Main Content

Central America :: Belize Print
Page last updated on October 01, 2020
  • Introduction :: Belize
  • Background field listing
    Belize was the site of several Mayan city states until their decline at the end of the first millennium A.D. The British and Spanish disputed the region in the 17th and 18th centuries; it formally became the colony of British Honduras in 1862. Territorial disputes between the UK and Guatemala delayed the independence of Belize until 1981. Guatemala refused to recognize the new nation until 1992 and the two countries are involved in an ongoing border dispute. Both nations have voted to send the dispute for final resolution to the International Court of Justice. Tourism has become the mainstay of the economy. Current concerns include the country's heavy foreign debt burden, high crime rates, high unemployment combined with a majority youth population, growing involvement in the Mexican and South American drug trade, and one of the highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rates in Central America.
  • Geography :: Belize
  • Location field listing
    Central America, bordering the Caribbean Sea, between Guatemala and Mexico
    Geographic coordinates field listing
    17 15 N, 88 45 W
    Map references field listing
    Central America and the Caribbean
    Area field listing
    total: 22,966 sq km
    land: 22,806 sq km
    water: 160 sq km
    country comparison to the world: 152
    Area - comparative field listing
    slightly smaller than Massachusetts
    Land boundaries field listing
    total: 542 km
    border countries (2): Guatemala 266 km, Mexico 276 km
    Coastline field listing
    386 km
    Maritime claims field listing
    territorial sea: 12 nm in the north, 3 nm in the south; note - from the mouth of the Sarstoon River to Ranguana Cay, Belize's territorial sea is 3 nm; according to Belize's Maritime Areas Act, 1992, the purpose of this limitation is to provide a framework for negotiating a definitive agreement on territorial differences with Guatemala
    exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
    Climate field listing
    tropical; very hot and humid; rainy season (May to November); dry season (February to May)
    Terrain field listing
    flat, swampy coastal plain; low mountains in south
    Elevation field listing
    mean elevation: 173 m
    lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
    highest point: Doyle's Delight 1,124 m
    Natural resources field listing
    arable land potential, timber, fish, hydropower
    Land use field listing
    agricultural land: 6.9% (2011 est.)
    arable land: 3.3% (2011 est.) / permanent crops: 1.4% (2011 est.) / permanent pasture: 2.2% (2011 est.)
    forest: 60.6% (2011 est.)
    other: 32.5% (2011 est.)
    Irrigated land field listing
    35 sq km (2012)
    Population distribution field listing
    approximately 25% to 30% of the population lives in the former capital, Belize City; over half of the overall population is rural; population density is slightly higher in the north and east
    Natural hazards field listing
    frequent, devastating hurricanes (June to November) and coastal flooding (especially in south)
    Environment - current issues field listing
    deforestation; water pollution, including pollution of Belize's Barrier Reef System, from sewage, industrial effluents, agricultural runoff; inability to properly dispose of solid waste
    Environment - international agreements field listing
    party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling
    signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
    Geography - note field listing
    only country in Central America without a coastline on the North Pacific Ocean
  • People and Society :: Belize
  • Population field listing
    399,598 (July 2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 176
    Nationality field listing
    noun: Belizean(s)
    adjective: Belizean
    Ethnic groups field listing
    mestizo 52.9%, Creole 25.9%, Maya 11.3%, Garifuna 6.1%, East Indian 3.9%, Mennonite 3.6%, white 1.2%, Asian 1%, other 1.2%, unknown 0.3% (2010 est.)

    note: percentages add up to more than 100% because respondents were able to identify more than one ethnic origin

    Languages field listing
    English 62.9% (official), Spanish 56.6%, Creole 44.6%, Maya 10.5%, German 3.2%, Garifuna 2.9%, other 1.8%, unknown 0.3%, none 0.2% (cannot speak) (2010 est.)

    note: shares sum to more than 100% because some respondents gave more than one answer on the census

    Religions field listing
    Roman Catholic 40.1%, Protestant 31.5% (includes Pentecostal 8.4%, Seventh Day Adventist 5.4%, Anglican 4.7%, Mennonite 3.7%, Baptist 3.6%, Methodist 2.9%, Nazarene 2.8%), Jehovah's Witness 1.7%, other 10.5% (includes Baha'i, Buddhist, Hindu, Mormon, Muslim, Rastafarian, Salvation Army), unspecified 0.6%, none 15.5% (2010 est.)
    Demographic profile field listing

    Migration continues to transform Belize's population. About 16% of Belizeans live abroad, while immigrants constitute approximately 15% of Belize's population. Belizeans seeking job and educational opportunities have preferred to emigrate to the United States rather than former colonizer Great Britain because of the United States' closer proximity and stronger trade ties with Belize. Belizeans also emigrate to Canada, Mexico, and English-speaking Caribbean countries. The emigration of a large share of Creoles (Afro-Belizeans) and the influx of Central American immigrants, mainly Guatemalans, Salvadorans, and Hondurans, has changed Belize's ethnic composition. Mestizos have become the largest ethnic group, and Belize now has more native Spanish speakers than English or Creole speakers, despite English being the official language. In addition, Central American immigrants are establishing new communities in rural areas, which contrasts with the urbanization trend seen in neighboring countries. Recently, Chinese, European, and North American immigrants have become more frequent.

    Immigration accounts for an increasing share of Belize's population growth rate, which is steadily falling due to fertility decline. Belize's declining birth rate and its increased life expectancy are creating an aging population. As the elderly population grows and nuclear families replace extended households, Belize's government will be challenged to balance a rising demand for pensions, social services, and healthcare for its senior citizens with the need to reduce poverty and social inequality and to improve sanitation.

    Age structure field listing
    0-14 years: 32.57% (male 66,454/female 63,700)
    15-24 years: 19% (male 39,238/female 36,683)
    25-54 years: 37.72% (male 73,440/female 77,300)
    55-64 years: 6.18% (male 12,235/female 12,444)
    65 years and over: 4.53% (male 8,781/female 9,323) (2020 est.)
    population pyramid: population pyramid
    Dependency ratios field listing
    total dependency ratio: 52
    youth dependency ratio: 44.4
    elderly dependency ratio: 7.6
    potential support ratio: 13.1 (2020 est.)
    Median age field listing
    total: 23.9 years
    male: 23 years
    female: 24.8 years (2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 172
    Population growth rate field listing
    1.72% (2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 61
    Birth rate field listing
    22 births/1,000 population (2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 66
    Death rate field listing
    4.1 deaths/1,000 population (2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 212
    Net migration rate field listing
    -1 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 142
    Population distribution field listing
    approximately 25% to 30% of the population lives in the former capital, Belize City; over half of the overall population is rural; population density is slightly higher in the north and east
    Urbanization field listing
    urban population: 46% of total population (2020)
    rate of urbanization: 2.32% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)
    Major urban areas - population field listing
    23,000 BELMOPAN (capital) (2018)
    Sex ratio field listing
    at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
    0-14 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
    15-24 years: 1.07 male(s)/female
    25-54 years: 0.95 male(s)/female
    55-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
    65 years and over: 0.94 male(s)/female
    total population: 1 male(s)/female (2020 est.)
    Maternal mortality rate field listing
    36 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 104
    Infant mortality rate field listing
    total: 11.2 deaths/1,000 live births
    male: 12.4 deaths/1,000 live births
    female: 10 deaths/1,000 live births (2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 118
    Life expectancy at birth field listing
    total population: 75.3 years
    male: 73.7 years
    female: 77 years (2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 117
    Total fertility rate field listing
    2.7 children born/woman (2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 64
    Contraceptive prevalence rate field listing
    51.4% (2015/16)
    Drinking water source field listing
    improved: urban: 100% of population
    rural: 98.6% of population
    total: 99.2% of population
    unimproved: urban: 0% of population
    rural: 1.4% of population
    total: 0.8% of population (2017 est.)
    Current Health Expenditure field listing
    5.6% (2017)
    Physicians density field listing
    1.12 physicians/1,000 population (2017)
    Hospital bed density field listing
    1 beds/1,000 population (2017)
    Sanitation facility access field listing
    improved: urban: 98.8% of population
    rural: 95.3% of population
    total: 96.9% of population
    unimproved: urban: 1.2% of population
    rural: 4.7% of population
    total: 3.1% of population (2017 est.)
    HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate field listing
    1.9% (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 25
    HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS field listing
    4,900 (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 121
    HIV/AIDS - deaths field listing
    <200 (2018 est.)
    Obesity - adult prevalence rate field listing
    24.1% (2016)
    country comparison to the world: 60
    Children under the age of 5 years underweight field listing
    4.6% (2015)
    country comparison to the world: 85
    Education expenditures field listing
    7.4% of GDP (2017)
    country comparison to the world: 9
    School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education) field listing
    total: 13 years
    male: 13 years
    female: 13 years (2017)
    Unemployment, youth ages 15-24 field listing
    total: 15.3%
    male: 9.5%
    female: 24.8% (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 89
  • Government :: Belize
  • Country name field listing
    conventional long form: none
    conventional short form: Belize
    former: British Honduras
    etymology: may be named for the Belize River, whose name possibly derives from the Maya word "belix," meaning "muddy-watered"
    Government type field listing
    parliamentary democracy (National Assembly) under a constitutional monarchy; a Commonwealth realm
    Capital field listing
    name: Belmopan
    geographic coordinates: 17 15 N, 88 46 W
    time difference: UTC-6 (1 hour behind Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
    etymology: the decision to move the capital of the country inland to higher and more stable land was made in the 1960s; the name chosen for the new city was formed from the union of two words: "Belize," the name of the longest river in the country, and "Mopan," one of the rivers in the area of the new capital that empties into the Belize River
    Administrative divisions field listing
    6 districts; Belize, Cayo, Corozal, Orange Walk, Stann Creek, Toledo
    Independence field listing
    21 September 1981 (from the UK)
    National holiday field listing
    Battle of St. George's Caye Day (National Day), 10 September (1798); Independence Day, 21 September (1981)
    Constitution field listing
    history: previous 1954, 1963 (preindependence); latest signed and entered into force 21 September 1981
    amendments: proposed and adopted by two-thirds majority vote of the National Assembly House of Representatives except for amendments relating to rights and freedoms, changes to the Assembly, and to elections and judiciary matters, which require at least three-quarters majority vote of the House; both types of amendments require assent of the governor general; amended several times, last in 2018
    International law organization participation field listing
    has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt jurisdiction
    Citizenship field listing
    citizenship by birth: yes
    citizenship by descent only: yes
    dual citizenship recognized: yes
    residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years
    Suffrage field listing
    18 years of age; universal
    Executive branch field listing
    chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Governor General Sir Colville Norbert YOUNG, Sr. (since 17 November 1993)
    head of government: Prime Minister Dean Oliver BARROW (since 8 February 2008); Deputy Prime Minister Patrick FABER (since 7 June 2016)
    cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister from among members of the National Assembly
    elections/appointments: the monarchy is hereditary; governor general appointed by the monarch; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or majority coalition usually appointed prime minister by the governor general; prime minister recommends the deputy prime minister
    Legislative branch field listing
    description: bicameral National Assembly consists of:
    Senate (14 seats, including the president); members appointed by the governor general - 6 on the advice of the prime minister, 3 on the advice of the leader of the opposition, and 1 each on the advice of the Belize Council of Churches and Evangelical Association of Churches, the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Belize Better Business Bureau, non-governmental organizations in good standing, and the National Trade Union Congress and the Civil Society Steering Committee; Senate president elected from among the Senate members or from outside the Senate; term of appointment NA
    House of Representatives (31 seats; members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote to serve 5-year terms)
    Senate -  last appointed 13 November 2015 (next appointments NA)
    House of Representatives - last held on 4 November 2015 (next to be held in November 2020)
    election results:
    Senate - composition as of December 2019 - men 11, women 3, percent of women 21.4%
    House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - UDP 50%, PUP 47.3%, other 2.7%; seats by party - UDP 19, PUP 12; composition - men 29, women 2; percent of women 6.5%; note - total National Assembly percent of women as of June 2019 - 11.1%
    Judicial branch field listing
    highest courts: Supreme Court of Judicature (consists of the Court of Appeal with the court president and 3 justices, and the Supreme Court with the chief justice and 10 justices); note - in 2010, Belize acceded to the Caribbean Court of Justice as the final court of appeal, replacing that of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London
    judge selection and term of office: Court of Appeal president and justices appointed by the governor-general upon advice of the prime minister after consultation with the National Assembly opposition leader; justices' tenures vary by terms of appointment; Supreme Court chief justice appointed by the governor-general upon the advice of the prime minister and the National Assembly opposition leader; other judges appointed by the governor-general upon the advice of the Judicial and Legal Services Section of the Public Services Commission and with the concurrence of the prime minister after consultation with the National Assembly opposition leader; judges can be appointed beyond age 65 but must retire by age 75; in 2013, the Supreme Court chief justice overturned a constitutional amendment that had restricted Court of Appeal judge appointments to as short as 1 year
    subordinate courts: Magistrates' Courts; Family Court
    Political parties and leaders field listing
    Belize Progressive Party or BPP [Patrick ROGERS] (formed in 2015 from a merger of the People's National Party, elements of the Vision Inspired by the People, and other smaller political groups)
    People's United Party or PUP [Johnny BRICENO]
    United Democratic Party or UDP [Dean Oliver BARROW]
    Vision Inspired by the People or VIP [Hubert ENRIQUEZ]
    International organization participation field listing
    Diplomatic representation in the US field listing
    Ambassador Francisco Daniel GUTIEREZ (since 21 July 2017)
    chancery: 2535 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
    telephone: [1] (202) 332-9636
    FAX: [1] (202) 332-6888
    consulate(s) general: Los Angeles
    consulate(s): Miami
    Diplomatic representation from the US field listing
    chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d’Affaires Keith R. GILGES (since 24 July 2018)
    telephone: [011] (501) 822-4011
    embassy: 4 Floral Park Road, Belmopan City, Cayo District
    mailing address: P.O. Box 497, Belmopan City, Cayo District, Belize
    FAX: [011] (501) 822-4012
    Flag description field listing
    royal 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 in front of a mahogany tree with the related motto SUB UMBRA FLOREO (I Flourish in the Shade) on a scroll at the bottom, all encircled by a green garland of 50 mahogany leaves; the colors are those of the two main political parties: blue for the PUP and red for the UDP; various elements of the coat of arms - the figures, the tools, the mahogany tree, and the garland of leaves - recall the logging industry that led to British settlement of Belize

    note: Belize's flag is the only national flag that depicts human beings; two British overseas territories, Montserrat and the British Virgin Islands, also depict humans

    National symbol(s) field listing
    Baird's tapir (a large, browsing, forest-dwelling mammal), keel-billed toucan, Black Orchid; national colors: red, blue
    National anthem field listing
    name: Land of the Free
    lyrics/music: Samuel Alfred HAYNES/Selwyn Walford YOUNG

    note: adopted 1981; as a Commonwealth country, in addition to the national anthem, "God Save the Queen" serves as the royal anthem (see United Kingdom)

  • Economy :: Belize
  • Economy - overview field listing

    Tourism is the number one foreign exchange earner in this small economy, followed by exports of sugar, bananas, citrus, marine products, and crude oil.

    The government's expansionary monetary and fiscal policies, initiated in September 1998, led to GDP growth averaging nearly 4% in 1999-2007, but GPD growth has averaged only 2.1% from 2007-2016, with 2.5% growth estimated for 2017. Belize’s dependence on energy imports makes it susceptible to energy price shocks.

    Although Belize has the third highest per capita income in Central America, the average income figure masks a huge income disparity between rich and poor, and a key government objective remains reducing poverty and inequality with the help of international donors. High unemployment, a growing trade deficit and heavy foreign debt burden continue to be major concerns. Belize faces continued pressure from rising sovereign debt, and a growing trade imbalance.

    GDP (purchasing power parity) field listing
    $3.218 billion (2017 est.)
    $3.194 billion (2016 est.)
    $3.21 billion (2015 est.)

    note: data are in 2017 dollars

    country comparison to the world: 187
    GDP (official exchange rate) field listing
    $1.854 billion (2017 est.)
    GDP - real growth rate field listing
    0.8% (2017 est.)
    -0.5% (2016 est.)
    3.8% (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 186
    GDP - per capita (PPP) field listing
    $8,300 (2017 est.)
    $8,500 (2016 est.)
    $8,800 (2015 est.)

    note: data are in 2017 dollars

    country comparison to the world: 149
    Gross national saving field listing
    11.3% of GDP (2017 est.)
    13.3% of GDP (2016 est.)
    14.2% of GDP (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 157
    GDP - composition, by end use field listing
    household consumption: 75.1% (2017 est.)
    government consumption: 15.2% (2017 est.)
    investment in fixed capital: 22.5% (2017 est.)
    investment in inventories: 1.2% (2017 est.)
    exports of goods and services: 49.1% (2017 est.)
    imports of goods and services: -63.2% (2017 est.)
    GDP - composition, by sector of origin field listing
    agriculture: 10.3% (2017 est.)
    industry: 21.6% (2017 est.)
    services: 68% (2017 est.)
    Agriculture - products field listing
    bananas, cacao, citrus, sugar; fish, cultured shrimp; lumber
    Industries field listing
    garment production, food processing, tourism, construction, oil
    Industrial production growth rate field listing
    -0.6% (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 172
    Labor force field listing
    120,500 (2008 est.)

    note: shortage of skilled labor and all types of technical personnel

    country comparison to the world: 180
    Labor force - by occupation field listing
    agriculture: 10.2%
    industry: 18.1%
    services: 71.7% (2007 est.)
    Unemployment rate field listing
    9% (2017 est.)
    8% (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 130
    Population below poverty line field listing
    41% (2013 est.)
    Household income or consumption by percentage share field listing
    lowest 10%: NA
    highest 10%: NA
    Budget field listing
    revenues: 553.5 million (2017 est.)
    expenditures: 572 million (2017 est.)
    Taxes and other revenues field listing
    29.9% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 78
    Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) field listing
    -1% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 75
    Public debt field listing
    99% of GDP (2017 est.)
    95.9% of GDP (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 17
    Fiscal year field listing
    1 April - 31 March
    Inflation rate (consumer prices) field listing
    1.1% (2017 est.)
    0.7% (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 55
    Current account balance field listing
    -$143 million (2017 est.)
    -$163 million (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 91
    Exports field listing
    $457.5 million (2017 est.)
    $442.7 million (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 177
    Exports - partners field listing
    UK 33.9%, US 22%, Jamaica 6.7%, Italy 6.4%, Barbados 5.9%, Ireland 5.5%, Netherlands 4.3% (2017)
    Exports - commodities field listing
    sugar, bananas, citrus, clothing, fish products, molasses, wood, crude oil
    Imports field listing
    $845.9 million (2017 est.)
    $916.2 million (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 188
    Imports - commodities field listing
    machinery and transport equipment, manufactured goods; fuels, chemicals, pharmaceuticals; food, beverages, tobacco
    Imports - partners field listing
    US 35.6%, China 11.2%, Mexico 11.2%, Guatemala 6.9% (2017)
    Reserves of foreign exchange and gold field listing
    $312.1 million (31 December 2017 est.)
    $376.7 million (31 December 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 167
    Debt - external field listing
    $1.315 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
    $1.338 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 162
    Exchange rates field listing
    Belizean dollars (BZD) per US dollar -
    2 (2017 est.)
    2 (2016 est.)
    2 (2015 est.)
    2 (2014 est.)
    2 (2013 est.)
  • Energy :: Belize
  • Electricity access field listing
    electrification - total population: 92.2% (2016)
    electrification - urban areas: 97.1% (2016)
    electrification - rural areas: 88.4% (2016)
    Electricity - production field listing
    280 million kWh (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 186
    Electricity - consumption field listing
    453 million kWh (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 172
    Electricity - exports field listing
    0 kWh (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 105
    Electricity - imports field listing
    243 million kWh (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 92
    Electricity - installed generating capacity field listing
    198,000 kW (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 165
    Electricity - from fossil fuels field listing
    51% of total installed capacity (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 147
    Electricity - from nuclear fuels field listing
    0% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 48
    Electricity - from hydroelectric plants field listing
    27% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 73
    Electricity - from other renewable sources field listing
    22% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 33
    Crude oil - production field listing
    2,000 bbl/day (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 85
    Crude oil - exports field listing
    1,220 bbl/day (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 73
    Crude oil - imports field listing
    0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 95
    Crude oil - proved reserves field listing
    6.7 million bbl (1 January 2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 93
    Refined petroleum products - production field listing
    36 bbl/day (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 109
    Refined petroleum products - consumption field listing
    4,000 bbl/day (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 182
    Refined petroleum products - exports field listing
    0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 130
    Refined petroleum products - imports field listing
    4,161 bbl/day (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 176
    Natural gas - production field listing
    0 cu m (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 103
    Natural gas - consumption field listing
    0 cu m (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 120
    Natural gas - exports field listing
    0 cu m (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 68
    Natural gas - imports field listing
    0 cu m (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 90
    Natural gas - proved reserves field listing
    0 cu m (1 January 2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 110
    Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy field listing
    556,700 Mt (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 183
  • Communications :: Belize
  • Telephones - fixed lines field listing
    total subscriptions: 20,869
    subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 5 (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 176
    Telephones - mobile cellular field listing
    total subscriptions: 327,629
    subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 85 (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 179
    Telecommunication systems field listing
    general assessment: govt. telecom company, Belize Telemedia Ltd., continues to hold a monopoly in fixed-line services, mobile and broadband fixed-line teledensity; it is a small market; fixed-line teledensity and mobile penetration below regional average; lack of competition and underinvestment in telecom system, make it pricey for consumer (2020)
    domestic: 5 per 100 fixed-line and mobile-cellular teledensity approaching 85 per 100 persons; mobile sector accounting for over 90% of all phone subscriptions (2018)
    international: country code - 501; landing points for the ARCOS and SEUL fiber-optic telecommunications submarine cable that provides links to South and Central America, parts of the Caribbean, and the US; satellite earth station - 8 (Intelsat - 2, unknown - 6) (2019)
    note: the COVID-19 outbreak is negatively impacting telecommunications production and supply chains globally; consumer spending on telecom devices and services has also slowed due to the pandemic's effect on economies worldwide; overall progress towards improvements in all facets of the telecom industry - mobile, fixed-line, broadband, submarine cable and satellite - has moderated
    Broadcast media field listing
    8 privately owned TV stations; multi-channel cable TV provides access to foreign stations; about 25 radio stations broadcasting on roughly 50 different frequencies; state-run radio was privatized in 1998 (2019)
    Internet country code field listing
    Internet users field listing
    total: 181,660
    percent of population: 47.08% (July 2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 176
    Broadband - fixed subscriptions field listing
    total: 24,658
    subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 6 (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 148
  • Military and Security :: Belize
  • Military and security forces field listing
    Belize Defense Force (BDF): Army, Air Wing; Belize Coast Guard (2019)
    Military expenditures field listing
    1.2% of GDP (2019)
    1.26% of GDP (2018)
    1.58% of GDP (2017)
    1.17% of GDP (2016)
    1.09% of GDP (2015)
    country comparison to the world: 102
    Military and security service personnel strengths field listing
    the Belize Defense Force (BDF) has approximately 1,300 active Army personnel; 150 Belize Coast Guard (2019 est.)
    Military equipment inventories and acquisitions field listing
    the BDF's inventory is limited and consists mostly of equipment from the UK and US (2019 est.)
    Military service age and obligation field listing
    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; initial service obligation 12 years (2012)
  • Transportation :: Belize
  • National air transport system field listing
    number of registered air carriers: 2 (2020)
    inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 28
    annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 1,297,533 (2018)
    annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 3.78 million mt-km (2018)
    Civil aircraft registration country code prefix field listing
    V3 (2016)
    Airports field listing
    47 (2013)
    country comparison to the world: 91
    Airports - with paved runways field listing
    total: 6 (2017)
    2,438 to 3,047 m: 1 (2017)
    914 to 1,523 m: 2 (2017)
    under 914 m: 3 (2017)
    Airports - with unpaved runways field listing
    total: 41 (2013)
    2,438 to 3,047 m: 1 (2013)
    914 to 1,523 m: 11 (2013)
    under 914 m: 29 (2013)
    Roadways field listing
    total: 3,281 km (2017)
    paved: 601 km (2017)
    unpaved: 2,680 km (2017)
    country comparison to the world: 160
    Waterways field listing
    825 km (navigable only by small craft) (2011)
    country comparison to the world: 70
    Merchant marine field listing
    total: 786
    by type: bulk carrier 56, container ship 4, general cargo 398, oil tanker 65, other 263 (2019)
    country comparison to the world: 29
    Ports and terminals field listing
    major seaport(s): Belize City, Big Creek
  • Transnational Issues :: Belize
  • Disputes - international field listing

    Guatemala persists in its territorial claim to approximately half of Belize, but agrees to the Line of Adjacency to keep Guatemalan squatters out of Belize's forested interior; both countries agreed in April 2012 to hold simultaneous referenda, scheduled for 6 October 2013, to decide whether to refer the dispute to the ICJ for binding resolution, but this vote was suspended indefinitely; Belize and Mexico are working to solve minor border demarcation discrepancies arising from inaccuracies in the 1898 border treaty

    Trafficking in persons field listing
    current situation: Belize is a source, destination, and transit country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking; the coerced prostitution of women and children by family members has not led to arrests; child sex tourism, involving primarily US citizens, is on the rise; sex trafficking and forced labor of Belizean and foreign women and LGBT individuals occurs in bars, nightclubs, brothels, and domestic service; workers from Central America, Mexico, and Asia may fall victim to forced labor in restaurants, shops, agriculture, and fishing
    tier rating: Tier 3 – Belize does not comply fully with the minimum standards for the elimination of human trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so; authorities did not initiate any new trafficking investigations of prosecutions, and cases from previous years remain pending; law enforcement efforts to use informal means to identify and refer victims were ineffective and draft procedures for referring victims to services are still not finalized; trafficking victims were more commonly arrested, detained, or deported based on immigration violations than provided with assistance; the government did not make progress in implementing the 2012-14 anti-trafficking national strategic plan (2015)
    Illicit drugs field listing
    major transshipment point for cocaine; small-scale illicit producer of cannabis, primarily for local consumption; offshore sector money-laundering activity related to narcotics trafficking and other crimes