Maya Indians came to Belize as refugees as a result of the Caste Wars that took place in the Yucatan in 1847-1852. Later, the British began to import Indians, Chinese and other Asians to Belize as cheap labor.
During the economic crisis of the 1930s, the colony's economy was on the verge of collapse as a result of a sharp drop in demand for timber in the UK. Added to the disaster caused by mass unemployment were the aftermath of the devastating hurricane of 1931. The economic situation of the colony improved during World War II, however, after the war, the colony's economy again fell into a state of stagnation.
In 1959, several thousand Mennonites (Germans and Dutch) from Canada moved to Belize.
In 1964, the colony received internal self-government, in 1973 it was renamed Belize.
The granting of independence to Belize by the UK was delayed for a long time due to the fact that in 1966 Guatemala, then President of which was Julio Cesar Mendez Montenegro, proclaimed Belize its eastern department and demanded its "return" from Britain.
period of independence
Belize gained independence on September 21, 1981. At the same time, the British armed contingent (1.5 thousand people) remained there until, in 1992, Guatemala announced its renunciation of its claims to Belize. Belize has been a member of the UN since 1981, a member of the Organization of American States since 1991, is part of the Caribbean Community and the international organization of the ACP countries.
Until 1970, the capital was Belize City, located at the mouth of the Belize River on the Caribbean Sea. This largest city in the country has repeatedly suffered severely from hurricanes, accompanied by severe floods. After the devastating hurricane Hatti in 1961, it was decided to move the capital inland. In 1962, the government decided on the site for the construction of the new capital. In 1967, 80 km southwest of Belize City, construction began on a new administrative center - the city of Belmopan, which in 1970 became the seat of the national government and the capital of Belize.
The state structure of Belize is based on the
principles of parliamentary democracy of the Westminster system.
Monarchy, the head of state is the Queen of Great Britain, represented by the Governor General.
Executive power is exercised by the government headed by the prime minister. They are the leader of the party who has received a majority in the parliamentary elections, which are held every 5 years.
Legislative power is vested in the bicameral National Assembly. The upper house is the Senate (12 members appointed for a 5-year term by the Governor-General on the recommendation of the leader of the ruling party, the leader of the opposition, religious and public organizations). The lower one is the House of Representatives (31 deputies elected by the population).
United Democratic Party - centre-left, 25 seats in parliament;
People's United Party - centrist, 6 seats.
Not represented in Parliament - the National Alliance for the Rights of the Belizeans, the National Reform Party, the People's National Party and others.
Administrative divisions and cities
The territory of Belize is administratively divided into 6 districts (English district):
The counties are further divided into 31 constituencies.
The population is 324.5 thousand (2010 census).
Annual increase - 2.1% (fertility - 3.3 births per woman)
Average life expectancy - 68 years
Urban population - 52% (in 2008)
Infection with the immunodeficiency virus (HIV) - 2.1% (2007 estimate).
Ethno-racial composition (according to the 2010 census):
mestizos (Spanish-Indian origin) - 150.9 thousand 49.7%,
Creoles (Anglo-African origin) - 64.2 thousand 22.2%,
Mayan Indians - 30.1 thousand 9.9%,
Garifuna (Afro-Indian origin) - 14 thousand 4.6%,
whites (mostly Mennonite Germans) - 14 thousand 4.6%
immigrants from Asia (Indians, Chinese, Arabs) - 10 thousand 3.3%
mixed population - 19 thousand 6.2%,
others - 1.2 thousand 0.4%
Religions: Roman Catholic 40.1%, Protestant 31.5% (Assembly of God Pentecostal 8.4%, Seventh Day Adventist 5.4%, Anglicans 4.7%, Mennonite 3.7%, Baptist 3.6%, Methodist 2.9%, Nazarene 2.8%), other 10.5%, atheist 16.1% (2010 census). According to 2010 statistics, Jehovah's Witnesses make up 1.7% of the population.
The official language of Belize is English, the
majority of the population is fluent in it, but only 4% of the
population considers English to be their native language. The literacy
rate of the population is 70%.
Belizean Creole is the first language for 33% of Belizeans. Between 75 and 80% of the population know this language.
Spanish has been spoken in Belize since 1840, when mestizo refugees arrived in Belize from Mexico. This is the first language for 46% of Belizeans, it is well known to the majority of the population.
Mayan languages are native to about 9% of the population.
Garifuna is the mother tongue of about 3% of the population. In 2001, UNESCO declared the Garifuna language a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Cultural Heritage.
In schools, teaching is conducted in English, Spanish is studied in primary and secondary schools. Bilingualism is very common.
The culture of Belize goes back to the origins of the
Mayan Indians, whose descendants still live in the country. The largest
Mayan centers that have survived to this day are located in Xunantunich
(on the border with Guatemala), Altun-Ha, Caracol, Queyo, Lamanai and
other places. These ancient cultural centers have not yet been fully
explored and are of great value to historians and archaeologists. Step
pyramids, huge masks and reliefs on the walls of Lamanai temples, the
mysterious and picturesque Lubaantun. In the town of Cajal Pech, you can
see many of the famous "false arches" of the Maya, which are one of the
mysteries and characteristic features of Mayan architecture. Altun-Kha,
one of the largest archaeological centers in the country, is known for
its burials, in which elegant decorations made of jasper and sea shells
Also of interest are the country's national parks and reserves, including the only jaguar reserve in the world.
The capital of Belize, Belmopan, is home to the University of Belize, interesting architectural bank buildings, monuments, the Art Box exhibition and the City Museum, as well as many beautiful parks.
Rich in sights and the former capital of the country - Belize. In the Belize Museum, housed in a former colonial prison from the mid-18th century, you can get acquainted with Mayan pottery. The Maritime Museum tells about the development of navigation, and the Coastal Zonal Museum displays a unique exhibition on reef ecology. The city also has a National Handicraft Center. In the northern part of the city is the Cathedral of St. John - the oldest Anglican church in Central America. Of particular importance for the city is the lighthouse-monument of Baron Bliss, famous for his good deeds in this land.
Belize is an underdeveloped agrarian state
specializing in international services. The main source of Belize's
foreign exchange income is tourism. It is followed by the export of
seafood, citrus fruits, cane sugar, bananas, clothing. In 2006, oil
fields were discovered, and already in 2007, its production and export
began. GDP per capita in 2009 - 8.3 thousand dollars (119th place in the
world). 72% of employees are employed in the service sector, 18% in
industry, and 10% in agriculture.
Industry - clothing, food, construction, oil production.
Agriculture - bananas, cocoa, citrus fruits, sugar cane; fishing, shrimp farming; logging.
Belize is an international offshore zone.
In 2017, the volume of foreign trade amounted to:
export $457.5 million, import $845.9 million, negative balance of
foreign trade $143 million.
Main export commodities: sugar, bananas, fruit juices, raw tobacco, shrimp, seafood, crude oil. Top Buyers: UK 33.9%, US 22%, Jamaica 6.7%, Italy 6.4%, Barbados 5.9%, Ireland 5.5%, Netherlands 4.3%.
Main imports: petroleum products, cigarettes and cigars, machinery and equipment, including vehicles, chemicals, consumer goods. Top suppliers: USA 35.6%, Mexico 11.2%, China 11.2%, Guatemala 6.9%.
External debt - 1.315 billion dollars (in 2017).
Military budget $19 million (as of 2005). The regular
armed forces are 1.05 thousand people. Picking is on a voluntary basis.
Reserve 700 people. Mobilization resources 68.5 thousand people,
including 40.6 thousand fit for military service
The ground forces are 1.05 thousand people, 3 pb, a support group, 3 reserve companies. Armament: 6 mortars of 81 mm caliber, 8 recoilless guns "Karl Gustav".
The Air Force is represented by an aviation wing, which is part of the Ground Forces. Aircraft: 2 light patrol aircraft BN-2B, 1 training aircraft Cessna 182, 1 transport aircraft T-67-200.
Naval Defense Forces (as part of the Ground Forces): 50 people, 3 PKA, 9 boats, 3 DKA.