fast facts

CAPITAL: Belmopan

OFFICIAL LANGUAGE: English. Belize is the only country in Central America where English is the official language.

CURRENCY: Belize dollar (BZD), fixed exchange rate of BZD2 to USD1

ETHNIC GROUPS: Kriol, Garifuna, Mestizo, Spanish, Maya, English, Mennonite, Lebanese, Chinese and Eastern Indian

POPULATION: 327,719 (2012 est.)

SIZE: 8,867 square miles, including 266 square miles of islands

INDEPENDENCE: September 21, 1981

GOVERNMENT TYPE: Parliamentary Democracy, part of the British Commonwealth

PHONE CODE: International access code - 011

TIME: CST (however, Daylight Savings Time is not observed, as it is in the United States Central Standard Time Zone)

LOCATION: Belize lies on the east coast of Central America in the heart of the Caribbean Basin. It borders Mexico to the north, Guatemala to the west and the south, and is flanked by the Caribbean Sea to the east.

CLIMATE: Subtropical with a prevailing wind from the Caribbean Sea. Average winter: 75° F. Average summer: 81° F. Annual rainfall ranges from 50 inches in the north to 170 inches in the south.