Belize

A relatively small country of just over 300,000 people, Belize stands out as culturally unique amongst Central American countries because of how its strong British colonial heritage mixes with a distinctly Caribbean flavour. Although small, Belize still suffers from an enormous income disparity that affects many developing countries, with the poorest 20% of the population living on merely 3% of the country's wealth. Belize is a nation of contradictions, as is demonstrated by their ranking in the Human Development Index (HDI) – a comparative measure of life expectancy, literacy, education and standards of living for countries around the world. Although Belize is categorized as a country with "high human development," it still is identified as one of the 10 "least developed" countries in Latin America.

Although Belize currently has the lowest population density in Central America, it is demonstrating the highest rate of population growth in the region. This is both an exciting challenge and opportunity for our partner in Belize to serve and impact the growing population with quality, Christian education.

Education

Belize has greatly increased schooling at all levels since the 1980's. The number of schools grew, enrolment rates rose, and a record number of students graduated in 1990. This, however, is only a partial picture, because in the rural areas many of the poor lack access to schooling or drop out by the age of 12.

The Belizean school system is based on British education and is broken into three levels: primary, secondary, and tertiary. Belizean children begin their eight years of primary education with two years of "infant" classes, followed by six "standards." Secondary education is divided into four "forms." A sixth form – 2 years – is the equivalent of a junior college. In 2009, most of the teachers in rural grade schools did not have more than secondary level education, although as of 2010 new rules require all teachers to have a Bachelor's degree, creating an enormous need for funding to give teachers in Christian schools training opportunities.

Please enjoy this video created by a HANDS team member, relating her impressions of the sights and culture of Belize.

Belize Statistics

  • Language:

    English
  • Area:

    22,970 km²
  • Capital:

    Belmopan
  • Population:

    333,200
    35% of population under the age of 14
    Only 4% of population over 65
    33.5% of population at or below poverty line ($2/day)
  • Currency:

    Belize Dollar
  • Life Expectancy:

    77 years
  • Agriculture:

    bananas, cacao, citrus, sugar
  • Natural Resources:

    lumber, fish
  • Terrain:

    swampy coastal plains, heavily forested in areas;
    low mountain ranges
  • Climate:

    tropical, subject to violent hurricanes
  • Economy:

    65% Services;
    13.7% Industry;
    21.3% Agriculture
    Top 10% of population holds 43.5% of income
    Lowest 20% of population holds 3.4% of income
Daryl
Aug 7, 2012 at 3:41 pm

We're praying for our friends in Belize as they face Hurricane Ernesto. May God protect and give strength to endure the trial. I thank God for the solid school we helped to build in Belize City that doubles as protection from wind and floods.

Kelly
Oct 10, 2013 at 4:58 pm

I love how u are helping 3rd world countries and MAY GOD BLESS YOU!!!

joanne kiss
Jan 8, 2014 at 10:29 pm

God bless all your work in Belize stay strong as your serving the Lord with your talents and giving your all!

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