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Belize was the site of several Mayan city states until their decline at the end of the first millennium A.D. The British and Spanish disputed the region in the 17th and 18th centuries; it formally became the colony of British Honduras in 1854. Territorial disputes between the UK and Guatemala delayed the independence of Belize until 1981. Guatemala refused to recognize the new nation until 1992 and the two countries are involved in an ongoing border dispute. Guatemala and Belize plan to hold a simultaneous referendum to determine if this dispute will go before the International Court of Justice at The Hague, though they have not yet set a date. Tourism has become the mainstay of the economy. Current concerns include the country's heavy foreign debt burden, high unemployment, growing involvement in the Mexican and South American drug trade, high crime rates, and one of the highest prevalence rates of HIV/AIDS in Central America.


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Geography

Location
Central America, bordering the Caribbean Sea, between Guatemala and Mexico

Geographic coordinates
17 15 N, 88 45 W

Map references
Central America and the Caribbean

Area World Ranking: 152
Total 22,966 sq km
Land 22,806 sq km
Water 160 sq km

Area - comparative
Slightly smaller than Massachusetts

Land boundaries
Total 516 km
Border countries
Guatemala 266 km, Mexico 250 km

Coastline
386 km

Maritime claims
Territorial sea
12 nm in the north, 3 nm in the south; note - from the mouth of the Sarstoon River to Ranguana Cay, Belize's territorial sea is 3 nm; according to Belize's Maritime Areas Act, 1992, the purpose of this limitation is to provide a framework for negotiating a definitive agreement on territorial differences with Guatemala
Exclusive economic zone 200 nm

Climate
Tropical; very hot and humid; rainy season (May to November); dry season (February to May)

Terrain
Flat, swampy coastal plain; low mountains in south

Elevation extremes
Lowest point Caribbean Sea 0 m
Highest point Doyle's Delight 1,160 m

Natural resources
Arable land potential, timber, fish, hydropower

Land use
Arable land 3.05%
Permanent crops 1.39%
Other 95.56% (2005)

Irrigated land
40 sq km (2003)

Total renewable water resources
18.6 cu km (2000)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)
Total 0.15 cu km/yr (7%/73%/20%)
Per capita 556 cu m/yr (2000)

Natural hazards
Frequent, devastating hurricanes (June to November) and coastal flooding (especially in south)

Environment - current issues
Deforestation; water pollution from sewage, industrial effluents, agricultural runoff; solid and sewage waste disposal

Environment - international agreements
Party to
Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling
Signed, but not ratified
None of the selected agreements

Geography - note
Only country in Central America without a coastline on the North Pacific Ocean


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  Belize (Belmopan):


  GPS points from Belize (Belmopan)

Norport Airstrip Cayo District

Independence Stann Creek District

Cayo Romero Belize District

Spanish Cay Belize District


Moho Toledo District

Temash Toledo District

Spanish Point Corozal District




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