Tucked between the Caribbean Sea and the rainforest on the eastern coast of Central America, Belize is the home of a small and diverse nation.
The country, formerly known as British Honduras, was the United Kingdom’s last colony on the American mainland and still maintains strong ties with Britain.
Today Belize, which considers itself part of both the Caribbean and Central America, is cultivating relations with Latin America and the United States, although there is a lingering conflict with neighbouring Guatemala, which has made claim to part of Belize’s territory in the past.
Tourism is a major source of foreign currency. Belize’s attractions include wildlife, Mayan ruins and one of the longest barrier reefs in the world.
Belize has a problem with violent crime, largely drug-related, and the trafficking of narcotics to the US, however. In 2011 Belize was added to a US blacklist of countries considered to be major producers or transit routes for illegal drugs.
- Capital: Belmopan
- Population 324,000
- Area 22,965 sq km (8,867 sq miles)
- Major languages English (official), Spanish, Belizean Creole, Mayan, Garifuna (Carib)
- Major religions Christianity
- Life expectancy 75 years (men), 78 years (women)
- Currency Belizean dollar