REPORT #62 April 1999
5 FACTS ABOUT THE BELIZE ECONOMY


Produced by the Belize Development Trust
# 1 GDP
Belize's Gross Domestic Product in 1997 was US$567 million, or US$2,525 per capita. By comparison, per capita GDP in the U.S. was US$25,042. In 1997, Belize was ranked # 103 out of 191 countries in terms of GDP per capita. The entire Belize economy is about the size of the economy of a small town of 25,000 people in the U.S.

# 2 Major Industries
Agriculture is the # 1 industry in Belize, contributing 20% of GDP and employing about 25% of the labor force. The main crops are sugar cane, bananas, citrus and corn. Tourism is the # 2 industry, representing about 17% of GDP. Tourism is expected to become the # 1 industry within the next few years. Overall, the services sector in Belize is the largest employer, employing about 61% of the labor force.

# 3 Imports/Exports
Belize imports more than it exports. In 1996, it exported US$166 million in goods, imported US$262 million, for a trade deficit of US$96 million. Belize's largest trade partner is the U.S.

# 4 Key Indicators
Annual inflation rate in Belize has averaged 3.2% in recent years, with the estimated rate under 2% since 1997. Unemployment is estimated at 13% or more of the total work force of about 75,000. Local lending rates for loans are 16 to 18%. Belize has one telephone for every eight persons, and one television for every seven persons.

# 5 Government Sector
In 1997, the Belize government had revenues of US$162 million and expenditures of US$179 million, a deficit of about 9% of total spending. In 1996, Belize had an external debt of US$288 million, with annual debt service of US$40 million.

#5 Living cost for visitors and locals.
If you wish to live as expected like a USA or Canadian citizen in Belize, it will cost you twice as much. Rents are cheaper than North America, but all other costs are higher. Stealing is rampant and many foreigners living in Belize and local citizens complain of the cost of thieves sneaking through their windows at night and other types of material petty theft. The ones that make it at a cheaper cost, live in the rural boonies. They live using local furniture, hammocks, cheap housing like thatch huts, or galvanized zinc roofs and do not splurge on imported canned foods. Luxuries that are expensive are the beer, the coca-cola, electricity ( use kerosene lamps ), try to grow a lot of your own food and have some fruit trees. People in rural areas are nice though, much friendlier than North America. The scenery, climate and playing opportunities are excellent. These things attract a lot of people tired of the city life in North America, even at double the cost.

Sources:
Country Review, Belize 1998/1999, Commercial Data International
International Monetary Fund, IMF World Outlook
U.S. Central Intelligence World Factbook 1998
United Nations Statistical Yearbook
Government of Belize

Statistics courtesy of Belize First Magazine, http://www.turq.com/belizefirst/

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