Country Listing

Belize Table of Contents



Transport and Telecommunications


Belize International Airport near Belize City
Courtesy Steven R. Harper


Figure 14. Belize: Transportation, 1991

Highways and aircraft were the principal means of transportation in Belize; in 1991 the country had no railroads or significant inland waterways. The Belize River, however, was navigable up to the Guatemalan border and shallow-draught craft were usable on some 800 kilometers of river. A road renovation program in the 1980s left the country with a much-improved road system. In 1991 Belize had about 500 kilometers of paved highway extending from the Mexican and Guatemalan borders to Belize City, including the new Hummingbird Highway linking Belmopan with Dangriga (see fig. 14). Another 1,600 kilometers of gravel roads linked rural areas and localities in the south. The country's only international airport, Belize International (also called Philip Goldson International), underwent modernization in 1989. Belize City was the main port, but Big Creek in the south was being expanded to accommodate increased banana exports.

The telecommunications network was adequate, with most of the population having access to broadcast facilities. In 1991 the country had 8,650 telephones, or 4.6 per 100 people. A satellite ground station coordinated with the International Telecommunications Satellite Corporation (Intelsat) Atlantic Ocean satellite provided international direct-dial telephone service and television transmission. There were six amplitude modulation (AM) radio stations (four run by Belizean commercial interests and two by the Voice of America), five frequency modulation (FM) stations, and one television transmitter in Belize City.

The highly successful process of privatizing the Belize telecommunications network began in 1988 when the government incorporated Belize Telecommunications Limited (BTL). The government kept 49 percent of the shares of BTL, sold 25 percent to British Telecom, and allowed the rest to be acquired by Belizean investors. Regulatory authority over telecommunications was retained by the government. Receipts from the sale amounted to almost 6 percent of GDP in 1988. The Belizean government also gained a substantial new source of revenue because of taxes, duties, and dividends paid to it by BTL. At the same time, consumers benefited from the increased efficiency of the new company, which more than doubled the number of existing telephone lines. At the beginning of 1992, the government sold all but 3 percent of its remaining shares in BTL for approximately US$15 million.

Data as of January 1992