Region: Central America

Capital: Belmopan

Population: 340,844 (July 2014 CIA est.)

Surface area: 22,966 sq km

Currency: Belizean dollar (BZD)

GDP per capita: Purchasing power parity US $8,800 (2013 CIA est.)

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. Growth slipped to 0% in 2009, resulting from the global economic slowdown, natural disasters, and a temporary drop in the price of oil, but grew to 2.5% in 2013. With weak economic growth and a large public debt burden, fiscal spending is likely to be tight. In January 2013, the government announced that it had reached a deal with creditors to restructure its $544 million commercial external debt, commonly referred to as the “superbond.” The superbond represents one half of the country’s public debt. 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 sizable trade deficit and heavy foreign debt burden continue to be major concerns. (CIA, 2014)

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

Remittances: US $76 million (World Bank 2012 est.)

Human Development Index 2013 ranking: 96 out of 186 countries

Official Development Assistance and Major Development Partners:
Net ODA US $ 25,180,000 (World Bank 2012 est.) Major development partmers include: E.U., CarDB, Japan, US, OFID, Kuwait (OECD 2010)

Total External Debt: US $1.048 billion (31 December 2012 CIA est.)

Life Expectancy At Birth: 68.49 years (CIA 2014)

Environmental Indicators:
Endangered Species (as a % of all species):6.4
Forested Area (percentage of land area):61.1
CO2 Emissions (tonnes per capita): 1.3
(UNDP 2013)

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;

CIA World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency.
World Development Indicators. World Bank
Development, Recipient Aid Charts. Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.
Human Development Report 2013.United Nations Development Programme.

Updated January 2015