ABOUT BELIZE

Location

Belize is located on the Eastern coast of Central America with Mexico to the North, Guatemala to the West and South and the Caribbean Sea on the East. It is separated by sea from its neighbor to the southwest, Honduras.  It lies between latitudes 15o 53" and 18o 30" north and longitudes 87o 15" and 89o 15" west. The terrain is low and flat along coastal areas and in some northern regions of the country, in the central and southern regions low mountains rise gradually to a height of 3,685 feet.

The total land area of Belize is 8,867 square miles (22,700 square kilometers).  The country's greatest length, north to south, is 170 miles (274 km) and its greatest width, east to west, is 68 miles (109 km).  Belize also includes over 200 islands known as (Cayes), ranging in size from a few hundred feet to 25 miles long and four miles wide; most of these Cayes are located inside the 200 mile-long Belize Reef which is the second largest in the world.

Language

Belize is the only country in Central America whose official language is English, Belizean Creole and Spanish are also widely spoken.

Weather

Belize is subtropical, with a mean annual temperature of 80o F.  The climate of Belize is characterized by two seasons: a rainy and a dry season. In Belize, most of the year’s rainfall occurs during the period June to November, that is, the rainy season and also the Hurricane Season. During winter months, temperatures may reach the low 60's while it is not unusual to have temperatures in the mid-90's on the mainland in the hottest part of summer, generally from mid-August through mid-September.  During most of the year, trade winds blow along the coast and on the Cayes, keeping temperatures pleasant. Water temperature averages between 79 and 83 F.

People

The current population in Belize is 344,907 (2015), 170,013 or 49.3% male and 174,696 or 50.7% female.

Economy

Belize’s economy is a small and essentially a private-enterprise economy. The country’s economy is aided by tourism, which helps Belize earn foreign exchange; even more than its exports. Belize has oil reserves as well. The monetary unit is the Belize dollar, which is fixed to the US dollar at a rate of 2 Belize dollars to 1 US dollar.

Tourism is the number one foreign exchange earner, followed by exports of marine products, citrus, cane sugar, bananas, and garments. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) Growth Rate in Belize averaged 1.26 percent from 1994 until 2014, reaching an all time high of 13.45 percent in the fourth quarter of 2000 and a record low of -10.63 percent in the first quarter of 2001. The GDP in Belize at the end of 2013 was $1.637 (US billion) and expanded 9.94 percent in the second quarter of 2014 over the previous quarter of 2014. Gross National Income (GNI) per capita is $US 4,510 (World Bank 2013).

Real Estate

Buying real estate in Belize is straightforward. This is one of the few countries in the world where foreigners enjoy the same right as nationals in land ownership and tenure – and land rights on the beach are not difficult to obtain. All land purchases are subject to a Government Stamp Duty also known as a Transfer Tax which in 2015 is 5% of the purchase price less the first US10,000 which is an exemption granted to all land owners by the government. Therefore any property with a value of US$10,000 or less pays no transfer tax. Belize real estate values have been steadily going up and this trend continues. Any property purchased now at a fair price will most likely be an excellent investment for short and medium term investors.

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