The World Factbook (1990)/Belize



World Factbook (1990) Belize.jpg

 See regional map III


Total area: 22,960 km²; land area: 22,800 km²

Comparative area: slightly larger than Massachusetts

Land boundaries: 516 km total; Guatemala 266 km, Mexico 250 km

Coastline: 386 km

Maritime claims:

Territorial sea: 3 nm

Disputes: claimed by Guatemala, but boundary negotiations are under way

Climate: tropical; very hot and humid; rainy season (May to February)

Terrain: flat, swampy coastal plain; low mountains in south

Natural resources: arable land potential, timber, fish

Land use: 2% arable land; NEGL% permanent crops; 2% meadows and pastures; 44% forest and woodland; 52% other; includes NEGL% irrigated

Environment: frequent devastating hurricanes (September to December) and coastal flooding (especially in south); deforestation

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


Population: 219,737 (July 1990), growth rate 3.7% (1990)

Birth rate: 38 births/1,000 population (1990)

Death rate: 6 deaths/1,000 population (1990)

Net migration rate: 4 migrants/1,000 population (1990)

Infant mortality rate: 35 deaths/1,000 live births (1990)

Life expectancy at birth: 67 years male, 72 years female (1990)

Total fertility rate: 4.8 children born/woman (1990)

Nationality: noun—Belizean(s); adjective—Belizean

Ethnic divisions: 39.7% Creole, 33.1% Mestizo, 9.5% Maya, 7.6% Garifuna, 2.1% East Indian, 8.0% other

Religion: 60% Roman Catholic; 40% Protestant (Anglican, Seventh-Day Adventist, Methodist, Baptist, Jehovah's Witnesses, Mennonite)

Language: English (official), Spanish, Maya, Garifuna (Carib)

Literacy: 93% (est.)

Labor force: 51,500; 30.0% agriculture, 16.0% services, 15.4% government, 11.2% commerce, 10.3% manufacturing; shortage of skilled labor and all types of technical personnel (1985)

Organized labor: 30% of labor force; 11 unions currently active


Long-form name: none

Type: parliamentary

Capital: Belmopan

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

Independence: 21 September 1981 (from UK; formerly British Honduras)

Constitution: 21 September 1981

Legal system: English law

National holiday: Independence Day, 21 September

Executive branch: British monarch, governor general, prime minister, deputy prime minister, Cabinet

Legislative branch: bicameral National Assembly consists of an upper house or Senate and a lower house or House of Representatives

Judicial branch: Supreme Court

Leaders: Chief of State—Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952), represented by Governor General Dame Elmira Minita GORDON (since 21 September 1981);

Head of Government—Prime Minister George Cadle PRICE (since 4 September 1989)

Political parties and leaders: People's United Party (PUP), George Price, Florencio Marin, Said Musa; United Democratic Party (UDP), Manuel Esquivel, Curl Thompson, Dean Barrow; Belize Popular Party (BPP), Louis Sylvestre

Suffrage: universal at age 18

Elections: National Assembly—last held 4 September 1989 (next to be held September 1994); results—percent of vote by party NA; seats—(28 total) PUP 15 seats, UDP 13 seats; note—in January 1990 one member expelled from UDP joined PUP, making the seat count 16 PUP, UDP 12

Communists: negligible

Other political or pressure groups: Society for the Promotion of Education and Research (SPEAR) headed by former PUP minister; United Workers Front


Diplomatic representation: Ambassador Edward A. LAING; Chancery at Suite 2J, 3400 International Drive NW, Washington DC 20008; telephone (202) 363-4505; US—Ambassador Robert G. RICH, Jr.; Embassy at Gabourel Lane and Hutson Street, Belize City (mailing address is P. O. Box 286, Belize City); telephone [501]77161 through 77163

Flag: 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 with a mahogany tree at the top and the related motto SUB UMBRA FLOREO (I Flourish in the Shade) on a scroll at the bottom, all encircled by a green garland


Overview: The economy is based primarily on agriculture and merchandising. Agriculture accounts for more than 30% of GDP and provides 75% of export earnings, while sugar, the chief crop, accounts for almost 40% of hard currency earnings. The US, Belize's main trading partner, is assisting in efforts to reduce dependency on sugar with an agricultural diversification program. In 1987 the drop in income from sugar sales to the US because of quota reductions was almost totally offset by higher world prices for sugar.

GDP: $225.6 million, per capita $1,285; real growth rate 6% (1989 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 1.5% (1988)

Unemployment rate: 14% (1988 est.)

Budget: revenues $94.6 million; expenditures $74.3 million, including capital expenditures of $33.9 million (1988 est.)

Exports: $120 million (f.o.b., 1988); commodities—sugar, clothing, seafood, molasses, citrus, wood and wood products; partners—US 47%, UK, Trinidad and Tobago, Canada (1987)

Imports: $176 million (c.i.f., 1988); commodities—machinery and transportation equipment, food, manufactured goods, fuels, chemicals, pharmaceuticals; partners—US 55%, UK, Netherlands Antilles, Mexico (1987)

External debt: $140 million (December 1988)

Industrial production: growth rate 6% (1988)

Electricity: 34,000 kW capacity; 88 million kWh produced, 500 kWh per capita (1989)

Industries: sugar refining, clothing, timber and forest products, furniture, rum, soap, beverages, cigarettes, tourism

Agriculture: accounts for 30% of GDP (including fish and forestry); commercial crops include sugarcane, bananas, coca, citrus fruits; expanding output of lumber and cultured shrimp; net importer of basic foods

Illicit drugs: an illicit producer of cannabis for the international drug trade; eradication program cut marijuana production from 200 metric tons in 1987 to 66 metric tons in 1989; transshipment point for cocaine

Aid: US commitments, including Ex-Im (FY70-88), $94 million; Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-87), $194 million

Currency: Belizean dollar (plural—dollars); 1 Belizean dollar (Bz$) = 100 cents

Exchange rates: Belizean dollars (Bz$) per US$1—2.00 (fixed rate)

Fiscal year: 1 April-31 March


Highways: 2,575 km total; 340 km paved, 1,190 km gravel, 735 km improved earth, and 310 km unimproved earth

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

Ports: Belize City, Belize City Southwest

Civil air: no major transport aircraft

Airports: 38 total, 30 usable; 4 with permanent-surface runways; none with runways over 2,439 m; 2 with runways 1,220-2,439 m

Telecommunications: 8,650 telephones; above-average system based on radio relay; stations—6 AM, 5 FM, 1 TV, 1 shortwave; 1 Atlantic Ocean INTELSAT earth station

Defense Forces

Branches: British Forces Belize, Belize Defense Force, Police Department

Military manpower: males 15-49, 50,988; 30,502 fit for military service; 2,500 reach military age (18) annually

Defense expenditures: 2.0% of GDP, or $4.6 million (1989 est.)