Belize

 

Region: Central America

Capital: Belmopan

Population: 327,719 (July 2011CIA est.)

Surface area: 22,966 sq km

Currency: Belizean dollar (BZD)

GDP per capita: Purchasing power parity $8,300 (2011- CIA est.)

Background:
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. Tourism has become the mainstay of the economy. Current concerns include an unsustainable foreign debt, high unemployment, growing involvement in the South American drug trade, growing urban crime, and increasing incidences of HIV/AIDS.

Economy – Overview
Tourism is the number one foreign exchange earner in this small economy, followed by exports of marine products, citrus, cane sugar, bananas, and garments. The government’s expansionary monetary and fiscal policies, initiated in September 1998, led to GDP growth averaging nearly 4% in 1999-2007. Oil discoveries in 2006 bolstered this growth. Exploration efforts have continued and production has increased a small amount. In February 2007, the government restructured nearly all of its public external commercial debt, which helped reduce interest payments and relieved some of the country’s liquidity concerns. Growth slipped to 0% in 2009, 2.7% in 2010, and 2.5% in 2011 as a result of the global slowdown, natural disasters, and a temporary drop in the price of oil. With weak economic growth and a large public debt burden, fiscal spending is likely to be tight. A key government objective remains the reduction of poverty and inequality with the help of international donors. Although Belize has the second highest per capita income in Central America, the average income figure masks a huge income disparity between rich and poor. The 2010 Poverty Assessment shows that more than 4 out of 10 people live in poverty. The sizable trade deficit and heavy foreign debt burden continue to be major concerns. (CIA, 2012)

Major Export Commodities: sugar, bananas, citrus, clothing, fish products, molasses, wood

Remittances: US 85 million USD (World Bank 2011 est.)

Human Development Index 2011 ranking: 93 out of 187 countries

Official Development Assistance and Major Development Partners: US$ 25 million (2010). Major development partmers include: E.U., CarDB, Japan, US, OFID, Kuwait (OECD 2010)

Total External Debt:$1.01 billion (2009 CIA est.)

Life Expectancy At Birth: 76 years

Environmental Indicators:

                                         Endangered Species (as a % of all species):6

                                          Forested Area (percentage of land area):61.9

                                            CO2 Emissions (tonnes per capita): 1.4

                                                    (Data Source: UNDP 2011)

United Nations membership date: 25 September 1981

New York Mission:
Permanent Mission of Belize to the United Nations
675 Third Avenue, Suite 1911
New York, N.Y. 10017 USA
Telephone: 212-986-1240
Fax: 212-593-0932;
Website: www.un.int/belize/staff.htm

Sources:

CIA World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency. www.cia.gov

World Development Indicators. World Bank www.worldbank.org

Development, Recipient Aid Charts. Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. www.oecd.org

Human Development Report 2011.United Nations Development Programme. www.undp.org

Updated July 2012