|Form of government
||Parliamentary monarchy in the Commonwealth
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The small country Belize is located in Central
America on the Yucat¨¢n peninsula. The country borders
the Caribbean Sea to the east, Guatemala to the south
and west, and Mexico to the north. With an area of
around 22,965 km², Belize is about half the size of
Switzerland and the second smallest country on the
American mainland after El Salvador. The state territory
also includes around 170 smaller coral islands (cays)
and three atolls (Turneffe Islands, Lighthouse Reef,
Glovers Reef) off the coast in the Caribbean Sea.
The south of Belize is characterized by the Maya
Mountains, which are foothills of the Central American
basement. Here is the country's highest peak, Victoria
Peak at 1,122 m. In the northwest there is green flat
land, which belongs to the large limestone tablet of the
Yucat¨¢n peninsula and which is a maximum of 100 m above
sea level. The up to 75 km wide coastal lowland
stretches along the Caribbean Sea, which is
characterized by numerous rivers, swamps and lagoons.
The coral islands off the coast, the so-called cays,
belong to a 290 km long barrier reef, which is the
second largest coral reef in the world after the
Australian Great Barrier Reef.
Until 1970, Belize City on the coast of the Caribbean
Sea was the capital of the country, but since the city
was repeatedly devastated by severe cyclones, Belmopan
became the new capital of Belize inland.
There is a tropical climate in Belize. Temperatures
are high all year round. Belize City averages 25 ¡ãC in
January and 27 ¡ãC in July. The temperatures are a bit
lower in the mountains. The rainy season lasts from June
to December in the north and from May to January in the
south, with precipitation decreasing from north to
south. In Belize City, an average of 2,050 mm is
measured annually, and up to 4,500 mm can fall in the
mountains. Between June and November hurricanes occur
mainly on the coast (the former capital Belize City was
almost destroyed by hurricanes in 1931 and 1961).
Flora and fauna
Almost half of Belize's land is covered with forests.
In the south there is predominantly evergreen tropical
rainforest, while in the north palm trees, pitch pine,
pine, cedar, sapotile and mahogany grow among other
things. Mangroves and swamps dominate in the lowlands.
The forests offer a suitable habitat for a large
number of animal species. Jaguars (the world's first
Jaguar Reserve was created in Belize in 1986), pumas,
ocelots, tapirs, armadillos and manatees (manatees) are
common. The reptile and bird life is very diverse, as is
the underwater world on the coral reefs off the coast. A
large part of the coral reefs have probably died today,
presumably due to the strong sea warming caused by the
climatic phenomenon "El Niño".
A total of 300,000 people live in Belize; With an
average of 14 residents per square kilometer, the
country is very sparsely populated. There is great
ethnic diversity: the mestizos make up around 45% of the
population, the Creoles 30%, Indians (Mayans) have a
share of just under 10%. According to COUNTRYAAH,
about 5% of the total
population are black caribou, also called Garifuna: They
are a young people that originated on the island of St.
Vincent in the mid-17th century when African slaves
mingled with local Indians. Part of this people now live
in Belize. A further 10% of the total population is made
up of Asians, Arabs and Europeans (including around
4,000 German-speaking Mennonites). The official language
is English, Spanish is used by around half of the
Over 80% of the people belong to the Christian faith
(just over half of them Catholic), a significant
religious minority with around 4% each are the
Mennonites and the Methodists. Every second Belize
resident lives in a city, the largest is the former
capital Belize City on the Caribbean coast with 70,000
residents. The capital Belmopan has around 15,000
Population growth is given as 2.2%, which is high.
School attendance is compulsory for children between the
ages of six and 14, literacy is around 94%. School
attendance is free. A social security system was
introduced in the 1980s; medical care is free but not
nationwide. Life expectancy is 71 for women and 65 for
Belize is a parliamentary monarchy in the British
Commonwealth. The constitution dates from 1981. The head
of state is the British monarch (Queen Elizabeth II
since 1952), who is represented in the country by a
governor general (since November 1993 Colville Norbert
Young). The government is headed by the Prime Minister,
usually the representative of the strongest political
party (since February 2008 Dean Barrow, UDP).
The legislature lies with the Parliament, which
consists of two chambers: the Senate with 13 members
appointed by the governor and the Chamber of Deputies
with 31 members (30 directly elected by the people for
five years, 1 appointed).
There are two relevant parties in Belize, the
People's United Party (PUP) and the United Democratic
Party (UDP). The case law is based on British law.
The state territory is divided into six districts.
Tourism has become the most important industry in
Belize. Both historical sites and the diving areas off
the coast prove to be attractions for approximately
270,000 guests annually, especially from the United
In agriculture, citrus fruits, sugar cane, cocoa and
bananas are grown. The harvests are also exported.
Maize, rice, beans, tomatoes and cassava are cultivated
for the local population's own needs, and additional
food must be imported. Fishing is particularly important
(especially crustaceans and shellfish). The large
forests (almost half of the country's area is forested)
provide precious woods (especially mahogany), rubber and
chicle (as the raw material for the manufacture of
chewing gum). Livestock farming only plays a subordinate
The manufacturing industry generates 16% of the gross
domestic product (GDP).
The main trading partners for exports are the USA and
Great Britain. When it comes to imports (machinery,
food, fuels, chemical and pharmaceutical products), the
USA is at the top, followed by Mexico and the PRC.
The infrastructure in Belize is only moderately
developed. Around 2,900 km of roads of very different
quality are available, of which only 500 km are paved.
Belize City has an airport and an important seaport.
The Belize currency (Belize dollar) is pegged to the