LOCATION
Belize, formerly called British Honduras, is located in Central America. It is bordered by Mexico (the Yucatan peninsula) on the north, Guatemala on the west and south and the Caribbean Sea on the east.


GEOGRAPHY AND CLIMATE
Belize is one of the smaller Central American countries with 8,866 square miles. However, it is larger than El Salvador and is twice the size of Jamaica in the Caribbean. Belize is 174 miles long and 68 miles wide.

The highest point of elevation is 3,699 feet at Victoria Peak in the Maya mountains. The Northern Region of Belize consists of large area of low-lying areas. The coastal plains are comprised largely of mangrove swamps. The riches soil is found in the northern, central and southern regions of Belize.

The annual average rainfall is 50-55 inches per year in the North and reaches 180-190 inches in some areas of the South. Most of the central mountain districts average about 100 inches per year. The average temperatures vary from 75F to 90F at it extremes times of the year.

Belize City is the Principal Commercial City, which is situated almost at the center of the country on the coast. There are 6 Political Districts, Corozal District, Orange Walk District, Belize District, Cayo District, Stann Creek District and Toledo District. The Capital City is Belmopan City, which is 56 miles from Belize City.

There are four major highways in the country; the Northern Highway, the Western Highway, the Hummingbird Highway and the Southern Highway.


HISTORY

 


"Belize was originally occupied by the ancient Mayans, dating back to 2000 BC. The Mayan culture flourished until about 900 AD, at which  time the population living in what is now Belize,was believed to be about 400,000. But recent scientists now believe it may have been much higher. They were part of a civilization that encompassed the Yucatan, Belize, Guatemala and the Western reaches of Honduras. They were said to number 3 - 5 million inhabitants.

The Spanish first laid claim to the areas of Central America, now occupied by Belize, during the 16th and 17th centuries. British loggers, called Baymen, because they lived around the Bay of Honduras, were the first white men to settle the area. They depended on slave labor for the arduous task of removing heavy logs from the Belizean bush. Which cut the old grow timber in most of Central America. The population grew to be 75% black by the turn of the 19th century.Today there still remains many villages left over from this period of history. There were treaties signed between Spain and England allowing the Baymen to cut logwood for their dye operations, but a showdown in 1798 at St. George's Caye, by the British, in which they drove away the invading Spanish ships, gave rise to British Honduras.

British Honduras remained a British colony until 1981, at which time it was granted its independence. The name was changed to Belize in 1973, in anticipation of its impending independence."


POPULATION, LANGUAGES AND CULTURE
The population of Belize is approximately under 270,000 people. Belize is considered to be the third most advanced country in Central America, after Costa Rica and Panama.

English is the official language but due to surrounding countries Spanish is spoken widely. Belize is also the home of the Garinagu, who speak Garifuna and Creole which are common languages spoken by the locals. In the south there remain many Mayan villages with their traditional way of life. Most still speak Mayan. Another most prominent culture would be the Mennonites who speak two languages being German and English. There are two groups of Mennonites; the ones that keep their traditions, the conservative and the progressive groups who have acknowledge various forms of modern technology. The Mennonites are considered to be the top Agriculture growers.

Belize is a diversified country with many different cultures such as African, British influences, Mayas, Creole, Mestizo, Mexican and other Central American countries.


BANKING, INTEREST RATES, AND FOREIGN EXCHANGE
There are 5 commercial banks in Belize:

1. Alliance Bank of Belize Ltd.

2. Atlantic Bank of Belize

3. Barclays Bank PLC

4. Belize Bank Ltd.

5. Nova Scotia Bank

Loans can be from 5 years (or under) to 20 years (or 25 years) and starting interest rates of 12% (to as high as 17%).

The exchange rate is 1 BZ dollar to 1 US (2:1 with the U.S. dollar). For any foreign exchange transaction you will require a permit from Central Bank. Most hotels can accomadate your transactions in U.S. dollars or by Visa, Master Card.


INCENTIVES:
The Government of Belize has also made incentives for foreign investors to invest in Belize and acquire tax holidays and concessions, etc. International Business Company (IBC), Public Investment Companies (PIC), Trust, Export Processing Zones (EPZ) etc. are also permitted in Belize.


RETIREMENT PERSONS (Incentive) Act- Chapter 62
The Retirement Persons Act has been implemented and was designed to attract foreign retirees (and dependents), to become permanent visitors of Belize as "Qualified Retired Persons". The main incentives that this program offers to Qualified Retired Persons free from import duties and taxes of their personal belongings such as approved means of transport, i.e. motor vehicle, boat, or light aircraft etc. The maximum exemption is of $15,000.00 US in tax/duty of household items and the means of transport is permitted in addition. The income generated abroad, from work or investments are exempt of all taxes and levies on income.


REQUIREMENTS:

Required Age: 45 Years
Nationality: Canadian Citizen, Citizen of United State of America, Citizen of United Kingdom or Citizens of Belize. Belizeans can only qualify if they are permanent residents of one of the above countries.
Required Proof:

i. A monthly pension of minimum of US$1,000.00 US per month.

ii. Revenues generated are from Investment; they are required to deposit $2,000.00 US per month     in a local Banking Institution.

iii. All deposits are to be made in US currency only.

iv. The Qualified Retirement Person must sign an agreement to make these deposits regularly.

v. Police record needed from previous domicile country.

vi. Medical Certificate along with an AIDS test must accompany application.

vii. Applicants are subject to background check.

viii. If any person under this act wished to leave the program and relinquish the status, all imported      assets under the The Retirement Persons Act must be liquidated according with the program      guidelines.



EXISTING INDUSTRIES:

1. Banana Export

2. Citrus

3. Sugar Export

4. Aquaculture- Shrimp Farming (Export)

5. Tourism

6. Farming

7. Dairy


WHAT YOU NEED?
1. Passport

2. Round Trip Ticket

3. Bug repellant for some areas.

4. For USA or Commonwealth Citizens visa are not required

5. Modest Attire - Remember you will be in a rain forest.

6. Bottled water is availiable in all areas.