Belize (/bəˈliːz/ is a Caribbean and Central American country on the north-eastern coast of Central America. It is bordered by Mexico to the north, the Caribbean Sea to the east, and Guatemala to the west and south. It also shares a sea boundary with Honduras to the southeast. It has an area of 8,867 sq mi (22,970 square kilometres) and a population of 441,471 (2022 estimate). Its mainland is 180 miles long (290 km) and 68 mi wide (110 km). It is the least populated and least densely populated country in Central America. Its population growth rate of 1.89% per year (2019 estimate) is the second-highest in the region and one of the highest in the Western Hemisphere. Its capital is Belmopan, and its largest city is Belize City. Belize is often thought of as a Caribbean country in Central America because it has a history similar to that of English-speaking Caribbean nations. Belize’s institutions and official language reflect its history as a British colony.
Area: 22,966 sq km
Language: English, Belizean Creole, plus Spanish, Mayan, German, Garifuna, Chinese
Life expectancy: 71 years (men) 77 years (women)
The currency of Belize is the dollar (ISO code BZD), divided into 100 cents.
The Belizean dollar — sometimes written as “BZ$” or just as a dollar sign: “$” — has been fixed to the US dollar (USD) at a 2:1 ratio since 1978 (i.e. BZ$2 = US$1).
Because of this consistent exchange rate, US dollars are widely accepted, but you should be careful to clarify which “dollars” you’re talking about when negotiating prices. It’s often better to assume Belize dollars because many merchants will jump on your uncertainty and attempt to double their price by saying, “No, in US dollars”. Change can also be given in US dollars or a combination of US and Belizean dollar bills and coins. Belize dollars come in denominations of BZ$2, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100. B$1 and smaller amounts are coins. The 25-cent coin is often called a “shilling.”
All visitors are required to have sufficient funds, US$75 per day, and documents required for their next destination.
If entering by land from Mexico, you will be charged a fee of M$533 (Mexican pesos) (as of May 2018) by Mexican immigration unless you can show proof that you paid the immigration fee when you entered Mexico. Your FMM tourist card is not enough. If you crossed at a land border, you’ll need the actual receipt from when you paid the fee. If you reached Mexico via a commercial flight, you’ve may have already paid the fee with your airfare, but the border guards here do not care. You might be able to convince them if you have a print-out of an itemized receipt from the airline showing that this specific fee was included.
Head of state: King Charles III is the head of state, represented by a governor general
Prime minister: Juan (Johnny) Antonio Briceño
On 11 November 2020, the People’s United Party (PUP), led by Johnny Briceño, defeated the United Democratic Party (UDP) for the first time since 2003, having won 26 seats out of 31 to form a government.
In 2008, Guatemala and Belize held referendums in which voters in both countries decided to submit the issue of their historic border dispute to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). As of June 2022, both countries confirmed that they had submitted their initial briefs to ICJ for consideration.
Government: Type: Parliamentary democracy. Independence: 21 September 1981 from the UK. Constitution: 21 September 1981. Geography: Location: Central America, bordering the Caribbean Sea, between Guatemala and Mexico. Terrain: plain coastline covered with mangrove swamps, low mountains in interior, highest point Doyle’s Delight (1124 m). Climate: Tropical, warm and humid. Rainy season May to November; dry season February to May.
In the land of Belize, ancestry flows like a river, with every drop from immigrant heritage. Mestizos, born from Mayan and Spanish union, form the largest body, numbering half the population and residing in the interior’s solitude. The Maya, rooted in Yucatec, Mopán, and Kekchí, make their presence felt, numbering a tenth of the land. Like a mosaic of cultures, Belize is a beautiful blend of diversity.
People: Nationality: Noun and adjective–Belizean(s). GNI per capita PPP: $ 7 635 (year) Ethnic groups: Mestizo, Creole, Ketchi, Yucatec and Mopan Mayas, Garifuna and East Indian. Religions: Roman Catholic, Anglican, Methodist, other Protestant, Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist.
Languages: English (official), Creole, Spanish, Garifuna, Mayan.
Belize’s population is estimated to be 441,471 in 2022. Belize’s total fertility rate in 2009 was 3.6 children per woman. Its birth rate was 22.9 births/1,000 population (2018 estimate), and the death rate was 4.2 deaths/1,000 population (2018 estimate). A substantial ethnic-demographic shift has been occurring since 1980 when the Creole/Mestizo ratio shifted from 58/38 to currently 26/53, due to many Creoles moving to the US and a rising Mestizo birth rate and migration from El Salvador.
Natural resources: Arable land, timber, seafood, minerals.
Agriculture Products: Sugar, citrus fruits and juices, bananas, mangoes, papayas, honey, corn, beans, rice, cattle (12.7% of GDP).
Industries: Garment production, food processing, tourism, construction.
Exports partners: UK 30.8%, USA 18.7%, Nigeria 6.7%, Trinidad and Tobago 4.8%, Ireland 4.2%, Jamaica 4.2% (2015)
Imports partners: USA 26.6%, Mexico 11.7%, Cuba 10.2%, Guatemala 9%, China 7.5%, Trinidad and Tobago 5.6% (2015)
Belize History Timeline
16th-19th centuries – The Spanish arrive; Spanish rule ends in 1862 when Belize is formally declared a British crown colony and named British Honduras.
1954 – Constitutional reforms give Belize limited autonomy; general elections won by People’s United Party (PUP), led by George Price.
1964 – New constitution gives Belize full autonomy and introduces universal adult suffrage and a two-chamber parliament. In 1973, the country changes its name from British Honduras to Belize.
1981 – Belize becomes independent with George Price as prime minister, but Guatemala refuses to recognise it. About 1,500 British troops remain to defend the country against Guatemalan territorial claims. Guatemala recognises Belize’s independence in 1992 although the territorial conflict remains.
2002 – Belize, Guatemala agree on a draft settlement to their long-standing border dispute at talks brokered by the Organisation of American States (OAS). The deal, which proposed referendums in both countries, is rejected by Guatemala in 2003.
2005 – Rioting breaks out in the capital during a wave of anti-government protests.
2011 – Belize is added to US blacklist of countries considered to be major producers or transit routes for illegal drugs.
2008 – Guatemala and Belize hold referendums and submit the border dispute to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for arbitration.
2022 – Both countries submit their initial briefs on the border dispute to ICJ for consideration.
Belize The Country
Destination Belize, a country on the eastern coast of northern Central America, bordering the Caribbean Sea in east. It was known as British Honduras until 1973. Belize was granted independence on 21 September 1981, it is since then a Commonwealth realm, with Queen Elizabeth II as its monarch and head of state.
Border countries are Guatemala and Mexico, and it shares maritime borders with Honduras.
On this page you will find comprehensive information about Belize in its diversity: geography, economy, science, people, culture, environment, government, and history.
Territorial disputes between the UK and Guatemala delayed the independence of Belize until 1981. Guatemala refused to recognize the new nation until 1992.
border countries: Guatemala, Mexico. Related country: United Kingdom.
Official Sites of Belize
Government of Belize Official Belize government site.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs – Belize Official site of the ministry.
Embassy of Belize Site of Belize’s Embassy in Washington D.C.