Other Free Encyclopedias » 21st Century Webster's Family Encyclopedia » 21st Century Webster's Family Encyclopedia - Barley to Bellows, George Wesley

Belize

european coast guatemala country

Belize (British Honduras until 1973), independent nation since 1981, on the subtropical Caribbean coast of Central America, bordered by Mexico on the north and Guatemala on the southwest. The country is densely forested. The population consists of Creoles (of mixed African and European origin), descendants of the Carib and Maya tribes, and a small minority of Europeans. Most people live on the coast. Citrus fruits, bananas, and sugarcane are the mainstay of the export-oriented economy. Fishing and livestock industries are being developed. European settlement began in the 17th century, and in the 18th century African slaves were brought in to cut mahogany. The country became a British colony in 1862 and achieved internal self-government in 1964. Disputes with Guatemala concerning the latter's claim that it had inherited Belize from Spain delayed the proclamation of independence until 1981. In the 1990s, the smuggling of narcotics and the tensions between Hispanic immigrants and the black creole population were the most important problems.

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