Flat, swampy coastal plain; low mountains in south
Tropical; very hot and humid; rainy season (May to November); dry season (February to May)
Population: 340,844 (July 2014 est.)
Languages: Spanish 46%, Creole 32.9%, Mayan dialects 8.9%, English 3.9% (official), Garifuna 3.4% (Carib), German 3.3%, other 1.4%, unknown 0.2% (2000 census)
Roman Catholic 39.3%, Pentecostal 8.3%, Seventh Day Adventist 5.3%, Anglican 4.5%, Mennonite 3.7%, Baptist 3.5%, Methodist 2.8%, Nazarene 2.8%, Jehovah's Witnesses 1.6%, other 9.9% (includes Baha'i Faith, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and Mormon), other (unknown) 3.1%, none 15.2% (2010 census)
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. Growth slipped to 0% in 2009, resulting from the global economic slowdown, natural disasters, and a drop in the price of oil, but grew to 2.5% in 2013.
In numbers of dollars, the national income per person in Belize is one of the highest in Central America. However, the cost of living is also high because so many goods must be imported. In the early 1990s, about 60 percent of all children under three years of age suffered some form of malnutrition. Poor sanitation in rural areas helped cause a high percentage of people, especially children, to have intestinal parasites. Malaria remained the leading health problem.
Parliamentary democracy and a Commonwealth realm
US Military Presence/Support