Belize, formerly a British Colony, is the only country in Central America with English as its official language. Nestled in the Yucatan peninsula, Belize is merely 200 miles south of beautiful Cancun in Mexico, and less than 100 miles east of the famous Tikal Ruins of Guatemala. Belize is an independent country that has enjoyed a history of peace and tranquility, unlike the other countries of the region. Located on the Caribbean seaboard of Central America Belize has an area of approximately 9,000 square miles; 174 miles at its longest point by 68 miles at its widest point. The total population is estimated at just over 275,000 with the major commercial center being Belize City with a population of 90,000. Much of the population of Belize is ethnically diverse including descendants of the original Mayan culture and various mixtures of Mestizo, Americans, Europeans, Chinese, Middle Eastern and East Indians. Belize is an easy 2 hours flight from major American cities such as Miami, Houston and New Orleans, and offers several flights daily to and from Miami, Houston and New Orleans via American, Continental or TACA Airlines. In addition, there are regular flights from Honduras, Mexico and El Salvador. The climate is sub-tropical with an average temperature of 80F.
Belize has a long history of peace, stability and democracy. It became a British Crown Colony in 1862 and achieved its independence in 1981. Belize is a member of the British Commonwealth, the United Nations and the Non Aligned-Movement.
The political system is based on the British Westminster model with Queen Elizabeth II being represented by a Belizean Governor General. Executive authority is exercised by the cabinet under the leadership of the Prime Minister, the Head of State and is subject to approval by a 29-member House of Representatives elected by universal adult suffrage every five years, in addition there is an 8-member Senate with the majority appointed on the recommendation of the Prime Minister.
There are two main political parties, and in the most recent election in August 2003. the government remained the People's United Party after five years of rule prior in 1998 elections. Both parties are committed to the economic development of the country.
The law of Belize is derived from English Common Law supplemented by local legislation. The court system is also similar to that in England and contract and commercial law is based on the English law model. Belize is not a signatory to any agreement with other sovereign nations that would interfere with the confidentiality and the security of the Offshore Business environment.
CURRENCY AND BANKING
The local currency is the Belize dollar which is tied to the US dollar with fixed exchange rate of BZ$2.00 = US$1 .00. This exchange rate has existed since May 1976.
Belize presently has one Offshore Bank, namely, Provident Bank and Trust of Belize. Additionally there are five commercial banks, The Belize Bank Ltd., First Caribbean International Bank, Bank of Nova Scotia, The Alliance Bank, and Atlantic Bank Ltd. The commercial banks are regulated by the Central Bank in accordance with the provisions of a Banking Act.
The Phillip S.W. Goldson International Airport near Belize City provides daily services through five international carriers to the United States and Central America.
Telephone, telex and telefax communications to and from Belize are excellent and direct telephone dialing facilities are available in addition to internet and email services. A satellite earth station at the capital Belmopan provides high quality telecommunication service throughout the world. International courier services for express delivery are well established.
English is the official and spoken language but with many also speaking Spanish. Belize has a literacy factor of over 90%.
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