Belize has a diverse society, comprising many cultures and languages. Although Kriol and Spanish are spoken among the population, Belize is the only country in Central America where English is the official language. Belize is bordered by Mexico to its north, by Guatemala to its south and west, and by the Caribbean Sea to the east.
With 8,867 square miles (22,960 km²) of land and a population of only 333,200 people (2010 EST.) Belize possesses the lowest population density in Central America and the third lowest in the Americas after Guyana and Suriname. The country’s population growth rate of 2.21% (2008 est.), however, is the highest in the region and one of the highest in the western hemisphere. Belize’s abundance of terrestrial and marine species and its diversity of ecosystems give it a key place within the globally significant Mesoamerican Biological Corridor.
Belize is culturally unique among its Central American neighbors; it is the only nation in the region with a British colonial heritage. As a part of the Western Caribbean Zone, however, it also shares a common heritage with the Caribbean portions of other Central American countries.
In general, Belize is considered to be a Central American nation with strong ties to both the Caribbean and Latin America. Belize is a member of the Caribbean Community.
In 1973, the colony’s name was changed from British Honduras to Belize and on September 21, 1981, Belize’s Independence was declared. Belmopan is the capital of the country, which was built in 1970.
Government & Legal System
The political system is based on the British Westminster model with Queen Elizabeth II as Head of State being represented by a Belizean Governor General. The least of the Executive is the Prime Minister.
Belize’s legal system and rule of law are firmly rooted in the English Common Law and supplemented by local legislation (with the Privy Council serving as the final court of appeal).
The Belize government is committed to developing Belize as a leading centre for financial services, implementing policies receptive to the development of e-commerce and international banking.
Belize has a long-standing history of peace, stability and democracy.
The Jurisdiction and Economy
Agriculture traditionally constituted the major driver of Belize’s economy with such export products as sugar, citrus and banana. Tourism and Petroleum has now surpassed agriculture as the major foreign exchange earner and the international financial services industry has been contributing increasingly to the growth and development of the economy.
Belize also benefits from a number of preferential market access arrangements, especially with the USA, Canada, and the European Community. In this small, essentially private-enterprise economy the tourism industry is the number one foreign exchange earner followed by marine products, citrus, cane, sugar, bananas, and garments.
Banking and Communications
There are several major commercial banks in the Belize, which offer a full range of domestic and offshore services. The local currency is the Belize dollar which is tied to the US dollar at an exchange rate of BZ$2.00=US$1.00. There are excellent telecommunications; and airlines connect with major international routes through Miami, Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, Charlotte and El Salvador. All major courier companies service Belize.