Census Day; May twelfth of
2000. Belize's population stood
at two hundred and fifty
thousand people. A year and a
half later, researchers from the
Central Statistical Office looking
at the detailed data have found
that in many ways Belize
changed radically over the last decade. Ann-Marie
Williams reports.

Ann-Marie Williams
Today, the Central Statistical Office called a press
conference to update the public on population
indicators such as education, fertility, religion, income
and housing.

In the area of labour force participation, it's been
shown that although unemployment is at eleven
percent, the average income is eight hundred,
thirty-five dollars today as opposed to six hundred and
twenty-eight dollars in 1991. But despite the
raise-a-pay of over two hundred dollars per month,
Chief Statistician Sylvan Roberts says this picture
does not necessarily mean that all is well financially.

Sylvan Roberts, Chief Statistician
"There definitely needs to be some more analysis of
these numbers, because the numbers that we have
there has shown absolute growth. We have not
accounted for inflation for example and inflation could
have been the reason why the difference is about two
hundred dollars per month. So there definitely has to
be some more in depth study to see the real picture."

Walk around the country and you'll see the real picture
where population by age is concerned. Twenty-six
point six percent of our population is between five and
fourteen years. Nineteen point nine percent is
between fifteen and twenty-four, followed by fourteen
point six percent in the twenty-five to thirty-four age

According to Roberts, Belize has experienced rapid
population growth of two point seven percent per
annum, which is greater than the Caribbean area, and
on par with neighbouring Guatemala. This makes us
prone to poverty if the social sector is not

Sylvan Roberts
"We have to ensure that the correct policies, plans,
programmes and essential services are put in place for
the growing population."

Where ethnicity is concerned, Mestizos represent
forty-eight point seven percent of the growing
population, followed by the Creole at twenty-four
point nine. A decade ago those numbers were
forty-three point six percent and twenty-nine point
eight percent respectively.

Today, the Garifuna represents six point one percent,
the third largest ethnic group, followed by the Ketchi
Maya at five point three percent and Mopan Maya at
three point nine percent. The Mennonites, Belize
economic powerhouse, account for only three point six
percent of Belize's population.

Roman Catholic is still the largest religious
denomination at forty-nine point six percent of the
population, but it's dominance has dropped since
1991, when fifty-seven point seven percent of
Belizeans identified themselves as Catholics.
Pentecostals totalled seven point four percent,
Anglicans five point three, Seventh Day Adventists five
point two, Mennonites four point one and Methodists
three point five.

It is interesting to note that non-believers in our
midst have grown from eleven thousand and
twenty-five or six percent in 1991 to twenty-one
thousand, seven hundred and ninety-five or nine point
four percent in 2000.

Sylvan Roberts
"The people have a right to decide to believe or not to
believe, and I think the consensus in Belize...I think
we're still a religious society, and therefore the
consensus would be they would like as many people
to believe in some kind of faith, some kind of religious
denomination. And therefore from that point of view
this may be worrying."

Female-headed households have increased from
twenty-two percent in 1991 to twenty-four percent in
2000, while the fertility rate is on the decline.
Whatever the numbers, officials remind us that the
census provides us with important data--not only for
debate, but for proper policies and planning.
Ann-Marie Williams for News 5.

The book of major census findings will be
distributed over the next month to schools and
other public institutions.