Belize is an independent nation in Central America. It is located between 88 and 89 degrees west, and 16 and 18 degrees north. It is south of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, and east of Guatemala. Belize is located almost directly south of St. Cloud so it is also located in the central time zone. Its total area is 8,867 square miles, and the 2002 population was 262,999 with an average of 29 people per square mile with an annual growth rate of 3%. This is the lowest population in all of Central America. People of Belize mainly live on the coast or the few urban cities that are there. The capital of Belize is Belmopan, and the chief port is the city of Belize. The land of Belize is quite various. The northern half is full of swamps and lowlands while the southern half is very mountainous including the Maya mountain range. Throughout this entire nation there are many forests, 86% of Belize is forests. This nation is located on the coast of the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Honduras with a coast line including a 200 mile long barrier reef which is the second longest in the world. In certain parts of this country there are many caves which attract many eager to explore tourists. The main climate of this area is subtropical which is very hot, humid, and rainy. Due to the location of Belize it is often struck by many frequent and very devastating hurricanes which greatly hurt their economy, and damage the homes due to the sever flooding.
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In 1000 B.C. the Olmec culture first discovered this area which is now known as Belize. After the Olmec, the Maya began to live in this area which was around 900 A.D. They developed an alphabet, numbers, and a calendar but began to leave after 1000 A.D. Herman Cortes was the first official explorer to arrive at this area in 1519. Around the 1800’s the British had control of this area and used the forestry areas for slave labor to cut down the trees. This area began to experience problems when diseases from Europe began to plague this area. Mayans and Mestizo people were the oldest settlers here and were strong sturdy people. They did not leave just because of the illnesses. In 1863 wars began to break out between England and Spain.
They both believed they should be in control of this are but Britain gained control in the end of 1863. Soon after a problem with Belize’s neighbor Guatemala, being controlled mainly by Spain, began to arise. Britain wanted to cut down the trees in this area and used them for exports.
Spain said that would be alright, but they must build roads to take them out. The British believed this was unnecessary because they had a few rivers which led to the ocean. Guatemala believed the British had not followed the agreement of the peace treaty by not building roads which makes Belize their property. An ongoing feud between these two areas lasted for many years because the British never wanted to give up. Until 1873 this area was known as British Honduras, but on September 21, 1981 Belize became an independent nation and a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. Once this happened the people of Guatemala became even madder and Belize had to protect itself from war. In 1993 military involvement ended which ended the 130 year old border dispute between these two countries. Belize is now governed under a constitution that came about in 1981. They have a Prime Minister who is the leader of the cabinet and needs support from the house or representatives to make decisions. They also have a senate which plays a vital role in the government. This type of government is known as a parliamentary democracy.
The land of Belize is not the best for faming. Only about 3% can be used for agricultural purposes. 1% of the land is made of permanent crops, 2% is permanent pastures and the rest is either forests, or woodlands which is an overwhelming 92% of the land, or other which 3% which is either homes, cities or nothing. The lead economic resource happens to be agricultural products which many people try to succeed at growing. The major land exports are sugar, citrus fruits, and bananas. Some of the substance crops produced are rice, beans, and corn. The most common natural resources are timber, fish, shrimp, and hydro power. The most important manufacturing businesses are processed food, wood products, clothing, construction, and sugar refining. The most important industry in Belize is tourism. The number of tourists annually is greater than the number of people that live there. The beautiful scenery, exciting, snorkeling, and intriguing caves are only some of the reasons Belize brings in so many tourists. Due to the tropical climate many fruits and nuts are grown in Belize which include cashews, pineapple, tamarid, passion fruit, avocado, grapefruit, cacao, oranges and limes. The coral reefs, ocean coastline, swampy lowlands, and forests allow there to be many different types of animals, plants, and trees throughout Belize. There are 350 different species of birds, 250 species of trees, many tropical and exotic animals that we don’t have, 150 mammals, 4000 plants, and 250 orchids.
The population of Belize is mainly of mixed-racial descent. The largest group is black people or somewhat dark skinned. Some other common groups are Native American, people of European descent, English and Spanish people. The official language of Belize happens to be English which is spoken by the majority of the people. More than half of the Belize people are Roman Catholic in religion. People of Belize, known as Belizeans, are more emotional and are offended easier that we, Minnesotans, are. They often stand closer to people when talking that we do, and consider it rude for people to refuse their food. Most Belizeans are very friendly and often hug people. They are very nice and welcoming to the many visiting tourists who greatly help their economy. Many Belizeans are very hard worker who work outside in fields or construction who often wear light or loose fitting clothes due to the year round heat. The higher class of people are often business people and where suits and formal dresses. Most of Belize however, is pretty “laid-back” and so is their clothing. A lot of the clothes they wear come from American styles, or actually are imports from America. Dresses are quite common due to their loose fit, so are shorts and blouses. Belizeans eat many tropical fruits due to their location. There is not really a traditional cuisine that they eat. They mainly borrow elements from the UK, USA, Mexico, and Caribbean cuisines. Some traditional foods are rice and beans served with chicken, pork, beef, fish or vegetables. Coconut milk and fried plaintain add tropical flavor to their food. Some of their exotic foods are armadillo, venison, and fried paca, which is a brown-spotted rodent similar to a guinea pig. Some holiday celebrated in Belize are New Year’s Day, Baron Bliss Day, good Friday, Holy Saturday, Easter, labor day, Commonwealth day, National day, Independence day, Pan American day, Garifuna Settlement day, Christmas, and Boxing day. Many of these holidays are celebrated similarly to the way the US celebrates them. Many Belizeans enjoy all kind of outdoor sports and activities due to the year round summer like climate. Some are canoeing, kayaking, fishing, biking, horseback riding, hiking, bird watching, and some scuba diving in the coral reefs off the coast. They also enjoy being competitive in sports such as soccer, which is very popular, cricket, basketball, softball, track and field, boxing, tennis, volleyball, and cross-country cycling. They also love to listen to music. A lot of it comes from the US. “Punta Rock” is also a popular style which blends Caribbean with salsa, and hip-hop. Many popular TV stations watched in Belize come from the US via satellite. Some sport, Mexican soap operas and local news channels are from the Belize area. There is a very high unemployment rate in Belize, one of the highest in the entire area. The South American drug trade involvement along with urban crime are increasing quite fast which is beginning to turn Belize into not such a safe place like it used to be.
The system of money is equivalent to the US by saying two Belize dollars is equal to one US dollar. The average yearly salary in Belize is quite a bit lower than that of the US. Most homes in Belize are made of wood, concrete, or plaster. Some homes have electricity but most of them lack indoor plumbing. Because of that, bathing is often done with buckets of collected rain water. Homes in Belize generally don’t have glass due to the year round summer like climate.
The social classes of Belize affect whether or not people will have a car, a TV, and whether their kids will be able to complete secondary school. The upper classes of people live mainly on the coast, are business people and live mainly on imported goods. The middle class is larger than the upper class and is considered to be the “common folk” of Belize. The main priority of these families is to send their kids to the best schools they can have the best possible life. The lower class consists of the majority of Belizeans. Many of these people drop out of school early to work in manual labor, and due to this are very under skilled for most jobs. Most Belizeans spent an average of 29% of their incomes on imported foods during the early 1990’s. Not many foods are produced in Belize so people are forced to spend a lot of their hard earned money on expensive imports. Art and artists are not very common in Belize, but books and writers are beginning to develop throughout this country because people are trying to express themselves and be creative which can’t be done in most of the common jobs of Belize. To many lower class citizens fishing and agriculture is the only way of life that they know. Due to the poverty many Belizean families are very close to one another. They don’t have many things to do like we have besides being with each other. Each family member does their own share of house work to try and make their homes run as smoothly as possible. Children ages 5-14 must attend school. Primary school attendance is very high, but secondary school attendance is only about 50%. Despite this fact there is a 91% literacy rate in Belize which happens to be one of the highest in Latin America.
Urban area populations are continuing to grow higher, which means there are more cars there. Car crashes now happens to be a leading cause of death in Belize. Besides that, Malaria and Enteritis are the most serious diseases which kill many people every year. There are many incidents of malnutrition due to the poverty. Overall medical care for the general population of Belize is considered to be inadequate.
I have now explained many things about the country of Belize, its people, its land, its resources, its industries, and its education. I hope that this information has provided you with some valuable insight about the Independent country of Belize.
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