Essay on Belize

This essay has a total of 1241 words and 7 pages.


Belize was once part of the Maya civilization; Cortes probably traversed the region on his
way Hondura. The Spanish did not colonize the are. Buccaneers founded Belize City in the
early 1600’s and were followed by British Jamaicans, who exploited its timber. Spain long
contested British possession, but in 1859 Guatemala and Britain agreed on British
Honduras’s boundaries. In 1940 Guatemala declared the agreement invalid. British
Honduras was granted internal self-government in 1964, but full independence was delayed
by Guatemala’s claim. Negotiations appeared to resolve that problem, though, and on
September 21, 1981, British Honduras, as Belize, became the last British crown colony on
the American mainland to achieve independence. However, the Guatemalan-British agreement
did not hold, and not until 1988 did Guatemala give de facto recognition to Belize. A
British force remained in Belize to guarantee its independence but nearly all were
withdrawn before the end of 1994. In 1993 Manuel Esquivel, of the United Democratic
Party, became Prime Minister.

Belize is approximately 22,960 square kilometers. The country is divided into two main
physiographic regions. Maya Mountains and associated basins and plateaus dominate
southern half of country. Second region comprises northern lowlands and is drained by
numerous rivers and streams. Coastline is flat and swampy and marked by many lagoons.

In contrast to most Central America nations, elections in Belize are notable for their
regularity, adherence to democratic principles, and an absence of violence. The
Representation of the People Ordinance and the constitution regulate electoral procedures.
The constitution established an independent Elections and Boundaries Commission and
charged it with the registration of voters, the conduct of elections, establishment of
election districts, and all other related matters. The five members of the commission
serve five-year terms of office. The governor general appoints all five members in
accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister, who consults with the leader of the
opposition before nominating the members. National Assembly members and others who hold
public office are barred from appointment.

The constitution guarantees the right to vote to every citizen over the age of eighteen
that meets the provisions of the Representation of the People Ordinance. Voting is not
compulsory. Employers are required to give their employees time to vote and to pay them
for the time they are away at the polls. Polls are open from 7 AM to 6 PM on Election
Day, but anyone in line by 6 PM may vote, no matter how long it may take. The sale of
liquor is barred while the polls are open. Certain forms of political campaigning,
including television advertisements, political speeches, and the distribution of political
buttons, posters, banners, or flags are also prohibited. Canvassing of voters may not be
disturbed, voter-to-voter conversation is barred, and only election officials may answer
questions. The constitution mandates that votes be cast in a secret ballot.

Belize is a developing country. Its economy is based on agriculture. Sugar cane, which
is raised on plantations, ranks as the country’s chief crop. Oranges, grapefruits, and
bananas are next in importance. Processed sugar is the main export. The country’s
forests yield lumber, including pine and such tropical hardwoods as cedrela and mahogany.
The Caribbean Sea procvides conchs, fishes, lobsters, and shrimp. Most of Belize’s
industries are small. They include sugar refining, processing foods and wood, and the
production of clothing, cement, and bricks.

Belize receives much financial aid from other countries. Its government encourages
foreign investment to create jobs. Melizeans are working to develop the tourist industry
by building hotels and other facilities.

Belize has an international airport. A government operated radio network and several
private radio and television stations broadcast in the country.
Continues for 4 more pages >>