Despite an investment in vocational education, the country has a shortage of professional workers. However, there is a surplus of theoretically trained labor. In the 1990s, cuts in the public sector were started to deal with a sharp budget deficit. Many are looking for work abroad, especially in the United States. Check to see Belize population.
A social insurance system with sickness, accident and life insurance and maternity allowance was adopted in 1981 and has been built up with the help of the International Labor Organization (ILO). There are eight doctors per 10,000 residents (2010). Visit AbbreviationFinder to see the definitions of BLZ and acronym for Belize.
Belize is a small state in Central America that maintains strong ties with the United Kingdom, the former motherland from which it only gained independence in 1981. From an institutional point of view, Queen Elizabeth II of England is formally the President. The bicameral parliament is composed of an indirectly appointed Senate and an elective chamber.
In the country there is an English bipartisanship and the alternation in government between the United Democratic Party (Udp), a center-left formation, and the People’s United Party (Pup), was historically respected until 2012, the year in which the Udp has won his second consecutive term, albeit with a narrow majority. In the early elections of November 2015, the leader of the Udp, Dean Barrow, managed to be reconfirmed as prime minister for the third time.
After El Salvador, Belize is the smallest state in all of continental Central America and with the lowest population density. The country is populated for 44% by mestizos (born to an American and a European parent), 30% by Creoles (with two non-American parents) and 10% by indigenous peoples gathered under the name of ‘maya’. The difficult integration between the different ethnic groups represents one of the main internal problems of the country, as well as the transit of international cocaine trafficking, the widespread practice of money laundering, corruption and the constant increase in violent deaths (in relative terms Belize figure in fifth place in the world rankings).
Belize also suffers from a substantial trade deficit and a high public debt which, despite the good results obtained from the 2012 renegotiations with the major international creditors, still gravitates to around 80% of GDP today. The serious state finances also prevent the government from resorting to public spending to try to reduce poverty and inequality. While Belize has one of the highest per capita incomes in Central America, the average figure masks the huge income gap between rich and poor. A 2010 national survey shows that more than 4 in 10 people live in poverty and more than 7% of the population lives below the absolute poverty line.
The country exports citrus fruits, bananas and fish products, but the economy – one of the smallest in the entire American continent – is actually supported only by tourism and emigrant remittances. Belize also depends on foreign countries to meet the internal demand for energy and consumer goods, which explains the huge structural deficit in the trade balance.
Belize’s foreign relations largely reflect the elements already highlighted. The British colonial legacy makes Belize the only country in Central America with an Anglophone majority population. This causes the country to cooperate closely with the UK and the US. Relations with neighboring Guatemala are compromised by an unresolved border dispute, but recently the more conciliatory attitude on the part of the Guatemalan government meant that the two countries signed an agreement in 2015 to combat logging. In recent years, Belize has been deepening bilateral relations with Venezuela, a secure oil supplier, and with Taiwan, which has lent large sums to finance infrastructure projects in the country.