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Nationality: Noun and adjective--Belizean(s).
Population (2002 est.): 265,200.
Annual growth rate (2002 est.): 3.3%.
Ethnic groups: Creole, Garifuna, Mestizo, Mayan.
Religions: Roman Catholic, Anglican, Methodist, other Protestant, Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist.
Languages: English (official), Creole, Spanish, Garifuna, Mayan.
Education: Years compulsory--9. Attendance--60%. Literacy--76%.
Health: (1998): Infant mortality rate--21.5/1,000. Life expectancy--72 years.
Work force (April 2001, 96,100): Services--50.8%. Agriculture, hunting, forestry and fishing--27.2%. Industry and commerce--17.8%. Other--4.2%.
Belize is the most sparsely populated nation in Central America; it is larger than El Salvador and compares in size to the State of Massachusetts. Slightly more than half of the people live in rural areas. About one-fourth live in Belize City, the principal port, commercial center, and former capital.
Most Belizeans are of multiracial descent. About 46.4% of the population is of mixed Mayan and European descent (Mestizo); 27.7% are of African and Afro-European (Creole) ancestry; about 10% are Mayan; and about 6.4% are Afro-Amerindian (Garifuna). The remainder, about 9.5%, includes European, East Indian, Chinese, Middle Eastern, and North American groups.
English, the official language, is spoken by virtually all except the refugees who arrived during the past decade. Spanish is the native tongue of about 50% of the people and is spoken as a second language by another 20%. The various Mayan groups still speak their original languages, and an English Creole dialect (or "Kriol" in the new orthography), similar to the Creole dialects of the English-speaking Caribbean Islands, is spoken by most. The rate of functional literacy is 76%. About 60% of the population is Roman Catholic; the Anglican Church and other Protestant Christian groups account for most of the remaining 40%. Mennonite settlers number about 7,160.