|Official Country Name:||Belize|
|Region (Map name):||North & Central America|
|Language(s):||English, Spanish, Mayan, Garifuna (Carib), Creole|
Formerly known as British Honduras, the Central American country of Belize broke from Great Britain to become an independent country in 1981. Despite its independence, the English monarch is still the chief of state, represented locally by a Governor General. A Prime Minister leads the bicameral National Assembly, which consists of an appointed Senate and an elected House of Representatives. English is the official language of Belize, but many Belizeans speak Spanish, Mayan, Creole, and Garifuna, a Caribbean dialect. The population is approximately 256,000 and the approximate literacy rate is 75 percent. The basis of the Belizean economy is agriculture, especially sugar and bananas, but tourism and construction are becoming more important every year.
The Belizean Constitution provides for general press freedom, and the media operates freely. The government has occasionally been sensitive to criticism: in 2000, the editor of the San Pedro Sun was publicly threatened by a government minister for criticism about the government's environmental policy.
The capital of Belize is Belmopan, but the media center of the country is Belize City. Belize has no daily newspaper; most newspapers publish weekly, and all are printed in English. Politics play a large part in the country's publications. The most widely read weekly is Amandala, which began in 1969 as a stenciled newsletter for the United Black Association for Development and now publishes in print and online. The Belize Times, published in English and Spanish and posted online, bills itself as the official newspaper of the People's United Party. The Guardian (known as The People's Pulse before 1998) is the official newspaper of a rival political group, the United Democratic Party. It also maintains an online presence. Beyond politics—and the mainland—is The San Pedro Sun, which publishes every Friday from San Pedro Town, located on Ambergris Caye, the largest of some 200 cayes off the coast of Belize. The content is also posted online. The Reporter is also a popular Belize City weekly.
There are 12 FM stations and one AM station serving approximately 133,000 radios in Belize. Two television stations broadcast to about 40,000 televisions. There are two Internet service providers.
"Belize." The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The World Factbook. Available from http://www.cia.gov .
"Belize." World Press Freedom Review. International Press Institute 2001. Available from http://www.freemedia.at .
The Belize Times, 2002. Available from http://www.belizetimes.bz .
Benn's Media, 1999, Vol. 3, 147th Edition, p. 247.
The Guardian News Online, 2002. Available from http://www.udp.org.bz .
The San Pedro Sun, 2002. Available from http://www.sanpedrosun.net .
"Welcome." Amandala 2002. Available from http://www.belizemall.com .
Jenny B. Davis