Belize is a mainland country that is the northernmost in the Central American region of North of America. To the east of the country lies the Caribbean Sea, Mexico lies to the north and Guatemala to the west. Belize covers an area of approximately 8,800 square miles and has the lowest population density compared to other Central American countries, with a mere 333,000 inhabitants. The country has its own currency, the Belize Dollar, which has been tied to the US Dollar since 1978.
Unlike many other Caribbean locations, the Belize economy has never been reliant on the production of sugar cane. Up until the 20th century the main industry in the country was forestry, with the Logwood trees that grew in abundance providing the raw materials needed for dye. As artificial dye processes became more prominent, the forestry industry began to dwindle in Belize. This then moved onto mahogany, but this too failed to be sustained, as new mahogany tress were not planted. So the Belize economy turned to the production of sugar, which contributes a minimal amount to the country's economy today.
Agriculture and Oil in Belize
Today agriculture is the mainstay of the Belize economy even though surprisingly only a minimal amount of its arable land is put to use. The main products are pineapples, citrus fruits, bananas, molasses, sugar and seafood which are exported to several partners: the United Kingdom and the United States being the biggest. There was also a good trade in shrimps up until 2008 when the country was hit by flooding and this has meant that this industry is now in decline.
The discovery of crude oil in part of the country could potentially be a large contributor to the Belize economy in the future. Unfortunately, at the present time, Belize does not have the resources, work force or finances to be able to develop this industry further into something that will make a difference to its economic position.
Tourism in Belize
After agriculture, the tourism industry is a large contributor to the Belize economy, in particular eco-tourism. With an abundance of natural areas, Mayan ruins, forests and diverse marine eco-systems in the Belize Barrier Reef, the country is reliant on foreign visitors for much of its income. Indeed, the number of visitors to Belize is approximately 1 million each year, with at least 70% of those visitors coming from the United States of America. Perhaps, in the future, the country will be able to improve upon its tourist industry, but currently high labour and construction costs make this an unviable option at this time.
Although the Belize economy has seen a moderate, steady growth in recent years, it is not yet in a position to be able to say that it is stable and healthy. It is fair to state that there is potential for significant economic growth in Belize, however, this will require a lot of careful development planning and investment on the part of the country's government and any willing outside investors. Still, it looks as though the tourism industry will manage to keep the country buoyant for a few more years yet.