Belize is the only continental Central American country which is a Commonwealth realm, with Queen Elizabeth II as its monarch and head of state, represented by a Governor General (currently, Sir Colville Young). , Political and economic power remain vested in the hands of the local elite. Belize has about a dozen tertiary level institutions, the most prominent of which is the University of Belize, which evolved out of the University College of Belize founded in 1986.  Muslims numbered 243 in 2000 and 577 in 2010 according to the official statistics. After Belize achieved independence in 1981 the United Kingdom maintained a deterrent force (British Forces Belize) in the country to protect it from invasion by Guatemala (see Guatemalan claim to Belizean territory).  BEL appealed this judgement to the Court of Appeal; however, a hearing was not expected until 2012. The north of Belize consists mostly of flat, swampy coastal plains, in places heavily forested. , Over half the population is multilingual. Spanish is the main language of most Mestizos and Spanish descendants, but many speak English and Belize Kriol fluently. Defendants may, under certain circumstances, appeal their cases to the Caribbean Court of Justice. , Belize's population is estimated to be 360,346 in 2017, and estimated at 408,487 in 2019. According to the World Database on Protected Areas, 37% of Belize's land territory falls under some form of official protection, giving Belize one of the most extensive systems of terrestrial protected areas in the Americas. This one-day sports event is meant for amateur cyclists but has also gained worldwide popularity. The PUP under Price returned to power after elections in 1989. From 3 to 5 September, the Spaniards tried to force their way through Montego Caye shoal, but were blocked by defenders. The Mestizo towns centre on a main square, and social life focuses on the Catholic Church built on one side of it. As a result, Belize is running a biocapacity deficit.. It is the only Central American country with no Pacific coastline. 1. The two city councils (Belize City and Belmopan) and seven town councils cover the urban population of the country, while village and community councils cover the rural population. Belize has a small, mostly private enterprise economy that is based primarily on agriculture, agro-based industry, and merchandising, with tourism and construction recently assuming greater importance. In a return engagement at the 2000 CARICOM championship in Barbados, Belize placed fourth. Infrastructure remains a major economic development challenge; Belize has the region's most expensive electricity. Just 300 meters offshore is The Belize Barrier Reef, the second longest reef in the world, covering 300 kilometers.  The Belize Barrier Reef is a UNESCO-recognized World Heritage Site and is the second-largest barrier reef in the world, behind Australia's Great Barrier Reef. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.. To the north of Belize lies the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. , The remaining 5% or so of the population consist of a mix of Indians, Chinese, Whites from the United Kingdom, United States and Canada, and many other foreign groups brought to assist the country's development. The Maya speak their native languages and Spanish, and are also fluent in English and Belize Kriol. However, in Belize, 19 November 1832 is the date officially recognized as "Garifuna Settlement Day" in Dangriga. In 2005, Belize was the site of unrest caused by discontent with the PUP government, including tax increases in the national budget. Average temperatures in the coastal regions range from 24 °C (75.2 °F) in January to 27 °C (80.6 °F) in July. It encompasses 8,800 square miles of land and has a 240-mile long coastline.  Biles is of Belizean-American descent. As of 2017[update], Belize still struggles to recognize indigenous populations and their respective rights.  In 2011, the United States added Belize to the list of nations considered major drug producers or transit countries for narcotics. The many lagoons along the coasts and in the northern interior reduces the actual land area to 21,400 square kilometres (8,263 sq mi). "Historic Legal Victory for Indigenous Peoples in Belize | Rights + Resources". Music comes mainly from the marimba, but they also play and sing with the guitar.  A similar study by Belize Tropical Forest Studies and Conservation International revealed similar trends in terms of Belize's forest cover. The race runs from San Ignacio to Belize City, a distance of 290 kilometres (180 mi).. UDP leader Manuel Esquivel replaced Price as prime minister, with Price himself unexpectedly losing his own House seat to a UDP challenger. Causing 19 deaths and at least $280 million in damage. It is located just north of the Equator, covering a land area of 22,800 square kilometers. The structure of government is based on the British parliamentary system, and the legal system is modelled on the common law of England. About 1,500 British troops remained in Belize to deter any possible incursions.. Where you can find Belize Cartographically Rights + Resources. The UDP regained power in the 1993 national election, and Esquivel became prime minister for a second time. Over half the population is multilingual, with Spanish being the second most common spoken language. Rapid action to improve tax collection has been promised, but a lack of progress in reigning in spending could bring the exchange rate under pressure. The tournament is broadcast over local radio stations, and prize money is awarded to the winners. The USAID-supported SERVIR study by CATHALAC, NASA, and the MNRE also showed that Belize's protected areas have been extremely effective in protecting the country's forests. Get directions, maps, and traffic for Belize City, Belize. There are also some mainly Pennsylvania German-speaking Old Order Mennonites who came from the United States and Canada in the late 1960s. In 2012, tourist arrivals totalled 917,869 (with about 584,683 from the United States) and tourist receipts amounted to over $1.3 billion. Economic conditions improved during World War II, as many Belizean men entered the armed forces or otherwise contributed to the war effort.  Progress toward independence, however, was hampered by a Guatemalan claim to sovereignty over Belizean territory. However, this ethnicity has become an integral part of the Belizean identity, and as a result it is now spoken by about 45% of Belizeans. , Belize's social structure is marked by enduring differences in the distribution of wealth, power, and prestige. Fortis took over the management of BEL in 1999, at the invitation of the government of Belize in an attempt to mitigate prior financial problems with the locally managed utility. In August 2009, the government of Belize nationalized Belize Telemedia Limited (BTL), which now competes directly with Speednet. Belize shares its international boundaries with Mexico in the north and with Guatemala in the west and south. The team has failed to duplicate this success, most recently finishing with a 2-4 record in the 2006 COCABA championship.  Four terrestrial ecoregions lie within the country's borders: Petén-Veracruz moist forests, Belizian pine forests, Belizean Coast mangroves, and Belizean Reef mangroves. Belize Map 1134 x 1341 size – click on image for full size.  The latter groups are chiefly found in the Toledo District. The following year the United Kingdom announced that it would end its military involvement in Belize, and the RAF Harrier detachment was withdrawn the same year, having remained stationed in the country continuously since its deployment had become permanent there in 1980. Because of the small size of Belize's population and the intimate scale of social relations, the social distance between the rich and the poor, while significant, is nowhere as vast as in other Caribbean and Central American societies, such as Jamaica and El Salvador. For all intents and purposes, Creole is an ethnic and linguistic denomination. , Because of conflicts in neighbouring Central American nations, Mestizo refugees from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras have fled to Belize in significant numbers during the 1980s, and have been significantly adding to this group. CARIFORUM presently the only part of the wider ACP-bloc that has concluded the full regional trade-pact with the European Union.  These slaves were ultimately of West and Central African descent (many also of Miskito ancestry from Nicaragua) and born Africans who had spent very brief periods in Jamaica and Bermuda. The two prevailing theories are that, in 1635, they were either the survivors of two recorded shipwrecks or somehow took over the ship they came on..  In 2012, the Belizean government spent about $17 million on the military, constituting 1.08% of the country's gross domestic product (GDP). 1417 Flight RAF of Harriers. The 1986 hit Madonna song “La Isla Bonita” (the beautiful island) was written about San Pedro. Central America is the narrow piece of land bordered by the Pacific Ocean on the West and the Caribbean Sea on the East, and connects North America to South America. As of 2017[update], oil production was 320 m3/d (2,000 bbl/d). 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