View the information below regarding the economy of Belize. The summary and statistics contains
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Belize Country Page.
GDP (2002): $858.6 million.
Annual growth rate (2002): 4.4%; (2001): 4.6%.
Per capita income (2002): $3,237.5.
Avg. inflation rate (2002): 2.3%.
Natural resources: Arable land, timber, seafood, minerals.
Agriculture (12.7% of GDP): Products--sugar, citrus fruits and juices, bananas, mangoes, papayas, honey, corn, beans, rice, cattle. Industry (14% of GDP): Types--clothing, fruit processing, beverages.
Tourism (22% of GDP): Tourist arrivals (2002)--199,493.
Trade: Exports (2002)--$294.5 million: cane sugar, clothing, citrus concentrate, lobster, fish, banana, and farmed shrimp. Major markets--U.S. (48.5%), U.K., CARICOM. Imports (2002)--$526.8 million: food, consumer goods, building materials, vehicles, machinery, petroleum products. Major suppliers--U.S. (60%), Mexico, U.K. Official exchange rate: Since 1976 Belizean banks have bought U.S. dollars at the rate of 2.0175 and sold them at 1.9825, making for an effective fixed rate of Belize $2=U.S.$1.
Forestry was the only economic activity of any consequence in Belize until well into the 20th century when the supply of accessible timber began to dwindle. Cane sugar then became the principal export and recently has been augmented by expanded production of citrus, bananas, seafood, and apparel. The country has about 809,000 hectares of arable land, only a small fraction of which is under cultivation. To curb land speculation, the government enacted legislation in 1973 that requires non-Belizeans to complete a development plan on land they purchase before obtaining title to plots of more than 10 acres of rural land or more than one-half acre of urban land.
Domestic industry is limited, constrained by relatively high-cost labor and energy and a small domestic market. The embassy knows of some 185 U.S. companies which have operations in Belize, including, Archer Daniels Midland, Texaco, and Esso. Tourism attracts the most foreign direct investment, although significant U.S. investment also is found in the energy and agriculture sectors.
A combination of natural factors--climate, the longest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere, numerous islands, excellent fishing, safe waters for boating, jungle wildlife, and Mayan ruins--support the thriving tourist industry. Development costs are high, but the Government of Belize has designated tourism as one of its major development priorities . In 2002, tourist arrivals totaled 199,493 (more than 50% from the United States).