Last updated

City of Belmopan
Aerials Belize WHwy 02.jpg
Belmopan centre in 2015
Flag of Belmopan.png
The Garden City, 'Pan
City of Promise
Belize physical map.svg
Red pog.svg
Location of Belmopan in Belize
Coordinates: 17°15′5″N88°46′1″W / 17.25139°N 88.76694°W / 17.25139; -88.76694 Coordinates: 17°15′5″N88°46′1″W / 17.25139°N 88.76694°W / 17.25139; -88.76694
District Cayo
Constituency Belmopan
Foundation1 August 1970 [1]
  Mayor Khalid Belisle (UDP)
  Total32.78 km2 (12.66 sq mi)
76 m (250 ft)
 (2010) [2]
(2016) [3] [4]
  Density500/km2 (1,300/sq mi)
Time zone UTC-6 (Central)
Area code(s) 501 +8
Climate Am

Belmopan ( /ˌbɛlmˈpæn/ ) is the capital city of Belize. Its population in 2010 was 16,451. [2] In addition to being the smallest capital city in the continental Americas by population, Belmopan is the third-largest settlement in Belize, behind Belize City and San Ignacio. Founded as a planned community in 1970, Belmopan is one of the newest national capital cities in the world. Since 2000, Belmopan has been one of two settlements in Belize to hold official city status, along with Belize City.


Belmopan is located in Cayo District at an altitude of 76 metres (249 feet) above sea level. [5] Belmopan was constructed just to the east of the Belize River, 80 km (50 mi) inland from the former capital, the port of Belize City, after that city's near destruction by Hurricane Hattie in 1961. [5] [6] The government was moved to Belmopan in 1970. [7] Its National Assembly Building is designed to resemble a Pre-Columbian Maya temple. [8]


After Hurricane Hattie in 1961 destroyed approximately 75% of the houses and business places in low-lying and coastal Belize City, the government proposed to encourage and promote the building of a new capital city. [7] This new capital would be on better terrain, would entail no costly reclamation of land, and would provide for an industrial area. In 1962, a committee chose the site now known as Belmopan, 82 kilometres (51 mi) southwest of the old capital of Belize City. [7]

Since Belize was a British colony (known as British Honduras) in 1964, Premier George Cadle Price led a delegation to London to seek funds to finance the new capital. [9] Although they were not ready to commit to funding such a large project, the British government showed interest due to the logic of locating the capital on high ground safe from storm surges. To encourage financial commitment from the British government, Premier Price and the People's United Party government invited Anthony Greenwood, Secretary of State for the Commonwealth and Colonies, to visit Belize. One of the highlights of this visit was the unveiling of a monument at mile 49 on the Western Highway. The monument records that Lord Greenwood dedicated the site for the new capital on 9 October 1965. In a way,[ weasel words ] there was a commitment.

The name chosen for the new capital, Belmopan, is derived from the union of two words: "Belize", the name of the longest river in the country, and "Mopan", [10] one of the rivers in this area, which empties into the Belize River. The initial estimated cost for building this new city was 40 million Belize dollars (US$20 million). Only 20 million Belize dollars (US$10 million) were available, but the momentum was not to be lost. [11]

In 1967, work began; the first phase of the new city was completed in 1970 at a cost of 24 million Belize dollars (US$12 million). From 1970 to 2000 the administration of Belmopan was managed by the Reconstruction and Development Corporation, known as "Recondev." [12] Recondev was vested with the power and authority to provide, or cause to be provided, the municipal functions necessary for the smooth running of the city's business and infrastructure.

There was a reluctance initially amongst foreign governments to relocate their embassies to Belmopan as there was some doubt as to whether this inland area would really become the functioning capital. [13] The British High Commission opened in 1981 when Belize achieved independence, moving to its current location in 1984. In February 2005, the United States government broke ground and started building a new embassy in Belmopan, 43 years after it was chosen as the new capital city. [14] The U.S. embassy was officially opened on 11 December 2006. [15] Mexico, Brazil, Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Venezuela also have embassies in Belmopan, while Ecuador, Chile, and the Dominican Republic are represented by consulates. However, with four embassies and 29 consulates the former capital of Belize City still has most of the country's foreign diplomatic community. [16]


The city layout centers around the Ring Road which is just under 4 km in circumference. The majority of government buildings are situated either within or around the Ring Road, and a large area within the Ring Road is also given to parkland. [17]

The National Assembly Building is the focal point of the city's design, with the grey stone architecture and broad steps designed to resemble a Mayan temple, reflecting the nation's cultural heritage. Surrounding buildings mirror this design, with the East Wing and West Wing buildings contributing to the overall impression of an ancient Mayan plaza.

The original buildings were designed with extensive ventilation to accommodate the tropical climate leading to a pock-marked effect on the buildings' walls.

Extensive internal renovations and the widespread introduction of air-conditioners has caused this design to become ineffective and inefficient.

Geographic setting

Belmopan is 50 miles (80 km) inland from the Caribbean Sea and 76 meters (249 feet) above sea level, located near the Belize River Valley with a view of the Mountain Pine Ridge foothills. (The climate at night is cool.) The city is off the Hummingbird Highway. Two and a half hours south of Belmopan, by road, is the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary. [18]


Belmopan features a tropical monsoon climate (Am) under the Köppen climate classification. The city has a lengthy wet season that runs from May through January and a short dry season covering the remaining two months. As is the characteristic of several cities with a tropical monsoon climate, Belmopan sees some precipitation during its dry season. March and April are Belmopan's driest months with roughly 45 mm of rainfall observed on average during those months. Like Belize City, these are somewhat unusual months for a city with a tropical monsoon climate to have its driest months of the year. Typically the driest month for a city with this climate type is the month after the winter solstice, which in Belmopan would be January. Average monthly temperatures are somewhat constant throughout the course of the year, ranging from 23 °C to 28 °C.

Climate data for Belmopan
Average high °C (°F)27.9
Daily mean °C (°F)23.1
Average low °C (°F)18.2
Average rainfall mm (inches)129.3
Average rainy days (≥ 1.0 mm)12753716181516151213139
Mean monthly sunshine hours 170.5189.3241.8255.0248.0189.0201.5207.7171.0182.9165.0150.02,371.7
Mean daily sunshine hours
Source: National Meteorological Service of Belize [19]

Educational institutions

The city of Belmopan has three pre-schools, four primary schools and four secondary schools [20] as well as a modern Regional Language Centre (RLC) on the central campus of the University of Belize, [21] where students from neighbouring Spanish-speaking countries come to study English. University of Belize's campus in Belmopan has the following faculties: Education and Arts, Management and Social Sciences, Science and Technology, and Nursing and Allied Health. [22] The church/state system prevails in Belizean education, [23] especially where pre-school, primary and secondary school education is concerned, [24] and nearly all schools in Belmopan are sustained by churches. [7]

International schools:

Secondary schools:

Local missionaries and non-profit organizations also provide practical educational opportunities for Belizeans.


Ethnic composition

Belmopan Regional Language Center Monument BELMONUMENT.JPG
Belmopan Regional Language Center Monument

The population of Belmopan proper (an estimated 20,000 people in 2009) is of various ethnicities, including Kriols, Garifuna, Mestizo, Maya, and recent immigrants from such Asian countries as the People's Republic of China (Mainland China) and Republic of China (Taiwan). [26]

There are five zones around Belmopan proper: [27]

Local and regional events

Some of Belmopan's noteworthy events include presentations by the Belmopan Choral Society, the Festival of Arts for school children, and National Day activities.

The University of Belize's Black Jaguars squad has won two national championships playing out of Belmopan. Nearby communities including Roaring Creek, Camalote, Esperanza, and Georgeville play a softball tournament in the early part of the year.

Social and community activities

The City Council promotes Belmopan as "The Garden City." A Crime prevention Initiative has recently been introduced by the council in conjunction with the Belize Police Department, which introduced a Special Constable/Community Policing Programme. The council cooperates with social organizations like the Lions Club, the Belize Scout Association, Rotary International, and other NGOs. Social and cultural events and meetings of community groups are frequently held at the George Price Centre.


Museums and galleries in the city include the planned Belmopan Museum.



Belmopan Parliament Building Belmopan Parliament.jpg
Belmopan Parliament Building

At its inception and afterward, Belmopan was governed by the corporation RECONDEV (Reconstruction and Development Corporation), which answered to the government. [12]

Residents of Belmopan voted in a referendum in 1999 to switch to direct election of a city council. In 2000, Belmopan was incorporated as a city and held its first City Council election. [7] Anthony Chanona of the People's United Party was elected mayor with a six-man slate, and reelected in 2003. [28] Following the People's Party municipal victory of 2020, the mayor of Belmopan is Sharon Palacio. [29]

As Belmopan is the seat of government, many of its inhabitants work for the national government in administrative or technical roles. Many are based in the large cluster of government buildings around the National Assembly building.


Largest Chinese restaurant in Belmopan Pride Of China Belmopan.jpg
Largest Chinese restaurant in Belmopan

Belmopan has approximately 589 business establishments (the 1997 census revealed the presence of 373). Five international banks are in the city, as are several local financial institutions. A bus terminal and market complex were constructed in 2003.


Within the zoning regulations, Belmopan has set aside approximately 200 acres (81 ha) of land made up mostly of one-acre (4,000 m2) parcels in city limits. While there is very little industrial activity at present, the council has embarked on a scheme to attract local and foreign investment to the city. Plans are underway to create a 100 acres (40 ha) industrial park close to the municipal airstrip – a paved 1,100-meter strip with no control tower or hangars.



Belmopan will have a light rail system that is currently undergoing a feasibility study conducted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency. [30]


Belmopan is served by Hector Silva Airstrip, a domestic airport located in the Northwest of the city.

See also

Related Research Articles

Belize Country in Central America

Belize is a Caribbean country located on the northeastern coast of Central America. Belize is bordered to the north by Mexico, to the east by the Caribbean Sea, and to the south and west by Guatemala. It has an area of 22,970 square kilometres (8,867 sq mi) and a population of 419,199 (2020). Its mainland is about 290 km (180 mi) long and 110 km (68 mi) wide. It has the lowest population and population density in Central America. The country's population growth rate of 1.87% per year is the second highest in the region and one of the highest in the Western Hemisphere. Its capital is Belmopan, and its largest city is Belize City.

Demographics of Belize

This article is about the demographic features of the population of Belize, including population density, ethnicity, education level, health of the populace, economic status, religious affiliations and other aspects of the population.

Politics of Belize

Politics of Belize takes place in a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic monarchy, whereby Queen Elizabeth II serves as head of state and the prime minister is the head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the Parliament of Belize.

Belize City Largest city in Belize

Belize City is the largest city in Belize and was once the capital of the former British Honduras. According to the 2010 census, Belize City has a population of 57,169 people in 16,162 households. It is at the mouth of the Haulover Creek, which is a distributary of the Belize River. The Belize River empties into the Caribbean Sea five miles from Belize City on the Philip Goldson Highway on the coast of the Caribbean. The city is the country's principal port and its financial and industrial hub. Cruise ships drop anchor outside the port and are tendered by local citizens. The city was almost entirely destroyed in October 1961 when Hurricane Hattie swept ashore. It was the capital of British Honduras until the government was moved to the new capital of Belmopan in 1970.

Benque Viejo del Carmen Town in Cayo District, Belize

Benque Viejo del Carmen ("Benque") is the westernmost town in Belize, 130 km (81 mi) by road west and south of Belize City, at the Guatemalan border. San Ignacio lies 13 km to the east and Melchor de Mencos just across the border. The Mopan River runs along the town's north and west edges.

Cayo District District of Belize

Cayo District is a district located in the west part of Belize. It is the most extensive, second-most populous and third-most densely populated of the six districts of Belize. The district's capital is the town of San Ignacio.

San Ignacio, Belize Town in Cayo, Belize

San Ignacio and Santa Elena are towns in western Belize. San Ignacio serves as the cultural-economic hub of Cayo District. It got its start from mahogany and chicle production during British colonisation. Over time it attracted people from the surrounding areas, which led to the diverse population of the town today. San Ignacio is the largest settlement in Cayo District and the second largest in the country, after Belize City.

Roaring Creek, Belize Place in Cayo District, Belize

Roaring Creek is a small village in the Cayo District of Belize, just north-west of Belmopan. Its name is derived from the creek waterfalls which flow into the Belize River next to the Guanacaste Park area.

Belize River

The Belize River runs 290 kilometres (180 mi) through the center of Belize. It drains more than one-quarter of the country as it winds along the northern edge of the Maya Mountains to the sea just north of Belize City. The Belize river valley is largely tropical rain forest.

Languages of Belize

According to the 2010 census, the major languages spoken in Belize include English, Spanish and Kriol, all three spoken by more than 40% of the population. Mayan languages are also spoken in certain areas, as well as German.

Mopan River

The Mopan River is a river in Central America spanning the Petén Department of Guatemala and the Cayo District of Belize. It merges with the Macal River at Branch Mouth, Belize, forming the Belize River, which ultimately discharges to the Caribbean Sea. The drainage area of the combined watershed is 9,434.2 km2 (3,642.6 sq mi). Tributaries of the Mopan include Chiquibul Branch, Ceiba Grande, Salisipuedes, and Delores.

Constituencies of Belize

Belize's 6 districts are politically divided into 31 constituencies. Each constituency sends one representative to Belize's House of Representatives for 5-year terms. This election is known as the General Election. Each person votes for the candidate they would want to represent their constituency in Central Government.

Outline of Belize Overview of and topical guide to Belize

The following outline is provided as an overview of and introduction to Belize:

Armenia, Belize Place in Cayo, Belize

Armenia is a village in the Cayo District of Belize, along the nation's Hummingbird Highway south of the capitol, Belmopan.

Belizeans People associated with the country of Belize through citizenship or descent

Belizeans are people associated with the country of Belize through citizenship or descent. Belize is a multiethnic country with residents of African, Amerindian, European and Asian descent or any combination of those groups.

John Saldivar (politician)

John Birchman Saldivar is a Belizean politician. A member of the United Democratic Party, Saldivar has represented the Belmopan constituency in the Belize House of Representatives from its creation in 2008 until his defeat in the 2020 general election. He was previously Area Representative for Cayo South.

Bullet Tree Falls Place in Cayo District, Belize

Bullet Tree Falls is a village located along the Mopan River in Cayo District, Belize. It lies approximately five kilometers northwest of San Ignacio. According to the 2010 census, Bullet Tree Falls has a population of 2,124 people in 426 households. The population consists mainly of Spanish-speaking mestizos, along with a smaller number of Yucatec Maya and Creoles.

Latin American Belizean

Latin American Belizeans or Belizean mestizos are Belizeans of Latin American and mestizo descent. Currently, they comprise around 52.9% of Belize's population.

Belize–Spain relations Bilateral relations

Belize–Spain relations are the bilateral and diplomatic relations between these two countries. Belize has an embassy and honorary consulates in Madrid, Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca. Spain has a non-resident embassy for Belize in Guatemala, and an honorary consulate in Belize City.


  1. "Eulogy to Rt. Hon. George Price by Mr. John Waight (information about Belmopan's foundation is in the second page)" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 January 2014. Retrieved 5 December 2013.
  2. 1 2 "Population Data – Census 2010". Statistical Institute of Belize. Archived from the original on 4 March 2014. Retrieved 27 February 2014.
  3. "Mid-Year Population Estimates by Area and Sex 2008 – 2015". Statistical Institute of Belize. Retrieved 14 May 2016.[ permanent dead link ]
  4. "Belize: Districts, Towns & Villages – Population Statistics, Maps, Charts, Weather and Web Information".
  5. 1 2 "". Retrieved 29 June 2010.
  6. "Weather Events: The Hurricane with Three Names".
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 "". Archived from the original on 22 July 2010. Retrieved 29 June 2010.
  8. "Travel to Central America". 16 January 2007. Archived from the original on 11 March 2009. Retrieved 23 March 2019.
  9. "Exhibition highlights history of Belmopan". 30 July 2004. Archived from the original on 6 November 2011. Retrieved 27 December 2013.
  10. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2 May 2007. Retrieved 7 February 2007.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. "Belmopan: Perspective on a New Capital", Kevin C. Kearns, Geographical Review, p. 153 (footnote #13), © 1973 American Geographical Society
  12. 1 2 "About Belize". Casa Cayo Real Estate. Archived from the original on 29 February 2008. Retrieved 29 June 2010.
  13. "Belmopan: Perspective on a New Capital", Kevin C. Kearns, Geographical Review, p. 159, 1973, American Geographical Society.
  14. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 22 September 2006. Retrieved 8 February 2007.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  15. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 1 February 2007. Retrieved 8 February 2007.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  16. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 15 January 2013. Retrieved 3 February 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  18. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 3 April 2007. Retrieved 7 February 2007.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  19. "Climatology Information for a few stations across Belize". National Meteorological Service of Belize. Archived from the original on 13 October 2016. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  20. "FriendFinder – Have fun, meet people, & find love".
  21. Regional Language Centre website
  22. Belmopan Campus Archived 11 March 2007 at the Wayback Machine at the University of Belize Archived 28 February 2007 at the Wayback Machine website
  23. Belize Archived 5 September 2006 at the Wayback Machine at the Mexico State University website
  24. Penados, Filiberto, "Teacher Education and Professional Development in Belize: Developments and Challenges," Archived 28 January 2007 at the Wayback Machine ICMI (The International Commission on Mathematical Instruction) Bulletin No. 49, December 2000
  25. "QSI International School of Belize Archived 30 September 2015 at the Wayback Machine ." Quality Schools International. Retrieved on 29 September 2015.
  26. History of Belize at the Regional Language Centre website
  27. Cayo South Electoral Division Archived 1 May 2007 at the Wayback Machine at the Belize Elections and Boundaries Department Archived 2 February 2007 at the Wayback Machine website
  28. Archived 12 January 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  29. " MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS OFFICIAL RESULTS 4th MARCH 2015 Archived 13 September 2015 at the Wayback Machine , Belize Elections and Boundaries Commission. (accessed 16 March 2015)