Located in Central America.
The area is 23 thousand km2. Population – 240.2 thousand people. (census 2000). The official language is English. The capital is the city of Belmopan (8.1 thousand people, 2000). National holiday – Independence Day on September 21 (since 1981). The monetary unit is the Belize dollar.
Member of the UN and its specialized organizations, the Commonwealth of Nations, the OAS, the Non-Aligned Movement, Leningrad NPP, CARICOM, etc.
Geography of Belize
Belize is located between 15°53′ and 18°25′ North latitude and 87°32′ and 89°10′ West longitude. In the east it is washed by the Caribbean Sea, the length of the coastline is 286 km. Parallel to the coast stretches the second longest strip of coral reefs in the world, declared by UNESCO as a natural heritage of mankind. The total area of numerous small islands is 160 km2. The coast is low with numerous mangrove swamps. It borders with Mexico in the north and northwest – 250 km, with Guatemala in the west and south – 266 km. The northern and central parts of the country are a flat plain, gradually rising to the south and west. In the south of the Maya Mountains and the Kokskom ridge with the highest peak Doyles Delight (1124 m). In the extreme west, there are Pine Mountains with a height of 305 to 914 m. Bauxite and gold deposits are of no industrial importance. The climate is tropical and humid. The average annual temperatures are +25-27°C, the minimum on the coast is up to +10°C, the maximum is up to +35°C. The amount of precipitation is from 1295 mm in the north to 4445 mm in the south. The dry season is from February to May, from June to November, tropical hurricanes are frequent, accompanied by floods on the southern coast. The largest rivers of Belize in the central part and Onda on the border with Mexico are navigable, Mopan and Makal in the southwest have hydroelectric potential. The northern part of Belize, formerly covered in forest growing on red soils, is now largely occupied by plantations. The central part is a savannah on sandy yellow soils. The Maya Mountains and the Kokskoe Ridge are covered with forests on mountain lateritic soils. Forests with approx. 50 tree species cover 45% of Belize. Intensive logging, which began in the 17th century, has continued since the 1960s. sharply limited. Rich fauna; of predators – jaguars, cougars, tiger cats, ocelots, jagarundi, noses; from ungulates: tapir – the largest animal, deer, bakers; howler monkeys, pacas, armadillos, opossums. 500 species of birds, among which parrots and toucans stand out. Reptiles are numerous: crocodiles, turtles, iguanas, snakes. Coastal waters are rich in fish and crustaceans, there are manatees.
Population of Belize
According to Countryaah, the population of Belize in 2002 was estimated at 253.3 thousand people. Between the 1991 and 2000 censuses, the average annual population growth rate was 2.7%. Birth rate 31.1%, mortality 4.6%, infant mortality 24.3 pers. per 1000 newborns (2002). Life expectancy 71.5 years, incl. women 73.9, men 69.2. 52% of the inhabitants live in rural areas. There are 103 men for every 100 women. At the age of 0-14 years 41.6% of the population, 15-64 years old – 54.9%, 65 years and older – 3.5%. Adult literacy is 93.25%.
Until con. 1970s The main ethnic group of the Belizeans were Creoles – descendants of African slaves, partially mixed with the British. due to migration in the 1980s. approximately 40 thousand people from Guatemala and El Salvador and the emigration of Creoles to the United States, Spanish-Indian mestizos became the predominant ethnic group. Mestizos account for almost half of the population, Creoles – approx. 1/4. Garifuna from the mixing of Caribbean Indians with Africans make up 6.1%, Maya Indians – 5%, the number of Kekchi and Mopan Indians is 13 thousand people. Groups of immigrants from India, China, Lebanon, Mennonites – Protestants of German-Dutch origin, etc. Creoles speak the local dialect of English, mestizos and Mayans speak Spanish. A course on ensuring bilingualism is being conducted. Garifuna, Kekchi, Mopan and Mennonites use their own languages in everyday life. Half of Belizeans are Catholics, St. 1/4 – Protestants (4, 1% Mennonites), ca. 10% are atheists, 2% are Hindus, Muslims, Jews.
History of Belize
Maya Indians appeared on the territory of modern Belize in the beginning. 2nd millennium BC Caracol is one of the largest centers of the Maya civilization, in the 6th-7th centuries. AD dominated the region. Abandoned by residents in 895. Belize was discovered by the expedition of H. Columbus in 1502. In 1638, colonization began by the British, who used the labor of slaves imported from Africa for logging. Under the international treaties of 1763–83, English settlers received the right to cut down forests under Spanish control. In 1840 it became known as British Honduras, and in 1859 an agreement between Great Britain and Guatemala defined its borders. In 1871 it was proclaimed a possession of the crown, until 1884 it was ruled by the governor of Jamaica, after which it became a separate colony. In 1940 Guatemala denounced the treaty of 1859 and declared British Honduras its territory; in 1964 it received internal self-government, in 1973 it was renamed Belize, which became an independent state on September 21, 1981. In 1991, Guatemala officially recognized the independence of Belize, but in 1999 again made claims to part of its territory. In 2002, through the mediation of the OAS, a plan was developed for the final resolution of the Belize-Guatemalan conflict; in February 2003, Belize and Guatemala signed an agreement to begin implementing the provisions of the proposed plan.