Brief History of Belize:
Belize was originally settled by the Mayan civilization. They began moving into Belize in 1500 BC. There are several Mayan sites in Belize including Altun Ha, Xunantunich, and Caracol. Quite a few people lived in Belize at the time.
Christopher Columbus was the first European to visit Belize in 1502. Later shipwrecked sailors started the first settlement in Belize. It was many years later in 1840 that Belize became a British Colony. It was called the Colony of British Honduras.
In 1973, the territory we renamed to Belize. On September 21, 1981 it gained independence.
The Geography of Belize
Total Size: 22,966 square km
Size Comparison: slightly smaller than Massachusetts
Geographical Coordinates: 17 15 N, 88 45 W
World Region or Continent: Central America
General Terrain: flat, swampy coastal plain; low mountains in south
Geographical Low Point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
Geographical High Point: Victoria Peak 1,160 m
Climate: tropical; very hot and humid; rainy season (May to November); dry season (February to May)
Major cities: BELMOPAN (capital) 20,000 (2009)
The People of Belize
Type of Government: parliamentary democracy
Languages Spoken: English (official), Spanish, Mayan, Garifuna (Carib), Creole
Independence: 21 September 1981 (from UK)
National Holiday: Independence Day, 21 September (1981)
Religions: 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)
National Symbol: Baird's tapir (a large, browsing, forest-dwelling mammal); keel-billed toucan
National Anthem or Song: Land of the Free
Economy of Belize
Major Industries: garment production, food processing, tourism, construction
Agricultural Products: bananas, coca, citrus, sugar; fish, cultured shrimp; lumber; garments
Natural Resources: arable land potential, timber, fish, hydropower
Major Exports: sugar, bananas, citrus, clothing, fish products, molasses, wood
Major Imports: machinery and transport equipment, manufactured goods; fuels, chemicals, pharmaceuticals; food, beverages, tobacco
Currency: Belizean dollar (BZD)
National GDP: $2,786,000,000
** Source for population (2012 est.) and GDP (2011 est.) is CIA World Factbook.
Back to Geography Home Page