Country Listing

Belize Table of Contents



Population: Estimated at 191,000 in 1990. Rate of annual growth estimated at 3.0 percent during 1980s.

Education and Literacy: Official literacy rate of 92 percent unreliable, although more realistic figures still favorable by comparison with neighboring countries. Considerable regional inequalities in provision and quality of schooling. Formal education managed by joint partnership of church and state. Compulsory education for youth between ages of five and fourteen years (primary only). Socioeconomic and academic barriers constrain access to secondary and postsecondary education. One university, the University College of Belize, located in Belize City.

Health and Welfare: Malaria and enteritis most serious diseases. Significant incidence of moderate to severe malnutrition, particularly among children in rural areas and recent immigrants. Medical care for general population inadequate, especially in rural areas.

Ethnic Groups: By official estimates in late 1980s, roughly 40 percent of population Creole (all or partly African descent), 33 percent Mestizo (Hispanics), 10 percent Maya, 7 percent Garifuna (Afro-Carib), and smaller communities of East Indians, Chinese, Arabs, and Europeans. Extensive migrations during 1980s, however, may have altered ethnic balance.

Language: English official language; local dialect of English--Belizean Creole--widely spoken by all population groups. Spanish widely spoken outside of Belize City. Additional languages in use include Mayan dialects (Yucatecan, Mopán, and Kekchí), Garifuna, and Low German.

Religion: Majority Roman Catholic, with significant Protestant minorities. Most Anglicans and Methodists reside in Belize City. Evangelical Protestant missionaries active and gaining adherents, especially in rural areas.

Data as of January 1992