Best Bitcoin Card for Belize
The small country Belize lies in Central America on the peninsula Yucatán. It borders the Caribbean Sea to the east, Guatemala to the south and west, and Mexico to the north. With an area of about 22 965 km², Belize is about half the size of Switzerland and the second smallest country on the American mainland after El Salvador. The national territory also includes around 170 smaller coral islands (Cays) and three atolls (Turneffe Islands, Lighthouse Reef, Glovers Reef) off the coast in the Caribbean Sea.
The south of Belize is characterized by the Maya Mountains, the foothills of the Central American basement. Here you find the highest elevation of the country, the Victoria Peak with 1 122 m. In the northwest there is a green flatland, which belongs to the large limestone tablet of the Yucatán peninsula and which lies a maximum of 100 m above sea level. The Caribbean Sea is surrounded by the up to 75 km wide coastal lowlands, which are characterised by numerous rivers, swamps and lagoons. The coral islands off the coast, the so-called Cays, belong to a 290 km long barrier reef that is the second largest coral reef in the world after the Australian Great Barrier Reef.
Until 1970, Belize City was the country’s capital on the Caribbean Sea coast, but as the city was repeatedly devastated by cyclones, Belmopan inland became Belize’s new capital.
Belize has a tropical climate. The temperatures are high all year round, in Belize City average temperatures of 25 °C in January and 27 °C in July are measured. In the highlands, temperatures are slightly lower. The rainy season lasts in the north from June to December, in the south from May to January, with precipitation decreasing from north to south. In Belize City the average annual rainfall is 2 050 mm, in the mountains up to 4 500 mm can fall. Between June and November, cyclones mainly occur on the coast (the former capital Belize City was nearly destroyed by hurricanes in 1931 and 1961).
Flora and Fauna
Almost half of Belize’s territory is covered with forests. In the south there is predominantly evergreen tropical rainforest, while in the north there are palm trees, pitch pines, pine trees, cedars, sapotile trees and mahogany trees. The coastal lowlands are dominated by mangroves and swamps.
The forests offer a suitable habitat for a variety of animal species. Jaguars (the world’s first jaguar sanctuary was established in Belize in 1986), pumas, ocelots, tapirs, armadillos and manatees (manatees) are widespread. The reptile and bird world is very species-rich, just like the underwater world at the coral reefs off the coast. Probably because of the strong sea warming, which is caused by the climate phenomenon “El Niño”, a large part of the coral reefs died today.
A total of 300,000 people live in Belize; with an average of 14 inhabitants per square kilometre, the country is very sparsely populated. There is a great ethnic diversity: the mestizos make up about 45 % of the population, the Creoles 30 %, Indians (Mayas) have a share of almost 10 %. About 5% of the total population are Black Caribbeans, also called Garifuna: This is a young people who originated in the middle of the 17th century on the island of St. Vincent, when African slaves mixed with local Indians. A part of this people now lives in Belize. A further 10% of the total population is made up of Asians, Arabs and Europeans (including about 4,000 German-speaking Mennonites). The official national language is English, Spanish is spoken by about half of the population, Maya is also spoken regionally.
More than 80 % of the people belong to the Christian faith (just over half of them Catholic), an important religious minority are the Mennonites and the Methodists with about 4 % each. Every second inhabitant of Belize lives in a city, the largest is the former capital Belize City on the Caribbean coast with 70,000 inhabitants. The capital Belmopan has about 15 000 inhabitants.
Population growth is estimated at 2.2% and is therefore high. Children between the ages of six and 14 are required to attend school, and the literacy rate is around 94%. School attendance is free of charge. In the 1980s a social security system was introduced, medical care is free, but not nationwide. Life expectancy is 71 for women and 65 for men.
Belize is a parliamentary monarchy in the British Commonwealth. The Constitution dates from 1981 and is headed by the British Monarch (Queen Elizabeth II since 1952), who is represented in the country by a Governor General (Colville Norbert Young since November 1993). The head of government is the prime minister, usually the representative of the strongest political party (since February 2008 Dean Barrow, UDP).
The legislature lies with the Parliament, which consists of two chambers: the Senate with 13 members appointed by the Governor and the House of Representatives with 31 members (30 directly elected by the people for five years, 1 appointed).
Belize has two relevant parties, the People’s United Party (PUP) and the United Democratic Party (UDP). The case law is based on British law. The state territory is divided into six districts.
Tourism has become the most important economic sector in Belize. Historic sites as well as the dive sites off the coast attract about 270,000 visitors annually, mainly from the USA.
In agriculture, citrus fruits, sugar cane, cocoa and bananas are cultivated. The harvests are also exported. Corn, rice, beans, tomatoes and manioc are cultivated for the population’s own needs, and additional food has to be imported. Fishing is important (especially crustaceans and shellfish). The large forests (almost half of the country is wooded) supply precious woods (mainly mahogany), rubber and chicle (the basic material for the production of chewing gum). Livestock farming plays only a minor role. The processing industry generates 16% of the gross domestic product (GDP).
The main trading partners for exports are the USA and Great Britain. In terms of imports (machinery, food, fuels, chemical and pharmaceutical products), the USA leads, followed by Mexico and the People’s Republic of China.
The infrastructure in Belize is only moderately developed. About 2,900 km of roads of very different quality are available, of which only 500 km are asphalted. Belize City has an airport and an important seaport. The currency of Belize (Belize dollar) is fixed to the US dollar.