Belize

Country Summary

Introduction

Background

Belize was the site of several Mayan city states until their decline at the end of the first millennium A.D. It formally became the colony of British Honduras in 1862. Territorial disputes between the UK and Guatemala delayed the independence of Belize until 1981.

Geography

Area

total: 22,966 sq km
land: 22,806 sq km
water: 160 sq km

Climate

tropical; very hot and humid; rainy season (May to November); dry season (February to May)

Natural resources

arable land potential, timber, fish, hydropower

People and Society

Population

419,137 (2023 est.)

Ethnic groups

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.)

Languages

English 62.9% (official), Spanish 56.6%, Creole 44.6%, Maya 10.5%, German 3.2%, Garifuna 2.9%, other 1.8%, unknown 0.5%; note - shares sum to more than 100% because some respondents gave more than one answer on the census (2010 est.)

Religions

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, Church of Jesus Christ, Muslim, Rastafarian, Salvation Army), unspecified 0.6%, none 15.5% (2010 est.)

Population growth rate

1.61% (2023 est.)

Government

Government type

parliamentary democracy (National Assembly) under a constitutional monarchy; a Commonwealth realm

Capital

name: Belmopan

Executive branch

chief of state: King CHARLES III (since 8 September 2022); represented by Governor-General  Froyla TZALAM (since 27 May 2021)
head of government: Prime Minister Juan Antonio BRICENO (since 12 November 2020); Deputy Prime Minister Cordel HYDE (since 16 November 2020)

Legislative branch

description: bicameral National Assembly consists of:
Senate (14 seats, including the president); members appointed by the govenor-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; members serve 5-year terms
House of Representatives (32 seats; 31 members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote and the speaker, who may be designated from outside the government; members serve 5-year terms)

Economy

Economic overview

tourism- and agriculture-driven economy; strong post-pandemic rebound; innovative and ecological bond restructuring that significantly lowered public debt and expanded marine protections; central bank offering USD-denominated treasury notes; high mobility across borders

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$3.505 billion (2021 est.)
$3.042 billion (2020 est.)
$3.513 billion (2019 est.)

Real GDP per capita

$8,800 (2021 est.)
$7,700 (2020 est.)
$9,000 (2019 est.)

Agricultural products

sugar care, oranges, bananas, maize, poultry, rice, sorghum, papayas, grapefruit, soybeans

Industries

garment production, food processing, tourism, construction, oil

Remittances

5.43% of GDP (2021 est.)
5.8% of GDP (2020 est.)
4.01% of GDP (2019 est.)

Exports

$1.044 billion (2021 est.)
$714.624 million (2020 est.)
$1.102 billion (2019 est.)

Exports - partners

United States 16%, United Kingdom 16%, Guatemala 7%, Italy 6%, Spain 6% (2021)

Exports - commodities

raw sugar, bananas, fishing ships, lobsters and crawfish, beer (2021)

Imports

$1.252 billion (2021 est.)
$901.819 million (2020 est.)
$1.203 billion (2019 est.)

Imports - partners

United States 29%, China 14%, Seychelles 13%, Guatemala 10%, Mexico 9% (2021)

Imports - commodities

recreational boats, refined petroleum, cigarettes, ships, natural gas (2021)

Exchange rates

Belizean dollars (BZD) per US dollar -
Exchange rates:
2 (2021 est.)
2 (2020 est.)
2 (2019 est.)
2 (2018 est.)
2 (2017 est.)


Page last updated: Thursday, September 14, 2023