Belize Politics

Belize Politics, Population and Geography

Background: Territorial disputes between the UK and Guatemala delayed the independence of Belize (formerly British Honduras) until 1981. Guatemala refused to recognize the new state until 1992. Tourism became the main industry of the country’s economy. The country has many problems: high unemployment, involvement in the drug trade and rising crime in the cities. See to know more about Belize History.


Location: Central America, Caribbean coast, between Guatemala and Mexico.
Geographical coordinates: 17° 15′ N. latitude, 88° 45′ W e.
Reference map: Central America and the Caribbean.
Area: total: 22,966 km2; land surface area: 22,806 km2; water surface area: 160 km2
Comparative area: slightly smaller than Massachusetts.
Land borders: total: 516 km; with neighboring states: with Guatemala 266 km, with Mexico 250 km.
Coastline: 386 km.
Maritime claims: exclusive economic zone: 200 nautical miles; territorial waters: 12 nautical miles in the north, 3 nautical miles in the south; note – from the mouth of the Sarstun River to Ranguan Key, the territorial waters of Belize are three nautical miles; under the Belize Maritime Zone Act of 1992, the purpose of this limitation is to provide a basis for negotiations with Guatemala on demarcation.
Climate: tropical; very hot and humid; rainy season from May to February.
Terrain: flat marshy coastal plain; low mountains in the south.
Maximum and minimum heights: lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m; highest point: Victoria Peak 1,160 m.
Natural resources: Potentially arable land, timber, fish, hydropower.
Land use: arable land: 10%; cultivated land: 1%; pastures: 2%; forests and plantations: 84%; others: 3% (2000 est.).
Irrigated land: 20 km2 (1993 est.).
Natural Hazards: Frequent, destructive hurricanes (September to December) and coastal flooding (especially in the south).
Current environmental issues: deforestation; water pollution from sewage, industrial and agricultural effluents, solid waste dumps.
International environmental agreements: member: Biodiversity, Climate change, Desertification, Endangered species, Hazardous wastes, Law of the sea, Ozone layer protection, Ship pollution, Wetlands; signed but not ratified: no.
Note to the Geography section: the only country in Central America that does not have access to the Pacific coast.


Population: 256,062 (July 2001 OC).
Age structure: under 14: 42.04% (male 54,876; female 52,780); 15 to 64 years old: 54.43% (male 70,534; female 68,837); over 65: 3.53% (male 4,403; female 4,632) (2001 est.).
Population growth: 2.7% (2001 est.).
Birth rate: 31.69 newborns / 1000 people. (2001 est.).
Mortality: 4.7 deaths / 1000 people. (2001 est.).
Migration: 0 people /1000 people (2001 est.).
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male/female; under 15: 1.04 male/female; 15 to 64 years old: 1.02 male/female; over 65: 0.95 male/female; for the population in the flail: 1.03 male/female. (2001 est.).
Child mortality: 25.14 deaths/1000 live births (2001 est.).
Life expectancy: for the general population: 71.19 years; men: 68.91 years; women: 73.57 years (2001 est.).
General birth rate: 4.05 children/wives. (2001 est.).
Proportion of the adult population infected with HIV: 2.01% (1999 est.).
Number of people infected with HIV: 2400 (1999 est.).
AIDS deaths: 170 (1999 est.).
Nationality: noun: Belizean; adjective: Belizean.
Ethnic groups: Mestizo 43.7%, Creole 29.8%, Mayan 10%, Garifuna 6.2%, other 10.3%.
Believers: Roman Catholic 62%, Protestant 30% (Anglican 12%, Methodist 6%, Mennonite 4%, Seventh Day Adventist 3%, Pentecostal 2%, Jehovah’s Witness 1%, other 2%), non-denominational 2%, other 6% (1980).
Language(s): English (official), Spanish, Maya, Garifuna (Caribbean), Creole.
Literacy: definition: persons aged 15 and over who can read and write; for the general population: 70.3%; men: 70.3%; women: 70.3% (1991 est.); note: other sources put the literacy rate at 75%.


Common long form: no;
conventional short form: Belize; former: British Honduras.
State structure: parliamentary democracy.
Capital: Belmopan.
Administrative division: 6 districts: Belize, Cayo, Corozal, Orange Walk, Stann Creek, Toledo.
Independence: September 21, 1981 (until 1981 – a British colony).
National holiday: Independence Day, 21 September (1981).
Constitution: adopted September 21, 1981.
Legal system: English legal system.
Suffrage: from 18 years old; universal.
head of state: Koropeva ELIZABETH II (since February 6, 1952), represented by the Governor General Sir Colville YOUNG (since November 17, 1993);
head of government: Prime Minister Said MUSA (since 27 August 1998) Deputy Prime Minister John BRICENO (since September 1, 1998);
Government: cabinet appointed by the governor-general on the nomination of the prime minister; elections: no, hereditary monarchy; the governor general is appointed by the monarch; The Governor General appoints the leader of the majority party in the House of Representatives as Prime Minister.
Legislature: The bicameral National Assembly consists of the Senate (8 members, five appointed by the Prime Minister, two by the leader of the opposition, one by the Governor General; members are appointed for five years) and the House of Representatives (29 seats; members are elected by direct popular vote for five years); elections: for House of Representatives last held 27 August 1998 (next to be held in August 2003); election results: distribution of votes between parties: PUP 59.2%, UDP 40.8%; ; distribution of seats among parties: PUP 26, UDP 3.
Judiciary: Supreme Court, Chief Justice appointed by the Governor General on the recommendation of the Prime Minister.
Political parties and leaders: People’s United Party (PUP) (Side MUSA); United Democratic Party (UDP) (Manuel ESQUIVEL, Dean BARROW, Doug SINGH).
Political pressure groups and their leaders: Society for the Promotion of Education and Research (SPEAR) (Assad SHOMAN); United Labor Front.
Participation in international organizations: АСР, С, Caricom, CDB, ECLAC, FAO, G-77, IADB, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Intelsat (nonsignatory user), Interpol, IOC, IOM, ITU, LAES, NAM, OAS, OPANAL, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTrO.
Diplomatic representation in the USA: Chief of Mission: Ambassador Lisa M. SHOMAN; office: 2535 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008; phone: [1] (202) 332-9636; fax: [1] (202) 332-6888; Consulates General: Los Angeles.
US Mission: Head of Mission: Ambassador Carolyn CURIEL; embassy: 29 Gabourel Lane and Hutson Street, Belize City; mailing address: R. O. Box 286, Unit 7401, APO AA 34025; phone: [501] (2) 77161; fax: [501] (2) 30802.
Description of the flag: blue with narrow red stripes along the top and bottom edges; in the center is a large white circle with a coat of arms; the coat of arms depicts a field, on both sides of which there are two workers against the background of mahogany, under them the inscription SUB UMBRA FLOREO (I bloom under the shade), and a green garland runs along the edge of the circle.

Belize Politics