Belize

 

Geography:
Location: Central America, bordering the Caribbean Sea, between Guatemala and Mexico
Geographic coordinates: 17 15 N, 88 45 W
People:
Population: 327,719 (July 2012 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 36.8% (male 60,327/female 57,933)

15-64 years: 59.6% (male 96,886/female 94,605)

65 years and over: 3.5% (male 5,404/female 5,960) (2011 est.)

Government:
Country name: conventional long form: none

conventional short form: Belize

former: British Honduras

Government type: parliamentary democracy
Capital: name: Belmopan

geographic coordinates: 17 15 N, 88 46 W

time difference: UTC-6 (1 hour behind Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Communications:
Telephones – main lines in use: 28,800 (2011)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 203,000 (2011)
Transportation:
Airports: 43 (2012)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 6

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1

914 to 1,523 m: 2

under 914 m: 3 (2012)

Military:
Military branches: Belize Defence Force (BDF): Army, BDF Air Wing, BDF Volunteer Guard (2011)
Military service age and obligation: 18 years of age for voluntary military service; laws allow for conscription only if volunteers are insufficient; conscription has never been implemented; volunteers typically outnumber available positions by 3:1 (2012)

Economy:

In this small, essentially private-enterprise economy, tourism is the number one foreign exchange earner followed by exports of marine products, citrus, cane sugar, bananas, and garments. The government’s expansionary monetary and fiscal policies, initiated in September 1998, led to sturdy GDP growth averaging nearly 4% in 1999-2007.

 

Oil discoveries in 2006 bolstered the economic growth in 2006 and 2007. Major concerns continue to be the sizable trade deficit and unsustainable foreign debt. In February 2007, the government restructured nearly all of its public external commercial debt, which will reduce interest payments and relieve liquidity concerns. A key short-term objective remains the reduction of poverty with the help of international donors.

Transnational Issues:

Disputes – international: annual ministerial meetings under the OAS-initiated Agreement on the Framework for Negotiations and Confidence Building Measures continue to address Guatemalan land and maritime claims in Belize and Caribbean Sea; the Line of Adjacency created under the 2002 Differendum serves in lieu of the contiguous international boundary to control squatting in the sparsely inhabited rain forests of Belize’s border region; Honduras claims Belizean-administered Sapodilla Cays in its constitution but agreed to a joint ecological park under the Differendum
Illicit drugs: transhipment point for cocaine; small-scale illicit producer of cannabis, primarily for local consumption; money-laundering activity related to narcotics trafficking and offshore sector