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Belize Country Info

Belize is a beautiful tropical country. Visit the country’s official Board of Tourism.

Geography and Physical Features:
With a total area  of 22,963 sq km (8,866 sq. miles), Belize (known as British Honduras until 1973) is slightly larger than the state of Massachusetts. At its furthest points, Belize stretches 174 miles from north to south and 68 miles from west to east. Its capital is Belmopan and the largest city is Belize City.  Belize’s eastern border is the Caribbean Sea and it is bounded an the north and west by Mexico and on the south and west by Guatemala. Belize lies just south of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula

While the Caribbean Sea dominates the eastern portion of the country, the inner coastal waters are shallow and sheltered by a line of coral reefs and dotted with islets called cayes’ that extend almost the entire length of the country.

Belize contains a low coastal plain,which is mostly covered with mangrove swamp, but the land rises gradually towards the interior. The Maya Mountains and the Cockscomb Range form the backbone of the southern half of the country with the highest elevation in Belize being Victoria Peak (3,669 feet) in the Cockscomb Range. The western area of the country is dominated by the Mountain Pine Ridge while the northern districts contain considerable areas of low tableland. Belize contains many rivers, some of which are navigable for short distances by shallow-draft vessels. Plus, in addition to the many terrain variations, a large part of the mainland is forest.

The climate in Belize is sub-tropical, tempered by trade winds. Temperatures on the coast range from about 10*C (50*F) to about 35.6*C (96*F); inland the range is greater. Rainfall varies from an average of 51 inches in the north to 175 inches  in the extreme south. The dry season usually extends from February to May although there is sometimes a second dry spell in August.

Statistics:
Literacy: 92%;
Work Force: 65, 000 split as follows- Agriculture 30%; Industry and Commerce 27%; Services 25%; Government 16%; Unemployed 15%.

Government type:
Parliamentary Democracy

Population: Belize’s population was estimated to be about 333,200 in 2010. The ethnic makeup was approximately divided as follows:
Creole – 30% of population. Creole is a mixture of English and African blacks. This group comprises the traditional political and economic base in Belize. They speak an English dialect known as Creole and celebrate a mixture of West Indian, British and American cultural elements. 

Mestizos – 44% of population. Originally, descended from Mexican immigrants from the Yucatan during the Caste Wars of the 19th century the ethnic Mestizos are now joined by immigrants from Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua. The Mestizo group is a combination of Spanish and Maya culture (usually descended from Yucatan bloodlines). Spanish is the dominant language.

Garifuna – 7% of population. Garifuna are a mixture of African blacks and Indian. Descended from a mixture of Africans and Carib Indians who arrived in Belize in the late 18th century, this group has its own distinct cultural traits and language.

Maya – 11% of population, divided between Kekchi, Mopan and Yucatec Maya groups. The language of each Mayan group are mutually unintelligible and the groups occupy separate villages and maintain nearly total endogemy. The Maya generally live in the southern Toledo district. They are the descendents of the same people who built the incredible civilization in the Central American regions which hit a high point about 1000AD.

East Indians – 2.1% of population. Although a distinct community with near total endogamy, they have not preserved traditional Indian languages or customs.

Other, including Caucasians– 8% of population. Includes American, Arabian, Lebanese and British descent.

Religion:
Roman Catholic: 62%;
Protestant 30% (Anglican: 12%; Methodist: 6%; Mennonite: 4%; Seventh-Day Adventist: 3%: Pentecostal: 2%; Jehovah’s Witnesses: 1%; other: 2%);
Agnostic: 2%;
Other: 6%

In addition to their partnership with the Government in running the educational system, the Christian denominations provide many social and family welfare services.

The Belizean Constitution provides for freedom of religion.

Languages:
English is the official language of Belize although Spanish is widely spoken. In addition, Maya and Garifuna (Carib) can also be heard when around certain ethnic groups.