Belize: Background & Geography

Introduction Belize
Background:
Territorial disputes between the UK and Guatemala delayed the independence of Belize (formerly British Honduras) until 1981. Guatemala refused to recognize the new nation until 1992. Tourism has become the mainstay of the economy. The country remains plagued by high unemployment, growing involvement in the South American drug trade, and increased urban crime.
Geography Belize
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:
total: 22,966 sq km
water: 160 sq km
land: 22,806 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 - as described in UNCLOS 1982 (see Notes and Definitions):
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 the negotiation of 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: Victoria Peak 1,160 m
Natural resources:
arable land potential, timber, fish, hydropower
Land use:
arable land: 2.81%
permanent crops: 1.1%
other: 96.09% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
30 sq km (1998 est.)
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
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note:
only country in Central America without a coastline on the North Pacific Ocean

See Also: