Belize: The Top English Speaking Retirement Haven in the Caribbean.

Fast Facts

History: 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 1854. 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. Guatemala and Belize plan to hold a simultaneous referendum to determine if this dispute will go before the International Court of Justice at The Hague, though they have not yet set a date.

Learning from its colonial past, the government of Belize has sought to preserve the country’s natural beauty and resources while encouraging tourism and the immigration of new residents with the means to support themselves. Tourism has become the mainstay of the economy.

Location: Central America, bordering the Caribbean Sea, between Guatemala and Mexico.

Area: 8,867 square miles (22,966 square kilometers). Slightly smaller than Massachusetts.

Population: 327,719 (July 2012 est.)

Capital: Belmopan

Climate: Tropical; very hot and humid; rainy season (May to November); dry season (February to May).

Government: Parliamentary democracy and a Commonwealth realm.

Chief of State: Queen Elizabeth II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Governor General Sir Colville Young, Sr. (since 17 November 1993)

Head of Government: Prime Minister Dean Oliver Barrow (since 8 February 2008)

Language: Spanish 46%, Creole 32.9%, Mayan dialects 8.9%, English 3.9% (official), Garifuna 3.4% (Carib), German 3.3%, other 1.4%, unknown 0.2% (2000 census)

Religion: Roman Catholic 49.6%, Protestant 27% (Pentecostal 7.4%, Anglican 5.3%, Seventh-Day Adventist 5.2%, Mennonite 4.1%, Methodist 3.5%, Jehovah’s Witnesses 1.5%), other 14%, none 9.4% (2000)

Time Zone: UTC-6 (1 hour behind Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Emergency numbers: In case of any emergency, dial 90 from anywhere in Belize. This will connect you to the police.

Geography: Flat, swampy coastal plain; low mountains in south.

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