Foreign policy and defense
Belize is a nation in North America. Its capital city is Belmopan. Belize has historically identified itself with the countries of the Caribbean, but since the 1990s, the country has also approached Central America. Belize is a member of the Central American economic integration cooperation Sica.
The protracted border conflict with Guatemala in 2008 led the OAS regional organization to recommend the countries to allow the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to address the conflict. Instead, the parties chose to propose referenda in both countries on whether the conflict should be taken to the ICJ. In 2011, a date was set for these referendums, but they were postponed in the future.
- Countryaah: Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Belize for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.
In April 2016, tensions rose in the disputed border area on the Sarstoon River between Belize and Guatemala. Guatemalan accused Belizean soldiers of shooting a 13-year-old Guatemalan boy inside Guatemalan territory. Belize responded to the criticism that the soldiers acted in self-defense after being attacked by Guatemalans who, in Belizean territory, conducted “illegal activities”. Guatemala sent 3,000 soldiers to the border area. In May, Guatemala accused the Belize army of being assaulted in connection with the arrest of three Guatemalans suspected of illegal mining on Belizean territory. A man is injured in connection with the arrest.
A couple of years later, in April 2018, Guatemala finally held the referendum on the ICJ and 96 percent of the voters agreed to let the court resolve the issue. When Belize cast its vote, in May 2019, 55 percent voted for the ICJ proposal.
Belize has been a member of the Caribbean cooperation organization Caricom’s passport union since 2009 and uses the region’s joint passport.
After not being on the US list of drug smuggling transit countries for twelve years, Belize was re-included in the 2011 list.
The United States also has Belize on a list of tax havens. The country complied with promises of measures from being placed on the EU’s first official tax haven list in 2017, but when the list was later expanded, Belize joined it. However, towards the end of 2019, the EU found that Belize had taken adequate steps to move from the “black” to the “gray” list of countries that have insufficient tax rules but are actively seeking to improve them.
The army consists of just over 1,000 men. The United Kingdom closed its war school in Belize in 2010.
FACTS – DEFENSE
Army: 1,500 men (2017)
The fleet: 150 men (2015)
Military expenditure’s share of GDP: 1.3 percent (2017)
Military spending’s share of the state budget: 3.9 percent (2017)