Belize Demographics

What is the population of Belize?

Population 399,598
Population Growth Rate 1.97%
Urban Population 44.7%
Population in Major Urban Areas BELMOPAN (capital) 14,000
Nationality Noun Belizean(s)
Nationality Adjective Belizean
Ethnic Groups Mestizo 48.7%, Creole 24.9%, Maya 10.6%, Garifuna 6.1%, other 9.7%
Languages Spoken English (official), Spanish, Mayan, Garifuna (Carib), Creole

Belize Health Information

What are the health conditions in Belize?

Contraceptive Prevalence Rate - female 15-49 55.2%
Death Rate - deaths/1,000 population 5.93
Drinking Water Source - percent of rural population improved 100%
Drinking Water Source - percent of total population unimproved 0.7%
Drinking Water Source - percent of urban population improved 98.4%
Food or Waterborne Disease (s) Bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
Health Expenditures - percent of GDP 5.7%
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate 2.3%
HIV/Aids Deaths 100
Hospital Bed Density - beds/1,000 population 1.1
Infant Mortality Rate - female deaths/1,000 live births 18.23
Infant Mortality Rate - male deaths/1,000 live births 23.3
Infant Mortality Rate - total deaths/1,000 live births 20.82
Major Infectious Diseases - degree of risk High
Maternal Mortality Rate - deaths/100,000 live births 53
Obesity - adult prevalence rate 33.7%
People Living with HIV/AIDS 4,800
Physicians Density - physicians/1,000 population .83
Sanitation Facility Access - percent of total population unimproved 9.5%
Sanitation Facility Access - percent of urban population improved 94.2%
Sanitation Facility Access - percent of rural population improved 87.6%
Total Fertility Rate - children born/woman 3.08
Underweight - percent of children under five years 6.2%
Vectorborne Disease (s) Dengue fever and malaria

Belize Life Expectancy

How long do people live in Belize?

Life Expectancy at Birth 68 Years
Life Expectancy at Birth - female 70 Years
Life Expectancy at Birth - male 66 Years
Median Age 21 Years
Median Age - female 21 Years
Median Age - male 21 Years

Belize Infant Mortality - per 1,000 live births

Belize median age, birth rate and death rates

Birth Rate - births/1,000 population 26
Death Rate - deaths/1,000 population 5.93
Median Age 21 Years
Median Age - female 21 Years
Median Age - male 21 Years
Population Growth Rate 1.97%
Sex Ratio 0-14 Years - male/female 1.04
Sex Ratio 15-24 Years - male/female 1.04
Sex Ratio 25-54 Years - male/female 1.02
Sex Ratio 55-64 Years - male/female 1.03
Sex Ratio at Birth - male/female 1.05
Sex Ratio of Total Population - male/female 1.03
Sex Ratio Over 64 Years - male/female .9

Belize Medical Information

What are the health conditions in Belize?

Medical Facilities and Health Information

Medical care for minor ailments is generally available in urban areas. Trauma care or advanced medical treatment is limited, even in Belize City or Belmopan, and may be extremely limited or unavailable in rural and remote areas. Pharmacy services are generally good in larger towns; many medications such as antibiotics which are available only by prescription in the U.S. can be obtained over-the-counter from licensed pharmacists. However, more specialized prescription medications may be completely unavailable. U.S. citizens bringing their own prescription medications with them must ensure they carry a current doctor’s prescription for each medication.

In much of the country, emergency services will be either unavailable or delayed and serious injuries or illnesses often require evacuation to another country. The Embassy strongly suggests visitors obtain traveler’s insurance and medical evacuation coverage in advance of their travel to cover unexpected medical emergencies.

Dengue Fever: The Government of Belize reported that Dengue fever has quadrupled in 2013 compared to previous years. In 2012, there were cases of Dengue fever, but no deaths were reported. In 2013, over 600 suspected cases were reported, but only 20 were confirmed by a laboratory. According to the WHO (World Health Organization), no hemorrhagic cases were reported. Neighboring countries are on high alert, including Honduras where a state of emergency has been issued.

Belize Education

What is school like in Belize?

Education Expenditures - percent of GDP 6.6%
Literacy - female 94.1%
Literacy - male 94.1%
Literacy - total population 76.9%
Literacy Definition Age 15 and over can read and write
School Life Expectancy - female 14 Years
School Life Expectancy - male 13 Years
Total School Life Expectancy - (primary to tertiary) 14 Years

Belize Literacy

Can people in Belize read?

Literacy - female 94.1%
Literacy - male 94.1%
Literacy - total population 76.9%
Literacy Definition Age 15 and over can read and write
Predominant Language English (official), Spanish, Mayan, Garifuna (Carib), Creole

Belize Crime

Is Belize a safe place to visit?

Crime Information

Much of the violent crime in Belize occurs on the south side of Belize City, home to several street gangs. Belizean officials in November 2012, in an attempt to control the security situation in these areas, invoked a “declaration of crime-infested areas” under the Belizean law that allows for law enforcement and security forces to conduct warrantless searches of personnel and property in these “crime-ridden” areas. Organized crime beyond street gangs is primarily connected to drug trafficking or trafficking in persons. Incidents of crime remain high, including violent crimes such as armed robbery, home invasions, shootings, stabbings, murders, and rapes. The Embassy has noted an increase in crimes against tourists at resorts and on the roads and riverways. U.S. citizens are primarily the victims of opportunistic crime. There is no evidence suggesting criminals specifically target U.S. citizens, but nonetheless, foreigners have been targeted for crime due to their perceived wealth. Incidents of crime (such as theft, burglary, home invasion, purse-snatching, and pick-pocketing) increase during the winter holidays and during spring break. Several victims who resisted when confronted by criminals received serious injuries, including gunshot wounds and broken limbs. Although the majority of reported incidents occur in Belize City, particularly southern Belize City, crime may occur anywhere including in tourist destinations such as San Pedro Town (Ambergris Caye), Caye Caulker, San Ignacio, Dangriga, Corozal, and Placencia.

Violent crime has risen steadily in Belize over the past several years. In 2012, Belize recorded 145 murders, setting a new record for homicides in the country, nearly 15% higher than in 2011. With a population of only 312,698 according to the 2010 country census, the extremely high murder rate per capita of 46 homicides per 100,000 residents, makes Belize the sixth most dangerous country in the world, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. While the country’s per capita homicide rate is still lower than that of other Central American countries, such as Honduras and El Salvador, its year-on-year increase is of concern.

The majority of homicides in 2012 occurred in the Belize district, with most in the southern portion of Belize City, an area that has become increasingly violent due to ongoing gang warfare between local groups for control of lucrative narcotics smuggling routes and sales rights. Tourists have not been targeted in this recent increase in the murder rate, but armed robberies of tourists remain a possibility at archeological sites, national parks, and other areas frequented by visitors. In recent years there has been an increase in the number of robberies, home invasions, and daytime assaults committed across Belize. It does not appear that the perpetrators have targeted tourists; the victims are mostly Belizeans who were targets of opportunity. Violent crime has remained low in tourist areas. Though some notable murders have occurred, including the widely-publicized murder of a U.S. citizen in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye.

Crime Threats: We encourage U.S. citizens to exercise caution and good situational awareness in all their travel activities. Visitors to tourist attractions should travel in groups and remain at the main plazas at Maya ruins and the central areas. Although there are armed guards stationed at many of the archeological sites, armed criminals have been known to prey on persons walking alone or in small groups from one site to another. While many victims of theft are unharmed and only robbed of personal belongings and cash, victims who resist assailants have suffered an injury, sometimes serious. U.S. citizens who become victims of a robbery should report it immediately to the nearest police station and notify the Embassy.

The Embassy recommends that visitors travel in groups and only during daylight hours. Avoid wearing jewelry or carrying valuable or expensive items. As a general rule, valuables should not be left unattended, including in vehicles, in hotel rooms, or on the beach. Care should be taken when carrying high-value items such as cameras. Women’s handbags should be zipped and held close to the body. Men should carry wallets in their front pants pocket. Large amounts of cash should always be handled discreetly.

Economic Crimes and Drugs: The reporting of financial crimes committed against patrons of tourist destinations in Belize increased in 2012. There were several reported instances of credit card fraud against patrons or resorts and other local establishments. It is believed that several credit card fraud rings are currently active in Belize.

“Confidence scams” also occur in Belize, especially in resort areas. While there is no indication U.S. citizens are specifically singled out because of their nationality, tourists, in general, are particularly vulnerable to these crimes, resulting in visitors being pick-pocketed or robbed. More serious crimes have included armed robbery, physical assault, and being swindled out of large sums of money from fraudulent real estate and land sales or other business deals.

There have been reports of fraud committed against expatriates who have attempted to purchase land in Belize. Many expats have reported being the victim of scams in which land is purchased that wasn’t available, or land was purchased that was legally owned by other parties. It has been reported that Belizean authorities have not been proactive in investigating these crimes and enacting measures to ensure that they do not occur in the future. There have also been several reports of tourists being “set up” or solicited to purchase illegal drugs. The tourist is then arrested. Most are fined and then released, but visitors should be aware that they could be sent to prison to await trial, and, if convicted, could serve their sentence in Belize, in accordance with Belize’s strict laws on illegal narcotics. Marijuana and other recreational drugs are illegal in Belize and police aggressively target drug consumers in sting operations.

Drug use is common in some tourist areas, but U.S. citizens should not buy, sell, hold, or take illegal drugs under any circumstances. Belize classifies marijuana or ganja (i.e., cannabis) as an illegal drug for which a conviction of possession of even small amounts could result in heavy fines or imprisonment. Belize does not recognize the medical use of marijuana as permitted in some U.S. states, and U.S. citizens can be charged, fined, or serve time in jail for possession of an illegal substance.

Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootleg items illegal in the United States, but if you purchase them you may also be breaking local law.

Firearms: Possession of a firearm or ammunition requires a license from the Government of Belize. The government recently tightened its restrictions on the possession of guns and ammunition. Residents and tourists found by Belize law enforcement to be in the possession of such items without a license may be sentenced to a prison term in Belize, and several U.S. citizens are in prison for what would be considered a small amount of ammunition in the U.S.

Sex Crimes: Sexual harassment and/or assault of persons traveling alone or in small groups have occurred in recent years. In recent years, there were a handful of sexual assaults on U.S. citizen women after leaving nightclubs, and even during daylight hours while walking with friends and while cycling alone on isolated stretches of local highways.

A lack of resources and training impedes the ability of the police to effectively investigate sex crimes and apprehend serious offenders. As a result, a number of crimes against U.S. citizens in Belize remain unresolved.

Belize Penalties for Crime

Criminal Penalties

While you are traveling in Belize, you are subject to Belize’s laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different than our own. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Belize law enforcement reserves the right to hold any individual for up to 48 hours to verify identity and conduct other security checks prior to a formal arrest at which time the Embassy would be given consular access to that U.S. citizen. Persons violating Belize’s laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking illegal drugs in Belize are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.

Belize has strict laws making possession of a firearm, ammunition, or anti-ballistic body armor illegal unless a valid permit is obtained. Penalties for firearms violations are severe. U.S. gun licenses or permits have no validity in Belize. Engaging in sexual conduct with children, using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country, including Belize, is a crime, prosecutable in the United States, under the Protect Act. U.S. law requires that all sex offenders notify U.S. law enforcement authorities of any travel outside of the U.S.

Persons illegally present in Belize may face a sentence of imprisonment of up to 6 months if they are unable to pay the fine imposed by a court.

The U.S. Embassy does not have the jurisdiction to resolve legal cases on behalf of U.S. citizens.

Consular access for U.S. citizens who are detained or arrested is uniformly good. If you are arrested in Belize, the Belize arresting officials are required to notify the U.S. Embassy of your arrest. To ensure that the United States is aware of your circumstances, request that the police or prison officials notify the U.S. Embassy, Belmopan as soon as you are arrested or detained overseas.

Belize Population Comparison

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