Belize is located on the Caribbean coast of northern Central America. To the north is the Mexican state of Quintana Roo; to the west is the Guatemalan department of Peten; to the south is the Guatemalan department of Izabal; and to the east is the Caribbean Sea. It is shaped like a rectangle that has a height of 280 kilometers and a width of 100 kilometers. This was the last colony of the British on the American mainland and the only one in the area. It was thus, earlier called British Honduras. There was a lot of tension with neighboring Guatemala for a long time and independence was finally achieved in 1981. Guatemala claimed a large portion of the territory for itself and recognized Belize's independence in 1991. Some border disputes with neighboring countries still continue.
The capital of Belize is Belmopan. The area is 22,966 sq km. Out of these, the land area is 21,400 sq km. In the year 2009, the population was approximately 333,200. English, Spanish, Garifuna, Creole, and Mayan are the major languages in use; English is the official language though others are spoken more commonly. Christianity is the major religion. The life expectancy is 69 years for men and 75 years for women. 1 Belizean dollar comprises 100 cents. Molasses, sugar, bananas, oil, fish products, wood, citrus fruits, etc., are the major exports. The country does not have daily newspapers. There are a few privately-owned weeklies that are subsidized by political parties. Privatization of state-run radio was done in 1998. Listeners have to depend on a range of private commercial stations and many of them are networked throughout the country. Private television stations are in vogue and cable TV is prevalent through most towns. However, there are exceptions in the interest of national security, public order, and morality. The different weeklies are Amandala, The Belize Times, The Reporter, and The San Pedro Sun. Love FM, More FM, Wave Radio, Estereo Amor, Krem FM, and Positive Vibes FM are the different radio channels. The country has two main physiographic regions. In the southern part, there exist the Maya mountains, various basins, and plateaus. In the northern region, there are various rivers and streams. The coastline is swampy and flat and has many lagoons. The climate is subtropical and has dominant dry and wet seasons. The rainy season lasts from June to December, while the dry season is from January to May. As per the elevation and nearness to coastline, the temperature changes and there is some seasonal variation. Hondo and Sarstoon are the two rivers in the country.
Average Cost of Living
The average per capita income was less than 6000 US dollars in 2005. Hence, it is possible to sustain on a mediocre income. In 2005, it was possible to rent a small accommodation in Belize city at nearly 1000 US dollars. A large house in the Cayo district costs almost 300 US dollars per month. A piece of land costs from 5000 to 10000 US dollars depending on the aesthetic value of the location. A house is rated at about 25 US dollars per square foot. A nice oceanfront property costs approximately US dollars 250,000.
Some familiar items along with their average values are mentioned below. For the year 1999, the Chicken wings cost 1.85 US dollars per pound, while chicken breasts cost 1.50 US dollars per pound. Lunch meat is rated at 2.25 US dollars. 2.60 US dollars is the cost of a large loaf of whole wheat bread. Pasta, either dried or imported, is rated at 3.50 US dollars. A box of raisins if 3.35 US dollars. The cost of 1 bottle of local beer is 1.25 US dollars. Pork chops are valued at 3 US dollars per pound.
Grocery products are imported and these are costlier than local or home-grown ones. The prices alter considerably in the towns, villages, and city. Fresh fruit and vegetables are grown as per the climate. Products that are in season are always much cheaper than imported ones. Consuming local alcohol costs much less than imported spirits and wines. In case a couple plan to maintain the alcohol consumption to an average level and shop prudently, about 100 US dollars per week are sufficient. The water expenses are 25 US dollars, electricity bills up to 100 US dollars, Internet charges are 55 US dollars, and cable TV is 18 US dollars if calculated as an average per month. The international phone calls are particularly exorbitant in the country. All the above prices are as per 2005.