Belize is a nation on the eastern coast of Central America, with Caribbean Sea shorelines to the east and dense jungle to the west. Offshore, the massive Belize Barrier Reef, dotted with hundreds of low-lying islands called cayes, hosts rich marine life. Belize’s jungle areas are home to Mayan ruins like Caracol, renowned for its towering pyramid; lagoon-side Lamanai; and Altun Ha, just outside Belize City.
Belize’s population was 324,528 in 2010. The population of Belize is ethnically diverse and includes descendants of the original Mayan culture and people of Caribbean, Caucasian, Chinese and East Indian descent.
Belize has a long history of peace, stability and democracy. It became a British Crown Colony in 1862 and achieved complete self-rule in 1981. Belize is a member of the British Commonwealth, the United Nations and the Non-Aligned Movement.
Belize is a parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy which recognizes HM Queen Elizabeth II as head of state represented by a Governor General who must be a Belizean national. The National Assembly is composed of the Senate and the House of Representatives, the Senate has 12 members and the House of Representatives comprises of 29 members, directly elected at intervals of no longer than five years. The prime minister and cabinet have executive power.
Infrastructure and Economy
Belize’s unspoiled environment with cays and barrier reef make it a popular destination for eco-tourists, whilst its clear unpolluted waters are excellent for swimming, diving, fishing and other aqua sports. The country also offers a unique mix of unspoiled woodlands, caves, rivers, mountains, waterfalls and jungle, in addition to a wealth of Mayan archaeological sites. There are also forest reserves, wildlife sanctuaries, marine resort areas and the world’s only jaguar reserve.
The official and spoken language is English but Spanish is widely spoken.
The Belize Dollar (BZ$).
Offshore activities are exempted from exchange control.