Since independence from the United Kingdom in 1981,
Belize has been a constitutional monarchy and a
parliamentary-democratic unity state. The head of state is
the British monarch, represented in Belize by a general
governor. The supreme executive power lies with the prime
minister and the government. It is responsible to the
National Assembly, which consists of a Senate with 12
members, appointed by the Governor-General, and a
people-elected (for five years) House of Representatives
with 31 members elected in individual circles. The voting
age is 18 years.
The policy is dominated by two parties, the People's
United Party (PUP, center-left) and United Democratic Party
(UDP, center-right). In the February 2008 election, the
former opposition party got UDP 56.6% of the vote and 25 of
the 31 seats in the House of Representatives. Belize must be
characterized as a relatively stable state. Fractionation
within the parties, however, has created unrest, as has the
ethnic diversity and relationship with Guatemala, which has
Belize is administratively divided into six districts. Also see AbbreviationFinder for abbreviation of BZ and its meanings of Belize.
The judiciary is based on English legal tradition. There
are summary jurisdictions (criminal cases) and district
courts (civil cases), headed by magistrates. Decisions in
these courts can be appealed to the Supreme Court and from
there to a separate appeals court with four judges; the
Judiciary Committee of the British Privy Council deals with
the appeal at last.
The national anthem
Is O Land of the Free, with lyrics by Samuel
Alfred Haynes and melody by Selwyn Walford Young. It was
written in 1963 and officially adopted as a national anthem
Coins, measures and weight
The currency unit is the Belizean dollar (currency code
BZD) at 100 cents.
British measuring and weight units are in use. Also, the
American gallon and some custom Latin American units are
Belize is a member of the UN and most of the UN's special
organizations, including The World Bank and the World Trade
Organization, besides the Commonwealth, the Organization of
American States, the Cotonou Agreement and Caricom.
Norway is represented in Belize at its embassy in
Guatemala, as well as Consulate General in Belmopan.
In 1990 Belize took full responsibility for the Belizean
defense forces. The defense is based on a combination of
police and volunteer forces. Important tasks include
coastguard and the fight against smuggling. The total forces
in 2013 amounted to about 1050 personnel, with a reserve of
700. In addition, a coast guard with 150 personnel.